AND THE ICE EPOCH                               by DONALD W. PATTEN
Past Celestial Catastrophies

1. Astronomy in History

UNIFORMITARIANISM has assumed that the Earth for the last several hundred millions of years, has been free from astral catastrophes. This has been an assumption of an implicit rather than an explicit kind. The reasons for this have been partly historical and partly psychological. Catastrophism has been clearly and consistently associated with Biblical doctrines. Modern humanism (not early humanism) has been clearly and consistently prejudiced against Biblical doctrines in general, and Genesis in particular. This prejudice has extended toward any ideas associated with Genesis. Catastrophism has been identified therewith. The psychological basis of this prejudice is discussed at more length in Chapter XII. The historical perspective involved is revealed in noting the relationship between Ptolemaic astronomy and uniformitarian assumptions.

This chapter will exhibit some of the shades of thought and revolutionary changes in view which occurred from the Ptolemaic system through the Copernican view to the Newtonian-Whiston-ian viewpoint, laying the foundation for 18th century catastrophism. Then evidences of catastrophes within our solar system shall be examined; evidence of catastrophes from beyond our solar system shall be disregarded. These evidences may indicate that one can by no means assume that the Earth was exempt from such historical cosmic conflict.

The Ptolemaic System--Claudius Ptolemy, astronomer, geographer, historian and mathematician, was among the best known of ancient scholars. He lived in Alexandria, Egypt, during the 2nd century A.D. In his work known as The Almagest, he compiled and summarized prevailing astronomical concepts which had been inherited from Greek thought, and through this, established what became known as the Ptolemaic System. He held that the Earth was stationary; around it revolved the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in that order.

The planets revolved westward in a great circle, but also periodically retreated eastward in irregular epicycles. The description and cataloging of the epicycles became most cumbersome, particularly because the adding or subtracting of epicycles never really increased the effectiveness of the system. Nevertheless, this general system, also called a geocentric or earth-centered system, was considered authoritative by both the Islamic World and the Western World as it slipped into the dark ages of the post-Roman (Medieval) period, a time when academic activity was at a reduced level.

The geocentric proposition is an explicit theory within the Ptolemaic system. However there is also the implicit theory that celestial bodies have always maintained these circular orbits, revised only by epicycles. This presumed eternal regularity was in accordance with the assumptions of Hipparchus. This presumed eternal regularity is the second and equally significant proposition contained in the Ptolemaic system. It is an assumption, an historical assumption which disturbed Halley, Whiston and Newton much more than it did Copernicus.

The Copernican System -- The Ptolemaic system was never directly questioned until the time of Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543), and the publication of his work On The Revolutions of the Celestial Bodies (1543). In the Copernican system, the Sun was at the center, and was stationary. This was the heliocentric system, as contrasted with the geocentric system of Ptolemy. Around the Sun, according to Copernicus, revolved the planets in uniform and precise circles. This included the Earth and its satellite, the Moon, which revolved around the Earth in a uniform circle. With the additional assumption that the Earth's rotation was from east to west, the daily circling of the celestial bodies was unnecessary, including their numerous epicycles; they were merely passing scenery as viewed from this rotating sphere.

The story of Copernicus is touched with the element of pathos. After much inquiring, questioning and study, both in direct observations and in searching historical astronomical records, he came to his opinion, so markedly contrary to the Ptolemaic viewpoint, which had been held for many centuries. He published his opinion in 1543, when he knew he was soon to die.

Copernicus was questioning that which was considered sacrosanct, and this new viewpoint might not be well received; indeed he knew that it would not. To say the least, this was a certain path towards controversy, and it might be the path to the stake. But following Copernicus' death, an era of increasing freedom and inquiry occurred, especially in England and Germany. Others began reviewing Copernicus' revolutionary idea.

TYCHO BRAHE--One of these was Tycho Brahe (1546-1601). Tycho adopted elements of both systems. This is curious to the modern reader; however it must be realized that, lacking a telescope, many of the calculations regarding the positions of the planets were identical in the Tychonic and the Copernican systems. Tycho adopted the view that the Earth remained at the center of the universe; the Sun and the Moon still revolved around the Earth. However, the other planets revolved around the Sun. Although this seems somewhat abstruse, nevertheless it was a major step away from the Ptolemaic system in two ways. First, it was a major revision in concept to Ptolemaic thought. And secondly, Tycho's systematic observations and accurate plot-tings of the progression of the planets in astronomical charts provided an operational basis for further discoveries by Kepler.

