The purpose of this essay is to set the cosmology and astronomy of the Urantia Book against what modern, twenty-first-century cosmology and astronomy observe in the physical universe. I will also argue that even if today’s cosmology and astronomy have got some things wrong about the structure of the universe, there is enough evidence favoring cosmology’s fundamental insights to render the Urantia Book’s cosmology, and much of what it says about astronomy, impossible.
Conventions: The Urantia Book is UB or “the book”. Reference to scientific papers and images are linked. References to sections of the book are signaled by [UB paper:section.paragraph].
Updated on May 26, 2021 to include section “a missing superuniverse”.
SCIENCE AND THE URANTIA BOOK
The Urantia Book (UB) is about God. Its theology (presented primarily in the Forward, papers 1-10 and 99-118) expands human ideas about God, revealing a more nuanced picture than any human-originated theology has achieved. Theology has consequences. For example, if God is good and what humans gain in this life has continuing value personally, there must be some mechanism for expressing a postmortal personality. The UB illustrates this with its story of the ascension scheme coupled with an explanation of universe administration (God the Seven-Fold) terminating in the Creator Sons, which sets the context of our relationship to Jesus, Michael of Nebadon. The book’s last section, “The Life of Jesus”, is perhaps the most remarkable illustration of the relationship possible between man and God ever written!
The UB contains hundreds of scientific assertions. Readers of the book have for some time been aware that much of this science is problematic. In 2017, Geoffrey Taylor re-wrote (updated) “Scientific Predictions of the Urantia Book”, his 1987 paper co-authored with Irwin Ginsburgh. In this paper, he discusses 31 specific “scientific predictions” found in the UB. He compares them to what is known now, confirming (most), disconfirming (a few), or remaining an open question.
Part of the problem of assessing these UB assertions is dating them. UB history holds the text of the book was completed before 1940. If this is true, then any matching discovery made after 1940 would be evidence for the UB’s veracity, at least that its authors made a good guess. The UB was not published until 1955. All of whatever physical precursors existed before that date, the hard evidence that no changes were made during the 1940s and very early 1950s (the original, date-able, notes and printing plates) were destroyed. I mention this because it is a part of what is problematic about “UB science”. I do not attempt in this essay to resolve these issues. What is problematic about UB cosmology and astronomy has nothing to do with these date issues.
Here is a categorization and count of issues Taylor addresses:
The UB contains dozens of “scientific assertions” besides those Taylor mentions, and some of the above might fit different categories. To an extent, he cherry-picks his examples. For example, he makes no mention of this on 65:6.1. “Ever will the scientist come nearer and nearer the secrets of life, but never will he find them, and for no other reason than that he must kill protoplasm in order to analyze it.” The italics never and must are mine because categorical terms like these make the statement false. Biologists have been probing cells and measuring their living processes since the late 1960s! Surely revelators (who could “anticipate the scientific discoveries of a thousand years” [UB 101:4.2]) would know this? Why include categoricals like “must” and “never”?
Besides the “hard science” categories listed above (Taylor’s subject), the UB makes hundreds of statements in the arenas of soft sciences, anthropology, sociology, psychology, even “political science”, but none of these are Taylor’s subjects, nor mine. This paper focuses on cosmology and astronomy because the UB’s description of the mortal ascension scheme rests on these. I will cover the biology of human evolution (another major issue) in another paper.
In paper 101:4.1, The book makes this statement: “Any cosmology presented as a part of revealed religion is destined to be outgrown in a very short time”, and 101:4.2 emphasizes that “The cosmology of these revelations is not inspired.” To me, “not inspired” means the revelators merely adopted and adapted the cosmology, primarily the steady-state idea they found in human sources before 1950. But the book’s morphology of the Master Universe (everything inhabited and not yet inhabited), nor its revelation of “space respiration”, is not to be found in astronomy or cosmology papers of the period. Where did the authors get this material? Except for the steady-state-creation idea, UB cosmology does not reflect scientific consensus or even speculation of the 20th Century’s first half. If “not inspired”, and not a product of early 20th Century science, how exactly are we to understand it? If it seems not to match observation, are we to accord it some credibility merely because it appears in the UB?
Briefly summarized UB cosmology says:
- The physical universe is a steady-state creation along the lines of human ideas popular in the first half of the 20th Century. [UB 9:3.4] [UB 42:4.9]
- Space, presently filled with material creation, respires in billion-year cycles. A billion expanding (we are currently halfway through such a phase) and a billion contracting. [UB 11:6 whole section]
- The material creation is not symmetrical except bilaterally around an axis perpendicular to Paradise. Paradise is an ellipse, and the universe as a whole rotates around paradise (much more on this below). The axis perpendicular to Paradise is the only one close to symmetrical. The other two axes (an ellipse has three) are asymmetrical. [UB 11:7.3]
The physical universe astronomers and cosmologists see from Earth looks absolutely nothing like what the UB describes. What we see cannot be interpreted (rationalized) along lines the UB claims is the case, nor can the UB presentation be aligned to modern observations. It isn’t that the UB is wrong as to details; much of it cannot be made sense-of in the light of present observation, including types of astronomies invented in but the last few decades! At least this is what I now believe.
Cosmology is a purely observational science. The universe “happened” (slowly or suddenly), once, sometime in the past, and continues to the present day. We cannot experiment by setting initial conditions and seeing what sort of universe emerges from them. What cosmologists do is look. Having well understood the physics of light and the effect of gravity on it, they propose various theories about how the universe got going (like steady-state) and ask: “what are the consequences (to the light we observe) of that theory”? Dozens of theories have been tried (including those suggested by UB readers trying to rationalize the UB picture with present observations), and only the Big Bang survives. The Big Bang’s consequences (the first of many, the Cosmic Microwave Background temperature, calculated 10+ years before it was found), is the only theory that survives all, and I mean all the tests (see note on Big Bang evidence at the end of the essay).
STEADY STATE versus THE BIG BANG
The big bang was, 100 years ago, a nascent cosmological competitor to the millennia-old idea that the appearance of matter in the cosmos is an ongoing process, new matter, hydrogen (or perhaps protons, neutrons, and electrons), slowly appearing throughout the universe. This “steady-state” creation would forever produce new material for the formation of stars and other entities, yielding today a universe of unknown size and age, possibly infinite and forever!
In 1953 George Gamow contributed to the debate. Given the controversial (until the mid-1960s) notion of a big bang roughly ten-billion years ago (a then-best estimate based on tracing apparent recession speed of distant galaxies backwards in time), Gamow reasoned that there should be a left-over, cold, cosmic microwave background of roughly 7 degrees Kelvin (the CMB) throughout the universe. In 1965 the CMB was discovered accidentally by two Bell Labs engineers trying to figure out why they couldn’t get rid of a constant noise at 2.72 degrees Kelvin from a new, very sensitive antenna. The first “big evidence” for the big bang was not that distant objects appear to be racing away from one another (a steady-state creation also expands as more matter is added), but that there is a cold-light at 2.72548±0.00057 K coming from every direction we look.
A singular origin is the only reasonable explanation for the phenomenon of this light. Since the 60s, numerous “other phenomena” whose observation can only be explained by singular origin, evidence upon evidence, has piled on to support the idea. As might be expected, at least into the last quarter of the 20th Century, “Steady State” aficionados suggested other explanations. All had (as good scientific theories must) testable consequences. The tests all failed, while the big bang has survived every test of its theorized outcomes. I bring up the big bang here not to hawk it (I list some independent evidentiary lines at the end of the essay), but because it has implications not only for the matter of “steady-state creation”, but also the UB’s other cosmological assertions, space respiration and the shape (morphology) of the creation.
