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by Alfred de Grazia



Some millions of persons have lately begun to read about ancient catastrophes. In this, they have been recapturing a habit of their ancestors who had been schooled, whatever their religion, to believe that once upon a time, in the beginning of mankind, terrible disasters of earth, air, fire and water engulfed the world.

As so often happens, what interests the public coincides with what interests scientists. Impelled by an intuition that is common to both the multitude of persons and the body of scholars, the human mind today is moving into an area "where the action is". For perhaps no more exciting and important a set of problems is to be found anywhere in the realms of science and scholarship.

Every discipline is implicated in the theory of ancient catastrophes - psychology, sociology, linguistics, archaeology, biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and geology, together with their many subdivisions down to special and new sciences, such as plasma physics, dendrochronology, and mega-vitamin therapy [1] . It has something to say about "the Jupiter Effect," "the Ion Effect," and "the Bermuda Triangle," not to mention "Ancient Astronauts," and the hominids of Olduvai Gorge. Every bite of the archaeologist's spade, every oceanographer's deep coring of the sea bottom, every penetration of outer spaces seems capable of attracting the attention of the catastrophist - that is, the potential quantavolutionist of natural history and human origins.


The history of science took a sharp turn around 150 years ago [2] . Before then it was assumed that life on earth had originated recently and was wracked by natural disasters. Although this was believed largely on the "say-so" of ancient theologians and scientists, fresh evidence was being unearthed by famous scientists such as Georges Cuvier and William Buckland.( Figure 1 gives the names and main positions of some prominent catastrophists.)

Cuvier, who is sometimes called "the father of paleontology," divided the history of the world into four epochs, each with its own animals, each ended by great flood. In only the last of these ages, the present epoch, were men and living mammals present, stated Cuvier [3] . He was here mistaken; hardly had he laid down his pen, when human remains were found alongside the bones of extinct mammoths.

By contrast, the upcoming scientists of the last century argued that the world's history was long and evolutionary. On their side were those who were to become the treasured ancestors of science today - Charles Lyell (1795-1875) in geology, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in biology, Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749- 1827) in astronomy, and Lewis H. Morgan (1818-1881) as well as the versatile communist, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), in sociology and anthropology.

The new group came to dominate scientific circles and scientific thought. The catastrophists disappeared from the scientific mind save as an old enemy. The victors advanced the principle of uniformitarianism. Their minions scorned the catastrophists.

In the words of Charles Lyell, "the ancient changes of the animate and inanimate world, of which we find memorials in the Earth's crust, may be similar both in kind and degree to those which are now in progress." [4] Given time, the forces of nature that we experience today would have caused everything in life and nature that greets our senses. The tallest mountains and the most bizarre fish would have come about gradually, over a long time and by small increments of change.

Indeed, asserted the uniformitarians, the short span of time demanded by the catastrophists was absurdly incapable of bringing forth the great variety of nature; a reader will sometimes encounter, as a ludicrous target, the date proposed by Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656), which set the creation of the world by God at 9 a. m. on October 26, 4004 B. C.

Figure 1


. Significant publication date Requires divine action Short-term for reconstructed earth Intrusion of extra-terrestrial forces Mankind was catastrophized
Giordano Bruno 1584 . . x x
William Whiston 1719 x x x x
Giambattista Vico 1730 . x x x
Nich.-Ant. Boulanger 1766 . x x x
Giov. R. Carli-Rubbi 1780 . x x x
Georges Cuvier 1826 . x . .
William Buckland 1824 x x . .
Ignatius Donnelly 1883 . x x .
Isaac Vail 1905 . x x .
Hans Hoerbiger 1913 . x x .
George McCr. Price 1926 x x . .
W. Comyns Beaumont 1932 . x x .
Howard B. Baker 1932 . x x .
Hans Bellamy 1936 . x x .
Claude Schaeffer 1948 . . . .
Immanuel Velikovsky</td> 1950 . x x x
A. Kellv & F. Dachille 1953 . x x .
Hugh A. Brown 1967 . x . .
Melvin Cook 1966 x x . .
Donald Patten 1966 . x x .
Charles Hapgood 1970 . x . .

