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From Microcosm to Macrocosm:
The Fearful Symmetry of Catastrophism

       LEWIS M. GREENBERG and WARNER B. SIZEMORE        Summer 1975

 "Every celestial phenomenon, in fact, was held to have its counterpart in human events . . ." - E. O. James, The Ancient Gods (1960)


Two events of the mid-twentieth century—the birth of the Atomic Age and the revelation of cosmic catastrophes in historical times—have caused and should cause mankind to reassess his terrestrial position and chances of survival . . .


The year was 1945.  The global war which had held the bulk of mankind in its deadly grip for the better part of the past six years was rapidly approaching its dramatic climax.  What history would come to know as the Second World War was ending in an almost terrifying apocalyptic manner as the opposing forces escalated the horror and effectiveness of their weaponry.  German science produced the V weapons, the V standing for Vergeltung or "retribution," among which was the prototype for the intercontinental missile and space ship—the V2 rocket.  At the same time, American technology wedded to an assortment of foreign and domestic scientific genius successfully raced and beat its German foe for possession of a nuclear bomb.

In what may be justifiably termed a perverted inversion of the famous Gigantomachia, or "Battle of Gods and Giants," of Greek mythology, where the gods had to employ the services of a mere mortal, Hercules, in order to ensure ultimate victory, the Allies sought cosmic power to aid in their struggle against the Axis enemy.(1)  Thus it was that the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were brought to atomic ruination, Japan to its knees, and World War II and an era to an end.  Ironically, the plane that dropped the first Bomb had been blessed for its mission by a Roman Catholic priest.

"The dropping of the atom bomb was so dramatic, the awed shock it provoked throughout the world was so final, and the sense that it was, in President Truman's phrase, 'the greatest thing in history', seemed so incontestable that there was a general instinct to think that it had brought to an end one phase of human affairs.  From then onwards everything would be dwarfed by events.  But the appalling news of the disaster produced by atomic radiation, the vaporizing and burning of human beings, the whole vast panorama of unutterable suffering, somehow failed to register with most people who lived through those days.  Even the hor­rible details, published some months afterwards and set out with all the technical skill of American publicity, were too terrible for belief. The mind set up impediments to taking in such information.  There was born at that time an uneasiness which has affected a whole age."(2)

"In ways that defy definition, [the] terminal resort to its [the atomic bomb's] use created the psychological atmosphere of the postwar world upon which the nations . . . looked out as the smoke cleared away from the ruins.  This was a somber victory.  It is hard to believe that the fearful brooding presence of the bomb over this postwar scene would have been the same if its possibilities had not been so catastrophically demonstrated in bringing World War II to its belated conclusion.  One despairs, today, of evoking, for a generation that did not experience it, the hopelessness with which this instrument of abrupt annihilation seemed to invest the future of the world, in that hour of what might otherwise have been celebrated as a glorious victory." (3)

In an attempt to assuage world hysteria, Einstein made a public statement on August 11, 1945, in which he said that "in developing atomic or nuclear energy, science did not draw upon supernatural strength, but merely imitated the actions of the sun's rays."  He also went on to say that "atomic power is no more unnatural than when I sail a boat on Saranac Lake."(4)  It was just as well that people were unaware of Einstein's true feelings on the matter, for it is reported that his initial comment on August 6 was, "the world is not yet ready for it." He also exclaimed: "Oh, weh!" (5)

Peconic and Alamogordo: A Tale of Two Cities

Einstein's involvement with the atomic bomb began quietly enough in the summer of 1939.  It was then that he was approached by the physicists Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner while staying in a cabin at Peconic, Long Island.  It was the hope of Szilard that he could persuade Einstein to send a personal note to Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, whom Einstein knew, which might prevent the Germans from acquiring the abundant uranium of the Belgian Congo.  It was also this same Szilard who prevailed upon Einstein to write his even more famous letter to President Roosevelt urging the development of an American atomic bomb, thereby setting into irreversible motion the actions which led to the establishment of the Manhattan Project and the achievement of American nuclear capability. (6)

Perhaps Einstein never would have agreed to the Roosevelt letter had he actually known the outcome in advance.  Yet, although a pacifist at heart, he still believed that certain circumstances dictated the use of appropriate force.  At any rate, it is futile to indulge in speculation.  What is more interesting is Einstein's expressed skepticism concerning nuclear energy:  "I did not, in fact, foresee that it would be released in my time.  I only believed that it was theoretically possible." However, as R. W. Clark has pointed out, scientific skepticism may well have been increased by wishful thinking, and the underlying instinctual dread of atomic power was shared by others as well.  "Einstein's old friend [Frederick] Lindemann was so repelled by the idea of such destructive power being avail­able to human hands that 'he could scarcely believe that the universe was constructed in this way'," while Sir Henry Tizard of England broached a similar thought to a colleague in the form of a question—"Do you really think that the universe was made in this way?"(7)

The answer was revealed at Alamogordo.