As concerns “steady-state”, the UB tells us that the Infinite Spirit can slow down energies to the “point of materialization” [UB 9:3.4]. Presumably, this is the source of all the matter in the universe. Any light produced by this process would cool as the universe expanded (the book tells us we are in an expanding phase due to “space respiration”). But since matter creation is constant, we would expect the temperature of such light to vary as we look across the sky. It would be warmer coming from “newer regions” and cooler from “older”. Yet all the background light we see (strictly “listen to” with radio telescopes as it has cooled down to microwaves) had to begin simultaneously. To hypothesize that, nevertheless, light from creations at different times all happens to hit Earth at 2.725 degrees Kelvin from everywhere is ad hoc.
SHAPE OF THE UNIVERSE
The UB’s biggest problem is the shape of the universe (the Maltese Cross 11:7:3), its declaration that there is an upper and lower limit to “pervaded (the material creation) space” (11:7.6). A related problem is the missing consequence of a mass, Havona and its surrounding gravity bodies, “as great as the seven superuniverses (the presently inhabited “Grand Universe”) combined” [UB 12:1.4], not to mention the very existence of a different, “non-pervaded space” constituting a sort of reservoir to and from which pervaded space flows. The UB description, if authoritative, would have evident observational consequences. Given the UB picture, if we look in all directions from our position in space, we should see different things. In a direction outward along the plain of creation (as the UB tells it), we should see lots of galaxies (the “outer space” universes). But in a direction perpendicular to this plain (up or down), we should see nothing at all beyond our superuniverse. Even accepting a rationalization by UB readers that our galactic supercluster (see ASTRONOMY below for discussion) is the real superuniverse, we should see nothing beyond it.
Moreover (I thank my friend Charles Lamar for pointing this out), if we look in a direction above or below the center of our galaxy, above and below what the UB claims is the center of creation lying somewhere behind it, some substantial angle of arc would be a view at and through non-pervaded space. What would non-pervaded space (not to mention some mid-space zone that must also intervene [11:7.3]) do to the starlight coming from its other side? The UB provides no clue to this answer, but the only thing these regions could possibly do, if our observations are to be believed, is to so manipulate the light that the universe of galaxies on its other side look like the universe we view in every other direction!
So what do we see? We see what cosmologists call an “isotropic universe” that is also homogenous on very large scales. meaning “the same in every direction” In every direction, we see billions of galactic clusters and streams of galaxies out to 10+ billion light-years. Even our supercluster is but one of billions of them in every direction (see illustration in this link). Every dot of light in that image is a galaxy or cluster of galaxies, and this is what we see in every direction we look. Moreover, even if this illustration (after all, a computer construct based on observation) is not quite right, what is indisputable is that what we see is the same everywhere! In every direction, including towards the Milky Way’s center, there are galaxies and galactic clusters at all distances everywhere. Even if individual estimates of distance are considerably mistaken we cannot be mistaken about the shape of the overall distribution. This fact alone makes the UB picture of a bilaterally symmetrical universe unbelievable.
Some astute reader is going to object and say that the universe may not be precisely isotropic. There is in fact some evidence that matter-density in one axis is greater than in the axis perpendicular to it. But the difference is two percent. Material density along the denser axis is two percent greater than in the perpendicular axis. Two percent is nowhere near the all-and-none difference that follows from the universe architecture portrayed in the UB!
Suppose the UB has deliberately provided a fantasy cosmology (possible, if not likely even given the astronomical knowledge of the 1920s and 30s) on which to rest its description of the mortal ascension scheme? The problem is that what we see is so vastly different from what the UB describes it is impossible to reconcile the two architectures. Furthermore, astronomers on a world a few billion light-years from earth would observe, from their world, the same isotropic universe we detect from ours. A universe that appears isotropic from every position within it hasn’t any center! The whole of the UB ascension scheme ultimately rests on Paradise at the center of everything, a center that doesn’t appear to exist. Now one might argue that we cannot assume another position from which to view the universe. We have good reason to believe the universe would appear isotropic from any place in it, but we cannot know this. There are, or would be, other consequences to what we see if Havona existed.
THE HAVONA GRAVITY PROBLEM
This issue of a center (and what the UB says about it) is integral to the book’s “shape story”. The central universe, Paradise, the billion Havona worlds, and the “dark gravity bodies” surrounding it, are said to contain mass “far in excess” of the entire Grand Universe [UB 12:1.4]! That’s a lot of mass! I’m tempted to bring up the matter of gravitational waves here, but I demur. It is possible (being no physicist), the arrangement of a central mass surrounded by two rings of “dark gravity bodies” orbiting in opposite directions [UB 14:1.8] is set up precisely to cancel (by interference) the enormous gravitational waves that, otherwise, we would surely have noticed (and do not) coming from some particular direction in the sky. But while I can speculate my way around missing gravitational waves, there would be other consequences of such a mass.
According to the UB, Havona is presently on the other side of our galactic center (we are not told how far), where dust obscures what would otherwise be a view of a massive dark body occluding everything on the far side of it [UB 15:3.3]. Whoever constructed this part of the UB cosmological fantasy did not understand the effect of mass on light. Even if no gravitational waves emanate from Havona, the central universe has gravity [UB 11:8.7].
While we cannot see directly through the center of our galaxy (we do see behind the dust in X-ray light, but what is visible are stars yet in our galaxy), we can see above and below the central band. What do we see? We see the same thing we see in every other direction, billions of galaxies out to more than ten billion light-years! But that is not what we would see if there was, lying behind the central band of the Milky Way, a collection of bodies whose mass was equal to the whole of the grand universe. All the light coming from stars (superuniverses and outer space bands) on the other side of Havona (setting aside the issue of looking through non-pervaded space discussed above) and just above and below the Milky Way’s central band would be bent towards us and appear compressed together. What we would see is starlight fused into a bright band (see this image of a black hole lensing a galaxy lying somewhere behind it. Now imagine that instead of a single galaxy, we saw the light of thousands smeared out by the gravity of Havona), a halo of light surrounding an empty (dark) region. We do not see anything like this.
Although our view through our galactic center is hazy and the few stars we resolve are within the Milky Way, whatever is beyond the galaxy, it cannot be a mass-collection as great as the rest of the Grand Universe combined. Any large gravitational mass would still distort the light coming from stars (galaxies) on its other side. In short, and again what we would see looking in that direction would not look the same as what we see looking in the opposite direction. But what we see is the same. There cannot be a mass such as the UB describes somewhere on the other side of our galactic center.
While perhaps not UB cosmology’s biggest problem, space respiration is a big one. Briefly put, the volume of “pervaded space”, the horizontal arms of the maltese cross, respires, expands and contracts, in alternating one-billion year cycles [UB 11:6], presumably expanding and compressing the material creation along with the space it occupies. Contraction does not result in a “big crunch” (everything gets crushed together, generating a new big bang), but rather a partial inspiration (contracting) for a billion years before expanding again. Neither the UB nor modern cosmology hints at anything like a mechanism that could drive this process. We are told only that “non-pervaded space”, the vertical section of the maltese cross, also contracts and expands inversely with the pervaded zone. As with other such assertions of the revelators, we are left only with the reasonable assumption that God knows the trick.
