Immanuel Velikovsky

Founder of the Modern Catastrophist Movement in Science

 

 

 

Immanuel Velikosky, ca. 1942

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Immanuel Velikovsky (June 10, 1895 (NS) – November 17, 1979) is best known as the author of a number of controversial books reinterpreting the events of ancient history, in particular the US bestseller Worlds in Collision, published in 1950. Earlier, he played a role in the founding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and was a respected psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

 

Worlds in Collision comprised a body of material which had gotten a cold reception from American academia, particularly astronomy departments;  Velikovsky at that point determined to simply package the material as a book for the common man and bypass academia altogether.  The book was a runaway international bestseller under a MacMillan label for several weeks, at which point MacMillan was threatened with a total North American boycott of its academic books and was forced to drop it.  The controversy has continued unabated since that time.

Immanuel Velikovsky was born in 1895 to a prosperous Jewish family, in Vitebsk, Russia (part of modern-day Belarus). The son of Shimon (Simon Yehiel) Velikovsky (1859-1937) and Beila Grodensky, he learned several languages as a child, was sent away to study at the Medvednikov Gymnasium in Moscow, where he performed well in Russian and mathematics. He graduated with a gold medal in 1913. Velikovsky then traveled in Europe and visited Palestine before briefly studying medicine at Montpellier in France and taking premedical courses at the University of Edinburgh. He returned to Russia before the outbreak of World War I, enrolled in the University of Moscow, and received a medical degree in 1921.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Upon taking his medical degree, Velikovsky left Russia for Berlin. There, with the financial support of his father, Velikovsky edited and published a pair of volumes of scientific papers, translated into Hebrew, titled Scripta Universitatis Atque Bibliothecae Hierosolymitanarum ("Writings of the Jerusalem University & Library"). He enlisted Albert Einstein to prepare the volume dealing with mathematics and physics. Once completed, this project was a cornerstone in the formation of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the fledgling university was able to donate copies of the Scripta to the libraries of other academic institutions, who would then send complimentary copies of their own publications, thus helping the Hebrew University to stock its library.

In 1923, Velikovsky married Elisheva Kramer, a young violinist.

Velikovsky's career as a psychiatrist

From 1924 to 1939 Velikovsky lived in what was then Palestine, practicing medicine (both general practice and psychiatry), and also psychoanalysis (he had studied under Sigmund Freud's pupil, Wilhelm Stekel in Vienna). During this time he had a dozen or so papers published in medical and psychoanalytic journals, including, in 1930, the first paper to suggest epilepsy is characterized by abnormal encephalograms, now part of the routine diagnostic procedure, and papers in Freud's Imago, including a precocious analysis of Freud's own dreams.

Emigration to the USA and a career as an author

In 1939, with the prospect of war looming, Velikovsky travelled with his family to New York, intending to spend a sabbatical year researching for his book Oedipus & Akhnaton (which, inspired by Freud's Moses and Monotheism, explored the possibility that Pharaoh Akhenaton was the legendary Oedipus). Freud had argued that Akhenaton, the supposedly monotheistic Egyptian pharaoh, was the source of the religious principles that Moses taught to the people of Israel in the desert. Freud's claim (and that of others before him) was based in part on the resemblance of Psalm 104 in the Bible to an Egyptian hymn discovered on the wall of the Tomb of Akhenaton's general, Ay, in Akhetaton's city of Akhetaten. To disprove Freud's claim as well as to prove the Exodus as such, Velikovsky sought evidence for the Exodus in Egyptian documents

Within weeks of his arrival in the United States, World War II began. Soon, taking a tangent from his original book project, Velikovsky began to develop the radical catastrophist cosmology and revised chronology theories for which he would become famous.

The study of Moses had led Velikovsky to stumble upon several enigmas of similar nature in which biblical authors appeared to be either making extra work for themselves without any possibility of benefit, or connecting events which they did not have the technological basis to connect.  The most obvious was the question about Joshua Ben Nun’s long day:

JOS 10:9  Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.

JOS 10:10  And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.

