A STRANGE man is entering an unfamiliar room. The lamps are turned up; the drapes are drawn. In the center of the room lies a broad-leafed maple table. Lying scattered across the broad table are some 5,000 assorted pieces of jigsaw puzzle. The man examines them and begins fitting piece to piece. Many hours pass, but little progress is made. More time passes. Intensified effort leads to increasing perplexity and vexation. There are more than four corner pieces. There seem to be too many edge pieces. Finally, a new idea streaks across the horizon of the man's mind: "Might it be that there are, lying on this table, the elements of two, or even three, puzzles?" If so, the basis for much progress is laid.
This is precisely an illustration of modern man in his search for understanding of his origin. He is trying to understand the nature of his origin in order that he may more adequately comprehend the purpose of life. It is reasonable to suppose that man's origin is related to the bewildering forces which obviously have sculptured the small spiraling sphere which he inhabits.
Actually, the Earth has had several more or less distinct ages, a fact related by the ancients of many civilizations from many continents. And these ages, cycles, or epochs were terminated and separated by catastrophes of global magnitude. While modern man assumed that he has been trying to complete one great, consecutive, interlocking, and intermerging puzzle of the past, what he has really been dealing with is a history which has been dramatically punctuated by catastrophes and abrupt termination of periods of human activity. The separated ages parallel our illustration of 5,000 pieces of puzzle, which are pieces that comprise several separate pictures, rather than one large, interlocking, merging, and consecutive puzzle. And each separate picture reveals a different facet of man's character and historical experience even as each of the pictures reveals a different scene in an unfolding drama. One of these pictures--the period of the Ice Epoch--markedly and abruptly changed the Earth's terrestrial climate.
Evidently our planet was engulfed in several celestial upheavals, some of which, having occurred within the realm of recorded history, were related in varying manners by the ancients. The Flood catastrophe of Noah's time was easily the most severe. At this time, our planet was caught within counter-dominating gravitational forces and magnetic fields, resulting in (1) much tidal upheaval within our oceans; (2) surging spasms or tides of lava (fluid magma) from within the Earth's thin crust; and (3) further discharges of an electrical nature.
Until this catastrophic view of history is grasped, modern man cannot accurately conceive the perplexities, philosophies, and problems of his ancient days. Once he grasps this perspective, he can begin to understand the enormous magnitude of the forces which sculptured our sphere, as well as of our scar-faced satellite, the Moon. Then only will man be able to realize how fragile his tiny planet is and how awesome is the power of his Creator.
It should be noted that uniformitarian proponents do recognize local catastrophes on a minor scale; to this limited extent, uniformitarians do acknowledge catastrophism. Similarly, while catastrophists view the sculpturing of our sphere as having been achieved primarily by global catastrophes, they nevertheless recognize serene interludes during which the processes of climatic erosion function.
However, it is important to realize that while uniformitarians acknowledge
catastrophes on a local scale, mechanical explanations have been almost
completely lacking. And similarly, while catastrophists acknowledge earth-encompassing
catastrophes of extreme dimensions, they also have achieved almost nothing
in terms of mechanical explanations. Thus the theme of this book rests
upon two important definitions of Earth history which are opposite and
mutually contradictory concepts.
The doctrine that changes in the earth's crust have generally been effected suddenly by physical forces.
The doctrine that existing processes, acting as at present, are sufficient to account for all geological changes.1
This study attempts to demonstrate that uniformitarianism is not an adequate theory. Today, uniformitarianism and its daughter doctrines are essentially unchallenged and are taught as fact rather than theory. To challenge them is to invite expulsion in most academic circles; it is to cast a questionable light upon the basis of modern humanism (the mother philosophy of uniformitarianism) and it is also to question numerous other philosophies, theories, and sub-theories--including Darwinism-- as well as elements of Freudianism and Marxism. It is as though such questioning were beyond the pale of knowledge. However, to refrain from questioning these systems of thought and their underlying assumptions would be to ignore an avalanche of contradictory evidence.
The uniformitarian viewpoint has traditionally held that the Flood, as recorded in Genesis and other ancient sources, is a fable, a fanciful Sumerian story.2 This is, of course, also the viewpoint of modern humanism. This agreement between uniformitarianism and humanism is not coincidental since uniformitarianism is the daughter of philosophy of modern humanism. Thus, the Biblical Flood has not been accorded its proper importance in the history of our planet. When fully examined, the Flood event emerges not only as a severe ordeal for our planet and its inhabitants but also as the most severe disruption (extensive and intensive) which our planet has yet experienced. The Flood, the upwelling of the oceans in tidal waves upon the Earth's crust, was only a part of the global havoc of unbelievable extent. This was apparently caused by an astral catastrophe, a sudden change in equilibrium of the Earth relative to the solar system, which shall be discussed in more detail in Chapters IV, V, VI and VII.