Even if real, we cannot measure space respiration directly. We have not been observers on Earth long enough to witness a transition from contraction to expansion (our present condition). If, however, our understanding of how light behaves in an expanding universe (red-shifted), and how it would behave in a contracting universe (blue-shifted), is correct, the alternating expansion and contraction would appear to have visible consequences we do not observe.
There are two issues with space respiration. The first is again the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background light. The UB never says how old the physical universe is. Most readers take it to imply it is older than the 14.8 billion-years cosmologists believe it to be. But even given our age estimates, there would have been seven complete respiration cycles (seven out, seven in, and presently a eighth expansion). It might happen that the universe’s background light is currently at 2.725K (setting aside the consequence of steady-state creation at different times noted above) given a universe that is expanding and contracting in two-billion-year cycles. But remember that the calculated temperature (in 1953 before the CMB was discovered and measured), only four degrees Kelvin off the measured temperature, was based on a model universe expanding continuously for roughly ten billion years.
Even if we assume the universe expands over-all, each expiration leaving the universe a little bigger than it was when the prior inspiration began (more matter being created over time), it seems extraordinarily coincidental that the measured temperature of the light is very close to the theoretical result of light from a big bang and continuous expansion of 14.8 billion years! That coincidence is problematic.
The coincidence regarding the background light’s temperature is not the only observational consequence of space respiration. Suppose we take two very similar stars, A and B (same mass, composition, history, and spectrum), both a few billions of light-years distant, but star B is one billion light-years farther from Earth than star A. Both stars exhibit red-shifted light because we are presently in an expiration (expansion) phase of the respiration cycle. But on its journey to Earth, star B’s light experienced an extra period of blue-shift (being one-billion light-years more distant) than star A. When star B’s photons were as far from Earth as star A, B’s light would be a little bluer than it would, had it not traveled that extra billion years during a contraction phase. Compared to A, star B would appear a little bluer than it should (remember they are identical). By our theories, it should be a little redder being one-billion light-years more distant.
To be clear, star B’s light would still be red-shifted but less red-shifted than star A. When star B’s light, the light we see today, reaches us, its redshift distorts towards the blue. It would appear closer than it is because our theory of light says that “less-red means closer”. Half of the millions of galaxies we see with our telescopes in every direction (roughly those at odd multiples of billion light-year distances from us), would be a little bluer than our cosmological theories predict. From our viewpoint, their cosmological distance would appear closer (less red) than they are.
Looking outward from Earth, for every two-billion light-year increment, half the stars in every direction would appear closer to us than they should! There would appear to be rings, like tree-rings, extending every other billion light-years outwards for as far as we could see. The rings would be an optical illusion, a mirage, an artifact of the stellar spectrum given our current theories. But given our present ideas, the illusion of such rings would be unavoidable and noticeable to astronomers and cosmologists if space respiration were a fact. But we do not see such rings, an illusion that space respiration, if real, would impose on our viewpoint. Space respiration, like the maltese cross, is a fantasy.
According to the UB everything in the universe, other than Paradise, is rotating. Indeed, every layer of the material creation from Havona outwards, the Grand Universe and the four outer-space levels, rotates in a direction opposite the layers adjacent to it [UB 11:7.9]!
There is nothing in the big bang theory that would impart rotation, angular momentum, to the universe. Most cosmologists do not believe the universe is rotating. Imparted by the big bang, rotation would leave a polarization fingerprint on the background light, the CMB. Cosmologists have looked, but see nothing of this so far. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there. In fact there is recent evidence that rotations around multiple axes is possible (see link), while the UB claims but one axis (the semi-symmetrical axis perpendicular to Paradise). Nothing of what has been seen would suggest opposite rotations at different distances from us.
Alternate rotation of successive space-level bands would surely be noticed. Between the Grand Universe and the first outer-space level, the additive effect of rotation in opposite directions would have dramatic effects.
First, within a band, the proportion of galaxies rotating in the direction of band motion would be greater than the differences observed. Between bands, an even greater, alternating, difference would stand out. We would expect more rotation in one direction in nearby space, one-hundred-million light-years, and a billion light-years distant, more in the opposite direction. The small statistical variation in rotation randomness detected (see link above) makes no mention of variation by distance, nor does this earlier paper looking at a single-axis rotation. Second, and much more obviously, all the galaxies in the next outer-band approaching us would exhibit blue-shifted light, while those moving away from us would be more red-shifted than universe expansion could account for.
Despite some controversy over universe rotation as a whole, there can be little doubt the UB claim of alternating directions-of-rotation cannot be true. By any measure of distance, the lack of systematic difference in the color of light produced by bands of galaxies rotating in opposite directions is an irrefutable falsification of the UB claim.
DARK MATTER AND DARK ENERGY
There are two problems in modern cosmology, dark energy and dark matter, that are not mentioned directly in the UB, but bear commenting on in relation to what the book does say. Dark energy (say cosmologists) is what pushes space apart yielding the galaxy recession observations made since the 1920s. The UB has space respiration which has problems discussed above. On the side of physics and cosmology, there is the quantum vacuum, which at least (despite controversy) points at a solution to the dark energy problem.
Dark matter is another problem. It arises from our observation that the stars in the outer areas of a rotating galaxy are moving as fast as stars nearer the galactic center. This violates our understanding of how gravity works. Unless that is, there is much more gravity in and around the galaxy than we can measure by adding up all the stars and gas we detect. “Dark Matter” was proposed (in 1933 by Fritz Zwiky) as a solution to the problem. Think of it as a sort of stand-in for “we do not know what but it has gravity”.
The UB, tells us about entities, “Master Physical Controllers”, “force organizers”, and “Power Centers” [UB 29 all] whose job might just possibly include making that strange behavior happen, some sub-system of their larger-scale organization. Unlike space-respiration, unless one day dark matter is directly detected, there is nothing to be observed that would permit us to tell the difference between the action of controllers and force organizers or dark matter.
Dark matter is among the few cosmological problems not directly informed by the cold light of the CMB. But that light does pose an issue for controllers and other entities organizing physical matter as portrayed in the UB. The cold light is a fingerprint, left by the past, on the present distribution of galactic clusters we see throughout the visible (Earth’s “cosmic horizon”) universe. That fingerprint, plus momentum and gravity (including dark matter), all floating on dark energy, explains the present distribution of all the matter in the visible universe.
Unless the real goal (at least to the fourteen-billion-year stage) of the entities revealed in the UB is the present isotopic and homogeneous distribution we observe, they aren’t doing very much besides turning galaxies into pinwheels. To be sure this is not specifically a problem for UB cosmology as the matter of dark matter lies for the moment beyond our grasp.
In a hierarchy of “big science”, astronomy falls below cosmology. Cosmology is about universe origins and structure over-all. Today, on Earth, cosmology is focused on the background light. Astronomy is about the light of stars, not the background. In this essay, and the UB, the two disciplines cross over in the implications of space respiration and alternate-band-rotation. But those ideas are found nowhere in modern cosmology or astronomy other than the possibility of some over-all universe rotation, and the notion of a permanent, gravity-driven reversal of expansion into a “big crunch” and new big bang.
There is a lot of astronomy in the UB, much of it problematic. As with cosmology, the problem is what the UB says conflicts with our observations. Here, I refer to a more “local neighborhood”, hundreds-of-thousands of light-years and up to a few hundreds-of-millions, but not billions.