On July 16, 1945, at 5:29 in the morning, the quietude of the New Mexico desert was suddenly and rudely disrupted by the detonation of an atomic explosion.  To the onlookers, the sight was both awesome and strangely beautiful.  "The fierce light that followed, almost blinding in spite of . . . closed eyes, was impossible to describe.  There was no frame of reference from anything the observers had experienced before.  In a brief moment, the light within twenty miles was equal to several suns at midday."(8)  As far away as Albuquerque, Sante Fe, and El Paso the great light was seen; and the protective thick dark glasses worn by those at the test site must surely bring to mind the passage from Exodus (33:23), where by special grace Moses is allowed to see the back of Yahweh but not His face, "for there shall no man see Me and live."(9)

Yet on that fateful July day there were those who dared to look upon the face of God and many were never again psychologically the same.  To Brigadier General Farrell "no man-made phenomenon of such tremen­dous power had ever occurred before.  The lighting effects beggared description.  The whole country was lighted by a searing light with the intensity many times that of the midday sun.  It was golden, purple, violet, gray and blue.  It lighted every peak, crevasse, and ridge of the nearby mountain range with a clarity and beauty that cannot be described but must be seen to be imagined. . . . Thirty seconds after the explosion came, first, the air blast pressing hard against people and things, to be followed almost immediately by the strong, sustained, awesome roar which warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous to dare tamper with the forces heretofore reserved to the Almighty.  Words are inadequate tools for the job of acquainting those not present with the physical, mental, and psychological effects.  It had to be witnessed to be realized."(10)

Farrell also felt that the sight he beheld "was that beauty the great poets dream about but describe most poorly and inadequately."  Had he but recalled the words of the Scriptures, he might have thought other­wise.  Psalms 77:18 contains this interesting description—"The voice of thy thunder was in the heavens: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook."  And in Psalms 97:4-5 there is this: "His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.  The hills melted like wax. . . ."

To William L. Laurence, the New York Times reporter, "it was like the grand finale of a mighty symphony of the elements; fascinating and terrifying, uplifting and crushing, ominous, devastating, full of great promise and great foreboding . . . . On that moment hung eternity.  Time stood still.  Space contracted to a pinpoint.  It was as though the earth had opened and the skies split.  One felt as though he had been privileged to witness the birth of the world—to be present at the moment of Creation when the Lord said: 'Let there be light'."(11)  Laurence could just as easily have been standing before The Last Judgement as depicted by Michelangelo on the far wall of the Sistine Chapel. 112,

For J. Robert Oppenheimer, the head of the Los Alamos plant where the bomb had been designed and assembled, the atomic spectacle of that morning was to haunt him the rest of his earthly days.  To his mind at the moment of explosive release came the words of the Hindu "Song of God," the Bhagavad-Gita:

If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky,
That would be like the splendour of the Mighty One . . .
I am become Death, the shatterer of Worlds. (13)

If Oppenheimer had instead but thought of the words of Isaiah (30:26)—"Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the hurt of His people, and heals the wounds inflicted by His blow"—then perhaps the weapon which brought man's greatest conflict to a sudden and decisive end might not have seemed so tragic nor weighted so heavily upon his conscience.

Worlds in Collision

By 1950 one would have thought that five years of living in the Atomic Age should have sufficiently steeled the American psyche against any new unexpected development of a startling nature.  Not so!  This time it was not a bomb but a book which caused a nation-wide stir and even the avuncular Einstein was unable to offer an "explanation" or mollify a bemused public.  The man who was reluctant to admit that God might "play dice with the world" could hardly be expected to envision a carefree game of celestial billiards.

But to the literal minded, that was exactly what people were being asked to accept since the book in question, Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, claimed that cosmic catastrophes had occurred in the solar system on a staggering scale in historical times thereby leaving an indelible traumatic imprint on the mind of man and with it a legacy of terror and irrationality.  The memory of these catastrophic experiences which earlier mankind was subjected to was sublimated and allowed to be "forgotten"; reality transformed itself into myth and a protective veil of forgetfulness obfuscated mnemonic activity.

In what Velikovsky has termed a "collective amnesia," "the memory of the cataclysms was erased, not because of lack of written traditions, but because of some characteristic process that later caused entire nations, together with their literate men, to read into these traditions allegories or metaphors where actually cosmic disturbances were clearly described." (14)

Terror from Space

In an encyclopedic tour de force, Velikovsky proposed that the present arrangement of the solar system was not billions, not millions, but only thousands of years old; that the earth had experienced near collisions with the planets Venus and Mars between c. 1500 B.C. and 687 B.C. suffering unimaginably in the process;(15) that Saturn and Jupiter(16) had been responsible for still earlier disasters, the former later specifically ascribed as causative agent for the Universal Flood.(17)

Velikovsky even went so far as to maintain that the planet Venus was formerly a comet-like object which had been expelled from Jupiter, remained in that state while menacing the earth, was responsible for the cataclysmic "miracles" which occurred at the time of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt and again in the time of Joshua, and first "joined the family of planets within the memory of mankind."

The enormity of the global conflagrations wrought by the proto­planet Venus made it the dread of the peoples of the earth.  The threaten­ing periodicity of this celestial body also resulted in a form of Pavlovian conditioning which ingrained itself upon mankind in general producing a recurrent, albeit repressed, expectation of death and destruction.  To this syndrome, Mars (and perhaps Mercury) also contributed.


Without dwelling further on what has been discussed, the message is clear.  Man's acquisition of a self-destructive thermonuclear capability, born out of a self-induced catastrophic process—war—has completed the circle of doom which inevitably surrounds his transitory and tenuous world.  The Damocles sword is double-edged and Velikovsky has tried to jolt mankind's complacency by indicating as much.

"For over a century after Copernicus man did not wish to believe that he lives on an Earth that travels. . . . Even much less man wishes to face the fact that he travels on a rock in space on a path that proved to be accident-prone."  Thus Velikovsky's words at the recent AAAS meeting in San Francisco, where he also said: "As members of the human race, we are afraid to face our past.  But as Santayana wrote, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it and—this time, I am afraid, in a man-made thermonuclear holocaust."(18)

It is fallacious for modern man to believe that he is immune from catastrophism behind a shield of uniformitarian protection.  Global catas­trophes are not dependent upon human time or human presence.  As Velikovsky has already stated in Earth in Upheaval ( 1955): "There were global catastrophes in prehuman times, in prehistoric times, and in historical times.  We are descendants of survivors, themselves descend­ants of survivors."(19)  Yet modern man, unlike his predecessors, has the potential—afforded by microcosmic opportunity—of being able to ward off a macrocosmic threat and disaster.(20)  Or he can incinerate him­self in one final irrational suicidal act.(21)  The choice is his.

