1 January 1980
Dear Professor de Grazia:
I have now read your manuscript, "Chaos and Creation," in its entirety and have a number of criticisms to offer. You asked me to comment upon the work as a "uniformitarian," which I suppose you can call me, but naturally I feel that I am judging the material on grounds of science and scholarship, rather than upon the basis of what is non-uniformitarian. As a matter of fact, I should say that I have found some points of agreement with your work, and, if I do not mention them here, it is because you specifically asked me for negative, not positive, criticism. So I am, as you requested, acting only as the devil's advocate.
Granted as you imply in the Foreword that you have at least one scientific or ethnological (conventional) authority supporting every significant point that you make (I haven't checked it throughout the book), this does not mean that your theory holds together. No more than the blind men could describe the real elephant when each could only feel a part of him. Your theory or model of quantavolutionary primevalogy has to make a real world, one in which people can believe and experts can work with.
As you painfully-well perceive, the most vulnerable side of your book has to do with the absolute chronology of events. I remain quite unpersuaded that the holocene period is as catastrophic and as crowded as you make it out to be. One can take 14,000 years ago as its beginning (many dates have been roughly of this order), but you are claiming to include in the period, explicitly or implicitly, the whole Paleolithic (which now means the Quaternary plus upper Tertiary) in respect to humans, the Triassic (-200 my) with respect to the Spreading of the ocean basins and laying of the ocean bottoms, the carboniferous (-300 my) with regard to coal and oil deposits, the Cambrian ( -500 my) insofar as Grand Canyon is included, and the Precambrian ( -600 to -2500 + my), when it comes to atmospheric changes, the coming of the Moon, the newness of gases, uranium flux and so on. In fact, you go about placing whatever you think appropriate whenever in time your theory requires that it must have happened. About the only law of time that you seem to obey is the principle of superposition. which is only a relative ordering of times and which you appear to think can permit anything to occur in the absolute measure of time.
Surely you must be aware that even if all the conventional dates of all the events that you compress are incorrect by many millions of years, they will still not fall within your few thousand years. It would be a miraculous coincidence if half-a-dozen radioactive tests of time were all wrong, totally wrong. It is hard to conceive how hundreds of geologists and geophysicists working upon these tests have not to any degree acquired your suspicions, and you must admit that you have not yourself performed any of the tests, which require extensive laboratory facilities.
Even if all radioactive tests were wrong you would have to grant the unanimity of opinion in respect to the older methods which you have listed in the first category of your tests-of-time chart, (Chapter 3). They, too, are the word of a horde of geologists. Nowhere will you find them hesitating in putting most of your "holocene events" much further into the past. Granted that some tectonic, depositional, and climatic events are saltations of normal rates of activity, these form only a small fractions of all events that have occurred and all changes that have shaped the present surface of the globe. One anomaly or exception does not undo a rule or make a new rule; how do you know, or how does your reader know, the ratio of exceptions to the normal cases?
You make much of your revolutionary column; it is merely the geological column extended into the atmosphere. You will have as much difficulty proving a recent catastrophe in every column on Earth as geologists have in finding a real geological column with all ages represented by it. Geologists may not be able to prove that a certain discontinuity is a product of depositional slowdown, or slowly changing material of erosion, but you cannot prove it to be a product of disastrously speeded up or cut-off erosion, or quick change in the material mix of erosion.
Fifty or more fields of science and learning say that they need lots of time to explain all the changes that have occurred in the behavior of whatever they may be studying -- genetics, birth of planets, development of human intelligence, culture, a rock system, a river valley, an ocean floor, a change of climate, and so on. You take away their time and give them explosives. You're smashing the clock. It won't work. Even if it could work it would take a couple of centuries for the large body of scientists and the public to feel comfortable with your paradigm.
I would like to point out to you what you would have to give up if your short time-scale were proven wrong:
(1) Your homo schizo would be looking for a new niche in time farther back and opponents would be encouraged to go back to work on their evolutionary ladders.
(2) The surface of the Earth, the atmosphere, the solar system -- would have a new lease on life (backwards life, of course). Here again, the evolutionary idea, or at the least a long-term catastrophism, would take over.