What exactly corresponds to the superuniverse of Orvonton? Tom Allen has written “The Great Debate on the Scale of Orvonton” addressing this question in a far more thorough and systematic way than I do here. He also makes a point about time. It is quite reasonable to suppose that the book speaks of two different Orvontons, one as it exists now, and the other as it will exist in the far future. The UB does not differentiate between these, but Mr. Allen’s point is worth bearing in mind in the discussion below.
The UB usually implies Orvonton is the “Milky Way Galaxy”, the issue being what counts as the Milky Way? Our superuniverse is about five-hundred-thousand light-years across [UB 32:2.11]. Now introductory astronomy texts will say the spiral arm galaxy we think of as the Milky Way is about one-hundred-thousand light-years across, but that does not include the now-discovered dozens of satellite galaxies orbiting the spiral part. If Orvonton includes all of these, five-hundred-thousand light-years is a fair (possible) estimate.
About two million light-years from the Milky Way is the spiral galaxy Andromeda and its collection of satellites. Is Andromeda another superuniverse? If it is, the fact that our two galaxies and their satellite collections are careening towards one another at thousands of kilometers an hour should be troubling. It will take millions of years for them to collide, but in the UB’s picture, they shouldn’t be drawing closer to one another at all but preceding in an orderly orbital fashion around the central universe! The UB says Andromeda is not yet inhabited [UB 15:4.7]. If anything, to our telescopes, it looks at least as well organized as our own Milky Way. Why should a well organized star cloud so close to us, in particular compared to all other galaxies in our super-cluster, be uninhabited when we, clearly, are not?
There is another curious thing about the Milky Way and Andromeda. There aren’t any other big galaxies anywhere within a few tens-of-millions of light-years. Some hundred randomly scattered smaller galaxies are in this region, our “local galactic cluster”. Beyond the “local cluster”, there are some hundred-thousand other, mostly small, galaxies and other local clusters out to one-hundred-million light-years! This collection, our super-cluster, is not distributed smoothly in its space but looks more like a chaotic three-dimensional ink-blot. It is called Laniakea, and this link is a computer rendering of it.
This region of space, a bubble some hundred million light-years across, looks nothing like the UB’s description of Orvonton, its ten grand divisions [15:3.4, 41:3.10] and so on. If the UB refers to the far future, it isn’t clear about it, especially if astronomers have supposedly identified eight of the ten divisions [UB 15:3.4]. This would have to mean “future Orvonton” and the eight identified divisions the few near-by galactic clusters identified in the 1930s. Some UB readers have seized on the hundred-thousand figure for the number of galaxies in the super-cluster (a rough estimate which could be substantially high or low, we do not know) and suggest that these galaxies are really what the UB calls “local universes”, the domains of individual Creator Sons. What ever part of the superuniverse these entities represent, they will come to look like the UB description in time.
Entertaining this idea for a moment explains the present chaotic distribution of the super-cluster if it can be shown that some order is being imposed. Is Laniakea more organized today than it was a billion or so years ago? We do not know of course, but our limited observation of relative motions does not suggest any ordering pattern and can seemingly be explained purely by gravity. It might also be that the UB is just plain inconsistent! Moreover, the speculation about entities around our galaxy, all the way out to the super-cluster, does not explain why, looking outward, widening our focus beyond a few hundred million light-years to a billion or more, we do not see one or a few super-clusters around us, but thousands of them in all directions. According to the UB, there are empty spaces, bands of lessened activity, in between bands of galactic creation, the “outer space levels” surrounding the Grand Universe [11:7.7]. Our view reveals nothing like this. To be sure we observe gigantic voids, empty space distributed like holes in Swiss cheese, but nowhere laid out in neat concentric circles.
A NOTE ON THE GREAT ATTRACTOR
The Great Attractor is not a part of UB cosmology or astronomy. It does, however, illustrate what readers sometimes do with bits of space news in effort to reconcile the UB with observations. Some decades ago, shortly after Laniakea’s discovery, it was also discovered that the entire supercluster was moving together in a definite direction and speed that was not, at that time, explainable. The term “great attractor” (GA) was coined in the early 2000s by Lynden-Bell as a stand-in for whatever it is that is pulling us along, at the time, an unknown gravitational source. Some UB readers speculated that the GA was Havona. I have already noted the effect on our observations that Havona would impose, and in the last few years, the GA has proven explainable after all.
There are not one but two Laniakea-sized superclusters out ahead of us in our line of flight, one a hundred-million light-years ahead of Laniakea, the other a hundred-million beyond the first. By contrast, behind us, in a direction opposite these two superclusters, there is a void, a bubble of mostly nothing some five-hundred-million light-years wide. Two superclusters lie in one direction, with nothing to counterbalance their gravity in the other. That explains both the direction and speed of our motion.
A MISSING SUPERUNIVERSE?
If the shape of the universe is the UB’s biggest problem cosmologically speaking, nothing more illustrates the book’s internal inconsistency better than this issue of Orvonton. The UB does not tell us if superuniverses evolve together or if number one somewhat precedes two, and so on down to number seven, Orvonton. Either way we should, from our perspective in Orvonton, see two (at least) other superuniverses, number one out in whatever direction we are moving, and number six on our other side.
If the Milky Way is Orvonton, then Andromeda is a natural candidate for one of the other inhabited superuniverses. But there is nothing comparable to Andromeda on the other side of us, and moreover, the UB explicitly denies Andromeda is inhabited! If Andromeda is not inhabited it cannot be superuniverse one or six. What then of Laniakea, our enormous hundred-million-light-year-spanning supercluster? Surely it is possible there are uninhabited regions of Orvonton, but of the hundred-thousand or so galaxies comprising Laniakea, the two largest and most obviously developed are Andromeda and the Milky Way.
If Laniakea is Orvonton, then there are two other superclusters (Shapley the nearest) out in one direction, but nothing, a gigantic empty void, in the other. If Shapley is superuniverse number one (we are moving in its direction), there is nothing to Laniakea’s opposite side representing number six. Perhaps Orvonton is even bigger than Laniakea? Astronomers have recently mapped a gigantic supercluster, outside Laniakea, that wraps more than half-way around it they call the “south pole wall” (see link). Such speculation can go on forever, but long before we reach the south polar wall we have left Orvonton’s association with the Milky Way far behind.
No matter what collection (the local cluster, the local sheet, and so on) we suppose might be Orvonton the selection of what would have to be universe numbers one and six would be arbitrary. No matter what we want to call inhabited superuniverses, however we group the galaxies, everything around them would have to be “outer space” and so moving in a direction opposite to our counter-clockwise rotation around Havona. We do not see any such behavior anywhere. The entire Laniakea cluster is moving in roughly the same direction.
The two scales, billions of light-years and hundreds of millions of light-years, are problematic for the UB. Neither should look like it does. Below these scales, in the millions of light-years and less, what the UB says is equally problematic.
If the Milky Way is Orvonton, even at five-hundred-thousand light-year across, the local universe of Nebadon is only one-hundred-thousandth part of it [UB 15:13.1]. Even were the Milky Way a sphere half a million light-years in diameter, each local universe would have a diameter considerably less than ten-thousand light-years (5.3 thousand by my calculation, but let’s be generous). Inside its volume must be ten-thousand system and one-hundred constellation headquarter collections (100 constellations each with 100 systems) [UB 15:2.4, 15:2.5]. Each system would be only a few hundred light-years across (500 by my calculation see below and note on the calculation at end of essay).
