Part Five: Communicating a Scientific Model
In the Quantavolution Series I have carried out my commitment to tell what the heavens were once like and how they became unsettled, and what then befell the Earth and humanity. The story of much of this was partly suppressed in the memory, partly carried esoterically in myth and legend, partly lost in natural disasters, and partly destroyed by human hand.
The world is lucky that the Nazi book-burnings came in an age of printing: what was destroyed could be replaced from the stores of the free cultures. But in ancient times, books were hard to replace. Few if any copies of them existed in the first place. When the great libraries of Sumer and Akkad, of Ninevah, of Memphis and Thebes in Egypt, of Syria, of Athens, of the Celtic Druids at Alesia, of China, of Rome (even Rome, 83 B. C.), Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Tezcuco (Mexico) were burned, unique treasures were lost forever. The ancient writings that survive to this day can be carried on the shelves of a large bookcase.
Almost all of the lost works that dealt with astronomy, geology, anthropology, and the history of religions must have treated of catastrophes and possessed a catastrophic viewpoint. I venture this from the fact that the great majority of the works that remain can be so described. There is no reason to believe that these are a biased sample of the hundreds of thousands of manuscripts that were lost.
Indeed, because the later writers were prone to amnesia about catastrophe, they would have quoted from and edited their sources to conform to the solarian consensus that I have sometimes referred to. The Bible appears to the modern sensitive mind to be often catastrophic in content and tone. Still, various humane Judaic and Christian pastors play it sweet and low to their flocks. Even this Bible evidences many effects of having been repeatedly edited, especially following upon the last series of "Mars" disasters, so as to cover up and smoothen out the more incredible and harsher passages. (I suppose that not one in a hundred Bible readers could imagine that the mysterious stranger with whom Jacob wrestled was meant to be a sky body, probably a planet.)
Hence it can be said that the lost libraries of the world have been more heavily catastrophic than the typical work that has come down. The trials and tribulations of history have produced and perpetuated a kind of censorship on catastrophic thought. It is far different from, but perhaps more effective than, the deliberate attempts to suppress the uniformitarian ideas of evolution when these were advanced by Darwin, Huxley and their allies, and more effective too than the uniformitarian efforts to censor Velikovsky's catastrophism.
Catastrophism flourished in the religious dogma of the world and still does. Certain doubtful exceptions are provided by a few primitive tribes, some modern versions of Christianity, periodic cultic manifestations largely of oriental character, materialistic "religions" such as the communistic, and scientific movements such as the Humanists. Otherwise religions believe that 1) the heavens and earth were torn apart in the beginning by divine forces, 2) mankind was created in the process, and 3) the original chaos and creation were repeated upon several occasions, and might happen again.
Scientific catastrophism as a school of thought accepted these premises, but, as we know, the prevailing scientific majority rejects them. Significantly, the present uniformitarian dominance was not achieved at the expense only of theology and religion. Many scientists, including some great ones, had to be ignored or pushed aside.
I have already indicate that in the early days of science, the prevailing view of history was catastrophic. Hindu science, Mayan astronomy, Mesopotamian and Egyptian science, and Greek science and philosophy generally adhered to catastrophic principles. The Chinese had probably the longest record of teaching uniformitarian principles. Two thousands years ago and more they began to bet the life of their emperor upon the stability of the heavens, and the emperor tried not to lose the bet. Yet the bet is itself proof that a catastrophic fear was present. The Chinese could predict eclipses but took no chances and conducted solemn rites upon their occasion.
Certain medieval philosophers in the west, such as Maimonides, argued on behalf of a settled and orderly universe, but were outnumbered by Christian and Islamic philosophers in the tradition of the apocalyptics and millennialism.
The brilliant harbinger of modern thought, Giordano Bruno, thought that worlds were infinite in number and extent, that worlds were often born and destroyed, that the Moon had come lately into its place, and that the Earth was only temporarily undisturbed. Isaac Newton, for all that he laid down the laws that founded the dogmas of uniformitarianism in astronomy, nevertheless gave a good part of his later life to research in the chronology and authenticity of the Bible, with attention to the great Deluge. It was his assistant, Whiston, who introduced a great comet as the force that brought on the deluge. Therefore Whiston may be properly called the first modern astrophysical catastrophist.
