Skip to comments.The Reality of Ancient Catastrophism
Posted on 11/07/2001 9:12:46 AM PST by JoeSchem
November 7, 2001
The Reality of Ancient Catastrophism
About fifty years ago, a Russian psychiatrist named Immanuel Velikovsky wrote a book, "Worlds in Collision." He suggested that much of the earliest history of mankind was deeply affected by catastrophic cosmic events. His suggestions seemed outrageous: that Venus is a comet that was ejected from Jupiter, and that its flybys past the Earth created the tidal forces that explained the Parting of the Red Sea and other miraculous incidents recorded in the Bible.
Velikovsky's theories had one big problem: they assumed a highly unlikely coincidence. Evolutionists claim the Solar System has been around for billions of years, while human civilization has been around for mere thousands. How plausible is it that, just after humanity establishes its
Velikovsky's theories are those of an atheist attempting to explain away ancient records of catastrophism. The ancients themselves attributed these catastrophes to divine intervention, but a good atheist cannot have this. So instead, he attributes the causes to a natural cosmic phenomenon. But a very bizarre, improbable natural phenomenon at that!
At least Velikovsky understood one key fact about ancient history: a lot of strange things were going on back then!
We recently learned ("Meteor Clue to End of Middle East Civilizations", News Telegraph, Nov. 6) that a two mile crater ring found in Iraq dates back to the time of the earliest civilizations in that region. A two mile crater is no small event -- and it occured within observation distance of the earliest cities of mankind, during their heyday.
The Bible tells us that the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by 'fire and brimstone.' These cities were once regarded as fable, but now scientists believe that they actually did exist, and actually were destroyed -- though non-divine explanations are presented ("Scientists uncover Sodom's fiery end," BBC News, 18 August 2001).
And scientists have known for years that Minoan civilization -- which during the Second Millennium
This volcanic eruption occured about the time that Moses was in Egypt. The smoke and debris from the volcano would have drifted south over Egypt, plunging the land into darkness -- just as the Old Testament account says.
So you see, there are natural explanations for everything . . . except for the improbability of the timing. And it just gets more improbable, when we realize the frequency of such incidents in ancient history.
And if God steered meteors and blew up entire islands to work his miracles on cue -- well, doesn't that make the miracles seem even more miraculous?
Since the first century AD, we have no record of major cities -- indeed, whole nations -- being destroyed by meteor showers or volcanic eruptions. We've come to believe that such events are exceedingly rare. But apparently, during the time that the Bible was written, this sort of thing
Frequent ancient catastrophism was a reality. That's not just what the Bible-thumpers like me are saying. That's what the secular archaeologists are saying.
And just what, based on that, should you be thinking?.
I disagree. Meteor impacts don't happen that often, but if the Tunguska event of 1908 had occurred in a populated area, it could have destroyed a city. As for volcanoes, within the last century a city was destroyed by an eruption - St. Pierre in 1902, killed 29,000 people, which is comparable to a major eruption in ancient times. Also, don't forget the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 - 60,000 people killed and the city was practically destroyed - so we have had plenty of catastrophies over the last 2,000 years...
I was probably the explosion of Akatori/Santorini/Thera in 1628BC that parted the 'reed' sea. I expect it is also responsible for all the plagues during that period.
Exactly. Especially when the weight of 1-3 miles thick ice being removed is considered. I would expect all kinds of plate shifts/cracking, etc. Throw in a meteor or a comet impact here and there and I expect anyone would 'get' religion. BTW, a lot of these worldwide affecting events are recorded in the 10k year tree ring data. Some have been described as near extinction events, five in particular. They are, 3195BC, 2354BC, 1628BC, 1159BC, and 540AD. There were two more minor events at 207BC and 44BC. All the events are also recorded in the ice core samples except the 540BC event which was probably a comet that plopped into the Celtic Sea and the cause of the Dark Ages, King Arthur, Merlin, etc.
Case in point: Egypt didn't suffer plagues because it was unlucky enough to build downwind from some volcano - it suffered them because of their immorality, their idolatry, and specifically because of Pharoah's stubbornness. Pharoah was asked ten times to "Let My people go" - ten chances to stop the progressive, punative plagues. Those plagues demonstrated conclusively that the Egyptian gods were impotent at best, and wholly false at the worst, while clearly demonstrating that the God of Moses was alive and more powerful. Pharoah refused to obey God. Pharoah received a consolation prize - free swimming lessons.
