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Definition - euhemerism: the theory of the Greek writer Euhemerus that the gods of mythology were deified human beings; theory that myths are based on traditional accounts of real people and events.

Euhemerism and Catastrophism
Louis Hissink, Victoria Park, WA, Australia

Dear Editor,

John Glover's suggestion that the philosophy of Euhemerism be given equal teaching time with evolutionism and creationism, (TAG 84, letters section) is timely, but the philosophy of catastrophism should also be reconsidered, especially with the present concern that the Swift-Tuttle Comet could collide with the earth early next century; commentary suggests that if this collision does happen, then the effect on the biosphere would be fatal, and as one TV  journalist stated, thankfully well beyond our own lifetimes. But it was the catastrophic application of Euhemerism that caused lmmanual Velikovsky to receive hostile academic  criticism when his book World's in Collision was published  in 1950. Criticism and relegation of his theory to 'romantic nonsense' by modern science is unwarranted in the light of  current data. (A reconciliation of some of Velikovsky's hypotheses has been compiled by the editors of Pensee(1976), and in a general sense, when Velikovsky's hypotheses have been scientifically verified, they have been found correct).

The new physics

Recent developments in particle physics and related psychological research has prompted Talbot to state:

"   there is evidence to suggest that our world and everything in it - from snowflakes to maple trees to failing stars and spinning electrons - are also only ghostly images, projections from a reality so beyond our own it is literally beyond both space and time"  - Talbot, Michael, The Holographic Universe, Harper-Perennial, 1992, p. 1.

These new data seriously challenge the Newtonian - Cartesian paradigm of Western Science, dominated by the notion of linear time and its logical precursor, Creation, or  Time T=O. The distinction between a relatively short divinely  created universe, an almost incomprehensibly long “evolved” universe from an initial creative “Big Bang”, or a steady state universe that always existed, with a cyclic sense of time, unpredictable catastrophic events such as colliding galaxies and planetary collisions, is basically one of “time” and nothing else.

Carey describes the concept of a Null Universe in which everything in the universe cancels, and tracks the concept back to Heraclitus of Ephesus, 'Whose universe had neither beginning nor end, with constant turmoil, generation, and destruction, but without overall progressive change' (Carey, 1988 p. 342). Carey also suggests that there never was a 'Big Bang' (Carey, 1988, p. 343), a concept that makes much scientific sense.

David Bohm of London University has suggested that the universe is in essence a kind of giant, flowing hologram in which and underlying it is a more subtle, deeper order of existence which Bohm calls the implicate order, our level of existence, the explicate order, exists (Talbot, 1991, p. 46). Talbot further states, “..despite its apparent materiality and enormous size, the universe does not exist in or of itself” (Talbot, 1991, p. 52), and Bohm again “we even construct space and time” (Talbot, 1991, p. 55).

Dr. Paul Davies (1992) summarises the orthodox view, which is derived from the Big Bang concept, predicated by the Western scientific Judean-Christian mindset. Davies himself is surprised at the number of colleagues who practice a conventional religion (Davies 1992, p. 15).Proper scientific procedure demands that when historical data contradict scientific premises, which themselves are empirically determined, then those premises must be reevaluated in light of that historical data, rather than dismissing that data as fantasy.

Some historical data

Velikovsky (1950) deduced that at approximately 1500 BC there occurred an interplanetary near collision between the earth and a comet (Venus), and that at approximately 747 and 687 BC there occurred near collisions between Earth and Mars, with Mars' orbit being affected by Venus, after which the solar system settled down to its present state, but with periodic visitations by comets etc. Velikovsky also noted that prior to our year of 365.25 days, the year was 360 days long, and prior to that a year of even fewer days (Velikovsky 1950, p. 316-342).

There is an unambiguous palaeo-magnetic reversal dated 3500 BP, or 1500 BC, and another at approximately 800 BC (Velikovsky, 1956, p. 236). Now the cause of geomagnetic polar reversals is unknown, but more important is the fact that some rocks with reversed polarity are many times more strongly magnetised than the earth's magnetic field could have caused them to be (Velikovsky, 1956, p.236). To this puzzle can be added the recent data of Coe, who suggested that the magnetic field in a single basalt lava flow could have reversed within the time span of a few weeks (TAG 84, 9). NO explanation for this fact has yet been offered.

Diamondiferous Kimberlites

Diamondiferous kimberlites are principally restricted to the cool stable areas of continental crust, but why is unknown. As diamond has to come from depths of at least 200 km below surface, either an increase in temperature or a release of pressure has to occur at depth to produce melting to form the kimberlitic liquid. It is necessary that the time of ascent be in the order of 5 to 8 hours, to ensure that the diamonds are not reabsorbed back into the kimberlite “magma”.