When this is understood, it will appear that mankind indeed has had fanciful fables, but, surprisingly enough, this doctrine of 19th century uniformitarianism will perhaps emerge as the finest of these fables.
Even as uniformitarianism has been an integral part of humanism for the last 150 years, so catastrophism has been an integral part of the Judeo-Christian heritage for the past 4,000 years. Biblical events bearing upon the Flood, the fire and brimstone days of the prophets, the long and fateful day of Joshua (when the Sun and Moon apparently stood still), the celestial-oriented events at the time of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, the earthshaking of Sodom and Gomorrah--these have all been of primary import to Judaism and Christianity. But the humanistic philosophy has been in direct contradiction to the Biblical perspective. One is oriented toward man; the other toward the Creator. As a result, humanists have had an amazing anti-Genesis prejudice, which on occasion has been the basis for some very fuzzy conclusions.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, anything which contradicted Genesis found a welcome in the great universities of Europe which were in the throes of change. One of the philosophical manifestations of this change was the ascendancy of anti-spiritual humanism over Christian philosophy.
Uniformitarianism was just such a manifestation or change; it was only
one among many. However, the men who originally founded the diverging branches
of natural science were not uniformitarians for the most part, but were
catastrophists in the majority of instances. There was Agassiz in geology,
along with Catcott, Buckland, and Woodward. There was Von Humboldt in geography,
Ritter in geomorphology, Whiston, Newton, and Halley in physics, and Linnaeus
in taxonomy. They had been preceded by such men as Colonna, Steno, and
Grandius. And these catastrophists go all the way back to Philo, who in
30 A.D. in Alexandria, Egypt, wrote the following commentary on Earth history:
The vast ocean being raised to an height which it had never before attained, rushed with a sudden inroad upon islands and continents. The springs, rivers and cataracts, confusedly mingling their streams, contributed to elevate the waters . . . For every part of the earth sunk beneath the water, and the entire system of the world became . . . mutilated, and deformed by the vast amputation.3
Especially with the great advance made through Newtonian science, and with the great prestige lent to catastrophism by Newton and his assistant, Whiston, it was generally agreed by the end of the 18th century that the Earth had been shaped by dreadful, global, watery catastrophes. But by the end of the 19th century, 100 years later, all this had changed. Uniformitarianism had come to the front. It had risen to predominance, and it proceeded to rise to the place of virtual monopoly--all in one short century. Among the leading figures in the development of uniformitarian thought was James Hutton.
1. Uniformitarian Authors
JAMES HUTTON (1726-1797). In 1795, Hutton published his major work entitled Theory of the Earth. In this work, modern uniformitarianism was first proposed seriously and systematically as a theory for Earth history. It was not immediately accepted, but it caused a moderate amount of speculation. Hutton was a Scotsman, a physician turned geologist. His background in astronomy was weak, and he seemed indifferent to the opinions of such men as Halley, Newton, Whiston, Cassini, Lehman, Huygens, and Wallerius concerning the catastrophic circumstances in evidence within our solar system.
Hutton remained unconcerned about the cause of the craters of the Moon, or Saturn's rings, or cometary orbits, and he was not disturbed by the fact that so many scholars taught catastrophism. Shortly after his publication, the first of the mysterious asteroids--battered fragments of a former planet--were discovered plunging through space in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. But Hutton took for granted that the Earth had never experienced catastrophes, except perhaps on a strictly local scale. He presumed the Scottish Highlands to have been uplifted at an infinitesimally slow rate, measured by millimeters over millenia and millions of years. How did he "know" this?4 It is difficult to say. He probably inferred it from contemporary experience and concluded it as a universal principle. His work was not generally accepted, yet it intrigued some, including Charles Lyell, a lawyer turned geologist.
CHARLES LYELL (1797-1875). Lyell published three volumes entitled Principles of Geology (1830-1833). He opposed the catastrophic doctrine of Earth history, and he successfully advanced Hutton's theory of uniformitarianism. He set up a geological time scale, by supplying time in multiplied millions of years for any and every geological event.5 He guessed at many things, including the dating of the Ice Epoch.
Previously, Louis Agassiz, a catastrophist, a geologist, and an outstanding scholar, had brought to attention the evidence that a great ice sheet had covered Northern Europe and Northern North America. So Lyell proceeded to date that Ice Epoch at about 1,000,000 B.C. He considered it a "recent" event, caused by falling snowflakes, descending over long periods of time.
