Worlds in collision
By Chaim Eliav
This article has been published in Mishpacha of April 20 / 2005.
We faithfully-observant Jews do not require any scientific proof to validate our beliefs. Our heritage is a vibrant one, and it has been transmitted with amazing faithfulness and consistency from generation to generation, without any break.
As Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi wrote: “Direct mesora is equivalent to witnessing (events) with one own eyes.” There is no essential difference between someone who witnesses a specific incident and someone many generations later who has heard an exact report of that event from his parents, so long of course as the chain of that transmission was unbroken and uninterrupted. Our belief in the Torah and the events which it describes is absolute, and no archaeological find or scientific study has the ability to undermine that bedrock belief.
Yet during the past few generations, we have been witness to a phenomenon of deniers. There are Holocaust deniers, even though survivors still exist today.
There are those who deny the establishment of the State of Israel, called the “New historians”, a synonym for “liars”.
There are people who suddenly deny the fact that the Jewish nation ever lived in Israel, claiming that no historical evidence substantiates that fact. In today’s lexicon, such people are often called “professors”.
In that light its no wonder that people deny the exodus from Egypt.
I stumbled upon the world of exodus deniers in 1978, as I prepared a column for the secular Israeli paper Ma’ariv. My column, which appeared every other week and was entitled “Know your Judaism”, was published under the direction of my rabbi’s. In honor of the approaching Pesach holiday, I focused on the amazing finding of Professor Immanuel Velikovsky regarding the exodus from Egypt. In the column I shared with my secular readers potentially provocative material, hoping that they would be prompted to accord the exodus more serious and more respectful. The exodus from Egypt, after all, is the cornerstone to our faith, and the key to the commandments of the Torah. And I was right: The article did indeed inspire broad repercussions.
At the time I didn’t know anything about Professor Velikovsky. Later I learned that at the time he was living in the United States, in the academic capital of Princeton, New Jersey, near the famous Albert Einstein. I had discovered his amazing findings in one of his books I had chanced upon just a short time before Pesach, and I was captivated by what I read.
Once my column was published, I thought I would be able to put the matter to rest. But in truth, that Pesach was precisely when the story began. It started on the in between days of Pesach, with an audio attack. Two radio programs on Kol Israel were devoted to the topic of Velikovsky. Both programs interviewed scientists who mocked the man I had never met, calling him every possible derisive name: charlatan, trickster, forger, ignoramus, money hungry, manipulative, stupid, and who knows what else. Of course, neither program mentioned that what had provoked the scientists, precisely that week, was the fact that the said gentleman had been featured in Ma’ariv’s religion column.
I listened to both programs, and my curiosity was piqued. I sensed that something interesting was hiding behind the curtain of the story called Velikovsky; I wasn’t sure though, what it was. The furious force of the counterattack hinted to me that the fellow was probably right. Otherwise, the deniers wouldn’t have wasted so much energy and verbal ammunition on a topic they saw as ludicrous.
I began reading and investigating. I visited the Haifa home of Professor Velikovsky’s daughter, and discovered a topic that was simply fascinating. I was introduced to his books and to a mammoth collection of publications of both for and against him, still being added to up till this very day, more than fifty years after he rocked the world with his revolutionary theories. Another discovery I made was the lesser-known, ugly face of the American academic establishment, renowned for promoting freedom of expression, research, and the right to doubt one’s colleague.
But when it came to Velikovsky’s affair it became clear that all those ideals held water for certain scientists only when the material in question substantiated their previous beliefs. If not, they would condemn you as a falsifier of facts, and the scientific mafia would make use of all sorts of dubious methods to silence you, including boycotts and persecution, even the spread of lies. To one American researcher, the Velikovsky affair was reminiscent of Galileo’s persecution by the Catholic Church. Scientists considered that persecution to be sign of the darkness of the Middle Ages, the censoring of intellectualism, of narrow mindedness preventing scientific progress.