A sharp global stress, of geologically short duration, could fracture the thick continental crust so that an almost instantaneous release of pressure could be achieved at depth, thus forming a kimberlitic magma. An interplanetary near collision between the earth and another body could create this crustal stress. This explanation also fits the required catastrophic demand of a geological process requiring no more than 8 hours duration.

Mass species extinctions

Given that significant kimberlite volcanism occurred during the Cretaceous period, as well as the mass extinctions of many species of the biosphere, then it is within the realms of probability that both events had a common cause. Given the geochemical anomaly at the K-T boundary, an interplanetary near collision between the earth and some other planetoid seems more than probable. No alternative explanation for global mass extinction comes to mind apart from classical Darwinian evolution, and Darwin himself regarded mass extinctions as a “gratuitous mystery”.

Earth Expansion

Such a planetary interaction could also add clarification to Carey's dilemma with the cause of earth expansion  (Carey, 1976, p. 446), and if the collision was between two electromagnetically charged bodies, and their collision buffered by their electric and/or magnetic fields, then the crustal heat build-up could cause wholesale melting and thus expansion.

Both earth and Mars seem to possess the same type of global structure, Earth “The Tethyan Shear”, and Mars “The  great Equatorial Rift System” (Carey, 1988, p.313-314). Could  both structures have a common cause? Did Mars and Earth  really engage in a solar battle within historical times, mythologised by the Greeks and Romans? Are these crustal scars causally related? But this proposed correlation suggests that the Tethyan event occurred in the historical past, an obvious impossibility.


Young and Bryant (1992) have suggested Australia's South eastern coast may have been affected by a Tsunami caused either by large marine avalanche, earthquake or by an impact from a glancing meteorite. They think that these giant waves may play a bigger role in coastal erosion than previously thought. A very large scale force is required to create such a large wave.


Considering geomagnetic polar reversals, mass extinctions and kimberlite volcanism, which are most probably the result of past collisions with other planetoids, then variations in the length of the year or number days per year would indicate variations either in the earth's axial speed, or its distance from its sun. That possibility is more than probable if the earth was moved from its orbit by another erratic planetoid. That it could have happened during historical times seems quite possible as Velikovsky notes that older time keeping devices, such as water clocks and sundials, no longer work (Velikovsky, 1950, p.300.342) - Orthodox opinion was that these ancients had not yet  developed sufficient expertise in measuring time. These  ancients could make pyramids and other megalithic  monuments, but could not tell time?

This deduction is predicated by Darwinian Evolution  which assumes that previous members of a species were less evolved, and in our case, not far removed from a caveman existence. It is in this sense that the Paluxy River fossil prints are also rejected, as Homo sapiens could not possibly have coexisted with dinosaurs. Yet the fact remains there exist time pieces that don't work today. A more logical conclusion would be that the quantity that these devices measured, changed. If the Paluxy River fossil prints are fact then evolution needs reexamination.

Criticism of Velikovsky's ideas were not in terms of the data used to form those deductions - rather, and more sadly, his most vocal critics in academia had never read any of his books (The Editors of Pensee, 1976). (His reconstruction of ancient history, however, has received strong support from radiocarbon dating). (Velikovsky, 1977, p. xvi-xvii).

Why Velikovsky's ideas should be regarded as fantastic when they were deduced from historical data is puzzling. Is not an aprioristic belief in a created universe and the existence of a God fantastic? Is not a scientific paradigm based on that apriorism even more fantastic, however logical that paradigm?

This is not to say that the strides made by empirical science are trivial, far from it. But Davies (1984) makes a pertinent statement in his book Superforce. –

“Fundamental to the notion of an orderly world is some degree of permanence. If the whole world changed erratically from instant to instant, chaos would reign... and that the Earth does not shoot off into interstellar space”,

and so on.

Darwinian evolution and geological uniformitarianism are manifestations of that orthodox uniformist world view, so it seems useful to examine the Catastrophic concept in light of the 'New Physics' and the 1992 Magellan 'data from  Venus, since Velikovsky did, after all, suggest that Venus should be a hot and young planet, which we now know it is.

It is this uniformist attitude that Velikovsky questioned recognising it as a psychological reaction to deeper collective unconscious memory, denying a catastrophic past and instead emphasising, to absurd degrees, the notion of a  stable universe in which catastrophes are absent. Velikovsky further stated "All of them, in texts bequeathed from the time man learnt to write, tell in various forms the narrative that the trained eye of a psychoanalyst could not but recognise as so many variants of the same theme; in hymns, in prayers, in historical texts, in philosophical discourses, in records of astronomical observations, but also in legend and religious myth, the ancients desperately tried to convey to their descendants, ourselves included, the "record of events that left a strong imprint on the 'witnesses” (Velikovsky, 1982, p. 37).

