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Carl Sagan on: The Colliding Worlds of Immanuel Volikovsky

Did the planet Venus form from a comet ejected from Jupiter! Were the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and other phenomena described in the Bible caused by the passage of a comet very close to the earth?

to part B

Part I. Did the planet Venus form from a comet ejected from Jupiter! Were the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and other phenomena described in the Bible caused by the passage of a comet very close to the earth? Did the sun in Gibeon 'stand still' when it stopped rotating like the earth under the influence of the gravitational field of a foreign gram-sky? Fantasy System Introduction and Notes – 2000 Written in 1980 Sagan died in 1996

These and many other surprising ideas were put forward 30 years ago by Emmanuel Volikovsky, a figure as controversial as his ideas. Volikovsky was born in Russia, in 1895 to his father Shimon Yehiel and mother Biala Rachel. In his youth he studied psychoanalysis in Vienna; In 1924 he came to Israel and worked here as a doctor and psychiatrist until 1939 when he left and came to the USA. In the spring of 1940, after delving into the book 'Shemot' in the Torah, Emmanuel Volikovsky came to the conclusion that in the days of Moses, an unusual cosmic event befell our world - almost a collision with a comet - and this is the explanation for various miraculous phenomena described in the Bible as well as in the myths and legends of many peoples and tribes. Since he found no support for this hypothesis in conventional science, Volikovsky created his own 'corrected' astronomy and geology, and the result was published in 1950 in the form of his famous book 'Worlds in Collision' and later in several other books.

As mentioned, Volikovsky attributes the miracles and wonders such as the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the pillar of fire and the cloud, the manna in the desert, etc., to a comet that passed very close to our world in those days. He finds parallels to these stories in other sources as well, such as ancient Egyptian writings. The same comet, according to Volikovsky, appeared again in the seventh century BC, almost collided with Mars and the Earth together, brought destruction and ruin to the army of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, as well as to various cities in the region, and then became what we know today as . . The planet Venus.

The publication of the book 'Colliding Worlds' caused a fierce storm of spirits and sharp controversy, especially among the scientific community. Many scientists ridiculed and slandered his 'wild' hypotheses, and some even tried to impose a boycott on the book and its author, and to ban the distribution of the book in stores and libraries. These violent attacks turned Volikovsky into a sort of martyr in the eyes of many, and achieved, of course, the opposite result: to this day, many are his followers, comparing him to Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Darwin, Freud, and other original thinkers whose theories were attacked because they deviated from the accepted belief of their time.

Volikovsky's books continue to sell well all over the world, including these days. Volikovsky's name became the symbol of the conflict between the scientific establishment and unusual opinions and unusual ideas in general, although in this case there is almost no doubt that these interesting ideas have no hold on reality. In the article in front of us, a tall-haired scientist, astronomer and exo-biologist, Carl Sagan, tries to deal with Volikovsky not out of condescending ridicule and prejudice, but on the merits of the matter.

Carl Sagan is already known to the readers of "Fantasia 2000" from his book "The Dragons of Heaven" (a chapter from which was published in issue #13), as well as from various references in the Yambazekim and "Future" sections. His occupations are many and very diverse, and here are only a few of them: Sagan is a professor of astronomy and space sciences. Currently serves as the Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Sciences at Cornell University in the USA, Deputy Director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research. President of the Planetological Division of the American Geophysical Union. Senior Kin-Hashemi researcher as a Yaglilaoi project of J. Labs. times. Al, the editor of the monthly 'Icarus', a member of the editorial board of the magazine and others. He has countless awards and medals, including two medals from the American Space and Aviation Agency for 'extraordinary scientific achievement'. Sagan tries not to shut himself up in the academic 'Ivory Tower' and often publishes popular publications for the non-scientific audience. It's hard to believe, but one man, 45 years old (and we almost forgot - the son of a Jewish father) manages to do all this.

Scientists, like other human beings, have their own hopes and anxieties, moments of enthusiasm or despondency - and sometimes the intensity of their emotions can divert them from the course of clear thought and practical judgment. But science also often corrects itself. Sometimes the most basic axioms and conclusions are called into question. The theories must stand the test of confrontation with the observations. All steps in drawing conclusions must be visible to all. Experiments must be reproducible. The history of science is littered with cases where accepted theories and hypotheses were completely rejected, and their place was taken by new ideas that more adequately explained the data, although there is an understandable 'psychological inertia' (usually lasting one generation), there is a broad consensus that such revolutions in scientific thought are essential and desirable for progress the science Indeed, reasoned criticism of popular opinion serves its supporters; If they are unable to defend it - they must draw conclusions and abandon it.