Perhaps instead of asking the old undergrad question "If God is all-powerful, can God make a rock so big that even He cannot move it?", we should move on to the grad school follow-up "If God is all-knowing, would He know better?"
"And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh." - Genesis 47:7.
"And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives...And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive." - Exodux 1:15-17.
Payback's a bitch.
He stands as a monument to what happens when an "expert" in one field becomes so filled with hubris that he believes himself master of all fields.
One of his innumerable errors was to believe ancient myths and legends as literally true--down to the letter.
A second error was in trying to force-fit every event in the past to fit his idealized time-line.
All he did was make a laughingstock of himself--not to mention his believers.
Isn't that mentioned in Frank Herbert's Dune?
A pygmy mammoth?!? That would be....an elephant!
Exactly how could a passing comet or a volcanic explosion part a sea, anyway???
"And it probably doesn't bother some here about how incredibly lucky Moses and the Jews were to have the comet pass by and part the Red Sea exactly at the time they needed it and then dissappear just as soon as the last person cleared the sea."
I was probably the explosion of Akatori/Santorini/Thera in 1628BC that parted the 'reed' sea. I expect it is also responsible for all the plagues during that period.
Ah, but how do you know that there were these supernatural things called angels actually coming down to warn of these events, outside of the Bible itself which was written down hundreds of years after the fact, by supporters of the religion whose history it purports to describe? IOW, the warnings from the netherworld sound like self-serving post-hoc rationalizations.
How about a tsunami?
Comets have often be described as angels, serpents, snakes, dragons and swords. (and numerous other names) A comet could have been visible sometime (A warning) before a close 'fly by', impact or smaller and numerous impacts from comet derbis associated with a large comet that did not impact. Read: Exodus To Arthur, Mike Baillie.
And your assertion is based on...what? Many of the books - and in this case, especially the Book of Exodus - are claimed to have been "written down" by first-hand eyewitnesses to the events.
The core issue here isn't when they were written, but rather what is written. I don't know a soul who contests the mundane aspects of the Biblical accounts (city names, birth records, clothing style, etc) but supports the miraculous accounts. It's always the other way around. People are unwilling to accept the historical nature of the book because it carries with it an ethical and religious message as well. So they dispute the former, hoping to discredit the latter. Believing they've been successful, they think they and their behavior are no longer accountable to rules and persons they haven't - and don't - want to obey. That may not be your personal take on it, but it holds true in my personal experience. I would think the opposite of your opinion would be more believable - it would be entirely self-serving and more believable for the "losers" in said events, i.e. the Egyptians, Canaanites, etc., to re-write their own histories to make it appear they weren't quite so thoroughly humiliated by a God they refused to believe in or obey.
In modern politics, we would call that "spin control."
Where have you been? Even the mundane aspects of the Bible have been called into question. For example, there are no records of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt -- no tax records, no business contracts, no bills of sale (all three very common for the time period) -- nothing. Jericho was uninhabited at the time given for the Exodus, so knocking down its walls would've been a moot point. There is nothing in the Bible historically verifiable until the Babylonian exile, which, coincidentally, is when many scholars believe most, if not all, the earlier books were actually put to paper (they may have been bandied about as oral tradition for centuries prior to this).
A volcano could do it through the mechanics that makes tsunamis (aka tidal waves). This method more closely matches the record in the Bible because step one of a tidal wave is an "out suck". LARGE quantities of water are pulled into a tidal wave, when they're out in the deep ocean it's hardly noticable, but as they close in on shore the wave get's taller and the water being pulled into it causes a super low tide (often dozens of feet lower than normal low tide). The super low tide usually hits about +/- 1 hr before the wave, good timing on Moses part could get him across before the wave, stranding the Pharoah to get nailed by the wall of water we've come to know and love about the story.
Hmmm... Interesting about the out-suck, but if it only lasts for an hour or so, I doubt that many Israeli refugees could've crossed the sea in that time. (Unless the "Red Sea"/"Reed Sea" was really just a river?)
On the other side you have to also consider the difference between a good epic story and what probably happened. Remember there are no records of mass Jewish enslavement in that time in Egypt. Now there were Jews in the area and there were slaves in Egypt so there's a good chance some Jews were slaves, but it probably wasn't the tens thousands of Jews like we see in the movie, for one things how to tens of thousands of people on foot stay ahead of a chariot using army, not gonna happen. You have to remember scale on a lot of levels, to people living in the relatively small villages that were prevalent at the time the number of people we fit into an NBA arena (20,000 +/-) would be staggering you're talking at least 20 entire villages worth of people in one place (or one smallish city). They didn't have New York or LA, "a lot" of people to them were less than than it is to us (thus why Rome blew a lot of minds, because that was very close to an American sized city, far beyond the scale of anything they'd ever seen).