It was later realized that certain "geological clocks" existed which could be used to indicate a date for the Ice Epoch. One such geological clock is Niagara Falls, which is receding from Lake Ontario, a lake which was formed at the end of the Ice Epoch.6 Here, between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, is a crystalline structure, an escarpment underlaid by soft limestone. At Niagara River and Niagara Falls, the crystalline formation has been cut and is eroding and receding from Lake Ontario toward Lake Erie. It is receding at a measurable rate. Lyell measured the lineal distance of the Falls from its original location. He interviewed the inhabitants of the area regarding the rate of erosion. They affirmed that the rate of erosion was about 3 feet per year, on the average. This rate did not check with Lyell's time scale-- it indicated that his time scale was in error by 988,000 years out of 1,000,000. Therefore, Lyell impulsively concluded that the inhabitants must have been exaggerating, and he set the rate of erosion at 1 foot per year, not 3. After further calculations, Lyell announced that the Ice Epoch had ended at 35,000 B.C., and not his previous estimate of 1,000,000 B.C.
It is now recognized that both distance estimates were too low. Lyell's original estimate of time for the Ice Epoch was also wrong. Niagara Falls is retreating at a rate approaching 5 feet per year, and this is merely the current rate of erosion. Ancient rates in the decades following the end of the ice build-up were in all probability far greater. This review is not given to determine the magnitude of Lyell's error; rather it is cited so that we can recognize Lyell's attitude toward time. His theory required oceans of time because he believed that our planet had never experienced watery global catastrophes.
Hutton's views attained a modest amount of acceptance during his lifetime, but they became respectable when they were reworked, refined, and republished by Lyell some 35 years later. The relatively new geological profession at first acknowledged Lyell's ideas grudgingly, but the more humanistically oriented social sciences welcomed them. Lyell's ideas were viewed as both anti-Genesis and at the same time seemingly scientific. As modern humanism became deeply entrenched in academic circles in Europe, Lyell's ideas prospered. And then Darwin appeared, with his refined theory of biological uniformitarianism, strictly parallel to his friend Lyell's idea of geological uniformitarianism.
CHARLES DARWIN (1809-1882). Darwin studied botany and zoology, and he had an inquiring mind. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, a physician and amateur botanist, had established a botanical garden where he had experimented with developing new strains by plant breeding. Darwin's father also was a physician. Thus, Charles received an inquisitive attitude and a studious family heritage with a particular interest in natural science. He also took the opportunity to do a lot of travelling in areas beyond England. He crossed several oceans, as a naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle. He viewed some of the astounding species of fauna and flora in various parts of the world. Subsequently, he became closely associated with Lyell, studying under Lyell for several years.
Darwin attempted to reconcile biology with Lyell's geological theory of uniformitarianism. This approach is the crux of Darwinism. Lyell urged Darwin to expedite the publication of his theories because others were developing similar ideas. Darwin thus spearheaded the development of the uniformitarian doctrine of biological evolution. The response was immediate. His third and most famous work, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, was published in 1859. The first day the publication went on the market, Oct. 1, 1859, the entire edition of 1500 was sold out. Thus it would seem that the book was received as a best seller in the popular vein more than a scientific work deserving critical examination in depth.
Since his book was completely sold out in its entire first edition on the first day of publication, one may well conclude that an excellent pre-publication publicity campaign had been achieved. This leads directly to the suspicion that this may have been the European equivalent to "Madison Avenue science" in its most proficient performance of the former century.
The relationship between humanism, uniformitarianism, and Darwinism should be noted. First of all, they are related because Darwinism sprang directly from uniformitarianism, which was fostered by modern humanism. Secondly, it must be recognized that evolution blazed the trail to further humanism and uniformitarianism. All three doctrines promoted and depended on each other. This is not unlike a backfield in football, in which one back first carries the ball while the others block, and then the order is changed in rotation. These three doctrines--humanism, uniformitarianism, and Darwinism--ran interference for each other.
The basis for Darwin's theory was threefold: (1) Lyell's uniformitarianism, (2) Lamarck's proposition of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and (3) Darwin's own geographical observations of fauna and flora. Lyell's uniformitarianism allowed for time in inexhaustible quantities (or at least so it seemed).
Lamarck's proposition allowed for specie reorganization and translation termed transmutation (or at least so it seemed). And Darwin's travels brought the fauna of Africa, South America, Australia and other remote areas into the arena.
Here, supposedly, in Lamarckian thought was the biochemical mechanism for change and emergence, the principle of the transmutation of species. The idea ballooned immediately; it gained acceptance among academic circles rapidly. A modest amount of contradictory opinion developed, but was mostly ignored. And what little contradictory opinion existed was sporadic and rather disorganized. Agassiz, for instance, categorically objected. Pasteur also objected. Mendel, another pertinent example, was briefly heard, dismissed, and forgotten for another 40 years.