The UB claims that these headquarters worlds are lit by suns that give light but no heat [UB 15:6.3, 15:7.1], but it also says that the people of these worlds can see ordinary stars external to the headquarters. If they can see out, we can see in. Astronomers have mapped every star within a thousand light-years of Earth in every conceivable electromagnetic wavelength from the X-ray to the infrared. If, in the volume encompassed by that radius from Earth, any stars radiate visible light but no infrared, we would surely have noticed. A system-headquarters collection of 50 worlds [UB 15:7.5] with multiple suns, of any sort, only a few hundred light-years distant would stand out.
If the Milky Way is really the local universe, and Laniakea is the superuniverse, the nearest system headquarters could be thousands of light-years distant, and we have not mapped every star out that far. But there is no support for this idea in the UB. The book’s “Milky Way” is bigger than our Milky Way, by a factor between two and five (diameter, not volume and depending on where one draws the satellite boundary), not the two-hundred times required by associating Orvonton with Laniakea! There is only a convenient coincidence, astronomer’s estimates (which could be far off) of about one-hundred-thousand galaxies in Laniakea.
Below the galactic scale, there are, in the UB, many troubling assertions about stars. Astronomers estimate our sun will remain stable for another four or five billion years. The UB says twenty [UB 41:9.5]. This discrepancy is nothing like the all-or-nothing universe morphology problem. If stars act on (or are acted upon) energies we cannot detect (next paragraph), they might well extend the stable life of a star.
The book says that “ordinary sun(s)” can give out heat and light for trillions of years [UB 15:6.4]. Not only is this in conflict with modern astrophysical theory supported by observation, but it contradicts the twenty-five billion figure in paper 41. To some extent, the contradiction depends on what is meant by “ordinary suns” (see below on red-dwarfs). The book also says that suns, under certain (otherwise unspecified) conditions, transform and accelerate “energies of space which come their way established space circuits” [UB 15:6.4], implying the sun’s heat is being utilized, or augmented, in ways that should impact our observations. If stars, our own and others around us, are so affected by these energies their lifetimes extend by one or two orders of magnitude, our measurements of their light would be inconsistent with our astrophysical theories.
Astrophysics deals with the physics of stars, what makes them tick. The UB’s brief description of the process is consistent with what was known in the 1920s & 30s and remains true, if over-simplified, today. The UB description includes the special role of carbon in the fusion process [UB 41.8.1], something first proposed (by George Gamow) in 1923. The first sentence of this paragraph is put interestingly: “In those suns which are circuited in the space-energy channels, solar energy is liberated by various complex nuclear-reaction chains, the most common of which is the hydrogen-carbon-helium reaction.”
Gamow won a Nobel prize in physics for his discovery of this process. All-stars, at least all-stars very roughly similar to our sun, undergo the same carbon-catalytic reaction. Perhaps all those we see are circuited, but more problematic, the parameters of our equations and their theoretical results exactly match our observations of stellar behavior without having to account for gaps where contributions from “space-energy channels” had any impact. If undetectable energies were affecting solar output, the stellar spectrum should not be what our equations predict, and we observe.
There is no astrophysical evidence that any of the tens of thousands of stars we’ve examined and cataloged are affected by anything other than their gravity, pressure, temperature, and metal content reflected in their spectrum. The first three determine the rate of hydrogen fusion, while the metals content, in conjunction with ongoing gravitational contraction [UB 41:8.2], determine what happens after the hydrogen supply is nearly exhausted. Our sun, says the UB, will undergo a period of stable decline as long as it’s present middle age and youth combined, a total of over fifty billion years [UB 41:9.5]. Do encircuited suns decline? If so, is encircuitment the difference between the UB’s fifty-billion-year stable life and decline, and the more disconcerting six-to-eight billion-years before, in the estimate of astrophysicists, our declining sun becomes a red giant and swallows the orbits the inner planets? The UB tells us that some suns go on forever [UB 41:7.7].
Modern astronomy does recognize that the most common stars in the universe (perhaps half of all-stars) are red-dwarfs and some astronomers believe such stars might shine for a trillion years (a hundred-billion being a more commonly cited figure) given only the hydrogen with which they begin their lives. Still, the red-dwarfs we observe and have cataloged match our theoretical predictions, again having nothing to do with unknown “energies of space”. They appear to use their fuel as we would expect, given their mass, temperature, and so on.
We also know that such suns are electromagnetic nightmares not suitable for biological evolution as we imagine that process. But what the UB considers habitable and what present science thinks are “habitable limits” are very different (see UB paper 49). Unlike the stars, galaxies, and universe shape, neither our concept of life nor our extrasolar planetary astronomy is up to the task of comparing what we observe to what the UB says is the case. Holding judgment in abeyance, however, is not simply to accept the UB. Like the “Maltese Cross”, space respiration, and alternate-rotations, we have to assume that God (and his agents) could foster such radical living forms. All the same, worlds without atmosphere [UB 49:6] hosting living beings may be as much a fantasy as the other three problematic claims noted above.
There are issues with UB “space science” at every level, and the problems get worse as one goes up in scale. Whether our sun is stable for six billion or twenty-five-billion more years is immaterial to our short lives on Earth. The superuniverse problem is a little worse. If a seraphic transport can travel three times light speed [UB 23:3.2] and spiritually advanced mortals awaken three periods (Earth days?) after death [UB 49:6.8], then the system headquarters can be, at most, three light-days distant (this conundrum well noted by readers fifty years ago). Given that our nearest stellar neighbor is four light-years away, I should not have to explain why there can be nothing as significant as a system headquarters (fifty worlds and some number of suns) so close to us.
Other calculations produce similarly problematic results. There are one-billion systems in Orvonton (100,000 LU x 10,000 systems/LU). Even if we assume Orvonton is a sphere (very generous) with a radius of two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand light-years, the average radius of each system could be no more than two-hundred-and-fifty light-years (see note at the end of the essay on this calculation). Although out of reach for a three-day trip at triple-light-speed, that distance is close enough for us to detect a collection of so many worlds and suns.
Moving up the galaxy scale to supercluster, the conflict between the UB and present astronomical data gets worse. George Park is one of the “UB astronomers” who introduced the idea that Orvonton is the Laniakea supercluster spanning nearly one-hundred-million light-years, ignoring the UB’s plain statement of Orvonton’s size (500,000 light-years). John Causland also has a presentation on “UB Astronomy”, which he introduces by noting that the book’s claims do not match modern observations, but, he says, if we look at what is said in the context of 1920s cosmology, the book makes sense. That isn’t quite true. Even in the 1930s astronomers understood enough about the physics of light, and telescopes were powerful enough, to reject UB claims about space respiration and alternate-rotations if astronomers had become aware of them. Back in those days, the book’s assertions about planets, suns, and even the Milky Way, plausible-seeming for the average educated reader, would be rejected by real astronomers. In particular (and especially), the “maltese cross”, the idea of a bilaterally-symmetrical universe, is not to be found in the cosmological literature of any period.
Acknowledging the “times of the writing”, however, does not address the bigger problem: modern observations at both astronomical and cosmological scales make much of what the UB claims is the case not merely implausible, but impossible! There is nothing about Laniakea that looks like the UB’s description of a more-or-less orderly super-universe, and as we pan out to a view billions of light-years across, the universe seems nothing like what the UB describes! Not only are there millions of superclusters in every direction, but there isn’t the slightest evidence of a massive gravitational center in any direction!