* The list excludes the work of lesser-known and mostly younger quantavolutionists. I. Velikovsky, Ralph Juergens, Livio Stecchini, Gilbert Davidowitz, and Zvi Rix have recently died, leaving many unpublished manuscripts. A few of the scholars who are currently active are Robert Bass, John Bimson. Dwardu Cardona, William Corliss, Eric Crew, Frank Dachille, Eva Danelius, Ragnar Forshufvud, Brendan O'Gheoghan, Stephen Gould, Lewis Greenberg, George Grinnell. Peter James, Julian Jaynes, Frederic Jueneman. Allan Kelly, Alexander Kondratov, Malcolm Lowery, Christoph Marx. Earl Milton, Brian Moore, William Mullen, G. van Oosterhout, Alan Parry, C. J. Ransom, M. G. Reade, Lynn Rose, Eddie Schorr, Martin Sieff, Warner Sizemore, David Talbott, S. K. Vsekhsvyatskii, Robert Wescott, Irving Wolfe, and Jerry Ziegler; j'en passe et des meilleurs. Also the Creation Research Quarterly group (Ann Arbor, Mich.); the group of the Society for the Study of Interdisciplinary issues (England); the Kronos group (Glassboro College, N. J.); the Lethbridge University, Canada, group (E. R. Milton). and the Catasirophist Geology group (Rio de Janeiro, H. Kloostermann). Nor does the table include the "Ancient Astronaut" school (Robert Temple, Erich von Däneken) or "life on other planets" students (Carl Sagan), or contemporary "flying saucer" discussants, or "biblical literalists." Furthermore, the list does not include many scientists. such as C. E. R. Bruce, D. Ager, H. Urey, J. Lamar Worzel., or C. Emiliani, who use catastrophe to explain important episodes of natural history. It may be of interest to place C. Lyell, C. Darwin, S. Freud, A. Wegener, and A. Einstein in the chart: all would vote "No" on all questions. Yet interesting passages and events in the lives of all of them have to do with catastrophic episodes and anomalies.

Actually, when pressed on the matter today, a uniformitarian will say that he is pursuing a method, not assuming an absolute reality [5] . He is saying: I can explain almost everything I see very well by assuming at the start that, whether a mountain or man, it came about gradually, in increments, point by point. That is, he uses a uniformitarian model to frame what be discovers.


By the same token, in this book, I advance a catastrophic model It, too, is a method. By using the idea that great forces can cause great changes in a short time, I am enabled to achieve a fairly consistent and defensible reconstruction of natural history and human history. I use new terms in referring to this point of view. I call it "quantavolution", for in contrast to evolution, it considers "quanta-jumps" to be the main feature of change (volution). "Primeval quantavolution," then, would be the saltatory evolutionary science characterizing the first ages (primeval) of nature and humanity.

From time to time, I also use the new term, "revolutionary" primevalogy, to stand for the science of catastrophe. For the theory presented and discussed is much more powerful in its range and effects than is conveyed by the idea of a great flood or fire. "Revolutionary" stands in contrast to "evolutionary" and "uniformitarian"; these last words imply small changes occurring over vast periods of time under conditions that have not basically altered over a billion years and more. By contrast, "revolutionary" means intense, abrupt, large-scale change (the same meaning as it has in politics). "A comet produced the last revolution of our globe," wrote G. R. Carli, an early scientific catastrophist, in his American Letters of 1780 [6] . And it is the meaning that Georges Cuvier had in mind when, a halfcentury afterwards, he used the phrase "revolutions of the globe" in his discussion of fossil paleontology.

Much that we admire and respect in this world, including our very being as humans, must logically be thought of as the "good" side of the catastrophes of which we speak. Humanity, art, institutions and science are products of the most ancient catastrophes. So, again, the words "quantavolution" and "revolution" may be preferable, or at least useful to remember, in connection with the wholly negative word "catastrophe".

Many quantavolutionists, unlike myself, may refuse to set down a base line of time. Some quantavolutionists may set a single clock of the ages ticking at four billion years ago, and introduce a great leap every million or hundred million years. As one of them, geologist Derek Ager, has concluded, "the history of any one part of the earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror." [7] Generally, the farther back a quantavolutionary sets his events, the more be is accepted by the scientific community; for the idea that contemporary scientists can least tolerate is the idea that the world has been catastrophized recently.

Nevertheless, after years of attempting to bridge the vast chasm between a quantavolution that uses the long time-scale of astronomy and geology and that which adopts the short timescale asserted by the unanimous traditions of humankind, I decided to try to reconcile the two scales to the brief period demanded by the early human voices. Only then could the model of natural and human history be integrated.

Consequently, as this book progresses, I shall be suggesting, with some reason, that human accounts provide a baseline for the age of catastrophes at 14,000 years ago. Also, in my opinion, the nature which offers itself to view-including the solar system, earth, and biosphere - may have assumed its present form in a series of recent sudden leaps. The holocene epoch, to which I allot the 14,000 years, has witnessed a connected set of catastrophes, these can be divided into nine periods, each characterized by natural outbursts but containing tranquil passages as well. I shall soon explain this

The original source of the saltatory changes of the earth and man has been in the skies, in disorders among the heavenly bodies. The celestial disturbances wrecked and reconstituted the atmosphere, rocks, and waters of the world. All combined to reorder the plant and animal kingdoms. Finally they created and molded modern humankind. In brief, forces of extra-terrestrial origin have recently catastrophized and transformed nature and mankind. Many ways in which nature and life behave today are best understood as tailing-off effects of the catastrophes of ancient times.

Notes (Introduction)

1. A. de Grazia (1975)

2. Gillispie (1951)

3. Cuvier (1831)

4. Lyell (1831-4), quoted by Albritton (1974) 857

5. Ibid., 859

6. Carli (1780) 329

7. Ager (1973) 100


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