To: All Msg #145, Apr1393 02:33PM Subject: Velikovskyian slapstick Well, since Ted seems s

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From: Karl Kluge To: All Msg #145, Apr-13-93 02:33PM Subject: Velikovskyian slapstick Organization: University of Michigan From: kckluge@eecs.umich.edu (Karl Kluge) Message-ID: Newsgroups: talk.origins Well, since Ted seems so intent on focusing on what he believes to be the "slapstick" antics of those who disagree with him, I thought I'd focus a little attention on the rather badly flawed evidentiary basis for Velikovsky's _Worlds in Collision_ thesis. Velikovsky's argument requires a substantial realignment of Near Eastern chronology, but the Amarna letters provide a critical test of this claim -- a test Velikovsky's realignment fails. The Amarna letters name rulers in the Near and Middle East and describe their interactions. If the Amarna period is contemporary with the biblical King Ahab, then the Amarna letters had better be describing the same people as II Chronicles, or Velikovsky's reconstruction is deep-sixed. To quote Stiebing, "Occasionally, ancient rulers were known by more than one name, but it is difficult to believe that _every_ king mentioned in the Amarna Letters was refered to by a name different from the one used in ninth-century B.C. Mesopotamian and biblical sources." For example (quoting _Ancient Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions_), "It is possible that Jehoshaphat of Judah had another name that we don't know about, but it is very unlikely that it was Abdu-Hepa, as Velikovsky asserts. The Bible indicates that Jehoshaphat was a dedicated worshipper of Yahweh who attempted to suppress idolatry in Judah. Could he have received such favorable notice from the biblical authors if he had chosen the throne name Abdu-Hapa, which (despite Velikovsky's claims to the contrary) means 'Servant of [the Goddess] Hepa'? Furthermore, in the Amarna letters, Azaru is the son of Abdi-Ashirta. Velikovsky declares that these two individuals are the same as the ninth-century rulers Hazael and Ben-Hadd (I), but both the Bible and Shalmaneser III's inscriptions indicate that Hazael was _not_ the son of Ben-Hadad (I). Hazael was a commoner who usurped the throne -- Shalmaneser's inscription calls him 'son of a nobody.'... "For Velikovsky's synchronization to be valid, not only must his improbable explanation for the differences in the royal names be correct, but also his interpretation of certain place names. In the Amarna letters, Rib-Addi is king of Gubla, which Velikovsky argues was the original name of Jezreel in Israel before Ahab changed it. He rejects the traditional equation of Gubla (Gebel in Hebrew and Phoenician) with Byblos, a city in Lebanon that is still called Jebeil in Arabic. Yet not only does the Bible refer to Byblos as Gebel (Joshua 13:4; Ezekial 27:9; Psalms 83:8), but also Assyrian texts clearly indicate that Gubla or Gubal was Byblos. An early eleventh-century-B.C. inscription describing an Assyrian campaign in Lebanon refers to Gubal among other Lebanese cities. And ninth-century-B.C. texts recounting the military conquests of the Assyrian monarchs Asshurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III place Gubal on the coast of Lebanon along with Tyre and Sidon. It should also be noted that in Shalmaneser's inscriptions (which are written in Akkadian just as the Amarna letters are), Ahab is refered to as Ahab of Israel, not Rib-Addi of Gubla! It is not only wrong, but wrong-headed, to reject all of this evidence for the identification of Gubla with Byblos and opt instead for its identification with Jezreel, an equation unattested in any ancient text." Not only is Velikovsky's realignment of ancient history untenable, but his use of sources relating to Venus in ancient times is tendentious in the extreme. Here are some extracts from "Venus and Velikovsky: The Original Sources", by Bob Forrest in the _Skeptical Inquirer_, vol 8, Winter '83-4: "To begin with, Velikovsky tells us that to the Mexicans Venus was 'la estrella que humeava,' the star that smoked. But does this phrase really refer to a cometary Venus in 1500 B.C.? If we follow up the sources cited by Velikovsky, we find it refers to nothing of the sort. According to the main source, E. T. Hamy's _Codex Telleriano-Remensis_, Venus was the smoking star in the sixteenth century _A.D._, and so cannot possibly have had anything to do with Velikovsky's scenerio! A possible explanation for the smoke is offered by F. H. A. von Humboldt's _Researches_, to which Velikovsky also refers, and this likewise has nothing to do with what may or may not have happened back in the days of the Exodus. According to Humboldt the smoke may relate to the volcano Orizava, situated to the east of the city of Cholula, whose glow when seen in the distance resembled, or was symbolically related to, the rising Morning Star. This explanation is far from certain, of course: all we have are some sixteenth-century records that say, every so often, 'This year the star threw out smoke'; but since the phrase seems to be frequently intertwined with records of earthquake activity, Humboldt's assumption seems reasonable. "Another reference to Venus looking like 'a fire accompanied by smoke' is to be found, according to Velikovsky, in the _Vedas_. Actually