(3) Many of the anomalies that you have elevated to the dignity of data will be degraded to anomalies again.
(4) Most disastrous of all, the large body of legendary evidence would have to be discarded, since the memorial generations of the human mind can go back fourteen thousand years, but they cannot go back a hundred thousand or a million or remember events that happened before homo sapiens existed ten or a hundred million years ago.
What would remain then -- if the attacks upon your timescale were to succeed -- would be the general sequences and interplay of forces; a method of explaining orogeny, sea bottoms the moon emplacement, the extermination and birth of species, etc. A theory of the time-stretched solar-system as an evolution from a binary would remain hence the movements of planets, the disintegration of Super-Uranus in nova phases, the heavy atmospheric envelope of the binary system, etc. But all of this can probably be successfully attacked too.
You coin too many words. Take your calendar of ages, now wouldn't it be better to call Urania "The Stone Age" which it is; and Lunaria "the Hunting Age"? And then Saturnia, "the Golden Age;" Jovea, Mercuria, and Venusia, "the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, and Late Bronze Ages," and Martia "the Iron Age," and perhaps Solaria, "the Machine Age," going back, perhaps, to the first clocks and mining equipment of the European middle ages. The god names are too romantic and animistic. As for the general term "revolutionary primevalogy." well, no one will buy that. "Quantavolution" sounds a little better. I think that you are stuck with "catastrophism" even though you say that the great disasters gave us all our "goods" as well as "bads" and made us what we are.
Of course, it all starts with your Solaria Binaria electrical system. What can I say about that? The scenario you provide is simply unbelievable within the narrow time span that you have set for yourself. You say that the "straw that broke the camel's back" came about 14,000 years ago and the electrical current pulsing between Sun and Super-Uranus diminished so much that the latter big body began to fission and the small planets and magnetic tube began to spiral in towards the central axis or arc of fire. Why should it happen so fast considering that it was running for -- what? -- a billion or 5 billion years before?
As for Juergens' theory that the Sun is a dispatcher of charge obtained from galactic sources, you must know that he and you are about the only people who believe it (I hadn't ever heard of it before you used it). Here, as in so many places in the book, I felt that you were asking for more than any reader could give, that is, acceptance, or at least consideration, of a general theory that was quite unacceptable to prevailing science in every single chapter. You should perhaps concentrate on just one chapter and do a whole book on it alone.
This is how I feel about the Moon chapter, too. The topic is large and your theory about it far too big for the few pages given it. Again you are proceeding with clues that are ambiguous and faint. I cannot say that they are erroneous. It is simply that I expect, when more data comes in, that the Moon's material will prove to be distinctly different from all possible Earth material: I expect, too, that you'll just have too much of a problem explaining away the continental-type rock found in several places in the Pacific Basin where the Moon would have erupted from.
Frankly I find it hard to imagine so much of the crust skimming into space. I won't demand calculations at this point; I know that George Darwin and others have claimed such a Moon eruption, but not so impossibly recent. The calculations of the force required to pull away the crust, the amount of interrupted Earth rotation, and the paths of the Intruder and the pursuing crustal matter would be anyone's guess; you'd probably be able to ward off attacks on these accounts. But the heat and gases released would annihilate the atmosphere (your dodge here of the Earth's atmosphere being part of the great binary tube atmosphere is just too neat).
Aren't you just like Höerbiger-Bellamy, whom you criticize for having fetched earth satellites out of thin air and then put them through all the gyrations and crashes necessary to account for all of the peculiarities of earth history and morphology? You move the planets at will in a shorter period than these men do. The "gods" fly hither and yon at your bidding. Of course you can then explain all that is asked about nature and mankind.
