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What Does the Urantia Book Say about God, Science and People?
Was the Urantia Book written by advanced spiritual beings or just folks like you and me?
The Urantia Book is a philosophical, scientific and spiritual book that professes to describe the development of life on earth until the death of Jesus of Nazareth. Whether this tome is little more than a collection of theories and commentaries is hard to say. Experts have picked it apart and published their opinions but perhaps only the individual can decide what it is or isn’t.
Let’s explore the Urantia and see if it’s worth reading.
Who Wrote The Urantia Book?
The Urantia, as the author will call it, originated in Chicago, Illinois and was first published in 1955. Two prominent people were involved with its publication – William S. Sadler and his wife Lena Sadler. William, a psychiatrist who studied under Sigmund Freud, eventually became a renowned psychic debunker, authoring in 1929 The Mind at Mischief, a book exposing the fraudulent methods used by many spiritual mediums. As for Lena, she was a physician specializing in women’s health issues.
In early 1911, a neighbor told William Sadler that her husband would often go into a trance state from which he couldn’t be awakened. After observing this man for a time, Sadler believed these sessions seemed genuine psychic events, not instances of fakery. Sadler eventually experienced 250 of these sessions taking place over 18 years. (Keep in mind, the identity of this medium has never been publicized.)
Then in 1924, Sadler began having regular intellectual discussions with a group of friends, former patients and colleagues. Sadler told these people about the medium and the group began offering questions for the “contact personalities,” with whom the medium was supposedly communicating.
These responses took place between 1925 and 1935, a stenographer taking copious notes along the way, and eventually these notes became known as the Urantia Papers. However, revisions of the manuscript took place for another two decades. The Urantia Foundation was formed in 1950, leading to publication of the Urantia in 1955.
The Spiritualism Movement
As the reader may recall, Spiritualism reached its peak in English speaking countries in 1920s, at which point it was said to have eight million followers in the U.S. and Europe. In those days, numerous people considered themselves spiritual mediums who, utilizing such techniques as séances, automatic writing and trance states, commented on all manner of both trivial and weighty issues.
Perhaps the most prominent of this bunch is Edgar Cayce, the so-called Sleeping Prophet, whose answers to questions comprise numerous books prefiguring the New Age Movement. And in the 1970s and ‘80s, medium Jane Roberts, who claimed she channeled the teachings of a spiritual entity known as Seth, compiled the Seth Material, which covers esoteric subjects such as reincarnation, karma and the “Christ Consciousness.”
Therefore, the use of "Sadler’s medium," if you will, wasn’t an isolated case. In fact, Spiritualism as a religion, still survives, and the New Age Movement continues to gather adherents as well.
What Is the Urantia About?
The Urantia is divided into a foreword and four parts, all of which deal with subjects such as philosophy, religion, geology, cosmology and ontology. By the way, as the book says, Urantia is actually the name for planet earth, or Planet 606 as it is also called.
The book’s religious inclination is decidedly Christian in nature, emphasizing the relationship between the “Universal Father,” - a.k.a. God, an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, infinite and eternal spirit personality – and the people of Urantia, known as evolutionary mortals - that's people like you and me.
This Universal Father is also a primary aspect in the well-known Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The inclusion of Jesus of Nazareth is also an integral part of this holy triumvirate. As a matter of fact, the fourth part of the book is all about the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, constituting a kind of contemporary gospel, it seems.
The book also speaks of angels, particularly the Seraphim and Cherubim and the angel Gabriel in particular, as well as antagonistic beings such as Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub and Calagastia, all of whom conspire against the spiritual mission of Michael, alias the Son of Man and Jesus of Nazareth.
Does the Urantia Contain Science?
The Urantia provides numerous references to cosmological principles and events, though the numbers often don’t equate with those of modern science. For example, the current age of the universe is usually stated as 13.7 billion years, give or take, while the Urantia claims it is 987 billion years. The Urantia also says nothing about the Big Bang, perhaps the greatest theory of cosmogony.
Nevertheless, the Urantia supports the theory of evolution – in a fashion. It says the human species evolved over millennia, and then Adam and Eve arrive in the Garden of Eden. The “world’s new rulers,” as the text refers to them, then facilitate the development of civilization, and this happened 37,848 years ago. This would be during the Paleolithic era, when people were still living in caves, trying to cope with the intense cold of the Ice Age. Did the Garden of Eden exist at this time?