UB theology is centered on God, who is spirit. But God himself resides on Paradise, which has to be the center of the physical universe! In the time-space realms, the UB informs us, spiritual beings live on physical worlds [12:8.1]. We cannot elide the headquarters location problem by suggesting that collections of architectural worlds (and in particular their suns) cannot be detected with our physical instruments. Where are they? Moving up in scale, we have the problem of reconciling the UB picture with an isotropic and centerless universe originating in a big bang and now cooled down for near fifteen-billion years.
Our theories of the big bang well describe everything we observe in the physical cosmos given an age of fifteen-billion years. All the present controversy surrounding the big bang is about what happens in its first three seconds! Three seconds marks the time of nucleosynthesis, the formation of protons and neutrons, nuclei of hydrogen, helium, and a little lithium, from the quark and radiation soup. Despite many unknowns, the structure of the present universe we see follows comfortably from our theories beginning with nucleosynthesis! To suggest that all our evidence-based conclusions are an illusion is not credible, revelatory claims notwithstanding.
These cosmological and astronomical issues do not render post-mortal survival and ascension impossible. The UB’s God certainly has the power to arrange for survival and ascension into and through the universe as we perceive it, not to mention creation via a big bang. If the revelators could forecast our scientific progress for the next thousand years (their record is terrible less than 100 years out), why make up this fantasy universe architecture, and why say so much about cosmology and astronomy that today, only 66 years after publication, is so obviously false? If the revelators were not permitted to reveal the big bang, why make up a fantasy? Why not merely tell us about the soul, post-mortal personality reconstitution, the general nature of descendent personalities, and so on without embedding the descriptions in a fantasy universe?
My theory is that it all has something to do with drama. One purpose of the book’s ascension story is to drive home the truth that perfection in God’s terms is a long educational process. If the revelators merely described the survival mechanism without a physical stage on which all plays out (not to mention many now-unlikely-to-be-true statements about the physical and biological history of Earth — a subject for another paper), the UB would be half its size. Readers would come away with little in the way of appreciation for the scope and complexity of the process. In short, the authors created a fantasy universe to emphasize the drama and adventure of the ascension. The purpose of the fantasy universe is literary!
______ A few notes ______
NOTE: Evidence for the Big Bang
- Assuming the big bang, the temperature of the “first light” (photons) in the universe (the Cosmic Microwave Background [CMB]) was calculated in the early 1950s (by Russian physicist George Gamow) and found, in 1965 to be within four degrees (Kelvin) of its predicted value. Importantly this radiation is identical (down to ten-thousandths of a degree) in every direction we look, impossible if UB cosmology were true.
- Assuming the big bang, physicists (in the 1970s) realized there must be a background neutrino temperature a little cooler than the background photon temperature. This difference is due to the universe becoming transparent to neutrinos three seconds after the big bang, while photons are not liberated from the radiation for three-hundred-seventy thousand years (see the “recombination event”). The neutrino background temperature was measured in 2010 and found to be one-one-hundredth of a degree off its predicted value.
- Assuming the big bang, the pressure of the early universe would cause compression waves to bounce around through the initially very dense and hot universe; literally reflecting off the limits of the universe at that time. Sound is a compression wave, and this prediction means that the expanding universe would have “rung like a bell” for a period. As the universe expanded, the wavelength of these echoes lengthens their frequency drops. Eventually (at recombination, see link above), the density of the expanding universe drops below the value required to support compression waves leaving a frozen wave, a small density gradient in the distribution of matter reflected in the microwave background. Cosmologists predicted the frequency and amplitude of this frozen wave (and its first few harmonics) in the late 20th Century. In the first decade of the 21st Century cosmologists measured both to be exactly what was predicted (see “The Music of the Big Bang”  by Amadeo Balbi, and these links [graph], [article]).
- When instruments became sensitive enough, cosmologists found tiny differences (ten-thousandths of a degree) in the CMB. The big bang theory says these small differences, mapped accurately enough, should predict the present distribution of galaxies (the slightly cooler spots being where galactic clusters would form). Such accurate mapping was achieved in the 2010s, and the map does indeed predict precisely where galactic clusters are found today.
- The distribution of stars, their color and size, along with our calculations of stellar life well matches (it is what we would expect to find) a roughly fifteen-billion-year-old universe!
Item (1) above was the first evidence of the big bang. Items (2-4) would be extraordinarily coincidental if the big bang is not real.
NOTE: Calculation of System (for example Satania) radius. Assume Orvonton is a sphere of radius 250,000ly
- Find cubic light-years in Orvonton (radius of 250,000ly) Pi(2.5x10e5)e3 = 4.9x10e16 = culyOrv
- Find the cubic light-years in a system. There are 1 billion systems in Orvonton (100.000 local universes times 100 constellations times 100 systems (4.9x10e16/1x10e9) = 4.9x10e7 culySys
- Find radius cubed of system (culySys/Pi) = 15,605,095
- Take cube root of radius-cubed for radius = 249.9 light-years!
58 thoughts on “Problems with the Cosmology and Astronomy of The Urantia Book”
I think it is interesting that your calculation of 249.9ly for system radius can be divided by the maximum speed of seraphic transport (3c) to yield 83.3 years – the exact span of planetary time between the arrival of the Material Son and Daughter and the beginning of construction of their vast Garden Home. (73.2.2 page 822).
Interesting because Van would probably not have urged his fellows to undertake that gigantic project before receiving confirmation that the Material Pair had been assigned to Urantia (or had departed Jerusem).
This squares with the teaching that Urantia is on the outer fringe of the system, there being only one inhabited solar system lying at a greater distance from the capital than our own (41.10.6).
Hi John.. Thank you for the comment. Surprised you found this. I’m having a lot of problems with WordPress new software interface. Trying to work with their support. Meanwhile to your comment. Van knew a material pair would be next (however long it required) and he was effectively immortal along with Amadon. That [immortality] would be enough to convince human followers of his (their) “specialness” and so motivate them to do that work generation after generation. I do not understand your timing claim however… The “legitimacy” of the rebellion was debated for 7 years (paper 67). Between the rebellion and the arrival of A&E was over 150,000 years. For some HQ to communicate to Van (on a then isolated world for that matter) only 83 days after the rebellion seems a stretch. If I’m not mistaken just such a message was blocked for thousands of years (67:6.9).
Well I wrote 83.3 years, not days.
And I was writing about seraphic transport travel-times, not communications.
And this has nothing to do with the rebellion, but with the period c.36000 BC, (shortly after Tabamantia’s visit and his subsequent approval of the planet for reception of a material pair).
Garden construction had been underway for about 83 years when the pair arrived. I was suggesting that, by your calculations, it would take the transports about 83 years to bring the pair to Urantia at 3Xspeed of light. I was suggesting that the narrative corroborates your calculation.
Your response has me wondering about my ability to convey any thought whatsoever.
I missed that “years” sorry… But still, while a handy coincidence, that just reemphasizes other issues like how anybody can wake up in “three periods”, which we all take to be days, but I realize doesn’t have to be… Still, 83 years is three of what? I appreciate your comments. Have you seen the book by Tom Allen “The Great Debate on the Size of Orvonton”? The e-book is only $0.99 on amazon. Short little book. I’m reading it now.
I wrote “3c” as shorthand for 3 times the speed of light (sorry) – that is the maximum speed of seraphic transport according to the Urantia Book.