Even if, as seems possible, several catastrophes caused by external encounters have devastated the globe, it is more likely that one or more comets, coursing thru the solar system, have inflicted the damage and terrorized the human mind, than it is that the planets, each in turn, have done this work. This theory would allow you to keep the planets in their present location into the indeterminate long past. It would let you give up your attempt to destroy what is generally considered to be the necessary long-term dating and evolutionary process. Further, all the religious practices and beliefs associated with planets (accepting your evidence of this as sufficient) would naturally result from their being the regularly observed bodies that are most similar to comets. And, further, comets, upon passing thru the solar system, would affect and "inflame" observably planets other then Earth and would appear also to come from the planets. The increasing evidence of the possibility of our Sun to create catastrophe -- some of which you bring out in your last chapter -- leads me to think that all of your quantavolutions could have been caused by the Sun in one or another of its aberrances. I realize that you have bricked up the door to the sunlight by showing the sun to be a weak god and the planets as great gods. Still, my position is that time is long and these disasters far away in time; therefore, it is impossible to consider these human memories as authentic. Probably the planets stand for some small special phenomena of recent years. Then the sun could carry the burden of the very great primeval disasters of millions and billions of years ago.
Your general theory of a recent Solaria Binaria and of planetary deviations, can be rendered useless, not to say wrong, if the ancients had simply observed that the planets are moving stars, not fixed stars, that when the comet was also unfixed and wandering, and that when the comet approached from the region of a planet, it became automatically a herald emissary, representative of that planet and the planet would then be given various names and traits characteristic of the cometary behavior and its effects upon Earth.
Admittedly it is difficult to explain the origins of gods. But I would rather believe that if Uranus were the first god everywhere, it was because some fascinating phenomena in the skies made him an appealing idea and the idea had other uses, as e. g. a father substitute, and was spread by traders, warriors and other ways of cultural diffusion. I think that man had enough fears within him to use the suggestion of a god fearfully without the "god" in reality behaving catastrophically.
Here and in many other places you could have "settled for half a loaf;" man can work himself into a froth with very little help from celestial rage-makers; just watch a poor farmer shake his fist at the sky when there has been no rain!
Again on the matter of accepting "half a loaf," most scientists might today accept your description of the universe, the skies and even the solar system as more unsettled, explosive, threatening and damaging than is generally believed. But why go to extremes? There could have been solar disturbances so extensive as to cause Venus to behave strangely -- as if alive -- at one time, perhaps even light up if its rotation were slowed down. Jupiter might have exploded some brilliant gases under solar influence, too. It's quite believable from your evidence, also, that the Earth may have suffered a disaster from a comet tail on some occasion, and from a large meteoroid falling in the area of the Near East on another occasion.
You should stop at that; it is too early yet for the quantavolutionary model. Be content with bringing out the anomalies and the incidents, in all fields of knowledge, and let the pattern, if there is such, emerge with time and study. Look at Vitaliano's book, for example. She explains various cases of disaster one by one as a result, finds nothing remotely resembling a Deluge, world fire, instant cleavage of the Earth, or any of that.
How do you know what to select as truth and what to disregard as fantasy or social lies? If all of mythology including all ancient religious documents amount to, say, a hundred thousand pages, whereas your selections come to a few thousand lines, I cannot believe such selectivity is possibly valid; no matter that you are personally skilled, you just do not have any reliable method to work with. I am sure that your sampling is biased. There are no good rules for analyzing myth. Your approach is psychiatric, I would say, but with this great difference, that you go beyond Freud and Jung and the others in assigning a reality to the final objects inspiring myths and legends. I took down a copy of Robert Graves' Greek Myths from my shelf and find nowhere in its mass of confusing details even a hint of the kind of reconstruction you have made of Greek myth.
You do more to establish the early cloud canopy of Urania by myth than you do by hydroengineering. Canopy theory is far more complex. Practically any way you handle it, you will have immense bodies of water falling upon Earth with a destructive heat of impact. In effect it would be a gigantic meteoroid shower or at least the physically oppressive effects of an endlessly descending vapor cloud.
You regard Aphrodite as representing the Moon, at least in her earlier phase. You can see here how tricky is the game of associating gods with celestial bodies, because you quote Plato to the effect that the planet Venus is to be called Aphrodite. Even I know that the love affair of Aphrodite and Ares is always translated as the love affair of Venus and Mars. Why do you feel that you must have Aphrodite as the Moon? Anyhow --I don't see how it would affect your case one way or the other to give in to the general opinion, although you would have to surrender your astonishing interpretation of the Iliad as describing a war of the followers of Venus to recapture the Moon from her abductor, Mars.