Over a century later, Giambattista Vico wrote in his New Science (1744) that after the Deluge, Jove reorganized the world with his bolts of lightning: all the nations arrived separately at the worship of Jupiter and called him by different names. Soon afterwards Nicholas-Antoine Boulanger used an account of the comet and deluge to explain the origins of religions. They were, he wrote, based upon the primeval terror of the heavens. Sin and punishment were born, he thought, when the pleasant and egalitarian conditions of primeval life were disturbed by the disasters of heaven and earth. These events were attributed to the gods. To appease and propitiate the gods, rituals and sacrifices were established, punishments were meted out for infractions of customs and ritual rules, and great theocracies and monarchies were built up as the enforcement machinery of the gods. With Boulanger, an engineer, a full-fledged theory of catastrophism was born. Carli-Rubbi, an economist, was a worthy successor.
Almost all quantavolutionists since 1860 have worked under conditions of partial isolation and ostracism from the major centers of science and scholarship. But this condition may not persist much longer. Presently, as I have shown, there is a resurgence of quantavolutionary thought. A new multidisciplinary science is being born. Until it has grown, it must depend for its sustenance upon orthodox science. Repeatedly, and often ironically, the evolutionists and uniformitarians have delivered evidence into the hands of the catastrophists. The latter, after all, are very few in number and bereft of facilities and resources.
ANXIETY AND CATASTROPHISM
When Sigmund Freud began to write in the anterooms of his comfortable apartment in Vienna before World War I, he dealt at some length with hysterical women and disturbances of middle class life. The sexual problems that occupied him are discussed as commonplace in the mass media today and would perhaps amuse more than startle the contemporary film audience if portrayed.
Freud invented the psychoanalytic interview, which eased the labors of the human mind as it sought to recall its past. He rediscovered and placed upon a scientific basis the "unconscious" and the analysis of dreams. All of these enter the science of catastrophism.
As Freud grew older, the world changed rapidly around him. Great wars and revolutions occurred; empires broke down; cultivated nations sought to exterminate whole classes and peoples. Freud was driven to speculate about the origins of mankind and the future of civilization. He wrote that civilization was a contradiction of the mammalian instincts of humans and could never be founded securely upon such an insubordinate creature as man. Finally, he thought that mankind was possessed by the instincts of eros and thanatos, life and death. The death instinct was self-destructive, suicidal, and, when projected upon the world, sought to carry the world into the grave as well.
Thus a great mind of the century passed from the "Age of Anxiety" into the "Age of Catastrophe." And with him, yet regardless of him, whole peoples and cultures pursued the same crossing. They began to move back from the ideology of progressive science into an ideology of the mystic, the occult, of magic, and of "fundamental" realities. Instead of pursuing pragmatic science and focusing upon cultural progress, many began to develop a concern for the survival of the species and a fascination for the forces of destruction.
Impending catastrophe had come to engage popular attention. Unidentified flying objects are observed, said to be carrying intruders of superior technology from far space. Since inspection at close quarters of Mars, Moon and Venus has rendered impossible a belief in these bodies as bases of operations for the invaders, a farther space is postulated. Efforts are made in the highest scientific quarters to communicate with some one of the thousands of possible advanced types of being that must exist in the universe.
Too, exploding stars in many parts of the heavens have impelled people to become worried about the stability of the skies, and various studies of the processes of the solar furnaces and the tides that the great planets and sun exert upon the earth give them grounds for further uneasiness. Californians live in anticipation of great earthquakes along the San Andreas fault. Various ethnic and religious groups in a number of countries including the United States, Israel, Lebanon, the Soviet Union, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iran, and China live in fear of persecution and genocide.
The case for an impending nuclear bomb holocaust is so strong that it has become a "given fact" in the logical premises of the multitudes. The poisoning of the atmosphere and of the food supply are freely predicted, with substantial justification. A climatic change spelling death by famine and suffering for hundreds of millions of persons is already happening. Laboratories of micro-biology are coming under official scrutiny for the possibility that their experiments in genetics may leak uncontrollable diseases, even while people, perhaps mistakenly, feel relieved that the armies of the great powers talk about renouncing biological warfare and destroying stocks of germs and poisons. Writings and films about catastrophe command audiences of unprecedented size.
One does well to appreciate, however, that throughout the past two centuries of scientific optimism and of parochial solutions for human problems, the mass of people has been convinced, as it always was before, that a catastrophic fate awaits human existence. The religions have been, with rare exceptions (if any), catastrophic in their world view. If to this permanent majority is now added the many educated backsliders who watch the world of human and natural events with catastrophic expectation, it can be said, without much exaggeration, that we are in an Age of Catastrophism: the potentiality is present in nature and man, and the concern is widespread and evident.
It should not surprise anyone to notice the coincidence of public and scientific movements. Sociologists of science and historians of science, such as, for instance, Barber, Kuhn, and Stecchini, are fully aware that the scientific movements of an epoch advance alongside public opinion; the two interact with unspoken accord to produce new models of science.