JOHANNES KEPLER--Tycho's assistant and successor was Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who inherited the numerous records of Tycho's observations. Kepler noted many discrepancies in the Tychonic system, and adopted the Copernican system with modifications. His revisions of the Copernican system are included in his three famous laws. These laws pertained to the fact that the orbits of the planets were not circles; in all cases they were ellipses, with two foci, one of which is the Sun. He further observed that the inner planets revolve increasingly faster as they are proximate to the Sun. He further observed that the closer a planet may be to the Sun within its eccentric orbit, the faster it revolved. Further calculations showed that the squares of the periods of the various planets were proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from the Sun.

Kepler thus refined and improved the thinking of both Copernicus and Tycho. He developed principles of optics. He laid the groundwork that led to the development of calculus. He developed his three famous laws regarding planetary motions, and he laid the groundwork for Newtonian thought, and the recognition of the idea of universal gravitation. Soon, with the development of the telescope, with refinements in higher mathematics--and with the coming of such men as Galileo, Huygens and Cassini-- astronomers, mathematicians and physicists firmly refuted the geocentric portion of Ptolemaic thought.

HALLEY, NEWTON AND WHISTON--Following the time of Kepler, Germany was ravaged by the Thirty Years War, and its population diminished markedly, as did its entire culture. England and France began to replace Germany as the intellectual center of the West--especially England, primarily it seems, because England offered more freedom for discussion, inquiry and publication. In the climate of England, where peace and liberty prevailed to a greater degree than on the continent, great strides in modern thought were achieved. Among the leaders of this age were three Englishmen--Edmund Halley, Isaac Newton and William Whiston--scientists and friends.

Even as Kepler went one step further than Tycho in rejecting the Ptolemaic system, so similarly Halley, Newton and Whiston went one step further than Kepler. They followed Kepler in the realization that orbits did not need to be circular, and indeed never were. Kepler showed that all orbits were ellipses. They proceeded to presume that orbits could be highly eccentric as well as mildly eccentric. They further proceeded to illustrate that in contemporary conditions, this was indeed the case, illustrated by the plotted path of comets. Further, they proceeded to form the opinion that in ancient times, larger astronomical bodies had also followed highly elliptical orbits. Thus, they rejected the second and implicit assumption in Ptolemaic astronomy, eternal regularity.

Each of these three men rejected both phases of Ptolemaic thought. Halley (1656-1742) was the first of the three to publish (on comets) and was the first to achieve renown. Newton (1642-1727), the eldest of the three, proceeded to publish his views of planetary motion in three additional laws. This was accomplished at the suggestion of Halley, and also with a most generous offer by Halley to be responsible for the financing. Thus the Principia Mathematica (1687) was published, Newton became internationally famous, and England took the lead in scientific development in the Western World. With this one work, which would have gone unpublished without Halley's assistance, Newton became famous.

Halley had reviewed the astronomical records of both England and the continent. He was aware that celestial apparitions had periodically crossed the sky on historical occasions, following paths which happened to be remarkably similar to highly eccentric elliptical orbits. He began to realize that these phenomena not only possessed similar orbits, but were historically recorded in repeating cycles or periods. And when the historical cometary events of 1531 and 1607 recurred in 1682, he published his now famous prediction that this same comet would again return in 1758, and when it did, he asked posterity to remember that this prediction had been first made by an Englishman. Posterity named the comet in honor of Edmund Halley.

Halley's association with Newton was very close. Similarly Newton's association with William Whiston (1667-1752) was very close; Whiston was Newton's laboratory assistant. In addition to being versed in astronomy, mathematics and physics, Whiston, a genius like Newton, was also well versed in classical literature, classical languages (Greek, Hebrew and Latin) and in ancient history. For example, Whiston translated The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus into English in 6 volumes.

Whiston came to the opinion that a large astral body, travelling in an eccentric (highly elliptical) orbit, would be sufficient to cause a great flood through tidal mechanisms. He concluded that this was the mechanism of the Biblical Flood. He further concluded that recurring events of an astral nature, involving highly eccentric orbits, were the basis for explaining later astral phenomena, cosmic traditions, celestial mythology (the sky gods) of ancient times. This included such historical descriptions as the long day of Joshua, equated to the Phaethon myth of Egypt, the Phoenix myth, the Deimos and Phobos tradition among the Greeks, among many other traditions. He analyzed the renditions of Plutarch, Seneca, Suetonius, Virgil, Homer and many other ancient writers from the perspective that their celestial traditions were founded on historical astronomical principles. They possessed a core of truth.