But here, the American scientific establishment behaved in the exact same manner toward Velikovsky, with the same wickedness, narrow mindedness, and medieval outlook. It is simply amazing to see how the American scientific community pounced upon him when he tried to publish his first book in 1950.
Who was Velikovsky, and why did his theories infuriate the American scientific community?
Parallels in a Papyrus.
In order to understand the world’s response, we must discuss exactly what bothered Professor Immanuel Velikovsky, the Russian born doctor and psychiatrist. For some reason connected to his routine psychological research, he was disturbed by the question: “How could it be that the story of the exodus from Egypt, which holds such a prime position in the Torah, and commandment observation, a story that is repeated in Song of Devorah, and in the Psalms, a mighty event that left a deep impression on the Jewish nation and the neighboring non-Jews as well, as is written in the song at the sea, how could it possibly be that the record of such an event does not appear in any writings of the nations of that period, nor in the history of Egypt which was struck first? How could it be, he wondered.
Aren’t countless events of ancient history recorded in writings of the period? How could it be that not one word was written about the exodus from Egypt? It was certainly an outstanding event. (by the way, this lack of historical records has brought many non-Jewish and Jewish historians to deny the story and question its veracity, from a historical viewpoint)
Immanuel Velikovsky was not a religious person. Still, he believed in the authenticity of the Bible. And so, in contrast to the learned men of his time, decided to find some solution to the riddle.
It was just then, in 1939, that he left Israel for a sabbatical year in the United States. There he dug trough libraries, searching for some clue that would lead him to the solution he sought. And he succeeded. In a New York library, he discovered a translation of an Egyptian papyrus stored in a museum in Leiden, Holland. It was called the Ipuwer Papyrus, and that was the subject of my column in Ma’ariv over twenty years ago.
This papyrus does indeed give the sense that it is an Egyptians description of the Ten Plagues. In the accompanying frame readers can see the parallels between the words of the Torah, and the lament of the Egyptian priest Ipuwer. Note how the Torah describes the Plague of the blood: “And there was blood in all the land of Egypt …” and what Ipuwer the Egyptian saw: “Plague is throughout the land, blood is everywhere”
Most fascinating is the last line, describing the pillar of fire that preceded the Jewish camp: “And the Lord walked before them … with a pillar of fire to illuminate [the way] for them.” The Egyptians saw this stunning sight, but did not explain it correctly: “Behold the fire has mounted up on high. It’s burning goes forth against the enemies of the land.”
The parallels printed here are just a portion of those shared by the papyrus and the Torah. The similarity between the Egyptian plagues and the exodus is blatantly clear.
I admit that when I first read the translation of the papyrus I was very moved. It wasn’t that I was searching for a validation of the exodus from Egypt, Heaven Forbid. I fully believe the Torah’s testimony, in every sense of the word. But it was interesting to see how these mighty events were viewed by a stranger, especially the Egyptian victim.
Apparently Velikovsky was also very excited, as he later wrote in one of his books. He had found external proof of the exodus from Egypt, the proof for which he had been searching. The Egyptians had mentioned it. However, he still had nothing concrete in his hands to present for the scientific community and the wider public. Velikovsky, who wished to convince the scientists who didn’t believe in the exodus, of the veracity of his finding, and that the exodus was indeed an historical event beyond that written in the Torah, still had to solve two problems.
The first problem was that according to the accepted Egyptian dating system, the Ipuwer papyrus belonged to an earlier period, 600 years before the Jews left Egypt. Meaning, it was impossible that the Egyptian priest by the name of Ipuwer could be lamenting an event that would only happen 600 years later.
The second problem was that it was impossible to explain the miracles of Egypt from a natural standpoint.
Obviously, the atheistic scholars would never accept the theory that a miracle had occurred. But because the miracle occurred in the physical reality of the world, it was self evident that some physical changes had taken place. The Nile had been transformed to blood, and the hail had knocked down the trees. Velikovsky wanted to know what had caused the catastrophe described by the Torah and by Ipuwer. If he could find some comprehensive physical explanation for the causes for the Egyptian plagues, (without determining whether a Divine miracle had caused them or not) and prove it, then even the scientists would have to agree with him against their will.
