The following comes from an exchange on talk.origins between myself (Phil "Pib" Burns) and Ted Holden, who for a number of years was the principal proponent of Velikovskian and Saturnist style catastrophism on the talk.origins USENET newsgroup.
In message 23 Dec 1994 17:49:51 -0500, Ted Holden writes: > > Phil Burns notes correctly that, before one buys off on anything as > overwhelming as the Saturn hypothesis, he should try to explain all of > the data with something simpler and more prosaic, such as the > Clube/Napier model, noting that impacting asteroids might be seen one > inside the other by observers on Earth, for instance. > I will respond briefly to your points, mainly by providing references that I believe you (and others reading this) will find useful for further study of the issues you've raised. > That fails to explain the universality of Saturn worship in antique > times, as well as the fact that Saturn should ever have been worshipped > at all; most people would never find it as it appears today. It fails > to explain why the sun, moon, and Venus were not worshipped as chieftain > gods; they are much brighter now. It fails to explain the confusion of > ancient names for the sun and for Saturn. Generally, it fails to explain > the mountain of evidence which Talbott and Cochrane have amassed relating > to the Saturn system. > The Sun, Moon, and Venus -did- occupy primary positions at various times in many cultures, including megalithic cultures (from the evidence of solar and lunar alignments), Egypt, the Near East, the Native Americans of North and South America (the Mayas oriented buildings to Venus alignments, for example), and many others. The written records of ancient people are filled with reports of eclipses of the sun and moon. Other records mention the planets, mock suns, halos, comets, meteors, constellations, stars, and novae. Bjorkman, Stephenson, and Peng-Yoke provide good exmaples of the kinds of written astronomical records produced by the ancients. Brown and Marshack discuss astronomy in pre-literate cultures. The brightness of a celestial object does not always indicate its importance to a specific culture. Urton notes that Andean cultures regard the "dark" constellations formed by dusty patches in the Milky Way to be as imporant or even more important than the familiar "bright" constellations formed of stars. Hadingham provides a good introduction to many ancient cosmologies. He also discusses how the ancients tried to relate celestial happenings to terrestrial events. Reiche points out that, in many cultures, the perception of astronomical phenomena was (and is) configurational rather than positional. A planet is not just the luminous point visible right now, but it is also the (nearly) closed geometric figure which the luminous point traces out in the zodiac. For example, Venus sweeps out a pentagram in the sky. This did not go unnoticed by the ancients. Santilliana and von Dechend report that many cultures adopted the metaphor of a giant grain mill for the cosmos. The world axis corresponds to the axis of the millstone. The rulers of the planetary bodies grind mortals to "mealy dust" in this great cosmic mill. How do the gods turn the cosmic millstone about this world axis? Consider that you do not turn the axis itself of an ordinary millstone to grind grain. Instead, a millstone typically sports a handle on the top at the -outside- edge. You turn the millstone using this handle. Likewise, the cosmic millstone -- and therefore the cosmos and the fate of mortals -- is controlled by the celestial object at the outside edge. The ancients considered Saturn to be the most distant planet -- at the "outside edge" of the cosmic "mill" -- and therefore Saturn was the most powerful planet and the oldest as well. Hence Saturn must have been the ruler of the earliest world age, the "golden age." Saturn's relative dimness was irrelevant because it resided at the position of cosmic power -- the outside edge -- not along the cosmic axis at the pole. The classical authors such as Diodorus reported that the ancients called Saturn the "Star of the Sun" because Saturn spent the most time in the sky opposite the Sun. Saturn was also known as Lu-Bat, "the steady one," because it could be counted on to be present in the night sky as the Sun was in the day. Modern astrology retains this ancient notion about the relation and opposition of Saturn and the Sun. I do not mean to say that there is nothing to the idea of a bright object appearing at the celestial pole. Michanowsky states there is an old esoteric tradition of a night sun. He relates this to the occasional appearance of bright supernovae. The appearance of a supernova near the celestial pole in antiquity might have given rise to the idea of a "polar sun." John J. O'Neill suggested that passages in the Egyptian pyramid texts referred to just such a polar supernova in the third millenium B.C. in Draco, the constellation hugging the north celestial pole. Aveni and Beck provide useful discussions on Saturn as the night sun. Jastrow is the seminal paper on this subject. Reiche suggests the ancients believed the "true" identity of a foreign god could be deduced from its attributes. Thus, the ancients translated the gods in charge of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the sky in a foreign culture, as well as the gods in charge of the