In his first major work, A New Theory of the Earth (1696), Whiston set forth the mechanical and astrophysical theory, correlated to ancient flood dialogues, for understanding of the physical cause of the Deluge. He repeatedly attributed the physical cause to the provision of Divine Providence. This was followed by another work, Astronomical Principles of Religion (1717), which put greater emphasis on the scope of celestial themes in ancient mythology.1 His works were read with much interest, especially since he was so immediately in the shadow of his senior friends, Halley and Newton.

Halley found Whiston's thesis entirely possible and historically likely. Newton, a man of stout Puritan convictions, having originally entered Cambridge to enter the ministry, also lent his enthusiasm and prestige to Whiston's remarkable effort. A few years later, in 1701, when Newton resigned his chair at Cambridge, he recommended Whiston as his successor.

The recounting of the relationship between Halley, Newton and Whiston is given in order to portray how they all rejected both the explicit and the implicit assumptions of Ptolemaic thought on geocentricity and eternal regularity. This occurred in semi-Puritan England, one generation after the era of Cromwell, Milton, Bunyan, Fox and other significant spiritual leaders. Since there was a maximum of interest in Biblical history and Biblical doctrine in this era, and with catastrophism so prominent in Biblical themes, it is apparent that here, through particularly Newton and Whiston, the basis for 18th century catastrophism was reinforced.

Fossils would be found amid formations of alluvium compressed into strata. Many evidences in natural science suggesting huge watery cataclysms would be unearthed in the next 100 years. This agreed in very well with Biblical tradition and Newtonian-Whistonian mechanics. The basis for 18th century catastrophism was apparent; part of it was religious, part of it was historical, part of it was geological, part of it was astronomical. It satisfied everyone except the anti-religious or the anti-spiritual. This is to say that most but not all of the humanists of that day were pro-spiritual; examples are ubiquitous. The anti-spiritual, desiring contrary emphases and conclusions, were nonplussed. Voltaire couldn't even stand anyone to mention the Deluge.

Thus, when people began finding fossils in every province of Europe (including a location almost in Voltaire's back yard), and at virtually every elevation, the literature of Genesis was recalled. Marine fossils were found high in the Swiss Alps, the mountain backbone of Western Europe. This they attributed to the Flood. Terrestrial fossils, often of extinct forms, were found in widely separated locations, and again, this pointed to the Flood. Then, when coal miners, working in shafts below sea level, also ran into terrestrial fossils, again people recalled the Flood.

As in the case of Copernicus and Galileo, public mockery and ridicule did follow in the wake of Halley, Newton and Whiston, initiated usually by persons who hardly understood the specifics involved. However the reaction against these three Englishmen was quickly drowned in the tide of recognition; Newton was knighted and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

But then the anti-spiritual wing within humanism continued to increase, especially in the non-scientific departments of the centers of learning in Europe. This was particularly true in France, and to a lesser extent, true in England, Germany and Holland. With the anti-spiritual segment of academic figures, anything anti-Genesis was welcome; if a viewpoint seemed scientific as well, it was more than welcome.

Then Hutton proposed his theory of uniformitarianism, blithely misinterpreting and recasting evidence of catastrophic upheavals, unconcerned with narratives of ancient astral catastrophes, as recorded in Biblical and non-Biblical sources alike. Hutton bypassed conclusions of such men as Newton and Whiston, along with a host of other men emerging in the branches of natural and physical sciences. He did not concern himself with refuting their conclusions; he merely was oblivious to them.2

Whether consciously or unconsciously, Hutton preferred the eternal regularity which was also contained in the Ptolemaic system. This preference was more implicit than explicit; it was assumed rather than defended. Lyell's and Darwin's thought followed the same pattern. Thus there is a clear and historical parallelism between Ptolemaic thought and uniformitarian thought. Similarly there is a clear and historical parallel between ancient stories of planetary upheavals (whether Biblical or non-Biblical) and modern catastrophism.