Perhaps this is the real meaning of the individual and collective reactions of those present during the first nuclear test at Alamogordo -the eyewitnesses were experiencing a form of cosmological catastrophic deja vu.  Consciously, however, they did not know it.

Apocalyptic Intermezzo

The atomic finale to World War II left both victor and vanquished alike psychologically scarred in its aftermath.  This was especially true of the two protagonists—America and Japan—who alone participated directly in the holocaust of the Great War's cataclysmic end.  American aerial bombing reached an almost unbridled pitch during the last days of warfare and culminated in what Quincy Howe has aptly called "The Second Coming, in Wrath"—the atomic obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.(22)

American strategic bombing during World War II went far to reducing ground losses and brought American military strategists considerable gratification.  But, "to the extent that [a] strategic bombing campaign contributed to decisiveness and minimal casualties in the ground war, it did so by extending the reach of war even farther and more terribly than Sherman had done."(23)  In this respect, it was ultimately less gratifying and added a new dimension of terror to an already unbearably terrifying situation.

The allied "strategy of annihilation as applied against Germany in World War II so added to the brutalizing of war that apparently [it] could not but blur the moral vision of [its] authors.  Thus, unhappily, whatever moral restraints the United States had shown in refraining from participation in Britain's deliberate campaign of terror bombing against Germany dis­appeared with astonishingly few regrets in the Pacific.  There, ironically, at the very time when General Spaatz in Europe was denying that there had been AAF terror bombing of Dresden, the United States Army Air Forces were opening against Japan a terroristic city-bombing campaign which was to surpass even what the RAF had done in visiting concentrated destruction upon thousands of noncombatants within a limited span of time."(24)

The first air foray on Japan occurred in April 1942 and amounted to not much more than a disquieting scratch on the face of an island fortress thought to be impregnable.  From 1944 until August 1945, however, the Japanese stronghold was bombarded relentlessly as the sky rained continuous death upon the inhabitants.  "Air attacks . . . destroyed eighty Japanese cities.  The population of Tokyo . . . dropped from 6,800,000 to 2,400,000.  Fire bombs . . . burned out the city's fire-fighting equipment."(25)  On March 9, 1945, alone, American B-29s carried "some 2,000 tons of bombs on an incendiary-bomb raid against Tokyo.  In loss of life this was the most destructive air raid in history, without exception; it killed 83,793 people, while injuring 40,918, destroy­ing about a quarter of Tokyo's buildings, and leaving more than a million homeless." (26)

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were thus the logical extension of a policy designed to end mankind's most irrational sport (27)—war—and in the end "the ultimate cause of Japan's surrender was bombing from the air." (28)

From the very beginning, in addition to its physical power, the atomic bomb exerted a profound psychological effect on all who experienced it first-hand—from the scientists who created it, to the airmen who dropped it, to those who were subjected to it.  Not content with the gift of ordinary fire so generously provided by Prometheus, mankind had now daringly stolen cosmic fire from the gods themselves; and like its divine benefactor, mankind would be made to suffer psychological as well as physical torment.

Today New Mexico, Today or Tomorrow the World?

In a sense, the Nuclear Age was born with psychological stigmata.  The weeks leading up to the first atomic explosion at the Trinity (a name chosen by Oppenheimer) test site had been fraught with emotional and psychological intensity.(29)  Then, through a strange twist of irony, not only had the test bomb been given the misnomer the "Christy bomb" after a young Canadian named Robert Christy,(30) but the airplane carry­ing the first atomic bomb departed from Tinian Island in the Marianas whose code name was Papacy.(31)  One can only wonder at the underlying mechanism responsible for chance names pregnant with double entendre.

The day prior to the first atomic test was given an additional psy­chological tremor by Enrico Fermi "who was making bets with his colleagues on whether the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, and, if so, whether it would destroy only New Mexico—or the entire world."(32)

Fermi also felt that if the bomb failed to go off, implosion would have been proven impossible "and this would be the best of good news for mankind.  Less obvious and more interesting, he went on, was a point about atmospheric ignition: long study of the possibility had put him in a position to handicap the odds on two contingencies.  'I invite bets,' he said, 'against first the destruction of all human life and second just that of human life in New Mexico."(33)

General Groves, the military overseer of the Manhattan Project, was not amused.  He had indeed considered the possibility that Oppenheimer along with other physicists manning the forward station could be wiped out.  A cover story had already been prepared in the event.  "Now Fermi exasperated him by raising a contingency for which he was unprepared to account.  He decided that Fermi was merely making a bad joke out of a desire to relieve tension.  A good many of the senior physicists present felt that Fermi was not merely joking."(34)

One of these was Samuel Allison, a project leader, given the dubious distinction of announcing the detonation countdown to zero; and as the single word "Zero," upon which human destiny hung, was pronounced, time momentarily ceased.  Soon, the first atomic fireball rose in the sky like an inverted exclamation point and amidst excited congratulations. "Allison was musing to himself—'Still Alive.  No atmospheric ignition.'  The psychiatrists, he also noted, needed somebody to calm them down."(35)

Years later, in 1959, Arthur Compton, a director of the Manhattan Project, revealed further concerns that he, Teller, and others had had regarding a nuclear detonation.  In an interview with Pearl Buck, Compton freely admitted that the genuine fear had existed that exploding an A-bomb might affect the hydrogen in sea water thereby setting off an explosion of the ocean itself.  Because the nitrogen in the air is also somewhat unstable, it, too, might have been set off by an atomic explosion in the atmosphere.  Either way, the entire Earth would have been vaporized.