planets in a foreign culture, into their own gods who "ruled" the same areas of the sky or planets. And what the ancients did, the Saturnists can do. However, I believe the Saturnists conflate too many gods to Kronos/Saturn. In the case of the Sumerian and Babylonian pantheons, this is easy to see by considering the sacred numbers of the Sumerian deities. The Sumerians assigned sacred numbers to their gods. McClain has made the inspired observation that these sacred numbers encode the primary ratios of music. The functions of the gods correspond to their numbers in acoustical theory. If I understand the Saturnists correctly, they suggest that the gods Anu/An, Ea, and Ninurta (among others) were all aspects of Saturn. However, the sacred number for Anu/An was 60, for Ninurta, 50, and for Ea/Enki, 40. On this basis I believe it is fair to say that the Sumerians did not consider these gods identical, so I don't either. Incidentally, Santilliana and von Dechend noted that a musical instrument motif often appears along with the cosmic mill motif. Since their work preceded that of McClain, they were not aware of the reason for this. It would be interesting to see McClain and von Dechend integrate their insights. We must also distinguish between a god and the planet sacred to that god. This is something which both Velikovsky and the Saturnists fail to do adequately, in my opinion. When the ancients referred to the god Saturn, they were not necessarily referring to the planet. When they referred to the planet, they were not necessarily referring to the god. Saturn was "the star of Kronos," not Kronos himself. Also consider that Hans Bellamy proposed a quite different astronomical interpretation for many of the myths Velikovsky and the Saturnists associate with Venus, Mars, and Saturn. Bellamy, a disciple of Hoerbiger's "cosmic ice" theory, referred all the myths to the breakup and impact of a Tertiary era moon, followed later by the capture of the present moon. That is, Bellamy suggested all these myths referred to the Earth's moon (two different ones) and not to the planets or to the Sun. This underscores the problem I've mentioned to Mssrs. Cochrane and Talbott: there are many different ways to interpret the same myths, even if we only seek astronomical progenitors. We must look outside the vantage point of mythology for any validation of the "correctness" of a particular mythological interpretation. I don't believe we should look for astronomical interpretations for all myths, even myths involving catastrophes. Vitaliano discusses the earth-based geological origins of many myths and legends. Harris focusses on natural disasters in the United States and includes Native American myths and legends which reflect those natural disasters. Kirk summarizes the major systems of mythological interpretation and how they interrelate. > > But there are four things which I would call big anomalies which the > Saturn system either explains or puts you on the road to explaining, and > for which the Club/Napier model has nothing to offer at all. > Clube and Napier's model is designed to address the issue of coherent catastrophism resulting from the injection of giant comets into the inner solar system. This includes the effect on the earth's climate and biosphere. They also seek to relate long-term cycles of cometary showers to galactic cycles. Clube and Napier are not looking to create a "theory of everything," nor are they seeking to explain every anomaly that one might point out in science. See Clube[9,10] for more details. > One is the anomaly of dinosaurs, which is real enough and which > scientists may be beginning to address in some places. walteralter > Notes that recent articles are having more to say about hydrostatic > problems than have been noted previously. > As I noted in an earlier post, research into the paleoecology of dinosaurs has been going on for a long time. Papers about specific problems -- e.g., blood pressure -- have been appearing for decades. For example, R. S. Seymour discussed blood pressure in sauropods. Weishampel et al provides a wealth of information on dinosaurs, including references to the relevant scientific literature up to 1990. > Two is the anomaly of having all of the world's continental mass piled > into one place, Pangaea, which would not occur for no reason, and the > further note that a group of very serious scholars (Owen et. al.) have > determined that Pangaea would not even fit on our present world, and > required a smaller world (or as Lynn Rose notes, the smaller end of an > world pulled into an egg-shape by the tidal force of the Saturn system). > The article by Nance et al summarozes conventional geological models of the formation of supercontinents and their evolution. Beard reports on the work of John Baumgartner in simulating the breakup of Pangaea. Oberbeck et al suggests that impact events may have played a role in the fragmentation of Gondwanaland. > Three is the heavily documented finding of Julian Jaynes that the entire > manner in which the human brain/mind worked just a few thousand years > ago, was totally different from the manner in which they work now. > This to me is the topic which justifies the entire line of research, > since it indicates that man may actually now be in a fallen, > disfunctional kind of a state, as opposed to being the end product of > the ever-upward