Catastrophism, along with creationism, was overruled, neglected, and then virtually forgotten by the entire geological profession. There were a few voices of objection and protest here and there. Henry Howorth, Hugh Miller and Isaac Newton Vail were examples.
A constellation of new philosophies began to emerge based, or partly based, on Darwinism. These theories, which practically burst upon the world scene, carried implications which made a climate of agnosticism nearly necessary, which also made atheism respectable. For example, Marx, in his unrestrained enthusiasm, endeavored to dedicate a book against capitalism (Das Kapital) to Darwin, a capitalist.7 Secularism, skepticism, and cynical brands of atheism were transformed from their former lowly status into virile ideas, and they gained wide acceptance. This was accomplished although geological uniformitarianism is not valid, whether in Hutton's or Lyell's form or in modern dress. This has also been accomplished even though environmental determinism is not valid, whether in Lamarck's form, Darwin's form or in modern dress.
During the 19th century, as uniformitarianism expanded rapidly (in biology and geology), humanists were greatly enthused. Catastrophists were both confused and dismayed. So were Biblical theologians. Catastrophism had been deeply interwoven into their theology. Geological catastrophists were becoming a very rare and lonely species. And theological catastrophists could not meet with secular scholars because their basis of theology was deemed insufficient, that is to say, unscientific.
Other problems also became evident during the ascent of uniformitarianism. There were repeated traditions of cosmic upheavals in virtually every culture. Among these, to name but a few, were the Chaldean, the Indo-Aryan or Hindu, the Egyptian, the Greek, the Incan, the Mayan, the Aztec, the Persian, the Roman, the Germanic, the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Polynesian. Some, like Whiston and Von Humbolt, had concluded that these traditions were related to ancient global upheavals. But after Lyell and Darwin, a reinterpretation was necessary. Therefore, the followers of Lyell and Darwin transformed these worldwide traditions of cosmological upsets into fanciful tales and ancient mythology, claiming the traditions were groundless and impossible since they could have had no physical and real basis. Certainly the planets had been regularly circling in their present orbits for untold millions of years. Certainly their satellites had regularly and unvaryingly accompanied them. Who said so? Darwin. Lyell. Hutton. Kant.
So the scholars of yesteryear assumed that there was no logical, physical, or actual basis for the ancient sky gods of so many ancient cultures. Had catastrophes been recognized, it would have led to a semi-literal interpretation, which would have led directly back to catastrophism, and then directly contradicted the plausibility of the uniformitarian approach, already considered to be above question.
Thus there was a fair amount of confusion following the rise of uniformitarianism. It was by no means restricted to the theological and geological arenas. Classicists had no recourse but to fall back on pure fancy to explain the ancient cosmic motifs. The general reaction of the mythologists and the scholars of the classics was to go along with the uniformitarian assumption. The abandoning of catastrophism has already been noted among the geologists. An additional reason explaining why there was so little resistance among the professions is the principle of conformity to the norms of scholarly society.8
But the reactions of conservative theologians have been more varied. Some decided to accept the uniformitarian proposition and promote the humanistic viewpoint. Some decided to reject the uniformitarian proposition and oppose the viewpoint. Others decided to ignore the contradiction. Of those who decided to reject the uniformitarian proposition and oppose it, most found that they might meet the challenge in their pulpits, but that they were nearly at a complete loss in the classroom.
Thus, following Darwin's historic publication, there was some opposing thought; but it was rapidly washed away in the flood of successive elaborations and increasing frills, which were woven into the uniformitarian proposition. Again, certain men like Agassiz, Howorth and Pasteur objected; but despite their stature, their objections fell mostly on deaf ears. Mendel, in spite of the great import of his findings, was for the time overlooked. And there were others. Nevertheless, we see that within the academic profession the objectors and protestors to the uniformitarian proposition failed, for all intents and purposes, because they gained no significant number of disciples.
Many churchmen objected vigorously, but their arguments could be dismissed
because they objected on theological rather than on biochemical or geological
grounds. But even so, the monopoly of uniformitarianism did not extend
into all church colleges and seminaries. Here and there somebody gathered
data, did a modest amount of publishing, and achieved a modest but significant
following. Howorth is a good example of a catastrophist who, as a secular
educator, failed to acquire a significant following. Price is a good example
of a catastrophist who, as a church educator, achieved a modest but significant
2. Catastrophic Authors
Catastrophists who have ventured to publish have been few and far between; they have gained attention only about once each decade, and invariably their motivation has been religious, the defense of the faith. In the 1910's the publishing catastrophist was Vail; in the 1920's it was Price; in the 1930's it was Nelson; in the 1940's it was Rehwinkel; and in the 1950's it was Morris. However, within the last decade, a few secular writers have also begun to publish catastrophic or semi-catastrophic material, frequently in articles rather than in books.
