In response to:

Not a Mountebank from the October 25, 1979 issue

To the Editors:

For over a quarter of a century, Martin Gardner has been taking cheap shots, grossly ill-informed and maliciously irresponsible, at the work of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky.

One of Gardner’s favorite tactics is to describe Velikovsky as a fundamentalist. Velikovsky’s own words on this are emphatic: “I am not a fundamentalist at all, and I oppose fundamentalism.” Nothing could be clearer, if Gardner would but listen.

Gardner’s latest diatribe (NYR, June 14) repeats some of his old nonsense about fundamentalism, and shows that he still doesn’t know even the main points of the theory that he is talking about. To give just one example, Gardner says that, according to Velikovsky’s theory, Venus, at that time a giant comet, caused such events as “the flood of Noah.”

Actually, Velikovsky regards the Deluge as one of the effects of a nova-like explosion of Saturn. Venus didn’t even exist yet!

Isn’t it about time Gardner got his facts straight?

Lynn E. Rose

Professor of Philosophy

State University of New York

Buffalo, New York

Martin Gardner replies:

Professor Rose, an intrepid contributor to Velikovskian publications, is right on one count, wrong on another. I have never called Velikovsky a fundamentalist. How could I, since the term labels a Protestant movement? My review accurately characterized Velikovsky as a “devout believer in orthodox Judaism,” and correctly pointed out that the fantastic sales of his first book (72 printings in 1974) were “closely linked” to today’s astonishing revival of fundamentalism.

In my list of Old Testament miracles I should not have attached Noah’s name to the floods produced by close Earth-Venus encounters. I hope Rose will forgive this terrible blunder. As Rose knows, the Deluge was an earlier, greater flood that Velikovsky believes occurred about nine thousand years ago when Earth and Moon passed through a cosmic cloud of water. For several centuries both Earth and Moon were completely covered with water.

I find it amusing that after wrongly blasting me for calling Velikovsky a fundamentalist, Rose reminds us that Velikovsky accepts literally the Genesis account of the entire Earth being under water in historic times. I suppose it is too much to expect the Buffalo philosopher, when he teaches his next course on Velikovskianism, to let his students know some of the overwhelming geological evidence against such hoary balderdash.

This Issue

October 25, 1979