So what you're probably talking is around 1,000 people running like hell, getting to the Suez Canal (which wasn't very deep through much of history), wondering if now was a good time to learn to swim, then the water rolls back, they run some more. The horses and chariots probably get bogged in the mud (you get really gooky mud in areas that never get dry, but humans can deal with it better than horses, we're lighter and can crawl), the people keep running, get a sand dune or two between them, then the wave hits, of course most of the wave has been spent going through the Gulf of Suez (shallow water marks the end of a tidal wave, after that it's just riding momentum) so it doesn't go very wide (otherwise the Jews get nailed too), and wave bye bye to Pharoahs army.
Or the whole thing doesn't synch up at all. Maybe Moses frees some slaves, there's so few of them the Pharoah doesn't care, but then something makes him decide to chase them down a couple years later, get's to Suez right as the out suck hits decides HIS gods were helping so he ignores the boats gets stuck and drowns when the water comes back.
Or a couple of completely unrelated stories got jelled in together. We are finding more and more archeological evidence of key events in the Bible, which makes sense you don't right about the destruction of cities that never existed and expect people to worship your book (unless your name is L Ron Hubbard, but I digress). What's still lacking is distinct chains of events like the Bible, the Bible talks about A led to B led to C and we keep finding B, but A and C are no where to be found (like here no record of mass Jewish enslavement, no record of something like Exodus, but plenty of record of volcanic action that could have caused much of the stuff that happened to the Pharoah).
This stuff is generally written as recollection, often probably after being passed down through oral history for a bit. 1 or 2 years here or there can get jumbled pretty easy, events that happened seperately a few years later might be recalled as intimately related (especially if you have the generally boring life of a subsistance farmer in Biblical times). An example so you can understand: Which came first: Phil Collins Face Values album featuring the smash hit "In the Air Tonight" or the first episode of Miami Vice that brought the song to prominence? Follow up was that Phil's first solo album? Of course the answer is Face Values preceeded Miami Vice by almost 2 years, but had very luke warm sales, and no it was his second solo album (for the life of me I can't remember the title of his first, which tells you a lot about it, I used to be a huge Phil Collins fan, then I discovered women and stopped acting so gay). But unless you were a fan of Phil's (there is a recovery program) you probably didn't know that, even if you lived through the time.
OK, enough of this. Started talking about the Bible and now it's on low rent halfassed 80's drummer that never should have strayed from their bands. Time to go. Have fun.
One circumstantial example for the Exodus can be found in the June/July 1983 issue of the journal Biblical Archaeology Today, which reports on evidence of a people (here called "MBIs" whose "migratory drift...bears a striking similarity to that of Israel's flight from Egypt to the Promised Land, as recorded in the Book of Exodus" (Rudolph Cohen, "The Mysterious MBI People", page 16). Cohen does not believe these "MBIs" are the children of Israel because of the dating of the archaeological remains, using the existing Egyptian chronological calendar.
While I don't buy into Velikovsky's explanations of events, I do lend credence to his criticisms and reconstructions of historical timetables. Another "amateur" (meaning he's not employed by a State-funded university) historian, Donovan Courville, has also produced a revision of the Egyptian chronology. Both believe that the chronology of the ancient world, as based on the Egyptian dynastic records, needs to be shortened by as much as 700 years. A more recent article, at http://www.biblicalchronologist.org/features/exodus.htm, purports that the Biblical chronologies need to be changed (i.e. moved back) by 1,000 years. By doing so, Dr. Aardsma states "..as one begins to examine the archaeology at the new dates, the harmony between Biblical and secular accounts is overwhelming..." Note that the issue isn't the "evidence", it's the timetable applied to it. Aardsma believes in the existing (secular) Egyptian timetable more than the Biblical record; Courville believes the opposite. Either way, both authors find a definite correlation between the circumstantial archaological evidence and the Biblical accounts.
Besides, the Egyptian pharoahs were famous for wiping out whole histories of their ancestors, to the extent of changing their monuments, when it suited them. Akhenaton alone shows us this. It all comes down to what we bring, a prioi, into these arguments. Who would we believe - Moses or Pharoah?
Another suspended member, V related topic.
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