This study proposes that the catastrophic premise is far superior to the uniformitarian assumption. Our proposition is based on a series of areas of evidence. One is the inherent validity of the Biblical record, paralleling other ancient literatures, motifs, traditions and folklores. Another is the geological record, replete with sedimentary strata, repeated universally across the several continents. But there are other evidences, of at least equal importance. They speak of ancient days when catastrophes occurred within our solar system. They speak of different kinds of astral catastrophes and of different locations of catastrophes. They hardly indicate that the Earth was exempt from such proceedings.

2. Past Astral Catastrophes Within the Solar System

Uniformitarianism invariably assumes, usually implicitly rather than explicitly, that our planet has never been involved in astral catastrophes, at least for the last several hundreds of millions of years, in harmony with Lyell's time chart.3 Since Lyell has been presumed to be correct, and since no threatening catastrophe has occurred within the last several centuries, they have seen no real need to scan our solar system for contrary evidences. However contrary evidences do exist; in fact such evidences are fairly numerous. They include at least six different categories of historical astral catastrophism, evidences of which still remain in our solar system. They include:

1. Planetary Opposition (Neptune and Pluto)

2. Lunar Disarrangement or perturbation (Nereid and Triton)

3. Lunar Fragmentization (Saturn and her Rings)

4. Planetary Fragmentization (the Asteroids--Ceres, Pallas, Juno, etc.)

5. Craters (astroblemes) and an Arcuate Alignment of Mountains on the Moon

6. The Origin of Comets in the Solar System

If ancient astral catastrophism is correct, then certain elementary conclusions must follow. One refers to the position of the Earth, in a relatively inner position with respect to most of the planets, and close-in with respect to the orbits of some comets and meteor streams. The Earth, in this inner position, is among the more likely candidates for periodic visitations. The Earth's location within the solar system indicates that it would be unlikely that it would be excluded from such ancient conditions.

It appears that some substantial-sized astral bodies have travelled along highly eccentric or elliptical orbits in early times, have crossed the orbits of the nearer in planets, and have wrought occasional havoc in varying degrees, at varying times, and at various locations. The evidences of this belief encompasses many fields, one of which is astronomy. Following are some of the circumstances and evidences, the first of which is the historical possibility of planetary opposition, and the resultant perturbation of planetary orbits.

Planetary Interaction. When two planets approach each other, their gravities attract each other, while their magnetic fields, to a much lesser extent, also interact. The seriousness of such a clash depends on (1) the size and mass of each of the bodies, (2) the nearness of the approach, (3) the velocities of the bodies, (4) the net electrical charges of the bodies, and (5) the satellite systems which also are involved.

There is an example of this in our solar system, the most remote planets, Neptune and Pluto. Neptune's orbit has an average distance of 2,800,000,000 miles from the Sun, and an eccentricity of .009. Pluto's orbit has an average distance of 3,675,000,000 miles from the Sun; however, it has an eccentricity of .249, the greatest among all the planets.



 Planet or
of Orbit
Mercury   .206
Venus   .007
Earth   .017
Moon (Satellite)   .081
Mars   .093
Jupiter   .048
Saturn   .056
Uranus   .047
Neptune   .009
Nereid (Satellite)   .749
Pluto   .249
Hidalgo (Asteroid)   .656

Even though Pluto's orbit averages some 900,000,000 miles beyond that of Neptune, a considerable distance, nevertheless it approaches within 2,761,000,000 miles of the Sun once about every 250 years. It also recedes to 4,600,000,000 miles once during its year (its planetary cycle). Pluto comes closer to the Sun than Neptune once every 247.7 years. It remains the 8th closest planet for several months. This happened some 240 years ago, during the very decade that Hutton was born. It shall again recur in 1969. At this time, temporarily, we will no longer be able to say correctly that Pluto is the outermost planet.

What has happened? Nobody knows. Some believe that Pluto at one time was a satellite of Neptune.4 They note that its rotational period, some 6 1/2 days, is much more like that of a satellite than that of a major planet. The rotational period of the major planets (Jupiter through Neptune) varies from 10 to 16 hours--they are rotating very rapidly, particularly considering their great size. Other astronomers have noted that Pluto's characteristics are more like those of the terrestrial planets, particularly Mercury, and have disagreed about the origin of Pluto. Robert L. Forward has made the following observation:

Apparently Pluto is a stranger which arrived in its present orbit from the regions of space. One suggestion is that it was once a moon of Neptune. There is obviously something wrong out past Uranus. It is as if Pluto had come along, interacted with Neptune, and pushed it into an inner orbit. We actually know very little about Pluto, but it is imperative that we learn more.5

Many astronomers suspect that something has gone wrong out beyond Uranus at some time in the past. Thus planetary interaction (Neptune and Pluto) is one of the features of the Neptune system.