In fact, the solutions that Velikovsky proposed for these two problems were a total revolution in scientific theory of those times. A revolution that pushed the envelope of the scientific world of 1950. The fact that Velikovsky met such vehement opposition, that a virtual dictatorship set out to squelch him by boycotting him and banning him, proved that these scientists could not simply dismiss his theory with an arrogant, casual, comment of “nonsense”.
600 years and finding an exodus instead.
Velikovsky solved the chronological problem with a simple and swift procedure. After examining the topic from every angle, he reached the conclusion that the existing Egyptian chronology had been overestimated, and that it was actually shorter than the historians had surmised.
Even the Egyptologists acknowledge that the chronology is not completely reliable. In contrast, the chronology of the Tanach (Old Testament) is amazingly precise. According to the Tanach, we can determine the exact date of the exodus from Egypt. What did Velikovsky do? In experimental fashion, he erased 600 years from Egyptian history. and aligned the papyrus with the period of the exodus. And that is where the really amazing thing happened. The moment that he recalculated Egyptian history without the 600 years, Velikovsky noted a fascinating corroboration of events between the Tanach and ancient Egyptian writings. It was a corroboration that continued for the next 1000 years until the destruction of the first Temple. The Egyptian writings mentioned many events that happened in Israel during the reign of the Kings and Prophets. Suddenly it grew clear who the Amelikites were. The historical records mentioned the Queen of Sheba, described the majesty of king Solomon, and noted the great woman who lived in Shunam who lived during the time of Ahab. The Egyptians even wrote what the indians in America said when the sun failed to rise after it was stopped by by Yehoshua in Givon. There were many other such enlightening finds.
Velikovsky’s comprehensive effort to reconstruct the history of the ancient nations through this 600 year adjustment was the inspiration for his series “Ages in Chaos”. Most important of all, it grew clear that the Jewish nation and its history held considerable weight and import at the time, in complete distinction to that implied by most accepted textbooks.
That was how Velikovsky solved the first problem.
As for the second problem, what actually happened in the natural world when the plagues struck Egypt, causing the crumbling of the Egyptian monarchy, Velikovsky reached another revolutionary conclusion. After examining all the ancient myths of the time, he realized that the plagues were not merely local phenomena, their length and breath had to have global ramifications, (and our Sages have taught us that when the Red Sea was split, all the water in the world was split. Similarly, the Midrash writes that the wise men of the nations came to Bilaam and asked him whether God was bringing a new flood upon the world. Bilaam answered that God had already promised not to bring a flood to the world. The wise men said: Perhaps not a flood of water, but a flood of fire? Bilaam calmed them, saying: No, God is now giving the Torah to His nation Israel. Apparently, the echoes of certain earth-shattering natural phenomena can be heard by the nations of the world. And if that is the case, they will certainly record their fears)
Indeed Velikovsky found in ancient sources a plethora of ancient myths, tales, and clear historical testimonies, from many unrelated sources, that provided much information allowing him to reconstruct what had occurred when those catastrophes had taken place. And the emergent picture matches the story told by the Torah.
Velikovsky reached the conclusion that his initial assumptions were proven facts. Once he was sure of that, he set out to find physical evidence of the theory. He devoted himself to a comprehensive study of the mechanics of the heavenly bodies, geology, paleontology, physics, chemistry, and radioactive dating, amongst others. His impressive conclusion was a broad reconstruction of events that had occurred thousands of years before. Velikovsky’s major finding was that the world had witnessed a series of natural disasters whose source was in the heavenly bodies. These disasters had been clearly witnessed by the medieval nations, and caused abrupt changes throughout ancient history. This article is not the right venue to expand on Velikovsky’s findings. Instead I will condense his conclusion to a few lines: The nature of these catastrophic events and their results, as described in the historical records, caused Velikovsky to conclude that the event that activated the clamor and rocked the earth was the fiery emergence of Venus from the planet Jupiter. After it sprang out of Jupiter and before it entered its current orbit, Venus draw close to Earth a number of times, and each time it caused massive damages.