process noted in the Toshiba commercial. Further > discussion of antediluvian communications (as far as I'm concerned at > least) will have to await talk.catastrophism. > Jaynes is flawed for a number of reasons. One is that studies with the great apes such as chimpanzees indicate that these animals are self-aware. If they are self-aware, it is likely that our remote ancestors were as well. Another flaw is that there are documents older than the first millenium B.C. time frame Jaynes proposes for the split of the "bicameral mind" in which the protagonists clearly evidence self-awareness. An example would be the Epic of Gilgamesh. I am willing to credit that controlled schizophrenia may have been important in some ancient cultures, particularly in religious contexts. I do not believe anyone other than Jaynes believes that humans did not become self-aware until just a few thousand years ago (and in some places, just a few hundred years ago!), long after the rise of civilization. Actually I would expect you to reject the ideas of Jaynes for another important reason. If Jaynes is right, we have no reason to believe that -ANY- part of the literature, writing, carvings, or mythology of the ancients reflects any physical events whatever. The writings and myths would simply be the products of the auditory and visual hallucinations of minds which were not self-aware. In this case, -ANY- attempt to reconstruct the past based upon mythology -- and this includes the efforts of Velikovsky and the Saturnists -- would be utterly futile. > Again, there is no rational explaination for Indo-European and Semitic > languages not being related given standard theories. > Why should the Semitic and Indo-European languages be related? As Diamond notes, the language of tribes just a few miles apart in New Guinea appears to be utterly unrelated. As it happens, however, linguists do usually consider the Semitic and Indo-European language groups to be related. Bomhard discusses the Nostratic language superfamily. See too the articles by Wright and Barbujani and Pilastro. Renfrew is also interesting. Note the comments in Diamond. I hope other folks, who are more familiar with this subject area than I am, can suggest other useful references. > Four is the artificial complex which has been found on Mars. Several of > the astro servers on the web now have high-resolution gif/jpeg images of > the several frames which show the Cydonia complex, along with an > exceedingly lame disclaimer
stuff as just a strange coincidence, funny sun-angles etc.> Any normal > person reading that and viewing the images will infer that astronomers > are unusually strange people, unusually into psychic denial. They are > denying what their eyes obviously tell them because it blows their > cosmology. You can't build something like that with space-suits on; > the planet must be habitable before you build Cydonia. There being no > way to picture Mars inhabitable in anything like present circumstances, > they first try to use the time magic-wand again and picture the whole > thing being 200M years ago, but that creates an even bigger problem. > > The face on the monument is obviously not one of us, but a recent > relative, from the look of it, one of Jay Matterness' reconstructions of > Neanderthals with an Egyptian haircut. But putting the entire business > back even 2M, much less 200M years, would force the face to be that of > homo-erectus or some such, basically a monkey. The astronomers > therefore prefer to deny the entire thing. > I don't believe astronomers deny the existence of the "Mars Face" or the "Mars Pyramids." What they say is that there is no substantial evidence that these are artificial. There are many natural Earth features which also give the appearance of artificiality -- Devil's Tower in Wyoming comes to mind. At the Wisconsin Dells you can see natural water carvings which look for all the world like a grand piano or an Indian face. Until we get clearer photos -- or better, we are able to inspect the Martian features at first-hand -- I believe it is prudent to reserve judgement on their artificiality. If the Mars features prove to be artificial -- I personally doubt it, but let's assume for the moment they prove to be artificial -- why should Mars need to have been habitable in order for someone to have carved them? For example, what would have prevented an advanced civilization from using robots to carry out the labor? > The Saturn hypothesis would have Mars seemingly habitable within the very > recent past; certainly warm enough judging from location, certainly > having gone through enough since, and recently, to explain oceans and > atmosphere having been lost. > The article by Kerr reports on work by Victor Baker and his colleagues suggesting that Mars may have had an Earth-like atmosphere, an ocean, and ice sheets at various times in the past. It need not have been recently. There is also some evidence that the rotational axis of Mars may still be subject to chaotic tilting; see Laskar and Robutel. Axis shifts would greatly affect the climate of Mars. > The Saturn system either explains or begins to explain all of the things > mentioned, all of which require explaining. The Clube/Napier system > does not. > I believe the Saturn hypothesis is unnecessary to explain any of the "anomalies" you mention. The Saturn hypothesis also adds many problems