It had been Compton's decision then that "if, after calculation . . . it were proved that the chances were more than approximately three to one million that the earth would be vaporized by the atomic explosion, he would not proceed with the project.  Calculation proved the figures slightly less—and the project continued." (36)

More recently (1974), H. C. Dudley, a Professor of Radiation Physics at the Univ. of Illinois Medical Center, has again voiced concern over the awesome danger posed by American and Russian nuclear capabilities, above and beyond their immediate power, for generating an uncontrollable chain reaction of limitless destruction. (37)

Reactivating the initial fears of Teller, Fermi, Oppenheimer, Bethe, and Compton, Dudley has drawn attention to a newer theory of energy source—the neutrino sea.  Dudley postulates that the energy derived from fission and fusion reactions is obtained from the neutrino sea which permeates the universe with a potential energy content of almost unbelievable proportions. (38)

"My God!"

As far as history is concerned, the atomic bomb was "safely" dropped, dutifully achieving its primary goal of forcing Japanese surrender.  As to the men who had actually taken part in the bombing mission, they beheld a spectacle never to be forgotten.  "The plane crews who had witnessed the sunburst blaze and the mushroom cloud of the explosion itself returned stricken with awe."(39)

Even as they embarked on their deadly deed, airborne to Hiroshima, the flight members of the Enola Gay, in particular, were made psycho­logically aware of the enormity of the task before them.  Colonel Tibbets, the pilot of the plane "picked up the intercom and told everyone to remain at his station until the bombing was over.  Once Japan was sighted, he said, their conversation would be recorded.  'This is for history, so watch your language.  We're carrying the first atomic bomb.'  Most of the crew had never heard the word 'atomic' before.  Its very sound was chilling."(40)

In the atomic aftermath of Hiroshima, co-pilot Lewis was moved to exclaim "My God, what have we done?" and recorded the words "My God!" in his log while the tail gunner, Sergeant Caron, added the expletive "Holy Moses, what a mess!" over the intercom.  "It looked as if Hiroshima had been 'torn apart,' and made [Lewis] feel as if they were 'Buck Rogers twenty-fifth-century warriors."(41)

Here, one is tempted to speculate on the deep-seated psychological impact the very appearance of the atomic mushroom cloud itself may have had on those who observed it.  Who can say what convergent archetypal imagery was evoked when this particular configuration was suddenly seen on so overwhelming a scale and in such baleful circumstances?

Following the thesis of Allegro,(42) could it not have been viewed as the "sacred mushroom"—"God himself, manifest on earth" in a most dreadful manner?  Or could it have subliminally induced a recollection of the cosmic pillar, axis, or world tree of the Golden Age; or further still, could it have conjured up a fearful subconscious reminder of the time when Earth was victimized by cosmic catastrophes and the shape assumed by the agents of destruction was not dissimilar to the mushroom cloud which now cast a new pall over humankind?(43) Again, who can say as all this and more may have conspired to confront mankind with a resurrected yet vengeful Ancient of Days—a terrifying Genie now released and grown so large that it could no longer be put back in its bottle.

"The Hiroshima performance had dwarfed the New Mexico rehearsal, confirming the hopes of most of the military men and the fears of most of the scientists." It prompted Truman to repeat "with increased urgency his warning to the Japanese leaders to accept the Potsdam terms or ,expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth'."(44)

August 6, 8:15 A.M.

Not only were the atomic sights and sounds of Hiroshima recorded for posterity by man-made apparatuses, Time itself indelibly froze the very moment of initial destruction.  "Clocks all over Hiroshima were fixed forever at 8:15.  The bomb exploded 660 yards from the ground into a fireball almost 110 yards in diameter.  Those directly below heard nothing, nor could they later agree what color the pika (lightning) flash was—blue, pink, reddish, dark-brown, yellow or purple.

The heat emanating from the fireball lasted a fraction of a second but was so intense (almost 300,000 degrees Centigrade) that it melted the surface of granite within a thousand yards of the hypocenter, or ground zero—directly under the burst.  Roof tiles softened and changed in color from black to olive or brown.  All over the center of the city numerous silhouettes were imprinted on walls.  On Yorozuyo Bridge ten people left permanent outlines of themselves on the railing and the tar-paved surface."(45)

"A thousand yards on the other side of the hypocenter, Mrs. Yasuko Nukushina was trapped in the ruins of the family sake store."  Upon hear­ing her daughter's voice somewhere outside, "she broke free into the yard.  All around was devastation.  She somehow felt responsible; 'her' bomb had also destroyed the neighborhood.  People drifted by expression­less and silent like sleepwalkers in tattered, smoldering clothing.  It was a parade of wraiths, an evocation of a Buddhist hell."(46)

Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, of the Society of Jesus, was 1400 yards from the center of the explosion.  While reading his Stimmen der Zeit, he first caught sight of "the terrible flash—which, Father Kleinsorge later realized, reminded him of something he had read as a boy about a large meteor colliding with the earth." (47)