It is important to note that Velikovsky also concluded that space is not an empty vacuum, containing only the heavenly bodies and operating solely according to the laws of gravity and Newtons laws of physics, but that there also exists bodies and electromagnetic particles that form wide magnetic fields and the possibility of fierce electromagnetic degeneration. In truth, my intention in this article is not to examine the veracity of this theory. I am not a scientist, nor do I need any scientific proofs to believe in the exodus from Egypt. And Velikovsky, in his obsessive quest to explain everything in scientific terms palatable to the scientific community, also drew conclusions that we as believers cannot accept and which are completely unnecessary to bolster his magnificent theory.
In a telephone conversation I conducted with him he agreed that a specific Jerusalem rabbi he mentioned by name would examine his findings in case that his books would be translated to Hebrew. My main focus here is the hysterical reaction of the scientific community to what they saw as an attempt to prove that the Tanach was true from a purely scientific viewpoint.
The great battle begins.
In 1950 most historians and astronomers saw Velikovsky’s predictions and conclusions as nonsense. But while most aspiring scientists are accorded the right to propose theories even when the scientific community is not convinced of their veracity, this is not what happened to Velikovsky. His book; “Worlds in Collision”, became the target of a fierce attack, even before it rolled of the printing presses. The attack was led by Dr. Harlow Shapley, a famous astronomer who then served as director of the Harvard University Observatory. Velikovsky met with Shapley in the spring of 1946 and described the ramifications of his extended, exhaustive study of the ancient writings. He asked whether Shapley would agree to read his manuscript, which had been in the preparatory stages for six years, and carry out certain experiments to verify the theory. Shapley, who was highly pressured at the time, turned down Velikovsky. However, he stipulated that if the manuscript would be read and approved by a well known scholar he knew, then he would find the time to read it, and he or a colleague would carry out the experiments in question.
Dr. Horace Kallen, a well-known scholar and co-founder of the New School for Social Research in New York, read Velikovsky’s work. Deeply impressed, he wrote to Shapley and urged him to carry out the experiments, saying that if the theory should prove valid, “not only astronomy but history and a good many of the anthropological and social sciences would need to be reconsidered both for their content and explanation.”
Shapley, when he heard that the work cast doubt on the stability of the solar system, sufficed with the following reply: “If Velikovsky is right, the rest of us are crazy.”
Not only that, a short time after the book appeared in print, a university student asked Shapley whether she could base her research paper on the book. He answered her in the negative, saying Velikovsky was a liar and a forger. As for her question whether he read the book, Shapley provided the following scientific answer: “I didn’t read it and I don’t plan on reading it, because he is a liar and a forger.” It was as simple as that. When it came to Velikovsky, the famous American “benefit of the doubt” had for some reason disappeared. At the onset of 1950, when the Macmillan publication company announced its intentions to publish Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision”, Shapley tried to prevent the book from going to press. He threatened to “sever his ties” with the company, which relied on textbook sales for a substantial part of its profits. In what seemed to be an organized boycott, a long line of letters arrive in the Macmillan offices, all written by scientists, authors, and professors who used Macmillan textbooks for their courses. The letters warned the company to abandon its plan of publishing Velikovsky’s books. At that point Macmillan had already begun the printing process. Faced with a though dilemma, the company announced that it would agree to a last minute critique of the book by three well known scientists. When two out of the three approved publication, Macmillan went ahead with the printing and the book appeared on the shelves in April of that year.
Thats when the storm broke.
Many saw the logic in Velikovsky’s ideas and supported his right to express them. Gordon A. Atwater, curator or the Hayden Planetarium in New York’s Museum of Natural History, is quoted at the beginning of Hulton Urstler’s column in Readers Digest as saying that “the theories presented by Dr. Velikovsky are unique and should be presented to the world of science in order that the underpinnings of modern science be re-examined.”