of its own, e.g.: -- Where did the extra mass go when Saturn exploded? -- What caused Saturn to explode? -- How did the Saturn configuration arise in the first place? -- How it is that we have seen -NO- other stellar systems exhibiting anything like the polar configuration? -- How did the Earth's biosphere survive? -- Why were the planets dispersed into the nearly circular/elliptical orbits they follow today, rather than ejected? -- Why should the Earth and other planets have survived at all? -- What are we to make of the many orbital synchronisms that could not have arisen in just a few thousand years? It seems to me that the Saturn hypothesis adds too many new problems without solving existing problems. Therefore, I must reject it on the basis of the current state of evidence. Of course I would be willing to change my mind if solid evidence should appear in the future. Thank you for posting this interesting set of topics on which I could expand. I hope you find the time to peruse at least some of the references I've recommended. Happy holidays! References ==========  Aveni, Anthony F. _Conversing with the Planets_. Times Books, New York, 1992.  Barbujani, Guido and Andrea Pilastro. "Genetic evidence on origin and dispersal of human populations speaking languages of the Nostratic macrofamily." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, vol. 90, no. 10 (May 15, 1993), pp. 4670-4673.  Beard, Jonathan. "How a supercontinent went to pieces." New Scientist, vol. 137, no. 1856 (January 16, 1993), p. 19.  Beck, Roger. _Planetary Gods and Planetary Orders in the Mysteries of Mithras._ E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1988.  Bellamy, Hans Schindler. _Moons, Myths, and Man_. Faber and Faber, London, 1936.  Bjorkman, J. K. "Meteors and Meteorites in the Ancient Near East". Meteoritics, vol. 8, no. 2, June 30, 1973.  Bomhard, Allan R. _Toward Proto-Nostratic : a new approach to the comparison of Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afroasiatic_. J. Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 1984.  Brown, Peter Lancaster. _Megaliths, myths and men : an introduction to astro-archaeology_. Blandford Press, Poole, 1976.  Clube, S. V. M. "Hazards from Space: Comets in History and Science." In _How Science works in a crisis: The mass-extinction debates_, William Glen, editor. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1994.  Clube, S. V. M., ed. _Catastrophes and Evolution: Astronomical Foundations_. Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989.  Diamond, Jared M. _The rise of the third chimpanzee_. Radius: London, 1991.  Hadingham, Evan. _Early Man and the Cosmos_. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1984.  Harris, Stephen L. _Agents of Chaos_. Mountain Press Publishing Company, Montana, 1990.  Jastrow, M., Jr. "Sun and Saturn." Revue d'Assyriologie, vol. 7 (1909), pp. 163-178.  Jaynes, Julian. _The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind_. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1977.  Kerr, Richard A. "An 'outrageous hypothesis' for Mars: episodic oceans." Science, vol. 259, no. 5097 (February 12, 1993), pp. 910-911.  Kirk, G. S. _The Nature of Greek Myths_. Penguin Books, London, 1974.  Laskar, J., and P. Robutel. "The chaotic obliquity of the planets." Nature, vol. 361, no. 6413 (February 18, 1993), pp. 608-612.  Marshack, Alexander. _The Roots of Civilization_. Revised and expanded edition. Moyer Bell Limited, New York, 1991.  McClain, Ernest G. "Musical Theory and Cosmology." The World and I, February, 1994, pp. 371-391.  Michanowsky, George. _The Once and Future Star_. Hawthorn Books, Inc., New York, 1977.  Nance, R.D.; Worsley, T.R.; and Moody, J.B. "The supercontinent cycle." Scientific American, vol. 259 (1988), no. 1, pp. 72-79.  Oberbeck, Verne R.; John R. Marshall; Hans Aggarwal. "Impacts, tillites, and the breakup of Gondwanaland." Journal of Geology, vol. 101, no. 1 (January 1993), pp. 1-19.  O'Neill, John J. "4,000-Year-Old Supernova Revealed." New York Herald-Tribune; February 15, 1953; section II, page 12.  Peng-Yoke, Ho. "Ancient and Mediaeval Observations of Comets and Novae in Chinese Sources." Vistas in Astronomy, vol. 5 (1962), pp. 127-230.  Reiche, Harald A. T. "The language of archaic astronomy: A clue to the Atlantis myth?" In _Astronomy of the Ancients_, second revised edition, Kenneth Brecher and Michael Feirtag, editors. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA., 1993.  Renfrew, Colin. _Archaeology and Language_. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987.  Santilliana, Giorgio de and H. von Dechend. _Hamlet's Mill_. Macmillan, London, 1969.  Seymour, R. S. "Dinosaurs, endothermy, and blood pressure." Nature, vol. 262 (1976), pp. 207-208.  Stephenson, F. Richard and David H. Clark. _Applications of early astronomical records_. Oxford University Press, New York, 1978.  Urton, Gary. _At the Crossroads of the Earth and the Sky._ University of Texas Press, Austin, 1981.  Vitaliano, Dorothy B. _Legends of the Earth_. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1973.  Weishampel, David B., Peter Dodson, and Halszka Osmolska. _The Dinosauria_. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1990.  Wright, Robert. "Quest for the mother tongue". The Atlantic, vol. 267, no. 4 (April, 1991), pp. 39-59.
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