The sole uninjured doctor on Hiroshima's Red Cross Hospital staff was a Dr. Sasaki.  He began to administer medical aid immediately and without method but was shortly overwhelmed by the staggering number of wounded.  "Tugged here and there in his stockinged feet, bewildered by the number, staggered by so much raw flesh, Dr. Sasaki lost all sense of profession and stopped working as a skillful surgeon and a sympathetic man; he became an automaton, mechanically wiping, daubing, winding, wiping, daubing, winding."(48)

A man named Yoshida, formerly head of the Nobori-cho Neighborhood Association to which Catholic priests belonged, "had boasted when he was in charge of the district air-raid defenses, that fire might eat away all of Hiroshima but it would never come to Nobori-cho."  How wrong he was, for not only was his own house blown down by the bomb burying him thereunder but the modern Jesuit mission house across the way went up in flames.  As the flames then began to move all around Yoshida, "in a paroxysm of terrified strength, he freed himself and ran down the alleys of Nobori-cho, hemmed in by the fire he had said would never come.  He began at once to behave like an old man; two months later his hair was white."(49)

Many Japanese poured into Asano Park whose distance from the explosion had enabled its foliage to survive.  There were many reasons why people sought refuge there but one very unusual one (according to some) was "an irresistible, atavistic urge to hide under leaves."(50)

"It would be impossible to say what horrors were embedded in the minds of the children who lived through the day of the bombing in Hiroshima.  On the surface, their recollections, months after the disaster, were of an exhilarating adventure" while "a surprising number of the people of Hiroshima remained more or less indifferent about the ethics of using the bomb."(51)

And through all this, "less than a mile south of ground zero the main building of Hiroshima University stood intact amid the devastation.  The hands of its huge clock, which faced the campus, had stopped at 8:15.  But the bomb, which had stilled so many other clocks and watches at that time, had nothing to do with it; several days previously it had stopped prophetically at that catastrophic moment." (52)

Denouement Psychologique

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima destroyed far more than a single Japanese city.  It created the psychological atmosphere of an entire Age and left its psychological mark on the Americans and Japanese in particular, albeit in differing ways.

It took the destruction of Hiroshima—which Roosevelt and Hitler did not live to witness—to bring home to all belligerents the fatal con­sequences to which the unrestricted use of atomic weapons could lead.  Indeed, the successful atomic test-bomb explosion had already suggested such a possibility to President Truman and his advisers, leading them to soften the terms in which the Potsdam Declaration defined unconditional surrender.  Although the Japanese at that time knew nothing about the atomic bomb or its destructive power, more and more of them were finding the unrestricted fire bombings unendurable.  But after the atomic bombs had fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki many more Japanese began to understand far better than any Americans could the awful possibilities of this new weapon.  The outcome of the war thus did not depend so much on the Americans as on that small group of Japanese leaders who alone possessed the authority either to accept or reject the Potsdam Declaration.(53)

The psychological legacy of atomic warfare has caused some strange and varied repercussions.  Americans, for example, have often found themselves unwittingly militarily and politically hamstrung by the sheer weight of moral responsibility attendant with the possession of nuclear arms.

When Russia broke the American nuclear monopoly in 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson decided that Russia's early acquisition of the atomic bomb demanded an American crash program to build a still more powerful weapon, a bomb whose primary principle would be not atomic fission but nuclear fusion, which was promised to be a still further superweapon with a thousand times the power of the Nagasaki bomb.  David Lilienthal, the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, opposed such a program.  Lilienthal feared that using fissionable material to try to develop the new 'hydrogen bomb' would injure the production of atomic bombs.  More than that, he invoked a much larger, moral argument against H-bomb development, namely, that the United States ought to forswear the imposition upon the world of weapons yet more terrible than those already available Between Johnson and Lilienthal, Acheson occupied a somewhat intermediate position, unwilling to accept the moral argument against H-bomb develop­ment, but inclined to postpone production of the bomb until further investigation of the problems of development and also until after a thorough review of foreign and military policies.(54)

Thus the moral (psychological?) question temporarily interposed itself between military and economic considerations.  Could subconscious guilt have also been a factor?

The noted Professor of Government, Adam Ulam, was able to logically refute the historical arguments of "revisionist" historians concerning America's use of the atomic bomb.  But he failed to provide the reason why America diplomatically behaved the way it did at a time when nuclear power was monopolistically controlled.

. . . what is astounding is that no attempt was made by the United States to exploit politically the monopoly of this weapon of unique destructiveness when it came to the peace settlement in Europe or Asia.  Even Soviet sources, while freely accusing the United States of practicing atomic diplomacy during the Cold War, and assailing the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as both unnecessary and barbarous, do not accuse the United States of threatening the Soviet Union in 1945.  Indeed, the Russians would be hard put to specify what more the U.S.S.R. would have gotten had the United States not had the bomb.(55)

Again, one must question the psychological basis of American political behavior in the post-war world of the forties.  Could she have been inad­vertently handicapping herself out of a moralistic sense of guilt?  Be that as it may, American military philosophy of the late sixties and early seventies appears to have freed itself considerably from the psychological fetters of previous decades which undoubtedly deserves special study in its own right.

A rather unnerving bservation concerning present American military aims was recently made by one sociologist who concluded that

. . . the reception given to revolutionary scientific discoveries is not in accord with logic but is in keeping with social developments; in the case of Velikovsky, the emergence of a militaristic state within American society seems to be a dominant social force in support of the space explorations which have come to provide the ever-increasing factual data relevant to Velikovsky's theories in astronomy.  The utility of knowledge still dominates research: "The ultimately decisive question," writes the political scientist Hans Morgenthau, "is not what man is able to know in view of the capacity of his brains, but what he wants to know from among the knowledge technically accessible to him."