THE POLITICS OF UNIFORMITARIANISM
Incongruous though they may appear at first sight, the suppression of the word "stratum," an election of the Geological Society, and the downfall of the English Tories were at one moment in history tied together. A uniformitarian English activist of 150 years ago, George Scrope put the first two together in letters to Charles Lyell, which George Grinnell, historian of science, has published.
Following Lyell's election as President of the Geological Society, Scrope wrote (April 12, 1831),
"By espousing you, the conclaves have decidedly and irrevocably attached themselves to the liberal side... Had they on the contrary made their election of a Mosaic geologist like Buckland or Conybeare, the orthodox would immediately have taken their cue from them."
Next year, Scrope was writing:
It is great treat... that two thick volumes [Principles of Geology] may be written on geology without once using the word, 'stratum... '" (September 29, 1832).
Why did "the father of modern geology" Lyell, shun the world "stratum" in his great work? Why, for that matter, did Darwin not use the word "evolution" in the Origin of Species? The most fetching geological sight to the eye of even the rankest amateur is the layer upon layer of rocks that often break into view when a profile of land is exposed. William Smith (1815), Lyell's predecessor, did use the word. Perhaps Lyell felt that "strata" implied discontinuities, and discontinuities implied catastrophes between strata. Which they may do. But Lyell failed. The word "stratum" was essential to geological description and classification and he went back to it himself. Yet many geologists see in the discontinuities of strata only a gradually eroded former body of rock that would, if only it were still there, exhibit a nicely graded continuum into what is there above now.
On May 3, 1832, Charles Babbage, a mathematics professor and political activist, wrote to Lyell. "I think any argument from such a reported radical as myself would only injure the cause, and I therefore leave it in better hands." Of this Grinnell comments: "Uniformitarianism" was promoted by the liberals as part of the 'cause' to undermine the theoretical foundations of monarchy and was not derived from field research." The established Church of England and the Monarchy were Tory strongholds. Thus do the politics of science, a scientific concept, and the English "Great Reform Bill of 1832" go together.
Over many years I have had to consider by reason of my circumstances the ideology behind such great developments of the nineteenth century as the mass army, the large, perfectly coordinated symphony orchestras, the growth of bureaucracy in government and business, and the factory system in industry, the mass media, and massed spectator sports. I concluded that this routinization and massing of human behavior was an outstanding leitmotif of the age.
I am now persuaded that uniformitarianism, the great scientific empirical data-collecting movement of the century, was also part of this same ideology. For the scientists of the century were also in the business of collecting factual evidence of all kinds, assigning places and specialization to both facts and people, and routinizing scientific work. To this great movement, catastrophe, as the rare destabilizing and disruptive event - whether destructive or constructive - was anathema. It denied the value of infinite, regular series; it upset the establishment of industry, bureaucracy, economy, music, warfare, religion, and politics as continuous, infinite progressions of small changes. Uniformitarian science, far from being the enemy of all religion, was a key element in total religion, the unconscious world view of the nineteenth century.
One needs to be on guard against certain disturbing human behaviors that are inherent in scientific behavior, as in all human behavior. Yet it would be incorrect to think that the scientific establishment from dozens of fields is stupidly obstinate and engaged in conspiracy regularly against better theories. Philosophy and science are organized groups, suffering frequently from the ills that may afflict all bureaucracies and cliques.
Science moves ideologically. It moves, too, as an administered, habitual form of behavior. It moves with theoretical models, or as Thomas Kuhn has said, in theoretical paradigms; under certain conditions the model fails and a scientific revolution occurs. This happened in the change from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy and from catastrophism to uniformitarianism.
But modern uniformitarian science, as we have experienced and enjoyed it, has achieved important successes. It has provided a housing for much practical invention. It has encouraged the careful, coordinated development of findings and techniques in many fields. Only if it comes to pass that quantavolutionary primevalogy gives a greater pay-off than evolutionary primevalogy, or when it is obviously worth setting up as a model running along a parallel track, should a changeover occur. By a changeover is meant a redistribution of effort and resources.
Uniformitarianism has enabled humanity to challenge nature (by giving nature a humbler and gentler guise). It has removed the historical gods from parroting human stipulations that hamper scientific investigation. It spawned the idea of a linear history, destroying the more conservative and pessimistic cyclical theories of history.
It has encouraged the idea that progress is possible in a long future of mankind. It has promoted faith in the stability of the world. An exquisite and productive division of labor in all areas resulted. There was no rushing to the caves and wombs of theology. It simplified religion, letting the deity be conceived of as a master designer and an overarching and all permeating intelligence. It promoted generally the practice of instrumentally rational bureaucracy and rationalism generally, and ultimately found expression in pragmatic, instrumental philosophy. It helped to form a vision of political and religious decision-making corresponding to the method of science - cool, not catastrophic.