JOS 10:11  And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with  hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

JOS 10:12  Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

JOS 10:13  And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

JOS 10:14  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

Here’s what Velikovsky noticed.  The description of the Lord casting “giant stones” down upon the Amorites from heaven could easily be an ancient description of a meteorite storm and, assuming that to be the case, the sun standing still for about a day could indicate that the meteorite storm was part and parcel of some cosmic event sufficient to stop the Earth in its rotation for that much time;  nonetheless the ancient authors viewed the sun as some sort of a chariot which traveled around the Earth and would not have known to connect two such events had they been making the story up.  In other words, it appeared highly unlikely that an ancient author could make such a story up and connect dots in such a fashion.

 

Likewise in the case of the story of the flood at the time of Noah and the seven days of intense light which preceeded it.  The author of the book of Isaiah makes a vague reference to this without bothering to explain the reference because he assumes all in his audience will be familiar with the story.  This also indicates that the stories of the flood and of the seven days would figure to be part and parcel of a tale of a solar-system-wide calamity of some sort but, as with the case of the tale of the long day, you would not expect an ancient author to know that such elements of such a tale belonged together.

 

Velikovsky correctly figured that if such tales actually were tales of planetary-scale catastrophes, then references to the same tales should be found in the literatures of other ancient nations around the world and, in fact, that did turn out to be the case.  He also noticed early on that virtually all of the ancient descriptions of the most recent catastrophes mentioned the two planets Mars and Venus, and particularly Venus.  The most common such reference is in Isaiah:

 

ISA 14:12  How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning[morning star]! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

 

“Lucifer” means “light bearer” and was a common name for Venus in the ancient world. 

 

The same thing turns up in the literature of other ancient nations.  One version of the Egyptian equivalent of the same tale is found in E.A. Wallis Budge's "Gods of the Egyptians" Vol I, pp 388 - 399, wherein Ra, the old and dying chief God (actually a small star in the last stages of dying out and being removed to an orbit little visible from earth], sends his eye to destroy mankind, which are beginning to blaspheme and no longer take him seriously enough:

 

From Samuel Noah Kramer's "Mythologies of the Ancient World", Doubleday Anchor, pp 89-90, we read the following concerning the Egyptian conception of the so-called "Eye of Ra", which we read much of in Egyptian mythology:

 

"Only the eye of Re is identified as a heavenly body in a few  sentences in the pyramid texts.  We used to nderstand them as though the eye of Re was identified as the sun, but a careful interpretation of them has unmistakably hown that the eye of Re was the morning star...

 

"i.e. this is common knowledge amongst Egyptologists.  Those who might doubt Kramer as a source can check pages 37 - 40 of the latest version of LaRousse's popular mythological encyclopedia (Pierre Grimal, editor).  You'll find the same identification of Sekhet, the Eye of Ra, and Venus.

 

The following fragment of the Egyptian version of Phaeton myth may thus be seen as clearly implicating the planet Venus in the event.  To the best of my knowledge, Velikovsky was unaware of at the time WinC was published.The most common translations of Egyptian texts from pyramid and tomb walls are those of E.A. Wallis Budge, and Dover offers inexpensive, high-quality paperback versions of these.  Budge published his translations towards the end of the 1800s, and had no ax to grind pro or con Velikovsky.In Budge's "Gods of the Egyptians", Vol I, pp 388 - 399, we read the story of the destruction of mankind.  As the story goes, the great god (Ra) had grown old and feeble and men began to blaspheme, saying:"behold, his majesty, life, strength, health, has grown old, his bones are like silver, his limbs like gold, his hair like lapis lazuli real

 

"The attendant gods counseled sending the eye of Ra [Venus] to punish mankind

 

"... let thine eye be upon those who blaspheme thee.  ...Let go forth thine eye, let it destroy for thee those who blaspheme with  wickedness, not an eye can proceed it in resistance, when it goeth  down in the form of Hathor [Venus]…  Went forth then goddess this, she slew mankind on the mountain...  Said goddess this, when I had power over  mankind, it was pleasing to my heart...  It came to pass that Sekhet [again, Venus] of the offerings of the night waded about in their blood, beginning in Suten-henen...