The catastrophic writers of the past fifty years, until the last decade, have almost invariably come out of conservative Protestant circles. It is interesting to note that no particular group has dominated. Isaac Newton Vail was a Quaker. George McCready Price was Seventh Day Adventist; Byron Nelson was Lutheran (Augustana) as was Alfred Rehwinkel (Missouri Synod) ; Henry Morris was Independent Baptist.
GEORGE McCREADY PRICE. Price was a prolific writer during the 1910's and particularly the 1920's and 1930's. He published three major volumes and innumerable articles. Among his publications were Evolutionary Geology and the New Catastrophism, The New Geology, and Common Sense Geology. He was considered authoritative within his own denomination, but also received a substantial response in other fundamentalist circles. He achieved no significant following in secular circles, and a certain amount of unwarranted scorn.
Price was a learned man with only a moderate academic education which included approximately three years of college, plus several years of religious education. However, it would be a mistake to underestimate the extent to which he was informed in geology. He was familiar with practically everything that had been published in geology during his time. He made extensive field trips. He compiled illustrations of fossil finds and strati-graphical formations of both dramatic interest and phenomenal length.
One significant fact about Price was his command of his field. But an equally interesting facet of him is what he failed to say. Price demonstrated the evidences of watery upheavals, sedimentary deposits, alluvial formations, and fossil finds, extensively. He considered the Flood to have been an immense cataclysm, and obviously tidal in nature. But here he went no further.
In regard to the cause and effect relationship, Price concerned himself only with effect. He looked for evidences of the Biblical Flood only in the geological formations of the Earth's crust, and neglected information filtering down from the folklore of the ancients with their astral motifs. Price looked only downward for evidences and failed to also look upward for causes. Mechanical principles involved in tidal upheaval and astral catastrophism were not considered. In this way, he partly succeeded and partly failed in his purpose. Yet in his limited success, he was more successful than any other catastrophist of his era.
As judged by a "cause and effect" analysis, Price's method of approach to catastrophism was limited to the geological effects of the Flood catastrophe. Nelson, Rehwinkel and Morris expanded the approach of Price by adding other categories of effects. However, like Price, they limited their approach to effects within the "cause and effect" analysis, and thereby duplicated both Price's strengths and also his weaknesses.
BYRON C. NELSON. Nelson's two major works were After Its Kind (1927) and The Deluge Story In Stone (1931). The first book principally opposed Darwinian biology, and the latter opposed Lyellian geology. The first concentrated on the contradictions between Lamarckianism (environmental determinism and Mendelianism (genetics). The second concentrated on the contradictions between uniformitarian explanations and catastrophic evidences.
In his work on geology, Nelson tended to follow quite closely the same pattern which was established by Price. He recounted the innumerable truly amazing evidences of catastrophism as illustrated by the fossil record. He, too, considered the Flood to be primarily tidal, but he pursued this no further. He, like Price, considered the cause of the Flood to have been God, but he did not dwell on the means and methods God may have used.
Nelson was more concerned with additional categories of evidences. Price wrote extensively, thoroughly and quite technically on geological data. Nelson gave geology a lighter treatment, but expanded his work to include valuable data on the historical development of catastrophism. He also began to recount the existence of catastrophic themes in ancient literature and traditions of many cultures, but he did not develop this theme very broadly. In these two ways, therefore, Nelson's work was broader than Price's, although not as specialized. Hence, Price's work was more basic, while Nelson's included a more complete synthesis.
ALFRED M. REHWINKEL. Rehwinkel published, in the 1940's and 1950's, his major work entitled The Flood (1951). Like Price and Nelson, he was a seminary professor. His background in education was more extensive than Price's and his teaching curriculum was also more diverse. While Price wrote on geology to the virtual exclusion of other related areas, Rehwinkel kept abreast in other fields. Catastrophism was only one of Rehwinkel's projects and responsibilities. His work therefore resembles Nelson's more than Price's. It is more comprehensive, but less technical, than the works of his friend, Price.
Rehwinkel followed both Price and Nelson in considering the effects of the Flood to the exclusion of natural causes. All three considered the Flood to be tidal in nature, but considered tides only within the oceans, or hydrosphere. Beyond this they discussed none of the specifics. Had they considered causes as well as effects, many more issues would have been set forth.
Interestingly enough, all three placed the Ice Epoch after the Flood, which they dated about 2500 B.C. But again, their explanation for the cause of these ice masses is shrouded in vagueness. Price suggested very tentatively a shifting of the location of the poles. This suggestion is more significant than they probably realized. This means that they read the geological data and concluded that the ice flow from the ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere overlaid the evidences of the Flood, and thus was later in point of time.