Granted such important social functions, plus the comfort of a now secure dwelling place for humanity, plus the apparent scientific productiveness of the theory (which, however, may be the result of the assurances, not the content of its theory), the replacement of Uniformitarianism is neither a simple matter nor is it a victory to be celebrated without anxiety.
We can only surmise and hope at this time that the catastrophic subconscious of humanity, when dredged up, will bring with it its own comfort and some additional possibilities to sustain the human spirit on our small planet in infinite time and space. Unless it excites a strikingly novel religion, it may be a disastrous force in itself. Can we plan and program the human mind for all the equivalent and hopefully superior behaviors that should follow the demise of the old world-view?
That science will be entering upon at least a partially quantavolutionist phase seems likely. Even without awareness, uniformitarianism and evolutionism have been eroding in astrophysics (" the explosive universe," "cometary eruption from planets," "solar uncertainty"), geology (" continental drift" and "catastrophic end of the Ice Age"), biology (" systematic mutation," "great leaps," "mass extinctions," "punctuated equilibria"), ancient history (" prehistoric missing high civilizations," "sudden destruction of civilizations," "reconstruction of Egyptian and Greek chronology"), and mythology (" the enlarged truth of legend" and "the celestial obsession of myth").
The Encyclopedia Britannica was published in 1973 in an extensively updated form. Hundreds of its articles nevertheless were erroneous or lop-sided or incomplete according to the theory of quantavolution. For an example, its article on Earth Forms (geomorphology) may be selected. It begins incorrectly by arguing that catastrophism was founded upon Bishop Ussher's calculation of a 6000 year-old world. (Actually, catastrophism had been long in existence as a scientific outlook in both Christian and non-Christian lands.) It proceeds hesitantly with a conventional explanation of earth forms. Several examples of quick transformations are introduced -- mountain-building, peat and coal deposits, glacial advances, etc. -- but they are labeled as exceptional. Then the article lets out the quantavolutionary tiger: "Although present and past processes are similar in kind, process rates must have been variable." Variable process rates - exactly! For scientific catastrophists rarely said that processes themselves were dissimilar, although some assigned a basic role to divine creation. To them "earth, air, fire, and water" were always "similar in kin" but with rates of work that have been variable: once very high, they are now very low.
Uniformitarianism and evolutionism are then under critical stress. Of what use would be the emergence of a quantavolutionary model? In the first place, the newer view can claim what science in general claims on faith: To know is good because what one knows will bring good. Also, if knowledge in itself brings pleasure, then new knowledge of what befell ancient man and the skies and earth will be useful in bringing pleasure.
The quantavolutionary view introduces an opposition party. In science as much as in politics, a multi-party system is preferable to a one-party system. Like the elite of an underdeveloped nation, prehistorians may suppose that their area is too poor in resources and skilled manpower to afford a democratic opposition. On the contrary, like an underdeveloped nation, archaeology and pre-history would show a new gain after costs from the activity of a critical party espousing the revolutionary against the evolutionary point of view.
It has been said that "if you begin by treating the scientific ideas of earlier centuries as myths, you will end by treating your own scientific ideas a dogmas." History and philosophy will be the gainers by a revolutionary challenge. All truth, including mathematics, is based upon experience and also upon ideology. There is no purely theoretical science, nor is there any purely objective science. Continuous critical exposure of the foundations illuminates natural and early human history and makes history a living part of the operations of science.
Sooner or later, as the area of natural history is mined with quantavolutionary tools, significant discoveries should be facilitated. They may occur, for instance, actually in the exploration and mining of minerals and ores. Space exploration and observations; environmental conservation; the discovery of art treasures; the rediscovery of ancient inventions in the arts, sciences and social organization; the search for new power sources in electricity and nuclear fusion; sea bottom development; genetics; and institutional and political oversight - these are some of the areas where a revolutionary perspective may be turned to some use.
The question of psychological therapy arises. The catastrophized quiddity of homo sapiens schizotypus raises a fundamental barrier to therapy. Human nature stands opposed to its own cure. Nevertheless, this immense challenge should be confronted by the development of a field of quantavolutional therapy. It would work upon the quantavolutional human model through psychiatry with the aim of draining the naturally provoked and socially obsessed build-up of fear. Sublimatory measures, including personal and social pragmatics, might be devised.