Velikovsky here refers to a book by Scheftelowitz, which in its turn refers not to the _Vedas_ but to the _Mahabharata_, India's equivalent of the _Illiad_. In any event, the context of this fire with smoke is _not_ a story of Venusian catastrophes and global disasters. Instead, it is part of a list of prodigies and portents associated with the approach of a battle between two rival families, the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The list includes women giving birth to peacocks, cocks crowing in strange ways, flowers blooming out of season, and, need I say it, Venus looking like fire with smoke! "We fare no better if we turn to the Talmud, where, Velikovsky assures us, is to be found the statement 'Fire is hanging down from the planet Venus.' This statement is supposedly to be found in Shabbath 156a, but once again, for the reader who troubles to look it up, there is only disappointment in store. Shabbath 156a is an astrological text. The nearest it comes to describing the Venus comet is when it tells us that those who are born under Venus tend to be wealthy and immoral, since fire was created in the hours ruled over by Venus!... "The following is actually the closest we get to a good record of a blazing Venus comet. Velikovsky writes: The Chinese astronomical text fron Soochow refers to the past when 'Venus was visible in full daylight and, while moving across the sky, rivalled the sun in brightness.' "The trouble with this reference, though, is that though it is a genuine quote, it does _not_ occur in a catastrophic context, as readers of _Worlds in Collision_ might suppose. There is no mention in the Soochow chart of rains of burning naphtha, earthquakes, upturned skies, or any of the other earth-shattering phenomena associated with Velikovsky's scenario. Rather, it appears as one item in a list of celestial prodigies that are supposed to have happened in the past, and which were believed to be the result of adverse political circumstances. The Soochow chart tells us that during periods of good government the sun, moon and planets move 'with regular constancy' but that 'if it happens that the emperor interferes with the office of the ministers or the latter usurps the imperial power...the malign influences (planetary) change strangely and behave irregularly.'... "What makes it further certain that this Venus prodigy has nothing to do with the global mayhem proposed in _Worlds in Collision_ is the way the Soochow chart fails to class it as a particularly alarming event. After describing the antics of Venus, the chart goes on to say that 'in very serious cases' -- presumably implying that what has gone before (which includes the Venus prodigy) is not very serious -- the planets change into phantom stars or stars of ill omen. Now whatever else might be said of the Venus comet, there seems no way that it could ever be classed as anything but very serious indeed!" Does the evidence from planetary probes support a young Venus as claimed by Ted? Ted wants his readers to believe that the data from probes sent to Venus support of a picture of a planet with tremendous interior heat leading to a thin crust and massive vulcanism. This is not the case. Sotin, _Recherche_, 21(223):974 (July-Aug '90) cites a crust thickness for Venus of 100 km, compared to the Earth's 5 km-thick crust. Vorder Bruegge, et al, _Geology_, 19(9):885 (Sept. '91) uses an Airy isostasy model to compute a crustal thickness in excess of 45 km for the mountainous areas in Western Ishtar Terra. The distribution of craters on the Venerean surface does not support a young planet on the time scale required by Ted's theories. Ivanov, et al, _Sol. Syst. Res._, 21(2):136 show that the number of craters per unit surface area in the diameter interval from 32 to 128 km coincide for Venus and the Earth within the data scatter, implying comparable age for the surface [or proport- ionately higher impact rates (from what source?)]. See also Schaber, et al, _Sol. Syst. Res._ 21(2):144. Phillips, et al, _J. Geophys. Res._, 97(E10):15923, analyze the Venusian impact crater size-frequency distribution and conclude that "an age of cessation of rapid resurfacing of approximately 500 Ma is obtained." Ted want an age smaller by a factor of 100000 or so, requiring a proportionately higher rate of bombardment -- where is the evidence for such a higher rate of bombardment (observation of new craters between mappings, observations of atmospheric entry, observations of the cloud of material responsible, etc.)? Fegley, et al, _Nature_, 337(6202):55 compute the rate of volcanic activity on Venus based on the amount of SO/sub 2/ production needed to balance the removal of SO/sub 2/ by reaction with calcium minerals on the surface. The calculated level of activity "suggests that Venus may be less volcanically active than the Earth." Ted has suggested that the surface should be much more weathered if Venus was "old", however simulations described by Marshall, et al., _Icarus_, 74(3):495 show that low velocity particle impacts (winds < 2.25 mph) lead to the formation of a protective accretionary layer which would act as a cushion against weathering. If evolution is "slapstick", then Velikovsky's theories are the scientific equivalent of dead cat jokes.

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