Lunar Perturbation or Disarrangement. Another irregularity of the Neptune system concerns its two moons, particularly the outermost, Nereid, along with Neptune's family of comets. As illustrated in Table I the orbit of Nereid has an eccentricity of .749, which is extreme, and requires almost exactly a year (359 days) to make one revolution (one Neptune month). Nereid's motion is retrograde (east to west).

Neptune's other moon, Triton, also possesses retrograde motion. While Nereid is small, estimated at 200 miles in diameter, Triton is larger than our Moon (diameter estimated at 3000 miles and mass 1.80 larger than the Moon). Triton is the second or third largest satellite in our solar system, next to Jupiter's Ganymede and Saturn's Titan. Although Triton is larger, it is lighter than Titan. There are several satellites the size of Nereid and smaller which possess retrograde motion. There are some 17 satellites larger than Nereid, and of these, 16 possess direct (non-retrograde) motion; only Triton possesses retrograde motion. Triton is about 220,000 miles from the surface of Neptune, a distance only slightly smaller than our own Moon's distance from Earth. The fact that Triton is the only major satellite in our solar system possessing retrograde motion indeed heightens the suspicion that something has interfered out beyond Uranus.

Consider Halley's comet, one of six of the Neptune family. Halley's Comet, like Nereid and Triton, also possesses retrograde motion. Halley's comet, like most comets and planets, is an ellipse, possessing two foci. One focus or pivot is the Sun. The other is located slightly beyond the orbit of Neptune, some 3,200,000,000 miles distant. An illustration of the eccentricity of Nereid's orbit is given in figure 1. The eccentricity of Halley's Comet is illustrated in figure 2, along with orbits of three comets of Jupiter's family in figure 3.

Note the unusual features of the Neptune system: the direction of the revolution of the satellites. Neptune is the only planet known to have all satellites revolve in retrograde motion. And with Pluto, it exchanges inner positions relative to the Sun. It does seem that something historically remarkable has occurred, including

(1) causing Pluto to escape Neptune, retaining direct motion, taking the Sun for one foci and having the second some 1,800,000,000 miles removed from the Neptune region.

(2) causing either a capture of Triton in a retrograde manner or turning it around.

(3) causing a disturbance in the orbit of Nereid, which was insufficient to allow it to successfully break out of the Neptune system.

(4) causing Halley's comet to be perturbed, in a retrograde manner out of the Neptune system, taking the Sun as one of its foci, approaching the Sun to within 55,000,000 miles, and retreating from the Sun some 3,200,000,000 miles away, taking its second foci slightly beyond Neptune's orbit.

Neptune, with a small eccentricity, is approximately 2,755,000,000 miles from the Sun and 2,680,000,000 miles from Earth at its nearest approach This is remote. Something very possibly has interfered out past Uranus. But has something also interfered in closer than Uranus? Consider the retrograde motion of Phoebe--a satellite about as big as Neried--within the Saturn system. Consider the rings of Saturn. Consider the possibility of lunar fragmentization.

Lunar Fragmentization. Perturbation and fragmentization are caused by the same principle, but at different magnitudes. Similarly, perturbations of planets and perturbations of satellites are also caused by the same principle, astral approach, only at different magnitudes. The Neptune system contains examples of historic perturbations--disarrangements of orbits, including possible planetary perturbations (Pluto), possible lunar perturbations (Nereid and Triton) and possible cometary genesis, as illustrated by the comparison between Nereid and one of Neptune's several comets, in this case Halley's.

There is a physical law dealing with the tide-raising forces of two astral bodies when they approach each other. This is known as Roche's limit. Briefly recounted, it states that when two astral bodies approach each other, the smaller one will fragmentize before collision, and the fragmentization is caused by the superior tide-raising forces of the larger of the two bodies. If the two bodies are similar in density, the smaller body will fragmentize at a distance ratio of 2.44 times the radius of the larger body. This is the critical distance, in the case of Saturn, approximately 175,000 miles from its surface. The entire ring system of Saturn is 171,000 miles, 2.28 times the radius of Saturn, and entirely within Roche's limit. Taken further, such a fragmentization, if of solid material, will result in the fragments assuming orbits about the planet in accordance with Kepler's laws.

