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Fundamentalism

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Fundamentalism refers to a basic set of beliefs, typically derived from religious literature, which are considered infallible and historically accurate. A believer in such beliefs is called a fundamentalist. Examples include Biblical or Christian fundamentalist, and, Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists. Political scientist, Alfred de Grazia conjectures:

"The work of Velikovsky could be assumed to defend Jewish nationalism. It could be assumed to defend fundamentalism. It could be considered anti-materialist, anti-determinist, and obscurantist."[1]

Contents

Velikovsky and fundamentalism

Some have described Velikovsky of having a fundamentalist agenda, while Velikovsky himself has denied this. For example, Lynn E. Rose reports:

"[Owen] Gingerich's other statements to the press appeared in Newsday and in Rolling Stone. Both of these magazines quoted Gingerich as saying that the reasons for Velikovsky's popularity were his "literal explanation of miracles" and "the appeal of Old Testament fundamentalism." People like Gingerich cannot accept Velikovsky's disavowals of fundamentalism, even when they hear them from Velikovsky himself. Thus in San Francisco Gingerich sat watching and listening when Velikovsky spoke of his frequent "disagreement with the Bible" and when he said, "I am not a fundamentalist at all, and I oppose fundamentalism." That isn't what Gingerich wanted to hear, so he went around saying the opposite anyway."[2]

Velikovsky's view

In an interview in 1972 with Robert Goldfarb at the Harvard campus radio station, WHRB:

"Goldfarb: "To what extent do you believe the Bible is an accurate document or historical record?"
"Velikovsky: "I'm not a fundamentalist and I oppose fundamentalism. I consider any work written by a fundamentalist -- say on geology or paleontology -- as of reduced value (even though it may have some interesting facts brought together) because there is an axe to grind. You cannot approach the Bible differently than you approach any other source. I found, however, that the Old Testament is a carefully composed history. I was gratified to discover that it is basically a truthful document."[3]

At the 1974 AAAS symposium, "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science", Velikovsky stated:

"I am not a fundamentalist at all, and I oppose fundamentalism."[4]

Fundamentalist agenda

Martin Gardner wrote:

The Old Testament is sacred scripture for both fundamentalism and traditional Judaism; and Velikovsky's theories, like those of Voliva, are no more than rationalizations of prior held beliefs."[5]

Neo-fundamentalist agenda

Leonard B. Kuffert writes:

"Newsweek and Harper's had carried features on Immanuel Velikovsky, who posited scientific connections between biblical catastrophes, such as parting of the Red Sea, and astronomical events. Incensed at the uncritical way in which the public entertained Velikovsky's ideas, Donald wrote to his father [Harold Innes] about how the success of "neo-fundamentalism" could only prompt "a sad commentary on the state of education in this country and the unscrupulousness of journalists"."[6]

Hidden fundamentalism?

Clark Whelton has questioned whether Velikovsky had a hidden agenda. Prof Irving Wolfe writes:[7]

"American historian Clark Whelton approaches the issue of a possible hidden agenda from the angle of alleged defects in Velikovsky's chronology. To Whelton, these defects appear at precisely those places which allow Velikovsky to enhance the role of the Israelites or to deny unsuitable roles that conventional history has thrust upon them. It stems, says Whelton, from Velikovsky's uncompromising belief in the accuracy of biblical chronology, so that his revisions, however startling and courageous they were and how far they went, did not quite go far enough:
"he was unable to continue in that direction for the required length of time because it would have forced him to abandon biblical chronology." [Whelton: p. 16][8]
"As a result,
"He never succeeded in piecing together the complex puzzle of ancient chronology. And yet his courage and leadership made possible the breakthroughs that came later." [ibid, p. 13]
"Whelton uses the phrase 'hidden fundamentalism'. Velikovsky, he notes, was accused by the rationalists of aiding the fundamentalists and by the fundamentalists of supporting the atheists. He denies that Velikovsky is a 'religious fundamentalist' but concludes that he is a 'chronological fundamentalist'. Velikovsky's belief 'that biblical chronology is correct... is the pattern for his entire post-Exodus revision.' [ibid, p. 12] Then comes the crucial question:
"Did Velikovsky have a hidden agenda? Was he deliberately manipulating the evidence as he shaped his revised chronology?"
Whelton's answer is firm:
"I don't think so. I found Velikovsky to be open and honest. It's true he was passionately involved in the history of Israel, past and present. In my opinion, however, Velikovsky was motivated not by a desire to deceive, but to believe. If he had a hidden agenda, it was hidden from himself, as well." [ibid, pp. 13-14]

Non-fundamentalist agenda

Baptist evangelist John R. Rice,[9] wrote:

"Velikovsky, a Jew, is not a fundamentalist, does not believe the Bible is inspired, and is an evolutionist. But he believes that the Old Testament is historically accurate in the matter of the flood, of the sun standing still, of the plagues in Exodus, etc."[10]

Biographer Duane Vorhees writes:

"Whenever establishment figures wished to make a statement about pseudoscience or the occult, or later to castigate the Scientific Creationists, they usually deemed it necessary to include Velikovsky in their denunciations -- even though Velikovsky shared their abhorrence for religious fundamentalism"[11]

References

  1. Alfred de Grazia, The Velikovsky Affair, "Ch. 6. The Scientific Reception System", Edited by Alfred De Grazia. Online at the Grazian Archive.
  2. Lynn E. Rose, "The AAAS Affair: from Twenty Years After", in Stephen Jay Gould and Immanuel Velikovsky (1995) Edited by Charles Ginenthal.
  3. Stephen L. Talbott, "Velikovsky at Harvard", Pensée Vol. 2 No 2: (May 1972) "Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered I"
  4. "Transcript of the Morning Session of the A.A.A.S. Symposium", "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science" (February 25, 1974). Online the Velikovsky Archive
  5. Martin Gardner, Fads and fallacies in the name of science, Published 1957 by Courier Dover Publications, ISBN 0486203948, 363 pages (page 33)
  6. Leonard B. Kuffert, A great duty: Canadian Responses to Modern Life and Mass Culture, 1939-1967, Published by McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2003, ISBN 0773526013, 348 pages (page 119)
  7. Irving Wolfe, "Velikovsky and Catastrophism: A Hidden Agenda?", SIS Chronology & Catastrophism Review 1992 (Vol XIV)
  8. Clark Whelton: "Velikovsky, Fundamentalism, and the Revised Chronology", paper delivered at the Seventh Annual CSIS Seminar, Haliburton, Ontario, August 1987: Revised 1989
  9. John R. Rice on Wikipedia
  10. John R. Rice, Our God-Breathed Book, Published by Sword of the Lord Publishers, 2000, ISBN 0873986288, 416 pages (page 110)
  11. Duane Vorhees, ""Worlds in Collision": Reviews and Reviewers", Aeon III:6 (Dec 1994)
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