The same quality of self-criticism and error correction especially characterizes science, and in this it differs from many other areas of human experience, where the main thing is belief in something. Strong criticism of new ideas is a breakthrough vision in science; When extraordinary claims and hypotheses are made, we must demand extraordinary proofs. Emmanuel Volikovsky, in his book 'Colliding Worlds', tries to attribute a number of biblical events (mainly those related to the Exodus from Egypt and the wars of Yehoshua ben-Nun), to unusual astronomical events, which are also said to be the cause of other unusual events that befell the ancient world. Volikovsky's main assumption is that major events in the history of the Earth and the other planets of the solar system were governed more by catastrophism than by uniformitarianism. These are terms that were favored by geologists during the great debate that broke out when geology was still in its infancy, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Uniformitarianism holds that the geological changes of the Earth's surface were caused by gradual processes that can be observed even today, but that their effect is only apparent if they operate over long eons. The catastrophists, on the other hand, claim that the Earth's surface was shaped by a small series of violent events that lasted much shorter periods of time. The beginnings of catastrophism mainly in the minds of those geologists who simply accepted the descriptions of the book of Genesis, and especially that of the flood. It is clear that there is no point in trying to refute the catastrophist approach on the grounds that nowadays we do not witness such catastrophes at all, since the approach is based on rare occurrences. But if we can prove that enough time has passed for some geological phenomenon to have been produced by gradual processes discernible today, then we do not need the catastrophist assumption.

It goes without saying that the history of our planet could have been affected by both gradual processes and sudden disasters, and most likely this was indeed the case. Volikovsky believes that the relatively late history of the Earth is followed by a chain of catastrophes in the form of near-collisions with various celestial bodies such as comets, and various towering planets. The possibility of such cosmic collisions is not at all absurd.

Collisions and catastrophes are an integral part of both modern and ancient astronomy. For example, in the early days of the solar system, when it probably had more celestial bodies than today, collisions may have been common. In 1973 Licar and Franklin studied hundreds of collisions that occurred in a period of only a few thousand years in the early history of the asteroid belt. To understand the current structure of that region of the solar system, the famous Tunguska disaster of 1908, in which an entire Siberian forest was wiped off the face of the earth, is usually attributed to the collision of a small comet with the Earth. The cratered faces of a hot star, Mars and its moons Phobos and Deimos, as well as our moon, testify to the frequent collisions that have plagued them throughout the history of the solar system. There is nothing novel about the idea of ​​cosmic catastrophes.

So what's all the fuss about? The point is in the time periods in question, and the level of evidence presented. During the 4.6 billion years that have passed through the solar system, there must have been countless collisions. But have important and prominent conflicts occurred in the last 3500 years, and can we find evidence for them in ancient writings? This is the point. In his book, Volikovsky drew our attention to the surprising similarity and correspondence between stories and legends that were prevalent among different peoples that were separated by great distances. I am not an expert on the cultures and differences of all these peoples, but I have the impression that the compatibility and uniformity of many of the legends collected by Volikovsky is astonishing.

It is true that some experts on these cultures are much less impressed by the matter. I remember very well a debate about the book 'Colliding Worlds' that I once had with a respected professor of Semitic cultures, at a prestigious university. He said something like: "All those references from the cultures of ancient Assyria and Egypt, the Holy Scriptures and the Talmudic nonsense, found in Volikovsky's book, are of course complete nonsense; But I was deeply impressed by astronomy. . . My opinion, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. But why should I direct my position according to the views of others? My personal opinion is that even if only 20 percent of the matches between the legends presented by Volikovsky are true, we still have an important phenomenon that deserves an explanation.

How can one explain the fact that different and separate cultures share the main points of the exact same legend? Four possible explanations can be presented: joint observation, diffusion, neural networks, and coincidence. Let's examine them one by one. Common observation: According to this explanation, all the cultures discussed were witnesses to the same event, whatever it may be, and interpreted it in the same way. Distribution: the legend was born among one particular culture, but through nomads and immigrants it was gradually spread among other cultures, a trivial example is the legend of "Santa Claus" in America, which developed from the story of the European "Saint Nicholas", the same saint who protects children, whose roots are certainly drawn from an ancient tradition -Christian.