Atwater was so taken by Velikovsky’s ideas that he planned an exhibit in the planetarium depicting the theory of Worlds in Collision. In addition, he prepared a cover article for the weekly “This Week”, enjoining readers to approach the book without prior suspicions or preconceptions.
The night before the weekly went to print, Atwater was asked to resign from his position at the museum.
A short time later, Macmillan fired James Putnam, the editor who had arranged the book contract. Pressure mounted on Macmillan to stop marketing “Worlds in Collision”. Eight weeks after the book first appeared, Macmillan transferred rights to Doubleday, a company that specialized in non-academic publications. That was an unprecedented step in the history of book publishing, especially considering that at the time, “Worlds in Collision” was at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for works of non-fiction.
The initial opposition to Velikovsky’s ideas was so violent that several commentators were reminded of Galileo’s condemnation by the Inquisition. Apparently, the scientific community could not deal with the possibility that the Bible might be proven true. And so Velikovsky was ostracized for many years, even though his books were bestsellers. The scientific community mocked and degraded him, and he was isolated and ignored. All his requests to scientifically test the data he presented were rejected or ignored outright. In hindsight, it is clear that he was persecuted because he forced the scientific world to consider the authenticity of the Torah. That is what a scientist declared many years after the book were published: That he would never forgive Velikovsky for causing so many Jews and Christians to once again believe in the Bible. An Australian, non-Jewish scientist, a proponent of th theory that the heavenly bodies suffered disturbances during fairly recent historical periods, recounted that whenever he lectures about Velikovsky’s theories, the audience always applauds enthusiastically. However, the moment they realize that those theories validate the Torah’s version of the exodus of Egypt, he is always met with fierce antagonism and opposition.
Conjecture becomes fact
But soon Velikovsky’s moment of greatness arrived. The scientific world that had vilified and pursued him mercilessly was thunderstruck to witness the unbelievable: His predictions begone to be fulfilled. From then until today, new findings have come to the fore, from radio-telescopic observations and space missions, which validate and lend credence to many of his predictions and assumptions. As far as I can remember, there are seventy-eight scientific rulings that were proven true by scientific observations. Dr. Lionel Rubinoff, a philosophy professor in Ontario’s Trent University, summed it up with the following words: “Velikovsky begins with myths and history, develops a hypothesis, and then implements it with and explanation of natural phenomena. Which is unbelievable, because now there appear, finally, the results of experiments and tests, and they tend to strengthen the hypothesis.”
In fact, the proofs are literally amazing. I will share a few of them.
- The first of Velikovsky’s conclusions that the planet Venus detached from the planet Jupiter, was received with scornful derision. According to the preferred astronomical hypothesis, the planets have their source beyond the solar system, in a giant galaxy of cosmic dust. Ten years after the appearance of “Worlds in Collision”, R.A Lyttleton, the famous British cosmologist, proved mathematically that the planet Venus, and essentially all the “internal” planets, had detached from Jupiter, though is his opinion it had happened much earlier. In 1974, data collected by the space shuttle Mariner 10 proved that this thesis was in fact a solid one. “Irregular spaces in the slope of the planet” reported the crew that analyzed the Mariner data, “point to the existence of a tail resembling a comet …”
Meaning, Velikovsky’s calculations were right.
- Velikovsky claimed that the planet Venus was “burning” with intense heat at specific historical junctures. In 1950, most researchers believed that the atmosphere around the planet Venus was merely several degrees hotter than that surrounding planet Earth, certainly not more than the boiling point of water. Velikovsky , in contrast, anticipated that even though thousands of years had passed since its fiery detachment, the planet would still be much hotter than Earth. In 1962, when Mariner II passed near Venus, it registered a temperature of 800 degrees Fahrenheit, 299 degrees higher than the boiling point of lead. In later, more precise examinations, temperatures of 900 degrees were registered. Once again, Velikovsky had been proven right.
- Another conclusion of Velikovsky: “I claimed that Venus has a very massive atmosphere at the time when my opponent and critic, Spencer Jones, claimed that Venus has less atmosphere than Earth.”