 

Note the term "she slew mankind on the mountain".  Where else do we find this phrase?

 

Isaiah 2/19:   And they shall go into the holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.     

 

Isaiah 2/21:   To go into the clefts of the rocks and into the tops of the  jagged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.

 

Normal earthquakes don't give much warning;  running up into clefts in high mountains thus isn't a normal reaction to them.  Isaiah, however, is talking about a different kind of an earthquake, such as has not been seen in awhile.  The thing is, that when the CAUSE of the earthquake is right there in the sky getting closer daily, you don't need to be but so much of a prophet/astrologer/astronomer to know that you'd BETTER get to high ground or do some kind of thing before long, or you’re in serious trouble.

 

The peculiar phrase from the pyramid wall is in the same vein, describing people seeking shelter in the hills, and mostly dyinganyway.  Sekhet/Sekhmet (Venus) is represented in Egyptian artwork as a lion-headed goddess, frequently driving a chariot over prostrate human bodies in reference to this tale of her destroying mankind.

 

Similar stories are found in the literatures of other nations around the world, including the Maya civilization of South/Central America.  This is where the story gets interesting.  Velikovsky began to piece this story together like a jigsaw puzzle from those parts of the tale which were identical in the literatures of nations too remote from each other for the tale to be borrowed, and he deduced that Venus must in fact be a new planet and predicted that it would be candescently hot simply because it had not had time to cool.  This was in stark and severe contrast to what was commonly taught in 1950:  i.e. that Venus was a 4 billion year old sister planet to Earth and simply due to the closer orbit to the sun, would be about 20 degrees F warmer at a given latitude than Earth is.  This was all just prior to the modern age of space exploration.

 

A prediction based on a novel scientific or historical theory involving a paradigm shift which is that totally at odds with standard beliefs and which turns out to be true, should force a re-examination of beliefs amongst scholars.  When the reality of the 900 F surface temperatures of Venus became known some years later, there should have been a line of scientists and scholars at Immanuel Velikovsky’s door waiting to apologize.  But you could wait a long time for something like that to happen in America.  What DID happen was that a yuppie science flunky by the name of Carl Sagan quickly devised what he termed a “Super Greenhouse” theory to explain the extreme surface temperature, and that quickly became the standard theory amongst astronomers.

A big-picture view of current knowledge of the planet Venus, once thought to be a sister planet of Earth, includes the following facts:

  • A surface temperature of 900 - 1000 degrees F. and the pitiful spectacle of scientists trying to explain that by a greenhouse theory.
  • A planetary surface so new as to require scientists to devise a "global resurfacing event" to explain it.
  • The planet out of thermal balance according to all direct observations.
  • The reverse spin of Venus which cannot be primordial, and must have been caused by interaction with another planet.
  • The phase lock with Earth, indicating which planet that was.
  • Entirely similar myths and legends around the world describing a world-destroying catastrophe with Venus as causal agent.
  • Accurate records on different continents showing not only cycle times for Venus which are different from those of the present, but the SAME different times, from a date at which no known contact between the peoples involved existed.

 

What about Carl Sagan and his Super Greenhouse theory?  Is there any reason to like his Venus greenhouse theory better than his greenhouse theory explaining why we (the planet’s entire human population) all died in 1991 from the oil fires of the Gulf War at that time?

 

A funny situation has arisen in which published data from Venus probes such as the Pioneer Venus probe of 1979 supports Sagan, while raw data supports Velikovsky and this is invariably due to the fact that researchers “correct” the raw findings to values which correspond to standard theories.  Thus for instance, despite albedo values from Pioneer Venus indicating the planet being severely out of thermal balance, F. W. Taylor of the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford describes the value which would correspond to thermal balance as “the most probable value”.  In all such cases, scientific instruments used in experimental measurements are assumed to have failed.

 

Thermal balance of course is absolutely critical to Sagan’s theory.  If Sagan is correct, i.e. if temperatures on Venus and in its atmosphere are caused by sunlight, then energy being absorbed and radiated have to equal out;  if Velikovsky is correct, the planet should be massively out of thermal balance, which is what the raw data in fact indicates.