But of what use is quantavolution to religion? Astronomer Fred Hoyle, in From Stonehenge to Modern Cosmology, once answered the question of why modern man investigates the structure of the universe. "The answer is no different in principle from the motives of the builders of Stonehenge. The motive is religious." But the motive for religion is not a religion. What shall the religion be? To get down to cases, what has been said in the Quantavolution Series to illuminate the role of religion.
It must have become plain by now that a quantavolutionary primevalogy, in this book at least, regards the historical gods as part and parcel of the sudden construction of the human being. The historical gods have been delusions, possible pure delusions. We were catastrophized, and wrapped up in the gods in our delusions.
Out of the study of animals, man, myth, and culture, we emerge with an historical and comparative picture that seems clear and sharp. We sense an every-present danger when the catastrophized, schizoid creature known as the human being speaks in the name of gods, asserts that gods speak to him, calls upon the gods to intervene in the world, treats in the name of gods with other people, and assigns human traits to the gods.
We feel that this all may be inevitable in our natures, but we refuse to accept it. We feel that the better part of catastrophes is directly responsible for what humanity is proud to be. But the larger part of catastrophism urges mankind along a path on the brink of its self-destruction.
History has on the whole been a record of failure in human relations. And the historical gods, those projected as experiences and teachers by the human mind, have invariably contributed to the record of failure. Presently, governments whom there is no reason to greatly trust are in command of populations that multiply beyond hope, of nuclear weapons aimed specifically at the destruction of civilization, and of technologies that are destroying the environment. If an ordinary person, under such circumstances, adds an entirely reasonable anxiety to his primordial anxiety-load, he cannot be reproached.
However, anxious people make anxious societies. Anxious societies make anxious governments. And anxious governments suppress liberties and make war. Great gods and little gods rise up like thermometers in the social heat: historical gods, political man-gods, gurus, and psychiatrists. A world vision is lacking. The people will not then concentrate upon a consensus of behavior that would assure a benevolent and beneficent world order.
The predicament is not for solution here. Never in the past 2700 years has humankind had such close brushes with death as in these last few years. And never was it so threatened by its own hand. Whenever natural disasters and the compulsion to repeat them occurred, brother fought brother, and nations fought nations; but none commanded the nuclear and chemical forces that today can consummate the terror-laden wish to destruction.
In comparison with the human threat to humanity, the natural threat appears to be moderate. If my theory is generally correct, the solar system is in a relaxing phase. It is settling down.
There remain four potentially disturbing elements. One is he Sun itself which is known now to be inconstant. It is well hat the disappearance of sun spots for seventy years three centuries ago caused only a "little ice age." The human suffering was considerable. Were there to be more of a lessening or on the other hand, a more explosive solar activity, the effects upon Earth could be quite damaging. It would be reasonable policy on the part of the world's governments to divert resources from armaments directly into solar study and into planning defenses against the possibility of serious solar perturbations.
No comets capable of exploding the Earth are known to be circumnavigating the solar system. There may be such long-term comets, now invisible, that would someday appear before a startled world. Little could be done in such an eventuality. Happily the risk is very small. Still, at least some group should prepare from time to time a scenario and recommendations for dealing with cometary intrusions. A small comet on a collision course could, for instance, be exploded with nuclear space missiles at a safe distance.
A third danger to the world arises out of the growth of ice caps. Whether they are in fact growing is disputed. An answer to the question is technically possible. The answer should be obtained. An overloading of the ice caps could create an imbalance to the globe and cause an axial tilt. Horrendous floods, tides, earthquakes, volcanism, hurricanes and climatic reversals would follow. The ice caps might avalanche. It is already possible, however, to whittle away some of the ice by explosive melting or to tow away some of it to warmer regions to melt and use.
A final larger danger, as unpredictable as the others, lies in he instability of planet Jupiter. The "Jupiter Effect," which is tidal, is small by comparison. For Jupiter is extremely hot and highly electrified. If it were to fission, that is, to explode fragments of itself, the Earth might be directly affected by disastrous x-rays and other particle storms. Large meteoroids and comets from the explosion might enter upon orbits that could allow for encounters with the Earth.
The human race has suffered much from its birth throes, natural catastrophes, and its own destructiveness. It would appear savagely ironic if mankind were to come to an end so early in its career. There is no arguing this issue, and it is perhaps the point at which to end the whole discussion. Whenever a strange object appears in the sky, people everywhere are alerted and alarmed, with the panic of old surging within them. Whenever the question of man's duration on Earth is brought up, the pragmatic answer is as it must be "forever." A creature in search of eternity calls for a cosmology. Scientists or not, we need to go seeking the divine in the universe, like children's chicken-licken, preparing our minds and our Earth for cooperation with the divine wherever and when it is encountered.
End of The Burning of Troy