The author of the above remarks, Prof.  Sidney Willhelm, goes on to say—

More to the point, it is not only what "he wants to know" but "who wants to know." And it seems to me that it is the military strategist who wants to know about space—and hence wants to know about Velikovsky to advance military tactics and control.  This is a rather ominous conclusion, but a consideration which has to be faced in spite of the call for objectivity.  Scientific accountability denied on the basis of value neutrality leaves a convenient void into which the military will most likely step. (56)

As for Japan, she was militarily lobotomized by Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the ensuing peace terms; and in the long run has become America's military ward growing economically fat like a spayed house cat.  The horror of war and her atomic experience have gradually dissipated in time only to reemerge transmogrified in, of all places, Japanese monster movies of the late 1950s and beyond!*

* See the article Theomachy in the Theater elsewhere in this site


1.         Perhaps it is not without significance that the most impressive by far of all Greek depictions of the battle of gods and giants, the Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamon, was called the throne of Satan by the Bible (Revelation 2:12).

2.         P. Calvocoressi and G. Wint, Total War (New York, 1972), P. 861 (emphasis added).

3.         L. J. Halle, The Cold War as History (New York, 1971), p. 96 (emphasis added).

4.         Albert Einstein, as cited in R. W. Clark, Einstein: His Life and Times (New York, 1971), p. 584.

5.         Ibid.

6.         Clark, pp. 551-8.

7.         Ibid., p. 553 (emphasis added).

8.         S. Groueff, Manhattan Project (Boston, 1967), p. 355.

9.         For a solar-lunar interpretation of this passage, see E. G. Suhr, The Mask, the Unicorn and the Messiah (New York, 1970), p. 114.

10.       General Farrell, as cited in Groueff (emphasis added).  Cf.  Immanuel Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos (Garden City, N. Y., 1952), pp. 25-9.

11.       William L. Laurence, as cited in Groueff.

12.       See M. Bussagli, "Terror and the Malign," Encyclopedia of World Art (New York, 1967), XIII, 1042.

13.       See P. M. Stern, The Oppenheimer Case: Security on Trial (New York, 1969), pp. 82-83.

14.       Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (Garden City, N. Y., 1950), p. 300.

15.       Ibid., pp. 39-203 for Venus and 207-97 for Mars.

16.       Ibid., pp. 173 & 382,

17.       Ibid., p. viii.  See also Velikovsky, "The Pitfalls of Radiocarbon Dating," Pensee, 3 (Spring-Summer 1973), 13; cf.  G. de Santillana and H. von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill (Boston, 1969), pp. 222-223.

18.       Velikovsky, "My Challenge to Conventional Views in Science," Pensee, 4 (Spring 1974), 11 & 14.

19.       Velikovsky, Earth In Upheaval (Garden City, N. Y., 1955), p. 264.

20.       See 1. Asimov, "Toro: A Defense of Space Exploration," Intellectual Digest (July 1972). 74-8.

21.       See A. J. Toynbee, War and Civilization (N.  Y., 1950), p. 4.

22.       Q. Howe, Ashes of Victory (N.Y., 1972), Chapter XXV.

23.       R. F. Weigley, The American Way of War (N.Y., 1973). p. 359; also see the fictional work by Len Deighton, Bomber (N.Y., 1970).

24.       Weigley, p. 363 (emphasis added).

25.       Howe, p. 398.

26.       Weigley, p. 364; but see J. Toland, The Rising Sun (N.Y., 1970), p, 977 on Hiroshima.

27.       Toynbee, p. 15.  The authors plan a separate monograph on "The Psychology of War."

28.       M. Arnold-Foster, The World at War (N.Y.. 1973), p. 276.

29.       See N. P. Davis.  Lawrence & Oppenheimer (N.Y., 1968), pp. 188ff.

30.       Ibid., pp. 229-231; also see the fictional work by Edwin Corley, The Jesus Factor (N. Y., 1970).

31.       Toland, p. 972,

32.       Groueff, P. 352,

33.       Davis, pp. 234-235.

34.       Ibid., p. 235.

35.       Ibid., P. 239.

36.       P. S. Buck, "The Bomb—the End of the World?" American Weekly, March 8, 1959 (emphasis added); also see P. S. Buck, "The bomb—did we have to drop it?" American Weekly, March 15, 1959; Davis, Ibid., pp. 130-133.

37.       Personal communiqué to WARNER SIZEMORE of July 1, 1974.

38.       Ibid., and various scientific publications between 1965 and the present: i.e., the Nuclear Energy Information Center, Warsaw 1972—Reference Section.  Dudley apparently rejects E = mc2 as being the source of energy in favor of the energy-rich neutrino sea.

39.       Howe, p. 403.

40.       Toland, p. 964 (emphasis added).

41.       Ibid., p. 972.

42.       J. M. Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (Bantam Books: N. Y., 1971). pp. xiv-xv; also see P. Wheeler, The Sacred Scriptures of the Japanese (N.Y., 1952), p. 402.

43.       See for example R. Ash and I. Grant, Comets (N.  Y., 1973), P. 40; Time, Dec. 17, 1973, p. 92.

44.       Howe, p. 404.

45.       Toland, p. 967; also see J. Hersey, Hiroshima (N.  Y., 1946), p. 107.

46.       Toland, p. 968 (emphasis added).

47.       Hersey, p. 18 (emphasis added).

48.       Ibid., p. 35 (emphasis added).

49.       Ibid., p. 45 (emphasis added).

50.       Ibid., p. 47 (emphasis added).

51.       Ibid., p. 118 (emphasis added) and 116; Cp.  A. Webre and P. Liss, The Age of Cataclysm (N.Y., 1974), pp. 56-57.