You don't agree fully with any catastrophist, not even Velikovsky, and yet don't explain why. Perhaps it's simply a problem of limited pages. But there are some tricky cases. In all the gymnastics that you have the Earth perform, you don't have it reversing its rotation or turning upside down. Yet you must know that Velikovsky and others have quoted Herodotus quoting Egyptian priests that "the Sun, it rose in the West," and they have displayed the Senmut ceiling of late Empire days which shows the sky upside down. Now why shouldn't you accept this remarkable evidence? Why don't you discuss it? Velikovsky gives many additional examples and details in chapter five of Worlds in Collision. It is a crucial case for catastrophism.
In chapter after chapter you attempt to show that new gods follow old ones because new or different heavenly bodies dominate the skies. You also grant that no great new body has disturbed the skies since Mars did so in 687 B. C. Nevertheless, we have had new gods and new religions since then; Jesus. Mahomet, maybe even Buddha, and an infinite number of minor gods have arisen here and there in the world.
Furthermore you attribute the destruction of civilization to catastrophes, but the Roman the Mexican, the Inca, the Byzantine, the American, the Tibetan, and the East European capitalist civilizations have been destroyed in the Age of Solaria. It is man who changes gods and civilization, without the need for help from the skies. Nor do I believe that ancient, terror-driven catastrophized man is any better at slaughtering his kind and ruining the environment than twentieth century, westernized man.
Another effect of your revolutionary model is to my way of thought undesirable. I don't wish to censor you on grounds that by destroying the stability of the skies you will destroy the stability of the social order. That point of view in no longer respectable, although Plato and many others, and even unconsciously, many present-day scientists would feel so, although they would not express the feeling.
But certainly your model will reduce the close relation between mathematics and celestial mechanics to a shadow exercise. I don't regard it as an accident that Laplace's theory of tides is still taught, even when it will not predict tides. Or that Newton's mechanics govern physics and astronomy. The variables and hypotheticals of your natural history are so many that even the virtuosity of such astrophysicists as Bass and others whom you cite will be strained to beyond the breaking point. We shall be left with a suppositious sequence of events.
Scientists generally believe that the progress of a science moves in step with its mathematical formulation. In the sense of this belief, you are setting the sciences back hundreds of years by taking away the empirical foundation of their mathematics. Maybe this all can be recouped; if not, natural history will become a toy for everybody's amusement.
It should not be difficult to demonstrate that your model will not work. Quantavolution, at least as you have stated it, is forthright in its challenges. These can be directly met and overcome. First we shall, in some part of the globe, discover a non-quantavolutionary geological column, that is, a pillar of earth and air that has not undergone catastrophic change in the past. Then we shall discover a human settlement older than 687 B. C. that has not suffered natural disaster in its history. We should also be able to produce fairly soon at least one test of time that can tell time for at least 30,000 years without being based upon uniformitarian premises. Also, some ethnologists or linguists or mythologists should be able to prove that none of your gods are clearly defined and therefore we do not really know whether they have had 'careers' such as you have given them.
Certainly, nobody who reads this book should become a quantavolutionist in consequence. There are too many unanswered questions in it, even if one were to accept its general theory (which I do not do). It would require a much larger volume, prolonged public discussion, and many new special studies before one could take the unlikely step of siding with its views.
As a model of contrariness, the book may have value. I can see many a sullen student in introductory science and history courses discovering an anti-establishment enthusiasm -- which is a step forward in learning. I can also picture some instructors in the sciences and humanities using it as an imperialistic weapon to expand their subject-matter. The work is too technical for the general public, I would guess, which is just as well.
I fear that I must use a trick to conclude my comments. That is to leave you with the innuendo that additional counterarguments exist that I have not put forward. If I had more time I would take up point by point the questionable assertions in each chapter. I am confident that for every one of them, "uniformitarianism" or "evolutionism", or whatever you wish to call the prevailing model of thought to which I belong, will have an alternative explanation that does as well or better. But it's your book and welcome to it.