February 14, 1950
Mr. Henry B. McCurdy
The Macmillan Company
60 Fifth Avenue
New York 11, N.Y.
Bear Mr. McCurdy:
Immanuel Velikovskys Worlds in Collision is amazing and fascinating. It amazes because of its forthright and simple (and perhaps correct) interpretations of ancient allusion. It fascinated because in the present time of an unsure atomic fission and fusion world, his statements and collations of natural events chronicled by many peoples startle one with the possibility of previous near-fatal cataclysms.
Astronomers may find reasons to refute some of his conclusions, and theologians and religious scholars may be irritated by this unorthodox shattering of ideas of miracles. His scholarly and erudite background is quite obvious in the many fields he touches upon, and his very sincere attempt toward objectiveness and honesty of presentation should set at rest any thoughts that he is a crackpot with a message .
As a scientist, particularly a chemist, I can find on great flaws in his deductions. I seems to me that the difficult thing to do here is to free ones mind of preconceived certainties . He has surely put in a tremendous amount of research and related effort t see whether his conceptions would bear up. I think he has pretty well succeeded in showing that they do. His thinking is clear and open; his intellectual power and honesty I believe are both beyond question.
As a chemist I would raise a question as to the Naphtha and Ambrosia , sections in Part 1. But here, again, preconceived and fixed ideas interfere modern processes, contradicting some preconceived notions, are producing various oxygen-containing compounds from hydrocarbons, and who la to say that under the conditions he assumes the formation of edible substance would not be possible? I would not argue overmuch with his ideas of the source or nature of ambrosia and the milk and honey of ancient days, because conditions can only be conjectured as he suggests and even modern high temperature and catalytic processes are not infallibly predictable. The naphtha conception (and the implication as to one of the sources of petroleum on earth) is as good as any to explain certain phenomena otherwise accepted as miracles; perhaps the astronomers will have greater reasons for disbelief by virtue of knowledge of the atmosphere condition on Venus.
The remarkable agreement among various peoples of the world concerning the natural phenomena is very intriguing. No one can quickly check or study all the sources the author his so painstakingly investigated, but the startling evidence he presents seems to explain more of the mysteries and incompatible concurrences that have been discovered and uncovered by scientists and explorers of even recent years than have been explicable on any other basis. Perhaps intellectual obstinacy and stubborn narrow insistence on the what now is, has always been type of thinking is the reason that scholars and investigators have never before come to conclusions similar to the authors.
The book is, to understate, food for thought, and I feel that further investigations in fields the author suggests may produce further evidence for his conclusions. As he points out, Newton and Darwin examined and proposed and developed their ideas on an earth already stabilised. The thought occurs that had they possessed and surface as the author suggests, could they gave developed their theories as they did?
Perhaps the authors ideas and theory are not heresy to Newton and Darwin except for those who choose to believe blindly and refuse to examine new evidence.
(signed) Clarence S. Sherman
Assoc., Prof. of Chemistry