52.       Toland, p. 970 (emphasis added).

53.       Howe, p. 407.

54.       Weigley, p. 378 (emphasis added).

55.       A. Ulam, The Rivals (N.  Y., 1971), p. 82 (emphasis in text).

56.       S. Willhelm, "Velikovsky's Challenge to the Scientific Establishment," Pensee (Winter 1973), p. 35.


In the year 1969, in an article titled "Worlds in Confusion,"(1) Isaac Asimov chided Velikovsky for comparing the catastrophes described in the Papyrus Ipuwer with corresponding ones in the Book of Exodus and for further concluding that the two sources reflected contemporary ac­counts of the same natural upheaval.(2)

As far as Asimov was concerned, Ipuwer "was the author of a papyrus which has been dated back to the time of the Sixth Dynasty, about 2200 B.C. It was a time when the 'Old Kingdom' . . . was in decay, and when Egyptian society was breaking down into feudalism, confusion and misery.  Ipuwer didn't like the situation and described it very much in the tones with which Tacitus described the decaying Roman society of his time and the New Left describes the decaying American society of our own time."(3)

Asimov then went on to question the very reality of Ipuwer's lament. . what are we to make of Ipuwer's words, which go on and on in their wailing?  Is it possible, is it just barely possible, that he was making use of metaphor?  If I were to say that 'Society is going to the dogs' would Velikovsky be justified in supposing that I was speaking of a band of wild dogs who had entered my city and were devouring its inhabitants?" (4)

For Asimov, it was of no consequence that five years prior to his untutored remarks, Egyptological scholarship had already vindicated Velikovsky's earlier conclusions regarding the chronological placement of the Papyrus and its physical cataclysmic content.(5)

But for the benefit of those who may still harbor any doubt that the Papyrus lpuwer describes other than mere social calamity, we present

                                                    A CONCORDANCE OF DISASTER

                                                                Concordance Key

Exodus (EX)—References are from the King James Version.

Papyrus Ipuwer (PI)—References are from A. H. Gardiner's translation of 1909 (similarities were not observed by him).

Toland (T)—References are from J. Toland's The Rising Sun (N.Y., 1970).

Hersey (H)—References are from J. Hersey's Hiroshima (N.Y., 1946).

Popol Vuh (PV)—References are from A. Recinos' Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Ancient Quiche Maya (Norman, Oklahoma, 1972), English version by D. Goetz and S. G. Morley.

Revelation (R)—References are from the King James Version.


EX 7:21            there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

PI 2:5-6            Plague is throughout the land.  Blood is everywhere.

T 974               they looked "as if they had crawled out of a pool of blood."

                                                                  Bloody Waters

EX 7:20.....       all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.

PI 2: 10            The river is blood.

T 975.....          The surface of the water was covered with carmine scum.  From blood?

PV 2:2                          Then they arrived [the demigods Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu in the underworld of Xibalba] at the shore of a river of blood, and they crossed it without drinking its waters . . .

R 16:4                          And the third angel poured out his bowl upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they became blood.

                                                                lmpotable Water

EX 7:24            And ill the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

PI 2: 1 0           Men shrink from tasting . . . and thirst after water.

H 42                 he carried them water from the river—a mistake, since it was tidal and brackish.

                                                             Death in the Waters

EX 7:2 t            And the fish that was in the river died.

PI 10: 3-6         Lower Egypt weeps . . . The entire palace is without its revenues.  To it belong (by right) wheat and barley, geese and fish.

H 69                             . . . the fat, two-foot carp . . . floated dead on the surface of the water.

R 16:3                          And the second angel poured out his bowl upon the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea.


EX 9:23            and the fire ran along upon the ground.

PI 2:10            Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.

H 45                             then flames came along his side of the street and entered his house.

T 974                           Blasts of flame .        erratically ripped off corrugated roofs as if they were cardboard, blasted houses apart and twisted metal bridges.

R 13:11-13       And I beheld another beast coming out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon . . . And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.


EX 10: 22         . . . and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.

PI 9:11            The land is not light.

T 995               In the twilight gloom people milled around helplessly.

PV 3:8             They did not steep; they remained standing and great was the anxiety of their hearts and their stomachs for the coming of dawn and the day . . . They bad come . . . far.  "Oh, we have come without joy!  If only we could see the rising of the sun!  What shall we do now?" . . . They talked, but they could not calm their hearts which were anxious for the coming of the dawn.

R 16:10            And the fifth angel poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was full of darkness . . .

                                                      Earthquake and Concussion

PI 7:4              The residence is overturned in a minute.

T 967                . . . an unearthly concussion . . . obliterated all but a few solid, earthquake-proof buildings within two miles [of the hypocenter].

PV 1:3              The desperate ones . . . ran as quickly as they could; they wanted to climb to the tops of the houses, and the houses fell down and threw them to the ground; they wanted to climb to the treetops, and the trees cast them far away; they wanted to enter the caverns, and the caverns repelled them [closed up before them].

R 6:12-17         And I beheld, when he had opened the sixth seal and, lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.  And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every [slave], and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; For the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?

                                                                 All are Perished

EX 12:29          And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon.

PI 5: 3,6           Forsooth, the children of  princes are dashed against the walls.

PI 6:12            Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets.

PI 6:3              The prison is ruined.

T 967              . . . the blast hurled him into the vast barnlike warehouse, driving him into the collapsing roof beam where five long nails in his back held him suspended several feet off the ground.