83 years is the time necessary to traverse your own estimated system radius of 249.9ly at max serpahic velocity (“3c”). (249.9/3=83.3).
“Handy coincidence?” “Other issues?” But I see no reason to bring up the so-called “three periods,” which relate to adjuster velocities (and have nothing to do with “earth days,” in my opinion). Certainly there is no reason to mention it in a discussion of seraphic travel time between a system capital and an outer planet.
I am getting no sense that I have made myself clear to you, nor have I any reason to believe that you have bothered to understand me in the context of my citations of the UB. This is frustrating. I feel like I am speaking a language other than English with you lol. Never mind. This happens too often with me lol. Anyway it’s just a “pet” theory of mine.
I do not know why you should be frustrated. I am not arguing with you. I know 3c no issue there. I’m sure you know there has been an ongoing debate over what exactly is Orvonton (have you read Tom Allen’s fine little book, I am reading it now). My figure for radius of system based on a single assumption, that Orvonton is a sphere 500kly in diameter thus including all the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies! That is a reasonable assumption based on the UB, but not the only possible one. None of this addresses the 3-day problem
Do you leave room for the concept that the term “universe” is being misunderstood here? There’s a fundamental, and potentially flawed, assumption being made here which is that the observable universe is the entirety of the universe described in UB. It stands to reason, especially considering the morontia existence as explained, that our observable universe is merely one physical existence of many with the real “universe” existing outside the scope of our direct observation. It can both be true that the big bang is our best understanding of how the physical universe began, and that this big bang is not the beginning of all creation — merely the beginning of the physical creation of this specific physical universe.
Yes, I get it.. In fact I began a paper with that idea in mind, but in the end could not make it sensible (to myself and I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer). I have 2 problems with the idea. 1) the UB statement of steady-state creation would be contradicted by such phenomena (we would not likely be the only part of the universe born this way). 2) if your idea were so our universe would be much much bigger than the UB describes. We are told of 70,000 galaxies in the first outer space level, and that whatever is going on beyond that is not yet manifest as visible entities.. Yet as Earth astronomers look out [in any direction] we see millions, if not billions, of galaxies. How can this be so if we are seeing only a small part of the Master Universe?
I agree, that is possibly going against observations. However, I once considered an interesting theory before my time with the UB that considered the idea that, perhaps, the edge of what in this case would be “our” observable universe is essentially reflective. Thus, like a hall of mirrors, one could have 70,000 galaxies and to our observation it would appear to be billions or trillions more — each essentially a reflection of a past state of the 70,000. There is some interest to this theory, because as the UB points out there is vast quantities of space “undeveloped”… Thus, light traveling across that undeveloped space may take an incredibly long amount of time to both cross the void to hit the edge and reflect back to something we can observe — giving the impression of a vastly more populated universe of unique galaxies from a relatively small concrete number of them. In reality, we would simply be seeing one of the 70,000 galaxies at an ancient state.
Aloha Quine Atal
here is a comment I made today on the Facebook group ‘Urantia’
from what I understand of relativity as one approaches the speed of light time stops
this implies that at faster than light travel ‘relative’ time would go backward
thus a seraphim at three times light speed could arrive at a distant point ‘B’ before the departure from ‘A’, the point of origin, relatively speaking, this is NOT time travel as the destination is a different location with a different time frame
thus the proverbial third day [wink]
16:9.14 We worship God, first, because he is, then, because he is in us, and last, because we are in him.
Jesus in me loves Jesus in you — “Be of good cheer.” (100:7.9) — [in other words] — smile’
further replies by me [quotes from google searches]
“In the limit that its speed approaches the speed of light in vacuum, its space shortens completely down to zero width and its time slows down to a dead stop.”
“A tachyon (/ˈtækiɒn/) or tachyonic particle is a hypothetical particle that always travels faster than light. … Tachyons would also exhibit the unusual property of increasing in speed as their energy decreases, and would require infinite energy to slow down to the speed of light.
Can Tachyons go back in time?
The answer lies in tachyons. These are particles with imaginary mass that can be thought of as traveling backwards in time. They move faster than light, and slowing down to the speed of light would be as impossible for them as it is for us to accelerate to light speed.”
It has always been curious to me that revelatory even mentioned these speeds and days, etc. The light-speed restriction applies only to *material* objects.. Since angels and ascenders, etc are not material by our standards, the restriction should not apply..
I love tachyons. Alas, they are hypothetical and so far no evidence they exist.
Aloha Quine Atal
I wrote this reply to a similar objection on the Urantia Facebook group:
material phenomenon or not how can you show that transport seraphim are not affected by the reversal of time relative to their superluminal velocity??
the transport seraphim have “friction shields” therefore they react to matter therefore the realities of relativity of time apply to them
39:5.12 (438.5) The erroneous idea that angels possess wings is not wholly due to olden notions that they must have wings to fly through the air. Human beings have sometimes been permitted to observe seraphim that were being prepared for transport service, and the traditions of these experiences have largely determined the Urantian concept of angels. In observing a transport seraphim being made ready to receive a passenger for interplanetary transit, there may be seen what are apparently double sets of wings extending from the head to the foot of the angel. In reality these wings are energy insulators—friction shields.
matter and energy are interrelated
morontia matter has relativity to morontia energy
0:5.12 (9.2) Morontia is a term designating a vast level intervening between the material and the spiritual. It may designate personal or impersonal realities, living or nonliving energies. The warp of morontia is spiritual; its woof is physical.
also I believe that the Papers references to cosmology are allegorical, that is a story told to illustrate a higher truth this confirmed by the disclaimer “the Limitations of Revelation” tho this section claims the authoritative elimination of error attributed to past revelations cosmology I believe this relates to things like a flat earth or the sun stopping in the sky or a 6 day creation
16:9.14 We worship God, first, because he is, then, because he is in us, and last, because we are in him.
Jesus in me loves Jesus in you — “Be of good cheer.” (100:7.9) — [in other words] — smile
Hello Dennis.. Been a long time. Interesting speculation morontia-energy -> morontia-relativity. Coupled with time-reversal would always solve the 3-day-problem. But nowhere does the UB suggest that time can be or is ever reversed. You know what they say about speculation. Even in physical relativity time reversal only happens when a material object goes *faster* than light, and that is ruled out (as a physical possibility) by the same relativity.
I am curious what you mean by UB cosmology being allegorical? Perhaps you meant metaphorical? If not, could you spell out the allegory?
But transport speed aside, my feeling is that the cosmology, astronomy, and a large part of the biology (maybe another paper) are now so out of sync with what has been discovered since 1955 that much of it was invented whole cloth for the purpose of laying a foundation for the ascension story (or human history for the biology) and has little relation to any facts-of-the-matter except as concerns minor details (known at the time) thrown into the story to give it a scientific-seeming foundation.
Aloha Quine Atal
you write “But nowhere does the UB suggest that time can be or is ever reversed. ”
it is no more the reversal of time than is that of one flying East across a few time zones that one does not reverse time when one gets on a 5 hour flight and gets off at a local time only 2 hours later than the time one boarded the Plane
the universe is measured in light years with the oldest light ~13 billion years old
in our current time frame we view light that is sometimes very very old light viewing both distance and the past simultaneously
If one leaves point A, having its own specific time frame, and travels to point B, with its own specific time frame, at faster than light speed, IF relativity applies, then one could arrive at B at a different earlier time frame than the current time frame at point A
the time that point A experiences is a NOW moment
therefor when we view galaxies a billion light years distant there in that time frame there was also a NOW moment, supposing some intelligence was aware of its passage; by exceeding the speed at which that light arrived in a reverse time direction must arrive at an earlier time than the observed
light arrived was generated
you ask : “I am curious what you mean by UB cosmology being allegorical? Perhaps you meant metaphorical? If not, could you spell out the allegory?”