In 1966, the Russian research shuttle Venere 3 was completely unprepared for the pressure that it encountered when it landed on Venus. The shuttle exploded into shards. Apparently, the atmosphere on Venus was ninety-five times denser than that on Earth. Once again, scientific evidence had lined up on Velikovsky’s side.
- Velikovsky claimed that organic molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen were present on Venus. Indeed, in February 1974, Mariner 10 discovered those three elements in the upper layer, a fact that lent strong support for Velikovsky’s view.
In 1978, the data collected by the Pioneer Venus shuttle that had examined the atmosphere of Venus, proved that there indeed existed a substantial percentage of methane (hydrocarbon). Not only that, the shuttle data astounded the the researchers with the inescapable conclusion that the composition of Venus was inherently different than that of Earth. The percentage of the isotope ergon-36 in Venus’s atmosphere, for example, was scores more than the percentage found in Earth. Ergon is a noble gas that does not undergo chemical transformations, and its relative presence in the atmosphere is a function solely of some radioactive degeneration.
- Velikovsky claimed that outer space is not completely empty, and that electromagnetism file a basic function in the solar system. Virtually without exception, all the astronomers of the early Fifties opposed that view. Among the opponents was Albert Einstein, an acquaintance of Velikovsky since the twenties. Despite the fact that Einstein showed enthusiasm for several of Velikovsky’s basic concepts, he strongly opposed the theory that space includes wide magnetic fields, that the sun and the planets were charged bodies, and that electromagnetism fills a role in celestial mechanics.
In June 1954, when the two scholars lived in close proximity in the city of Princeton, New Jersey, Velikovsky suggested to Einstein that they test his theory. In writing, he explained that the theory could be proven correct or unfounded by the results of an experiment testing whether or not Jupiter emitted radio waves. Einstein responded in his usual style, with notes in the margins of the documents, one of which discounted that possibility. Ten months later, at the beginning of 1955, astronomers in the Carnegie Institute were shocked to pick up strong radio noises originating from Jupiter.
Once again, Velikovsky was right.
When Einstein learned of the findings, he announced with great emphasis that he would use his influence to have Velikovsky’s theories tested scientifically. Nine days later, Einstein died. “World in Collision” was found open on his desk.
- Velikovsky also claimed, beginning in 1954, that considerable quantities of the noble gases ergon and neon would be present in Mars’s atmosphere.
At the beginning of the Seventies, Russian studies of Mars proved that Velikovsky’s predictions were correct.
- Even the moon holds proof to the cosmic events which Velikovsky described. On July 21, 1969, that day that the first person landed on the moon, the New York Times published a column by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky summing up his expectations. He wrote: “I establish that less than 3000 years ago the surface of the moon was often molten and bubbling. The lunar rock and coagulated lava are still rich, apparently in magnetic residue. I will not be surprised if bethomen or carvidim or barbonatim would be found in the composition of the rocks. I predict that strong radioactivity will be found in limited areas as a result of interplanetary electric degeneration. Similarly, I predict that there are many earthquakes upon the surface of the moon.”
These assumptions, along with others, were send in a memorandum to Professor H.H. Hess, president of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Most of the astronomers saw these predictions as wild ravings whose veracity was highly doubtful or even impossible. To their amazement, an analysis of the rock samples and other data collected on the moon by the six Apollo missions proved that once again, Velikovsky’s predictions had been on the mark.
A Gentlemanly Debate?
If you thought that Velikovsky’s reputation was restored after these amazing successes, think again. For some reason, Velikovsky was never awarded the right as a scientist to propose theories, even after his ideas were proven by experimentation. Einstein behaved like a gentleman when he learned that he had been mistaken, but what about all the others?
Even today, astronomers still attribute a very meager possibility to Velikovsky’s claim that the planet Venus originated in a comet that detached from Jupiter, or that the orbit of planet Earth had suddenly changed both 2700 and 3500 years before.
Geologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote a few years ago in the monthly Natural History, that he would continue to renounce any budding ideas that stemmed from unprofessional sources. He also wrote that “I don’t think that Velikovsky will be amongst the winners in this battle, which is hardest of all to determine.”