T 977                           Twenty-two of the victims were American prisoners of war . . . There were twenty-three prisoners in all.  The twenty-third, a young soldier, was pulled out of the rubble alive, but he was killed by an angry mob of Japanese survivors.

                                                   Hailstones and Trees Destroyed

EX 9:25            . . . and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

PI 4: 14            Trees are destroyed.

T 974.....          large trees were uprooted . . . Telephone poles ignited explosively.

EX 9:24.....       there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.

PV 3:5              Much hail fell on all the tribes and the fire was put out because of it, and again the fire was extinguished.

R 16:21            And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every [hail] stone about the weight of 100 pounds; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plaque was exceedingly great.


PI 4:2                           years of noise.  There is no end to noise.

PI 6: 1                          Oh, that the earth would cease from noise, and tumult (uproar) be no more.

T 973                           With distance [from the hypocenter] the noise grew perceptible, then shattering.  From three miles it sounded like the rumbling of unworldly thunder; at four miles it was a distant moan which crew into a jarring boom . . . several miles offshore, salvagers . . . heard a deafening "thunderbolt" clap.

R 4:1                            . . . and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice that I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet . . . which said, Come up here, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter . . .

R 16:17-18       And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.  And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

                                                                     Black Rain

PV 1: 3             A heavy resin fell from the sky . . . This was to punish them because they had not thought of their mother, nor their father, the Heart of Heaven, called Huracan.  And for this reason the face of the earth was darkened and a black rain began to fall, by day and by night.

PV 3:5                          There was much hail, black rain and mist, and indescribable cold.

T 973                           . . . huge drops of rain began to plummet down . . . and stained by radioactive dust [fell] in large drops.  The "black rain," weird and almost supernatural, horrified the survivors.

T 996                           Incongruously, there was a heavy shower, the raindrops hissing into the fires and hot earth.

                                                            Botanical Destruction

EX 10: 15         . . . there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

PI 6: 1            No fruit nor herbs are found . . .

PI 5:12            Forsooth, that has perished which yesterday was seen.

T 995                           . . . eggplant leaves and potato plants were smoldering.

                                                                 Scorched Earth

PI 2:11            The towns are destroyed.  Upper Egypt has become dry (wastes?).

PI 3: 1              Forsooth, the Desert is throughout the land.  The nomes are laid waste.

PV 3:9             Instantly the surface of the earth was dried by the sun.  Like a man was the sun when it showed itself, and its face glowed when it dried the surface of the earth . . . And its heat was unbearable.  It showed itself when it was born and remained fixed [in the sky] like a mirror.  Certainly it was not the same sun which we see, it is said in their old tales.

T 967              The heat emanating from the fireball lasted a fraction of a second but was so intense (almost 300,000 degrees Centigrade) that it melted the surface of granite within a thousand yards of the hypocenter, or ground zero directly under the burst.

T 983               Their plane arrived over Hiroshima just before dusk.  The general had seen many cities laid waste by fire bombings—usually there was smoldering debris, smoke from emergency kitchens and some signs of human activity—but below him stretched a lifeless desert.  No smoke, no fires, nothing.

R 16:8-9           And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.  And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, who hath power over these plagues ...

                                                               Suffering Animals

EX 9:3              the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field . . . there shall be a very grievous murrain.

EX 9:19            . . . gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field.

PI 5: 5            All animals, their hearts weep.  Cattle moan . . .

PI 9:2-3            Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together.  Each man fetches for himself those that are branded with his name.

T 975               a cavalry horse standing alone . . . was pink; the blast had seared off its skin.  It looked at him pleadingly and followed with a few faltering steps . . . (he would dream about the pink horse for years afterward).

T 1000             a black-and-white cow covered with raw spots of pink was placidly lapping water.

                                                              Innumerable Dead

EX 12:30          there was not a house where there was not one dead.

PI 2: 13            He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.

T 977              That day perhaps 100,000 human beings perished . . . and an equal number were dying from burns, injuries and .     radiation poisoning.

                                                                    A Great Cry

EX 12:30          . . . there was a great cry in Egypt.

PI 3:14             It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations.

T 982               The anguished voices of those who had died kept haunting them.

                                                             The Dead Untombed

PI 4: 4             Forsooth, those who were in the place of embalmment

PI 6:14            are laid on the high ground.

H 107             Some of them measured the force that had been necessary to shift marble gravestones in the cemeteries.

R 20:13            And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hades delivered up the dead that were in them; and they were judged every man according to their works.


1.         Originally published in October 1969 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Reprinted in The Stars in their Courses (Ace Books: N. Y., 1972), pp. 45-56.

2.         I. Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos (Garden City, 1952), pp. 22-39; I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision (Garden City. 1950), Chapter 2; 1. Velikovsky, "Theses for the Reconstruction of Ancient History," Script& Academics Hierosolymitana (N.Y., 1945), Theses #7 and #8.

3.         I. Asimov, The Stars . . . . op. cit., p. 49.

4.         Ibid., P. 50.

5.         See J. Van Seters, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 50, 1964, pp. 13-23; R. O. Faulkner, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 51, 1965, pp. 53-62: W. F. Albright, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 179, 1965, pp. 41-42; J. Van Seters, The Hyksos  (New Haven. 1966), P. 120; also see L. M. Greenberg, "The Papyrus lpuwer." Pensee, III (Winter, 1973), pp. 36-37.  Almost without exception, the bulk of Asimov's contentions against Velikovsky, which were Presented in Worlds in Confusion, have been repudiated by a host of scholars (including Carl Sagan) between 1964 and 1974.  Yet, in the October 1974 issue of Analog, Asimov was still referring readers to his earlier work as though it were still valid.  Some people never learn.

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