Lysithea
[Click on the name of the moon above for astronomical information.]

Lysithea (Greek): Daughter of Oceanus. (Moon of Jupiter.)


Myth Versus Mathematics

Velikovsky's Theory

The explanation of the plagues of Egypt and the dividing of the Sea of Passage at the time of the Exodus of the Israelites as natural phenomena was not accepted by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky. He saw these events as the first manifestation of the early states of a cosmic catastrophe which struck the whole earth and which reached its zenith 52 years later when, as Joshua was pursuing the Canaanites, "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and did not go down about a whole day."

On a day some time in the middle of the second millennium BCE, the earth either ceased to rotate or tilted over on its axis. By the advancement of this theory and by his explanation of the cause of the phenomena, Dr. Velikovsky launched a formidable assault on the entrenched dogmas of astronomy and geology. He challenged Newtonís belief in the general orthodoxy of the universe and propounded a heresy as abhorrent to modern scientists as were the opinions of Galileo and Copernicus to medieval ecclesiastics. Heretics are no longer burnt at the stake; they are either ridiculed or ignored.

Why are Velikovskyís theories so outrageous? If the sun stood still for a whole day, the most fundamental beliefs of astronomy are denied, for it is assumed that the earth has always rotated from west to east and it has always taken 365 days, 5 hours, and 49 minutes to go around the sun. Velikovsky claimed that the earthís movements have been erratic, that it once ceased to revolve and that, previously, it took only 360 days to complete its orbit.

He believed that some 3,500 years ago, and again 700 years later, the earth was affected by the appearance in the sky of a giant comet which eventually became the planet Venus. The close proximity to the earth of this comet caused, at its first appearance, certain phenomena and, at its second and closer appearance, the effect of prolonged day and night in different parts of the world. Dr. Velikovsky, a scholar and not an astronomer, claimed to have found worldwide traditions of these unusual catastrophes and an Egyptian eyewitness description of the occurrences recorded in the Bibleís chapter, Exodus.

The first clue came from biblical verses which state that great stones were cast down from heaven. Taken in combination with Exodus, these statements implied an unusual state of affairs which, if they were true, must presumably have been witnessed by people other than the Israelites. If a day was prolonged in one part of the world, a long period of darkness must have prevailed elsewhere. Dr. Velikovsky found that there were many traditions of prolonged darkness in the western hemisphere, and in the eastern half of he world of a day of unusual length, both accompanied by stories of a cosmic cataclysm.

These widespread traditions suggested that the earth, at an undisclosed date, had been struck by some appalling catastrophe, the confused memory of which had been preserved in the form of myths. They seemed to recall a battle in the sky from which Venus, hitherto unknown, emerged as a planet. It is a question of myths versus mathematics.

Many of the ancient traditions of the Peruvians, Mayas, and Mexicans of America were recorded soon after the Spanish conquests. Mexican annals related that the sun did not appear for a four-fold night and that 52 years before another catastrophe had occurred. The Mayas believed that some time in the past there had been a period in which the sunís motion had been interrupted and the waters had turned red. The sacred book of the Mayas, the Popul Vuh, says: "It was ruin and destruction... the sea was piled up... it was a great inundation... people were drowned in a sticky substance raining from the sky... the face of the earth grew dark and the gloomy rain endured days and nights... and then there was a great din of fire above their heads." The entire population was annihilated. Other Central American myths contain stories of a deluge of sticky rain of bitumen from heaven; men were seized by madness and tried to escape it by sheltering in caverns but the caverns were suddenly closed. The cataclysm was preceded by a collision of stars and was followed by an inundation of the sea. The Peruvians had similar traditions. A pattern of legends suggest that a cosmic catastrophe resulting in a long period of darkness accompanied by tidal waves, hurricanes and by the fall of giant stones and bloody rain from the sky, preceded the appearance of a new planet.

Outside the western hemisphere there were similar stories of a prolonged day. Chinese chronologies reported that, in the time of the Emperor Yaltou: "The sun did not set for a number of days; the forests were set on fire, a high wave reaching the sky poured over the land." The Altai Tatars spoke of a catastrophe in which "blood turned the whole world red." The Voguls of Siberia said that "God sent a sea of fire upon the earth."