There are many apparent difficulties in this conclusion without more specific elaborations. But it also reflects that Rehwinkel, Price, and Nelson had no basic comprehension of the mechanical cause of the Ice Epoch. And this in turn re-emphasizes that they had little comprehension of the mechanics involved in the Flood catastrophe. Thus, they also allowed themselves to be concerned only with effects, and not with mechanical causes. In this way, Price's shadow is cast strongly across the writings of both Nelson and Rehwinkel.
Rehwinkel went to greater efforts than did either Nelson or Price in documenting and analyzing the importance of ancient literature and ancient traditions about the Flood. He searched, analyzed, and compared the conclusions of many others who had encountered the Flood motif in folklores, mythologies and ancient traditions. He recounted in an outstanding way how thoroughly the Earth was blanketed by Flood traditions among tribes and cultures from every continent.9 Thus he pointed out how the Flood is etched both in the memories of mankind and in the strata of this planet. This endeavor by Rehwinkel was particularly commendable, and it added a further advance into the scope of catastrophism.
HENRY M. MORRIS. About every ten years, it seems, a major work on catastrophism has been published. Bear in mind that secular catastrophists achieved no significant following. Nelson's work is today in its sixth printing; Rehwinkel's work is in its eighth printing; Morris' is in its fifth. Morris' major work was The Genesis Flood (1961), co-authored by John C. Whitcomb, Jr. Like Nelson, Price, and Rehwinkle, Whitcomb is employed as a seminary professor; he is concerned primarily with the theological implications of the Flood story in Genesis.
Morris adds to the perspective of catastrophism a different and valuable background. He is a professor of hydraulic engineering and chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. This is important in that it reflects an increasing endeavor to consider the hydraulic or hydrographic effects of the Flood cataclysm. In a significant way, his work again is comparable to the works of Price, Nelson, and Rehwinkel in that it considers the effects of the Deluge to the exclusion of the astrophysical causes, or the natural mechanics.
Morris' primary contributions are twofold: his background in hydraulics brings out newer insights; and secondly, he updates the data. He is concerned about such things as atmospheric chemistry, carbon-14 datings, tree rings, meteoric dust, and the principles of sedimentation. Thus, he has followed again in the pattern of his predecessors, partly succeeding, yet, it is held, also partly failing. Part of his success is the renewed interest and attention which his work has caused.
However, it is held that unless the mechanical cause of the Flood is adequately explained by catastrophists, geology may easily hibernate in its present uniformitarian bed for another 100 years. But more important, catastrophists need to demonstrate the mechanics involved in the Flood catastrophe in order to deepen and broaden the entire perspective. This would be to dramatically strengthen the case of catastrophism. This in turn should simultaneously deepen the controversy with uniformitarianism and also establish a more commanding position from which to promote the catastrophic approach.
Until the cause of the Deluge is demonstrated and explained, it is held that a truly commanding position is not occupied, and catastrophic thought will not be dominant. Even though great lists of profound, contradictory evidences have been cited by men, superbly documented and graphically illustrated, this has not been sufficient to shake geology out of its bed of uniformitarianism.
There is ample evidence that within the last decade uniformitarian geology has become increasingly aware of value in catastrophic thought. It has been due in part to a slow emergence of a miscellaneous group of non-religious catastrophists and semi-catastrophists. Hapgood, Hooker, Sanderson, and Velikovsky are among this group.
C. H. HAPGOOD and IVAN T. SANDERSON. Hapgood and Sanderson have both written articles dealing with frozen mammoths for national magazines within the last several years. This results in a smattering of evidence being presented to the public relative to catastrophic evidences, although there has been little in the way of solid explanations. Hapgood is more of an anthropologist than a geologist. He has recognized the fact that the mammoths were quick-frozen by the millions under sudden and extremely cold conditions. He has recognized that there must have been a sudden and permanent change in the climate, from sub-tropical to Arctic. He has endeavored to explain this on the basis of a shifting of the poles, along with a possible shift in the axis of the Earth.
In this respect, his thinking is mechanically uniformitarian, although his observations acknowledge the cry for catastrophic explanations. He inferred that the cause of the Ice Epoch must have been a change in geographical location of existing planetary climates. Thus, he supposed that the cause of the Ice Epoch was falling snow, transported in the form of water vapor by planetary wind systems. This observation, along with the seeming inadequate explanation, will be considered in detail in Chapter VI.
It should be noted here that Price, Nelson and Rehwinkel all presumed the Ice Epoch was caused by snows, changed locations of planetary climates, and possible shifting in poles, and mechanically their explanations also are uniformitarian. Each of these men would have objected to being classified as semi-uniformitarian, but such is the case with respect to Ice Epoch phenomena, as will be demonstrated later.