Orbits of three comets of Jupiter's Family

It appears that either a satellite or a wanderer within the solar system has been perturbed, and approached too close to Saturn, and fragmentized, in accordance with Roche's limit; the fragments have assumed orbits in accordance with Kepler's laws, the same laws which govern our man-made satellites.

Saturn's rings are of further interest. The outer ring is 10,000 miles wide. Next is Cassini's division, a dark band mostly void of material, about 3,000 miles wide. Inside Cassini's division is a second ring, some 16,000 miles wide. Inside this is the crape ring, the innermost, some 11,500 miles wide. Its inner edge is about 7,000 miles from Saturn's surface. The inner ring is almost transparent, and contains the least amount of material. Cassini's division is a vacant area which has occurred due to the systematic perturbations of the ring material by Saturn's nearest satellites, Mimas, Enceladus and Tethys.

In 1948, the thickness of Saturn's rings was accurately measured for the first time. They were measured to be about 10 miles thick, and 41,500 miles wide. Further data was available on the reflectivity of Saturn's rings. This then revealed the nature of the material in Saturn's rings. Previously, it had been assumed that Saturn's rings were composed of rock fragments, like the asteroids. Now it is believed that they are ice particles and not rock particles. This agrees with evidences concerning Saturn's several satellites, some of which appear to be almost pure ice (H2O), and others of which are composed of different ices including water, carbon dioxide, cyanogen, and ammonia. Further it would appear that ices are abundant under Saturn's frigid atmosphere, ices comprising various compounds of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.

Ices, in short, along with hydrogen, are the most common components of the Saturn system. Hence it is not really surprising that Saturn's rings are composed of ice; it would be surprising if they weren't. But further, this is suggestive that within the history of our solar system, at least one icy catastrophe has overtaken the planet Saturn. Could this be a clue as to the Ice Epoch which engulfed the Earth at another time in the history of our solar system? This is a subject which is reserved for Chapter VI.

What happened to Saturn? Did perturbations occur? Did they result in a particularly close approach, and fragmentation? In the case of the Neptune system, there were indications of different kinds of perturbations which included satellites (revolving around the planet), planets (revolving around the sun), and comets (revolving, in a sense, around both). But in the case of Saturn, the perturbations resulted in a greater drama than mere adjustments of orbits; they resulted in celestial fragmentations, a phenomena closely related to perturbed orbits.

In the case of the Neptune system, the distance was about 2,700,000,000 miles from the Earth at the nearest approach. Saturn averages about 900,000,000 miles from the sun (varying from 839,000,000 to 937,000,000, with an eccentricity of .056). If perturbations and/or catastrophes occurred 3 billion and 1 billion miles from the Earth, this is still rather remote. Has demonstrable catastrophism occurred closer? It was seen that lunar perturbation was one thing, and lunar fragmentization, although related, was quite a different condition. We have seen an indication (in the example of Pluto) that planets may have experienced major perturbations. But could planets also fragmentize? This question implies similar principles, but in different degrees of magnitude. Lunar fragmentization, being caused by planets, is one thing; however planetary fragmentization is quite another.

Fragmentization of a Planet. Within our solar system, there is a fairly regular ratio of increasing distances of each successive planet from the Sun. The principle also has been observed, for instance, in the satellite arrangements of the major planets. This observation parallels the planetary arrangements around the Sun. This observation of regularly increasing distances of the planets from the Sun is known as Bode's law.6 It is considered to have a scientific or semi-scientific basis, the nature of which is not clearly understood. This was brought to public attention in 1772 by Johann Bode.

According to Bode's law, there was one vacant orbit, between Mars and Jupiter. After Bode brought this to the attention of astronomers, they turned their telescopes to this region. This was during the time Hutton was formulating his proposition of Earth uniformitarianism. Shortly the first asteroid was discovered, in 1801, named Ceres. It was observed to be some 500 miles in diameter, but irregular in albedo (reflectivity) and hence in shape. It was a fragment and not a sphere. It scintillated or varied from hour to hour in reflectivity when viewed, indicating that it rotated and possessed an irregular surface. Many more were soon discovered, also with apparently irregular surfaces.