Many ancient cosmological myths referred to a battle in the sky in which the planet god slays a sky monster, usually a dragon or a serpent. According to the Mayas: "The sun refused to show itself and during four days the world was deprived of light. Then a great star appeared and it was given the name of Quetzacoatl." That means feathered serpent, a term which may indicate a comet with a tail. In other myths, the battle was between Bel and the Dragon, Marduk and Tiamat, Isis and Seth, Vishnu and the Serpent, and Zeus and Typhon. In the Greek myth, the final act of the sky battle takes place at Lake Serbon on the borders of Palestine and Egypt.

Other traditions and myths suggest that the new star, which disrupted the movement of the earth and caused a world conflagration, as a comet which became Venus. Pythagoreans claimed that one of the planets had been a comet, and it is variously described as having had feathers, a beard, horns, a crown of awful splendor, or as scattering its flame in fire.

Velikovsky claimed that Venus was hitherto unknown and that these traditions record its birth. The astronomical charts of the Hindus, Babylonians and Mayas, all of whom were particularly interested in astronomy, show only four planets. In the Hindu table of planets, dated 3100 BCE, Venus alone is absent, and the Babylonians named Venus "the great star that joins the other great stars." Even more significant are the astronomical tablets of the Assyrians, found at Nineveh. They comprised the year-formula of an early king named Ammizaduza, and appear to show either obvious errors or that the orbit of Venus was previously different. Sky charts found in an Egyptian tomb dating from the period of Queen Hatshepsut show the stars in reversed orientation.

In Velikovskyís interpretation, Venus came into conjunction with the earth and, 700 years later, with Mars. These near collisions caused the stoppage or tilting of the earth and the change in the length of the year. They also reversed the direction of the earthís rotation. He finds proof of this in certain traditions.

In the Statesman, Plato speaks of the "changing in the rising and setting of the sun and other heavenly bodies, how in these times they used to set in the quarter where they now rise" and "at certain periods the Universe has its present circular motion, and at other periods it revolves in the reverse direction." Herodotus was told by priests in Egypt that four times since Egypt became a kingdom "the sun rose contrary to his wont: twice he rose where he now sets and twice he sets where he now rises." The Chinese recall that "only since a new order of things has it come about that the stars move from east to west." The Eskimos of Greenland believed that the world had turned over. The Aztecs of Mexico, during the long period of darkness, wondered where the sun would reappear from and were surprised when it rose in the east.

Dr. Velikovsky believed that the plagues of Egypt, the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, and the division of the waters of the Sea of Passage (Bible: Exodus) were early manifestations of the contact as the earth brushed through the cometís tail. Red dust and hot stones descended upon the earth and gave rise to hurricanes and tidal waves.

Exodus and the Egyptian Papyrus Ipuwer appear to refer to the same series of events as are related in the traditions of other peoples. As the earth passes through the tail of the comet (now known as Venus), red dust turns the waters red and makes them undrinkable. The heat engendered by its close proximity causes vermin, frogs, flies, and locusts to propagate at a feverish rate, the crops are destroyed by a hail of faire, darkness covers the earth, and, finally, an earthquake kills many of those who live in houses.

Those few scientists who have bothered to discuss Velikovskyís theory reject it on the grounds that the present orbits of Venus and Mars are respectively inside and outside that of the earth. If they had intersected 2,600 years ago, and if the orbits of the earth and Venus had intersected 3,400 years ago, then, according to the laws governing planetary motions, all three would continue to pass near the points at which these encounters had taken place, which is not the case.

Velikovsky claimed that his theories could be substantiated if Venus were found to be still hot (evidence of its recent birth), enveloped in hydrocarbon clouds (remnants of its cometís tail), and had anomalous rotational motion (evidence that it had suffered unusual perturbations before settling into its orbit as a comet).

In 1963, the space probe Mariner II confirmed that the temperature of Venus was 800 degrees Fahrenheit. It possessed a 15-mile thick envelope composed, not of carbon dioxide or water as was previously supposed, but of heavy molecules of hydrocarbons. Observations taken by the US Naval Research Laboratory indicated that Venus has a slow retrograde motion, a characteristic unique among the planets.

Whether or not Velikovskyís basic theory is correct, which appears to be unprovable, he made several contributions to historical knowledge. Chief among these is that he has shown the need to draw upon the accumulated records of human experience.


Resources

Ages in Chaos
by Immanuel Velikovsky

Ancient Mysteries
by Rupert Furneaux

Carl Sagan and Immanuel Velikovsky
by Charles Ginenthal

Worlds in Collision
by Immanuel Velikovsky


Links to Other Sites

(Bookmark before leaving?)

The Plagues of Egypt
The Pyramid Texts


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