Hapgood's approach to the cause of the Ice Epoch is not mechanically important, but his writings do reflect an increasing uneasiness among uniformitarian thinkers. Being a non-geologist, he has freely illustrated some objections to the uniformitarian approach (this is professionally easier for a non-geologist). Until geologists fully recognize the merits of catastrophism along with the demerits of uniformitarianism, men from other disciplines and professions will publish on the subject of Earth history. And thus others will receive publicity and standing which normally should accrue to geologists.
Sanderson has written articles which are probably better than Hapgood's since they deal more with the specifics of the mammoths and less with the tentative kind of explanations which Hapgood hazards. Among the articles by Hapgood is "The Mystery of the Frozen Mammoths" (1960),10 and among Sanderson's is "The Riddle of the Frozen Giants" (1960). 11
IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY. The leader of modern religious catastrophism was George McCready Price. In a similar manner, Velikovsky has been the most important figure among the secularly oriented catastrophists. Velikovsky obviously relied substantially on Price in his second most important work, Earth In Upheaval.
Velikovsky has written four books, two of which are of major import in catastrophic thought--Worlds in Collision (1950) and Earth in Upheaval (1955).12 In addition he has written several articles and participated in many lectures. His primary background is medicine and his perspective is that of ancient literature. This is in marked significant contrast to the background of Price, which was in geology and theology.
There is much that is meritorious in Velikovsky's works, and especially in his first monograph. The ensuing criticisms of Velikovsky are to be construed as friendly and constructive, for not all of Velikovsky's critics have been either friendly or constructive. There are three primary areas of criticism relative to his works.
(1) His Freudian View. Velikovsky has a deep predisposition toward modern Freudianism. Simultaneously he bypasses one of our finest of heritages, the Hebrew creationist heritage, which gives us our clearest concept of origins. He is a physician who migrated from Russia after the institution of Lenin's regime. He settled for a time in Vienna, where he became a follower of Freud and of the Freudian view of man. He later settled for a time in Palestine, and ultimately in New Jersey. Velikovsky's predisposition toward the Freudian ethic has accounted for a series of errors, some of commission and others of omission.13
(2) His lack of Geophysical Perspective. Velikovsky possesses a brilliant mind, with the skill of genius in matters regarding ancient literature. But he bumbles and stumbles in handling matters geophysical. His genius is apparent in Worlds in Collision. His lack of geophysical perspective coupled with his catastrophic motivation are both evident in Earth in Upheaval. In this second work, he, like Price, recites the many amazing discoveries which are engraved in the crust of our Earth. But he organizes them and relates them in helter-skelter fashion, lacking prehis-torical sequence, lacking climatological mechanics, lacking geophysical mechanics, and lacking other perspectives. Not the greatest criticism of Velikovsky, but surely one of the marking and meaningful criticisms is that, although he wrote hundreds of thousands of words about catastrophism, he never produced a single line diagram, not a single illustration, not a single tabular form. While this is a failure in presentation, it also portrays a superficiality in basic geophysical perspectives.
(3) His Overconcern With His Critics. Velikovsky was well aware that he was writing on a highly controversial subject when he discussed catastrophism, and such would be true with or without celestial mechanics. Further, he was aware of the controversy which Copernicus anticipated from his work, De Revolutionibus Orbeum Coelestium (On the Revolutions of Celestial Bodies). Copernicus, rather than flee his critics and rather than face the possibility of the stake, delayed writing for twenty years and publication for thirteen more years until he knew he had not long to live. Other revolutionary thinkers such as Galileo and Price have faced similar reactions and rejections. Velikovsky anticipated the pillorying which his work would receive. And as is so often the case, mostly on irrelevant bases and by people who were hardly even conversant with the specifics of the subject matter contained therein. He therefore went to great lengths, both in manuscript preparation (with ubiquitous footnotes) and in articles and rebuttals, to both appease and please his critics. This neither retarded nor lessened the blows which were leveled at his work.
What then may be Velikovsky's mistake, beyond (1) his tendency to Freudianize his conclusions and (2) his lack of geophysical perspective. It may that his overconcern with his detractors has diverted his attentions and energies, contributing to his lack of geophysical perspective. This may be a reasonably good example of the Freudian ethic, with its overemphasis on the need for social adjustment and conformity.
DOLPH E. HOOKER. Velikovsky was concerned with establishing the ancient, historical, cosmic or celestial motifs in the 1st and 2nd millenia B.C., and then, having established them, he was interested in psychoanalyzing them. Price, Nelson, Rehwinkel, and Morris were interested in evidences of global catastrophism from the 3rd millennium B.C., and then after having demonstrated them, were interested in defending the faith, in this case reaffirming the fact of a judgment by God. Hooker follows a third pattern.