As for how fast spiritual entities move though space, Solitary Messengers, as they are called, can move as fast as 841 billion miles per second, well faster than the velocity of light at 186,282 miles per second, the so-called speed limit of the universe.
According to the section in the Urantia titled “The Marine Life Era on Urantia,” it says the history of Urantia began about one billion years ago and that life started about 450 million years later when a supercontinent - now known as Pangaea - gradually broke apart, allowing marine life to flourish in new areas.
Scientists say Pangaea actually broke apart from 200 to 250 million years ago, a difference of about 300 million years. Nevertheless, the passage suggests the theory of continental drift, the basics of which postulated by scientists in the early 1900s. But the theory of plate tectonics, the mechanism behind continental drift, didn’t come along until the 1950s, and this the book does not mention.
In general, the Urantia supports the prevailing scientific thought of the time it was produced – the1930s to 1950s. This realization makes sense; but if the book was actually written by advanced spiritual entities, why isn’t at least some of its science more contemporary or even futuristic? Why doesn’t the Urantia mention quarks, dark energy, television, computers, space travel, the Internet, antimatter or nanotechnology? Of course, it’s conceivable that even if it did mention something truly futuristic, we wouldn’t know it when we saw it! In any case, it’s difficult to assume what advanced spiritual entities would know at any particular time.
What Is a Thought Adjuster?
The Urantia mentions numerous spiritual entities, including the Seven Master Spirits, creators of the Universe Power Directories and their associates, who organize, control and regulate affairs throughout the universe. And there are Thought Adjusters, and every individual has one of those. Thought Adjusters, as opposed to one’s conscience, guide a person’s spirit as it develops and, if all goes well, the spirit then becomes able to survive death.
The concept of Thought Adjuster sounds something like reincarnation, but the Urantia doesn’t teach reincarnation. This concept does, however, bear some resemblance to the Hindu atman, the Egyptian ka and the Quaker inner light.
Regarding the Thought Adjuster, this quote is taken from the Urantia:
The Adjuster is the mark of divinity, the presence of God. The "image of God" does not refer to physical likeness or to the circumscribed limitations of material creature endowment but rather to the gift of the spirit presence of the Universal Father in the supernal bestowal of the Thought Adjusters upon the humble creatures of the universes.
What Does the Urantia Say about Jesus of Nazareth?
The Urantia says a lot about Jesus of Nazareth, perhaps enough that it constitutes a modern gospel – the Gospel according to William Sadler? Or should it be an anonymous gospel?
The Urantia describes the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in great detail, but how it compares with the four canonical gospels in the Bible is a matter for biblical scholars to decide. Nevertheless, the Urantia's narrative of this momentous story is very impressive, as the narrator goes into the minds of all characters and provides the emotional interplay of a well-written novel.
Particularly engrossing is the section dealing with Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus. Throughout this astonishing tale, Jesus says Lazarus is not in fact dead, but nobody appears to believe him. Then there’s the Crucifixion, at which Jesus tells everyone that he’s dying only because he chooses to do so. Christ’s appearance after resurrection is also very well done, as everyone is awestruck at the sight of Jesus.
Is the Urantia a Fake?
As one may guess, the Urantia has numerous detractors, perhaps the most famous of which is science writer and skeptic Martin Gardner. Gardner claims that much of the Urantia was taken from other books such as Origin and Evolution of Religion by Edward Washburn, Man Rises from Parnassus by Henry Fairfield Osborn and The Architecture of the Universe by W.F.G. Swann. In truth, some passages in the Urantia seem to be taken nearly verbatim from these books.
Moreover, Gardner concludes that a man named Wilfred Kellogg was the sleeping subject or spiritual medium and that he authored most of the Urantia. Gardner also thinks William Sadler edited Kellogg’s work and wrote some passages as well. Be that as it may, a stylistic analysis of the Urantia reveals that at least nine authors wrote the book.
Was the Urantia written by spirit entities or is it the product of people such as William Sadler and Wilfred Kellogg? Experts can argue one way or another, but only the individual should decide, of course, what the heck it is. You either think it holds truth or you don’t, and nobody has to explain why. Isn't this the way religion works?
At any rate, the Urantia is a very interesting book and almost certainly contains some truth regarding science, philosophy, religion and other subjects. If nothing else, the passages regarding the life of Jesus of Nazareth may be worth a read.
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If you’d like to read an online version of The Urantia Book, please click on this link: http://urantiabook.org/
© 2012 Kelley