Today, over 2,500 fragments have been identified with names and/or numbers. Estimates of the number of asteroids which are undiscovered run as high as 50,000. The circumstances surrounding this fragmentization are not known. Evidences throughout the last several decades have increasingly indicated that the asteroids are remnants of a former planet.

The asteroid fragments occur in belts, and not in an even distribution, quite similar to the material in Saturn's rings. Material in Saturn's rings has been perturbed or swept out at distances corresponding to simple fractional periods of the satellites. Cassini's division is one of these fractional distances, half the period of Mimas and one third of the period of Enceladus; also a quarter of the period of Tethys. At this region, systematic or harmonic perturbations were organized by Saturn's satellites, cleaning out these regions within Saturn's rings.

A similar condition occurs in the belt of asteroids, at distances corresponding to fractions of Jupiter's orbit. It is apparent that Jupiter has effectively perturbed the asteroids, and has cleaned out regions within the asteroid belt, at distances having a harmonic relationship to Jupiter.

A study of perturbations within Saturn's rings might indicate the date of fragmentization; however distances are too great, particles are too small, and telescopes are too inadequate to form many conclusions. However in the case of the asteroids, they are large enough and close enough to make such a study. One such study has been made, although by itself it is perhaps not conclusive. It was reported in Harper's Magazine (August 1963) as follows:

A similar assertion that celestial disasters could have taken place when men on Earth were watching had already been made by the Harvard astronomer, Fred L. Whipple, who suggested that the swarm of asteroids which orbit between Mars and Jupiter were disturbed by a cometary collision there as recently as 4,700 and 1,500 years ago.7

There are traditions among ancients of explosions in the heavens. One includes a location in the zodiac known to the Romans as Cancer, or "the crab." Egyptians called Cancer a beetle, the Greeks and Chaldeans also pictured it as a crab, and the astrologically-minded Hindus called it a tortoise.8 It is not the purpose in this chapter to introduce the cosmological themes of ancient civilizations; however it would be well to recall that in Greek legend, there were seven sisters, or planets, which were visible to the naked eye. The seventh, Electra9 by name, could not bear to watch the destruction of Troy, so she withdrew from the heavens.

Here we have an example of a planet which may have fragmentized, but the matter must be considered a little further. Suggestion has been made relative to its recentness in timing (several thousand years). With regard to the rings of Saturn, in accordance with Roche's limit, Saturn was the largest participating body and the causing body. As to the asteroid fragments, which have assumed orbits around the Sun, where is the causing body? Is the tradition of Electra related?

With Neptune and Saturn, indications of astral catastrophism were reviewed, slightly less than three billion and one billion miles from the Earth respectively. The asteroids travel mostly between 200,000,000 and 250,000,000 miles from the sun (some of the asteroids have been known to pass within 10,000,000 miles of the Earth). Thus numerous asteroids are seen to be between 110,000,000 and 160,000,000 miles from the Earth (the Earth's orbit being some 90,000,000 miles from the Sun). This is an indication of astral catastrophism ten times as close as Saturn, and catastrophism of a much greater magnitude.

If it is assumed that Roche's limit and tide-raising forces were involved in the fragmentization of the asteroids (which appears logical), then we must recognize that there is no large body which today revolves between Mars and Jupiter, and which could have caused such an event. We must also recognize that there is no known astronomical or physical reason why large planet-sized bodies could not travel the same type of highly eccentric elliptical orbits which comets and meteor streams travel. This was the thinking of Halley, Newton and Whiston, long before the asteroids were discovered.

Catastrophism 3 billion miles away is one thing; catastrophism 1 billion miles away is much the same in perspective. Catastrophism 150 million miles away is something a little different; catastrophism 1/4 of a million miles away would be quite a different consideration. Has such occurred? This is coming disturbingly close to our fragile terrestrial ball, as it plunges through space.

Our Scar-Faced Satellite--The Moon. Our scar-faced satellite exhibits yet other examples of astral catastrophism. The Moon has been presumed to be a solid; yet recent observations have indicated the possibility that it may be substantially fluid like the Earth with a thin crust. Volcanic action has been reportedly observed recently. The Moon, unlike the Earth, has no atmosphere, no weather, and virtually no erosion. Ancient scars have not healed over, as they have on our planet through processes of erosion and vegetation.

The Moon has many craters, of many sizes. The craters on the Moon's side facing the Earth may exceed 30,000 in number, and range all the way from pitlets up to 150 miles in diameter.10 The crater named in honor of Copernicus is approximately 40 miles in diameter and has an average wall height of 12,000 feet. In addition to craters, the Moon has scratches on its surface, indicative of explosions either at or near its surface, another indication of a less-than-serene history.

