In response to:

Eternal Riddles from the June 14, 1979 issue

To the Editors:

Martin Gardner’s reply (NYR, October 25) serves only to muddy the waters and to add several new items to the long list of erroneous claims that he has made about Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky.

The word “fundamentalist” was mine, and was correctly used to refer generally to anyone who holds that Scripture is literally true. Gardner’s practice of restricting the word “fundamentalist” to Protestants (even though more general senses are also in common use), does not alter the fact that Gardner has repeatedly accused Velikovsky of accepting Scripture as literally true. Nor does it explain his inattention to Velikovsky’s protestations that he is not a fundamentalist, and that he does not accept Scripture as literally true.

The continuing and growing interest in Velikovsky’s theories is due to the unprecedented record of confirmation that those theories have enjoyed. Such interest is not “closely linked” to any “revival of fundamentalism.” Velikovsky has repeatedly stressed: “I am not a fundamentalist at all, and I oppose fundamentalism.” Does Gardner think that fundamentalists are so stupid as to take an avowed opponent for an ally? Perhaps he does, but he is wrong.

I find it amusing that Gardner could say that “Rose reminds us that Velikovsky accepts literally the Genesis account of the entire Earth being under water in historic times.” Actually, my letter stressed that Velikovsky is not a fundamentalist and thus does not accept Genesis or any other ancient text literally!

I challenge Gardner to provide any evidence that Velikovsky has ever said that for “several centuries” Earth was “completely covered with water.” This “balderdash,” as Gardner calls it, seem to be one of Gardner’s own more recent fantasies.

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

Lynn E. Rose

Professor of Philosophy

State University of New York at Buffalo

Buffalo, New York

Martin Gardner replies:

Rather than squabble over the word “fundamentalist,” which I have never heard applied to anyone except Protestants (and in recent months to Moslems), let me confine my reply to Rose’s final challenge. Writing on “Are the Moon’s Scars Only Three Thousand Years Old?” in Velikovsky Reconsidered (Warner Books), the late Velikovsky said:

In my understanding, less than ten thousand years ago, together with the Earth, the Moon went through a cosmic cloud of water (the Deluge) and subsequently was covered for several centuries by water, which dissociated under the ultraviolet rays of the sun with hydrogen escaping into space.

On page 89 of the same book Velikovsky writes: “Some nine thousand years ago water was showered on Earth and Moon alike (deluge). But on the Moon all of it dissociated…water covered it only for a very limited time (following the deluge) counted in hundreds of years.”

I took this to mean that both Earth and Moon were equally drenched by the water cloud which, by the way, had its origin in an explosion of Saturn! Since the water of Noah’s flood would have had much more difficulty evaporating from Earth than from the Moon, it is hard to see how it could have remained longer on the Moon than on Earth. However, if Velikovsky meant that only the Moon was completely covered for several centuries, and that Earth’s present oceans are the product of the Deluge, then I stand both corrected and amazed; amazed because it would mean that Velikovsky adheres even closer to the Biblical account of the Deluge than I had supposed.

Velikovsky unambiguously states in the same book (page 257) that all the features we now see on the Moon were carved “less than three thousand years ago.” This hypothesis, made necessary by Velikovskys water-cloud-from-Saturn fantasy, is contradicted by so much evidence that only Professor Rose and his fellow Velikovskians can regard it as serious science.

This Issue

March 6, 1980