Brain wiring: This hypothesis is also known as 'race memory' or 'collective subconscious'. She holds that certain ideas, impressions, and fairy-tale patterns are encoded in human minds from birth, perhaps similar to how a baboon's offspring knows to fear a snake, and a bird raised in complete isolation from its congeners knows how to build a nest. It is understood that if a story derived from observation or distribution also matches the information in the 'brain imprint', its chances of being preserved increase. Coincidence: a completely coincidental similarity between two legends that developed independently.

If we wish to critically evaluate such adjustments. We must first take precautions, this means asking some obvious questions: Is there really a common element in those stories? If we attribute them to common observation. Is their origin really from that period? Was there a possibility of physical contact between the representatives of the cultures in question during or before the period in question? Volikovsky clearly favors the joint observation hypothesis, but seems to casually exaggerate the diffusion theory, for example, on page 303 (the page numbers refer to the English edition of Colliding Worlds, 1950) he says: "How could unusual motifs of Folklore to reach isolated islands. Didn't their ancient natives have any means of navigation?”

I don't know exactly which islands and natives Volikovsky is referring to. But it is clear that the inhabitants of an island had to reach it from somewhere. I do not believe that Volikovsky believes in a separate creation on different islands.

or how. for example. Volikovsky would explain the fact that the Toltec word 'Teo' means 'God', as it appears, among other things, in the name of the great city of pyramids 'Teotihuacan' ('Crown of the Gods'), which is near Mexico City. The word 'theo' is clearly close to the ancient Indo-European root meaning 'god', which is preserved in words like theology', or in the English word deity. Toltec is not an Indo-European language and it is unlikely that the word meaning 'God' is 'rooted' in all human minds. No common cosmic event is known that could have given a reasonable explanation for this match. Therefore, in this case the theories regarding distribution or coincidence are preferred. There is some evidence of contact between the Old and New World even before Columbus. But coincidence should not be underestimated either: if we compare two languages, tens of thousands of words in each of them, spoken by human beings with the same lips, tongues and teeth, it will not be surprising if we find some identical words by chance. I believe that all the adaptations presented by Volikovsky can be explained in this way.

Let us examine one of the examples of Volikovsky's approach to this question. It points to the biocompatibility of various practices, directly or indirectly related to celestial events, and in all of which witches, rats, scorpions or dragons are mentioned. His explanation: various comets, which passed near the Earth, were distorted under the influence of electrical or dynamic forces and took on forms reminiscent of a witch, a scorpion rat or a dragon, and this is how they could appear to peoples with different backgrounds and culturally isolated from each other. No attempt has been made to explain how such a clear image (as a woman wearing a pointed top and riding a broom) could have been obtained, even assuming that comets did pass very close in front of the Earth.

Our experience with 'Rorschach blots' and other psychological projection tests shows that different people interpret the same indefinite form in different ways. Volikovsky goes even further and claims that a certain planet (which in his opinion was none other than Mars) came very close to the earth and was deformed to such an extent that it assumed the forms of lions, jackals, dogs, doves and fish; In Volikovsky's opinion this explains the animal worship of the ancient Egyptians (p. 264). This is not a very convincing argument. Equally could we assume that all these animals were able to fly independently in the second millennium BC, thus closing the matter? A much more convincing explanation is the distribution, and indeed, for the purpose of my other work I spent quite a lot of time studying the legends of dragons that are common across our world, and what impressed me is how different the same legendary monsters are from each other, all called 'dragons' by Western writers. Another problem with Volikovsky's method is the suspicion that stories that have a vague similarity between them may refer to quite different periods.

In "Colliding Worlds" the author completely ignores this problem of "synchronicity of the legends", although he refers to it in some of his later works. Thus, for example, Volikovsky (p. 91) cites vague references to volcanic activity and lava flows in Greek mythology, Mexican tradition, and biblical stories. But he does not try at all to prove that the same stories refer to the same periods, even recently, and since lava flowed in these three parts of the world in ancient times, there is no need for an unusual external event to interpret those stories. In such an ambiguous situation regarding legends and myths, Volikovsky's supporters should welcome any helpful evidence from other sources, to strengthen the version regarding external influence. And here, the absence of such helpful evidence in the field of art is immediately apparent.