The fact that the Moon possesses lunar mountain ranges which duplicate the arc-like alignment of mountain systems of the Earth also enhances the totality of indications that catastrophism has indeed occurred within our solar system, and tide-raising forces within our Earth-Moon system.11


This chapter has already considered evidences of astral catastrophism throughout our small solar system; other kinds occur beyond our solar system. In this chapter we have considered evidences from four different regions: Neptune, Saturn, the asteroids, and our own Moon. It has considered evidences of one kind of cause (approaching astral bodies, travelling eccentric or elliptical orbits). But it has considered evidences involving two kinds of results. One result was perturbations of the orbits of the astral bodies concerned. This was a disturbance of path. The other result was tide-raising forces. This caused upwellings of fluids such as magma and/or water when at moderate intensity, but caused fragmentization when at extreme intensity. This kind of result (tide-raising forces) was an internal phenomena whereas perturbations of orbits were external phenomena. Both, however, have an identical kind of cause, but are merely different kinds of results of different magnitudes of counter-dominating gravitational forces.
Comets. A sixth indication of astral catastrophism is in comets. Halley's Comet has already been discussed, with its two widely separated foci. Other observations relative to comets are:
(1) they tend to occur in families, with each of the four major planets possessing cometary families

(2) comets have a mortality rate--they have been observed in the process of disintegration (prime example--the comet Biela and the Bielids)12

(3) numerous meteor streams occur, with orbits identical to comets, and apparently are the remains of disintegrated comets

(4) comets cross orbits of nearer-in planets, and in this process are frequently perturbed

Current evidence indicates that Jupiter, our largest planet, has the largest family of satellites; it also has the largest family of comets, several dozen. Saturn, our second largest planet, has the second most numerous family of satellites and also the second largest family of comets.

What is the origin of comets?

The director of the Kiev Observatory, S. K. Vsekhsviatsky, on the basis of the rate at which the periodic comets diminish in size and brightness, argues that they are no more than a few thousand years old, and that their orbits indicate their birth by eruption from the planets, principally Jupiter.13
It seems that the meteor streams, the fragility of comets, and the information from ancient literature indicate that comets are recent of origin. The balance of the above quotation regarding their birth by eruption, seems to be more questionable. But the mortality rate of comets is indicative of recentness. Some have suggested, as in the above instance, that they have been born within our solar system; others have suggested that they entered from beyond our solar system. In the former case, a birth is indicated; in the latter case, an entry is indicated. Both reflect astral catastrophism as a principle, with timing that may well be quite recent. Both points thoroughly contradict uniformitarian assumption, both points suggest both Earth catastrophism in mechanical principle, and Earth catastrophism in relative recentness of timing.


Examples of astral catastrophism are substantially numerous in our solar system; it is likely that existing evidences reflect only a fraction of the number of historical catastrophes. Examples have been given from four different regions of the solar system, and including some six different categories.

Our Earth is not like the huge major planets; the Earth is a small, fragile sphere,14 spiralling through space, with a solid crust only 5 to 30 miles thick, containing oceans of hot magma within, and containing oceans of water upon it. Its crust is like a paper bag full of honey or molasses, swinging along at a rate of 1000 miles per hour in equatorial rotation, plus some 66,000 miles per hour in orbit. This neglects the galactic motion, which is much greater. The point is that our Earth's crust is markedly fragile, and this point is in contradistinction to the idea of durability and permanence as suggested by the 19th century uniformitarians.

The fact is that the Earth has been involved in more than one astral catastrophe in terms of multiplied thousands of years ago. The catastrophes have involved both counter dominating gravities (tide-raising forces) and discharging magnetic fields.

This study does not postulate that the Biblical Flood was the only one of such catastrophes, nor does it propose that the Biblical Flood was either the first or the last of them; it merely proposes that it was most severe.

We will now discuss the specifics of the Biblical Flood as given in the Genesis account. We shall consider its sudden engagement and disengagement (initiation and termination). We shall consider its tidal nature. This does not necessarily mean that the reader needs to support the spiritual implications in the Flood story; on the other hand this too may be a good idea.

"The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch" by Donald W. Patten - is ©1966 by Pacific Meridian Pub. Co.

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