Velikovsky, Bleuler, Freud and Jung accepted the basic premise that ultimately all psychological phenomena are based on real physical events (Velikovsky, 1982, p. 6-21). Humanity's collective species behaviour, as reflected in its historical cultural traditions, including its approach to science, must have a basis in past physical fact, retained as a collective subconscious species memory developed since the earliest days of its evolution. These memories would affect future behaviour, much as an individual's memory's would result in a recognisable psychologically predictab1e behaviour.

Velikovsky noted other enigmatic periodicities of activity in nature, such as a seventeen year locust, to which no cause is known. Human civilisation was also found to have historical periodicity, with an approximate 700 year cycle, and a shorter 52 year cycle.

Starting from 1500 BC, Velikovsky notes a second period of catastrophic events during the period 747 BC - 687 BC. The third period occurred in the first century BP during which Jesus prophesied the end of the world. When it failed to come he was crucified and then expected to return in the days of the apostles (Velikovsky, 19821 p. 103).

In the seventh century AD the Prophet Mohammed preached His message that nature would revolt and of life extinguishing for unbelievers when moral laws are broken (Velikovsky, 1982, p. 305). Another period of frenzy occurred 700 years later during the fourteenth century, when in 1337 a great comet appeared in the heavens, the black death scourged Europe, and various religious revivals occurred, such as the sect of the Flagellants (Velikovsky, 1982, p. 107-108).

There is now expectation of another period of tribulation at approximately the twenty first century, The Christian Millennia, and the return of the Swift-Tuttle comet in that time, with the possibility of a collision with the earth, stresses that expectation scientifically. The 'New Age' philosophies seem to be variants of this expectation, with the Space Brothers ready to collect the favoured few who will repopulate the cleansed' earth (see footnote).

Are we collectively, as a species, anticipating a recurrence of past catastrophes? Has the earth’s human population thus increased to such an extent that if another catastrophe did occur, sufficient numbers would be left to continue the species?

Our reductionist science has made many achievements, but its greatest achievement has been the fragmentation of science, and therefore life, into many separate disciplines, disciplines that have become so specialised that little or no interdisciplinary interaction occurs. Each-discipline exists in its own little hermetically sealed world, ignoring or disparaging others. Does it matter not the biologists and organic chemists are less enthusiastic with the second law of thermodynamics than physicists, where in some experiments they have observed reversals of entropy?

And what of geology, based on Darwin's and Lyell's uniformist doctrines. Its rigid view of time not based in fact, but from the more rigid doctrine of Darwinian Evolution, which by dealing with a strictly mechanical or chemical biosphere or universe could not help but conceive of a long drawn out process to produce the diversity of species known today and in the fossil record. Yet Darwin could only explain the lack of intermediate species by hiding them in the stratigraphic lacunae, a most unsatisfactory procedure. A procedure identical to the aprioristic assumption of a created universe, unable to be refuted nor confirmed. His doctrine has become an absolute given, and when factual data are at variance, that data rejected.

Euhemerism therefore forms a solid bedrock on which to interpret the geological past, and Velikovsky's interpretation of history should prompt a reappraisal of our geological understanding of the historical present and enable us to make a more accurate sense of geological history.

But Albert Einstein made one telling comment before he died in 1955 -"For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, even if a stubborn one' (Snow, 1991). If that be so, and all indications point to it, then Euhemerism and the Swift-Tuttle comet may jolt us geologically into a new paradigm based on empirical fact, rather than adjusting geological fact to Darwinian evolutionary theory and Lyellian uniformitarianism.

Footnote: From the Judean-Christian view, Revelations 14:4-6 appears interesting, since “men who have kept themselves chaste and have not defiled themselves with women”, will be the Chosen 144,000 souls to be rescued; This  could be a gay time with Creationists and the Festival of light remaining on earth, not in heaven, as the Believers did  on 0ctober 29th 1992 when the rapture was supposed to occur.

List of References

Carey, S.W., 1976. The Expanding Earth, Elsevier.

Carey, S.W., 1988. Theories of the Earth and Universe, Stanton University Press.

Davies, P, 1984,,Superforce, Unwin Paperbacks.

Davies, P, 1992. The Mind of God, Simon & Schuster.

Snow, C.B., 1991, Dreams of the Future, Aquaria Press.

Talbot, M., 1991. The Holographic Universe, Grafton Books.

Various, 1976. Velikovsky Reconsidered, The Editors of Pensee.

Velikovsky, I., 1950. Worlds in Collision, Victor, Gollancz Ltd.

Velikovsky, I., 1956. Earth in Upheaval, Abacus Edition, 1978.

Velikovsky, I., 197Z Peoples of the Sea, Doubleday & to'

Velikovsky, I., 1982. Mankind in Amnesia, Doubleday & Co.

Young and Bryant, 1992. New Scientist, 17 Oct 1992.

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