There is a very wide variety of works of art such as paintings, reliefs, sculptures. sign etc. created by man starting from 10,000 BC, they express all the themes (especially the mythological ones) that were important to those cultures that created them. Astronomical events occasionally appear in these artworks. Recently, impressive evidence was discovered in cave paintings in the southwestern United States, of the 'supernova' explosion of the Cancer Nebula in 1054, which also appears in the records of the Chinese, Japanese and Arabs. But 'supernova' events (a supernova is a massive explosion of a planet Saturn, more massive than the Sun, in the later stages of its development) are not as impressive as a close encounter with another planet, accompanied by outbursts and electrical breakdowns connecting it to the Earth. If the disasters according to Volikovsky did happen, why is there no evidence of them in graphic works from that time? Therefore, I am not convinced by the legendary basis for Volikovsky's assumptions. However, if your opinion about planetary collisions that happened in recent times was supported by physical evidence, we would be tempted to give it some credit, but if the physical evidence is dubious, then the mythological evidence cannot stand either.

Let us briefly review the main points of Volikovsky's hypotheses. And we will tie them to the events described in obituaries, which are seemingly similar to the stories of many other cultures: the planet Jupiter threw up a large comet from its midst, which lightly brushed against the Earth around 1500 BC. The ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians according to the Book of Genesis, all stem from the same cosmic collision: it is the substance that drips from the comet that causes the water to redden; The plague of locusts is also caused by the comet - from which descends a multitude of flies and insects of all kinds, while the frogs suddenly multiply enormously under the influence of the heat. Earthquakes caused by the comet destroy the dwellings of the Egyptians, but do not harm the Israelites (the only thing that apparently does not fall from the comet is the cholesterol that weighs down Pharaoh's heart...) In addition to all of this, as soon as Moses tilts his hand, the waters of the sea burst forth- End - under the influence of the comet's gravitational field, or as a result of some kind of magnetic or electrical interaction between the sea and the comet.

Then, after the Israelites cross the sea in peace, the star recedes and the sea water returns to its place and drowns all of Pharaoh's army and his horsemen. During the next forty years, when the Israelites wander in the desert, they feed on the manna that falls from the sky, which is nothing but carbohydrates from the tail of the comet. According to 'Colliding Worlds', Egyptian strikes represent two separate 'visits' of the comet, with a time difference of a month or two. When, after the death of Moses, the leadership is transferred to Joshua, the same comet appears again and approaches the 'brink of collision' with the earth, as soon as Joshua says, "The sun stands still in Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ayalon", the earth obediently stops its rotation (again under the influence of a field the gravity of the comet, or perhaps as a result of an inexplicable magnetic induction in the earth's crust), to help Joshua win the battle.

Then the comet passes very close to Mars, so much so that it is thrown out of its orbit and comes again to two 'near-collisions' with the Earth, which lead to the destruction of the army of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, around 700 BC. The end result is the position of Mars in its current orbit, while the comet itself enters a peripheral orbit around the Sun and becomes the planet Venus, which, in Volikovsky's opinion, did not exist at all before. Meanwhile, the Earth is somehow returning to spin at exactly the same rate as before all those upheavals. No unusual planetary phenomena have occurred since the seventh century (roughly) BC until today, except for their prevalence in the second millennium BC.

All of the above is undoubtedly a unique and interesting story - both opponents and supporters will surely admit this. But the question of the plausibility and reliability of the sifod is subject, luckily, to the strength of the scientific examination. Volikovsky's hypothesis is based on certain hypotheses, guesses and inferences. They are: comets are ejected from planets; Comets often approach planets to the point of 'almost collision'; Vermin and insects of various kinds live in comets as well as in the atmospheres of Jupiter and Venus, and carbohydrates are often found there; Carbohydrates were rained on the Chinese desert, which provided food for 40 years of wandering; Eccentric orbits of comets or planets can 'round up', within a period of hundreds of years; Intense volcanic and tectonic activity on Earth, as well as 'epidemic events' on the moon occur in conjunction with those catastrophes; And so on. In the next chapter we will examine these ideas one by one

2 תגובות

  1. Everyone attacks Velikovsky in the astronomy section. But no one has answers to his central argument about the dating of ancient chronology.

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