But is difficult to completely ignore the Velikovsky phenomenon. The validation that his ideas garnered after each successive space mission exerted pressure on the scientific establishment. Since the appearance of the first edition in 1950, “Worlds in Collision” was reprinted many times, and translated in many languages. Several scientific periodicals devoted entire issues to Velikovsky’s ideas His theories inspired courses and seminars in many universities. Many scholarly articles found (and still find) their basis in his work, in an assortment of disciplines ranging from ancient history to international relations. Many books, some in favor, and some against, discussed Velikovsky’s theories.
The upper crust scientific monthly “Signs”, in its comments on the Velikovsky phenomenon, pointed out that his ideas now seem to be a dividing line among the mainstream American scientific community.
But the scientific community did not rest on its laurels. In February 1974 The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held a symposium in San Francisco dedicated to Velikovsky’s theories. In a wearying debate that lasted seven hours Velikovsky stood his ground against a battery of attackers. In order to prove Velikovsky’s ignorance, the association simply forged portions of his books, and that is what they used as the basis of the public debate. When Velikovsky tried crying fraud, claiming that the lecturers were disproving things he had never written,they ignored him completely. He was accorded much less time for rebuttal than that allowed to the lecturers who opposed him. In his lecture, he vehemently and heatedly defended his position, and refuted all the points they had made. At the conclusion of his speech, a large crowd of AAAS members and guests stood up and applauded him with prolonged cheering.
But his grand performance and the enthusiastic response did not much help Velikovsky. The world of academia continued to reject him, and when a review of that fateful symposium was published, all those “men of science” had no problems reprinting the forged versions of his books, once again denying him the right to respond. Apparently, this was fitting punishment for someone who tried to prove the authenticity of the story of the exodus from Egypt.
Velikovsky’s True Place
Then the well known atheistic astronomer Carl Sagan of Cornell University, published a derisive article, fifty-seven pages long, on the Velikovsky world view. He wrote: “Where Velikovsky is original, he is apparently wrong. …. Where he is right, others have preceded him.” But in all this comprehensive work, Sagan did not relate at all to those of Velikovsky’s astronomic predictions that had been proven true.
In 1978 the book “Velikovsky and the Scientific Establishment” appeared, written by Velikovsky himself, and the editors of the “Chronus Journal”. The book addressed all of Carl Sagan’s arguments and also pointed out some course mistakes in his calculations, as well as those of other critics.
After that symposium, many others conferences were held, all centered round Velikovsky’s work. As if to spite his detractors, more and more reports about Jupiter came in from Pioneer 10 and 11, the Mariner shuttle that passed near Venus and Mercury, and lastly, from pioneer Venus, that continue to lend credence to Velikovsky’s theories.
Until the day he died in November 1979, Velikovsky continues to heatedly defend his his positions and to refute every opposing claim. Today there exists a sizable population of Velikovsky’s supporters, many of them experts in natural science, the discipline that most often encounters the issues he raised. Even today, there still appear scientific journals dedicated to his theory. “It is not essentially so important what is the true place of Velikovsky in the revolution currently rocking many scientific disciplines”, Velikovsky said in his speech at a convention for the Advancement of Science. “But my hope is that this symposium will be a belated recognition of the fact that by calling derisive names in stead of testing and experimenting, nothing is achieved. None of my critics can erase the magnetosphere, nobody can stop the noises from Jupiter, nobody can cool down Venus, and nobody can change a single sentence in my books.”
That is a small glimpse into a fascinating affair in which freedom of expression was stifled in the name of science, just for the sake of avoiding the truth. The following anecdote can explain the entire phenomenon: A well known archaeologist argued with an Israeli historian, who proved to him the veracity of Velikovsky’s thesis regarding a specific historical issue they were debating. The stunned researcher answered: “So what do you want me to do, burn all the books I’ve written on the subject? I don’t want to!”
That is certainly a most “scientific” argument, and one we cannot refute.