New evidence and interpretation at the intersection of astronomy and religion can help us better understand the history of the Ancient Near East and of the origins of Islam.
In recent years, the theory (based on ancient sources) of Immanuel Velikovsky that the planet Venus first entered the inner solar system as a comet with a bifurcated tail (the similarity to horns gave it the name the Bull of Heaven) shortly before 2500 B.C. (Velikovsky said 1500 B.C., but new evidence indicates 2500 B.C.) has found plentiful substantiation. Now we have a much better explanation of the origin of Venus (it was pulled into the inner solar system by Jupiter’s gravity and, via tidal heating, became a comet with a long tail—overcoming the leading objection to Velikovsky’s theory). We can roughly track its interaction with the Earth on a 52-year cycle during the Late Bronze Age, causing catastrophes worldwide and leading Earth to turn over four times, for which there is plenty of evidence. (Velikovsky had characterized the interaction as electromagnetic, but now we can see that at least as likely it was gravitational, or both.) And we now have a framework theory of the terrestrial planets into which these phenomena neatly fit and for which there is much telling evidence. For Comet Venus, there is also newly interpreted, compelling iconographic evidence.
So we can ask, with new-found confidence that the Ancients and Velikovsky were right about Venus, how can we use this to better decipher aspects of the culture of the Ancient Near East and of the background of Islam?