 

The basic idea of Sagan’s theory is that some modicum of incident sunlight reaches the surface of Venus in the form of ultraviolet radiation and then because of the dense CO2 atmosphere, cannot re-radiate away in the form of infrared radiation.  This is flatly contradicted by the Pioneer Venus infrared flux measurements which measured a whole lot more upwards infrared flux than any sunlight reaching the surface could possibly account for and also by the findings of the Russian Venera probes which sent descender vehicles down to the surface. Those probes reported pitch darkness in the middle cloud layers and then light, faint at first but growing stronger as they went down to the surface so as to indicate that the light at the surface of Venus was locally generated, i.e. a product of some combination of heat, electrical activity, and chemical reactions.

 

NASA News 79-12 (4.19.79) p 1 noted:

 

"The Russian Venera spacecraft found continuous lightning activity from 32km down to about 2km altitude, with discharges as frequent as an amazing 25 per second. The Pioneer Orbiter also observed this lightning, measuring such discharges during every pass across the planet's night hemisphere. The eye would not be able to separate such frequent flashes and an observer on  Venus might see the landscape and dense atmosphere bathed in a continuous eerie electrical glow, accompanied by continuous peals of thunder.

Pioneer experimenters, Dr. Boris Ragent,
Ames Research Center, and Dr.  Jacques Blamont, University of Paris, now believe that the 'mysterious glow' measured by their instruments is real light on Venus, and not something happening on the spacecraft. The glow started at about ten miles altitude, and increased as the two night-side probes approached thesurface.

'Chemical fires' due to reactions of various compounds in the super-heated atmosphere close to, or on, Venus' surface have been cited as a possible source for the glow. Pioneer measurements suggest a 'chemical stew' near the surface whose reactions could fuel such fires.

Lightning discharges also are a possible source of this glows except that the increasing intensity observed going down would be unlikely for lightning, as would be the very steady character of the glow."



More detail was given on pp.5-6, under the heading "Continuous Lightning Confirmed": 

 

There was some controversy over this for a long time because theorists assumed that the dense CO2 atmosphere would damp out and prevent lightning discharges;  nonetheless recent data confirms it:

 

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-11/30/content_7171249.htm

Artists depiction:

An artist's rendition released by the European Space Agency on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007 shows lightning striking the surface of planet Venus. Nearby planet Venus is looking a bit more Earth-like with frequent bursts of lightning confirmed by a new European space probe. For nearly three decades, astronomers 
      have said 
      Venus probably had lightning, ever since a 1978 NASA probe showed signs of electrical activity in its atmosphere. But experts were not sure because of signal interference. (Photo: Xinhuanet/Agency)


This of course makes a total hash of Sagan's "Super Greenhouse(TM)" theory;  If any sunlight DOES get to the surface which is hugely doubtful, whatever it would add to that would be a drop in the ocean.

 

This in particular is the piece of information which the censors and science keepers of the faith at Wikipedia do not want students or the common man (i.e. YOU) to be able to learn about or read.  

 

Velikovsky caught every sort of grief in the 1950s and afterwards, but this sort of nefarious conduct by scientists should not be continuing in 2008.

 

Other books by Velikovsky included a book of geological evidence for recent catastrophes called “Earth in Upheaval” and there is a book titled “Red Earth, White Lies” by Vine DeLoria, the most noted American Indian author of the last century or so which expands upon some of the idea of Earth in Upheaval. 

 

Velikovsky also wrote a series of books dealing with necessary corrections to the notions of med-basin chronologies which come to us from the 1800s;  the first of these, “Ages in Chaos” would be the easiest to come up with.  More recent efforts by European scholars such as Gunnar Heinsohn and Emmett Sweeney expand upon the work of reconstruction begun by Velikovsky and arrive at dates which are often more recent than Velikovsky proposed.

 

Books by Velikovsky

Published by Doubleday:

Published by William Morrow:

  • Stargazers and Gravediggers (1983)

Velikovsky works available online

 

 

 

 

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