Hooker is an engineer with a strong background in geology. He considered such subjects as radial patterns of ice flow, heat exchanges, juvenile waters, atmospheric canopies, rising sea levels, and flooded continental shelves. Both Price and Velikovsky were mostly oblivious to these areas, although Morris had been concerned with these areas to a greater degree. Hooker was not concerned with the Freudianism of Velikovsky, nor was he concerned with the fundamentalism of Price. He was merely content to question the prevailing interpretations of uniformitarianism, present his homework, and make no ethical or philosophical interpretations at all. Hooker's publication was Those Astounding Ice Ages (1958).14
The contrasts between Hooker, Price, and Velikovsky are rather significant in that each person has his own, unique background, and each makes his own unique contribution. Price was concerned about catastrophism from the approach of supernatural causes and natural effects. Velikovsky was concerned about natural causes and psychological effects. Hooker was concerned about catastrophism from the approach of the need for both adequate interpretations and comprehensive approaches.
Thus we have a brief history of catastrophism, which falls into four periods. The first period extends from the time of the ancients until the time of Copernicus, and more particularly, Halley, Whiston, and Newton (circa 1700). During this period, traditions of an ancient flood upheaval were ubiquitous and firmly implanted in the roots of Western Civilization. The second period (circa 1700 to circa 1860) is from Halley, Newton, and Whiston until the time of Lyell, Darwin, and Wallace. During this period, catastrophism continued to be the dominant viewpoint of Earth history, and it was reinforced by astronomical considerations, due in part to Newton and Whiston. It was during this period that astronomy and the natural sciences began to receive systematic study.
The third period (circa 1860 to circa 1960) is the time from Lyell, Darwin, and Wallace to the recent decade. During this period the uniformitarian proposition "emerged," prevailed, and soon virtually monopolized the philosophy of Earth history. The only really significant exceptions were the handful of conservative, Protestant authors, immune to the centralization of Western education and its attendant conformity, apart from the mainstream of academic thought, accepted only within the limited sphere of the English language, the Protestant faith, and the fundamentalist philosophy.
The fourth period would appear to begin with this last decade (circa 1960). As in the past, so also it is likely in the future, Earth history will continue to be a controversial and emotional issue. Criticism, as in the past, may continue to be led by ideal-ogues, utilizing cliches, rhetoric, ridicule, scorn and propagandistic approaches more than placid compendiums of data, systematic analyses, and careful syntheses. These human traits should be recognized and evaluated in travelling the path toward mature conclusions. This, of course, is irrespective of the quarter into which any of the conclusions may lead.
This chapter has endeavored to briefly sketch the history of catastrophism and uniformitarianism, along with some of the leading persons involved. (It has attempted to touch on some of the background and implications.) The reader should prepare himself to examine some glaring contradictions, perhaps the most striking paradoxes in modern thought to date. It will prove interesting to catalog the abundance of modern data which contradicts geological uniformitarianism, but it should prove at least equally as interesting to examine the degree of these contradictions. Some of the assumptions of geological uniformitarianism have been wrong to an astonishing degree when viewed from any one of many angles. Thus, kind of error is one thing, and degree of error is another thing. Both need to be measured, realized and evaluated.
Lyell, for instance, originally estimated the Ice Epoch at 1,000,000 B.C., then later revised this down to 35,000 B.C. (which is still much too ancient). Here is an acknowledged error of 96%. Are other phases of geological uniformitarianism even more erroneous in degree? This possibility will be examined in Chapter V.
James Hutton's attitudes and values were being formed when he was a lad in the Scottish highlands and when Benjamin Franklin was flying his kite in a thunder storm in America-some 200 years ago--when it was assumed that there were but six planets. Unknown was the fact that there existed an Uranus, a Neptune, or a Pluto. Unknown was the fact that Neptune at that time was briefly the outermost planet rather than Pluto. Unknown were such facts as the asteroids, the icy composition of the rings of Saturn, of the eccentric orbits of meteor streams, or of the composition of the atmosphere, oceans, and crusts of the then-known planets.
And it was Hutton, the physician, who assumed uniformitarianism. In assuming geological uniformitarianism, he assumed astronomical uniformitarianism. He must have assumed that astronomical catastrophes had never occurred to any of the planets, much less to our particular planet. This assumption is quite contrary to the mythological themes of the sky gods of ancient Britain, Greece, Egypt, Germany, India, and many other cultures.
If one accepts the notion of uniformitarianism, one must be prepared
to defend the concept of a serene solar system, placid for at least the
last 500,000,000 years. It is our contention that the concept of a serene
solar system cannot be defended at all; it cannot be defended for the last
5,000 years (much less for the last 500,000,000 years). It is to this uniformitarianism
assumption that the next chapter is directed, in particular, and the total
work in general.
"The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch" by Donald W. Patten - is ©1966 by Pacific Meridian Pub. Co.