I mean allegorical, a story within a story; the Papers cosmology tells a higher truth that the universe is deliberative/purposeful; inhabited; governed; evolving; loving; spiritual; while telling the story of a physical reality which does not conform to our own due to the mandate limiting revelation
16:9.14 We worship God, first, because he is, then, because he is in us, and last, because we are in him.
Jesus in me loves Jesus in you — “Be of good cheer.” (100:7.9) — [in other words] — smile
Hi Dennis… I think you mean flying WEST, but your solution is too ad hoc for my taste. Given everything else, it just makes more sense to say (IMHO) that about these matters resting on “not inspired” cosmology, the UB is not only wrong but inconsistent and contradictory. There is no point arguing about where Satania can be found if the book is inconsistent about the boundaries of Orvonton (now or in the future), and it makes no sense to argue about the boundaries of Orvonton if the bilaterally-symmetrical universe with a center having “mass greater than the Grand Universe combined” is a fiction. The next problem “up the chain” as it were, is the ascension scheme. As pointed out in the article, a fictional physical cosmology does not preclude ascension. But it does make that part of the story allegorical.
As for all the rest of the UB (except some of the human-history story suffering from analogous problems) I remain convinced that there is revelatory material in it. I’ve read lots of human theology and except on the matter of the phenomenal experience of God (for example Buber’s “I and Thou”), there is no human-authored theology or philosophy of religion (and I have read dozens) that even comes close to the UB. To my mind that has to mean something too.
Aloha Quine Atal
I live in Hawaii to the East is CA
there is a 2 or 3 hour time zone difference depending on whether or not it is daylight savings as Hawaii does not use daylight savings no spring forward fall back,
if I were to fly for 5 hours east to CA during daylight savings when I departed the plane it would only be 2 hours later in CA than the time I took off in Hawaii, I have experienced this many times
I agree the cosmology is wrong but the spiritual [revelatory] content of the Papers is illuminating
16:9.14 We worship God, first, because he is, then, because he is in us, and last, because we are in him.
Jesus in me loves Jesus in you — “Be of good cheer.” (100:7.9) — [in other words] — smile
We agree then on both!
I read the article and the comments. Fascinating! I am not an expert, however I am interested in all cosmology and reading the UB for many years. Why then the false cosmology? It shakes me to the core. I am not a science head so i take your analysis at its face value.
Thank you for your comment Doina. A reader of the UB since 1976 I am not a professional cosmologist, but I’ve been reading cosmology for years, and since the 2000s, with the advent of neutrino and gravitational wave astronomy, it has become (in my opinion) impossible to deny (or refute) the broad outlines of modern cosmology (the Big Bang for example) which utterly contradict the UB on the subject.
As for your question, why the false cosmology, I have no good answer.
When has our species ever properly understood what we perceived of cosmology in the past? — If never, then why should we assume that we properly understand what we perceive of cosmology now, even though we have better telescopes and more advanced physics and mathematics?
Better telescopes (and now neutrino and gravitational wave detection) and the physics *are* the reasons we can assume we have a much better idea of what is going on now than we did in the past. Many *independent* lines of evidence cannot be ignored
You painstakingly demonstrated how unreliable the cosmology in the Urantia papers is, only to wave it away in such an absurd manner. Dramatic effect?
The papers are inconsistent with empirical data on esoteric matters as well, as any minimally practiced occultist or mystic can attest to.
Why make unfounded excuses for them? It’s a beautiful book, but it’s not Truth.
Ok, that’s one view, but I’m not an occultist either. The theology, I believe, is the revelation. Everything else a story to illustrate it. Probably from Sadler’s head.
Interesting read Matthew. I have myself been perplexed by some of the science in the UB. I began doing astrophotography several months ago (it’s complicated!) and am particularly disturbed by the UB’s assertion that the Andromeda galaxy is about a million LY from earth. This figure is wrong, four different scientific ways of measuring distance have concluded that Andromeda is about 2.57 LY from earth. Is it just a typo or mistake? Why would the authors say that they cannot give us “unearned knowledge”, when the vast amount of material in the UB is in fact “unearned knowledge”, i.e. the mansion worlds, the thought-adjuster, the daily whereabouts of Jesus, etc. etc. Hmm, a lot to consider.
I hope you are well, have a happy new year!
p.s. Here’s my first photo of the Andromeda galaxy, taken from my backyard:
Hi Jerry! Your camera is amazing! Beautiful picture!
Yeah there are a lot of problems with the UB picture of the universe. The last time we met (at Conde’s) I told you I can no longer unqualifiedly recommend the UB to a scientifically educated person.
Nice to hear from you again.
Well, I haven’t made any decisions about that, the UB continues to be an enigma, a mystery and a perplexing literary work, all rolled into one.
As soon as my inner skeptic asserts itself, something else in the UB causes me to “doubt the doubter” in myself. Even regards to some of the science in the book, for example plate tectonics and the origin of the myth of the star of Bethlehem. I ran a simulation this evening on my astronomy software and sure enough there was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on May 29, September 29 and December 5 in the year 6 BC in the constellation of Pisces. The discrepancy is that the UB says these conjunctions occurred in the year 7 BC; but this might be because there’s probably some confusion as to how to deal with year 0 AD, or is it 1 AD?
Some of the science in the UB has proven to be wrong (like the distance to Andromeda) but some have been proven correct, and future scientific discoveries may change that relationship as well.
No doubt the UB is fallible–anything we humans have involvement with has to be.
Perhaps faith in God and divine realities and faith in the UB are not exactly synonymous…
Hi Jerry.. I think the theology is the revelation. Mixed in is a lot of passable science related to what was known by the late 40s (plates were suspected by then). It’s not all bad…
I wonder if Matthew is right, that the revelators threw in the science to create literary drama?
Or did they include the science knowing that the 20th century (and beyond) mind was sufficiently sophisticated that they were perhaps “trying too hard” to impress upon us the need to remove superstition from true religion? I don’t know of course.
I agree, the UB is primarily, first and foremost, a tool for personal, spiritual and moral growth. For me, it’s a map, a guide, a set of ideas that motivate me to change, evolve and become self-aware to the limits of my capacity. Science is always in a state of revision and change, perhaps in the future we will see more congruence between science and the UB, or, perhaps not.
There are also a lot of problems with our current scientific understanding of the universe. It was only 100 years ago that we were arguing about whether the Andromeda galxy was a nebula inside the Milky Way or whether it was a separate galaxy. I wonder what science will be like in 100 years from now when they look back on everything it got wrong today?
And you’re right in your last sentence..
Hi Jerry.. There are lots of problems with the UB’s picture of the universe. The last time we met (Conde’s) I told you I can’t unqualifiedly recommend the UB to a scientifically educated person. That’s why.
The UB is not a science book. Its spiritual content is far more important–and more unique– than any other source on earth. As I think, re-think and re-re-think about it, it’s most likely that the revelators gave us “unearned knowledge” regarding spiritual matters (the adjuster, the mansion worlds, paradise, the origins of Urantia, the myriad of celestial beings that inhabit the cosmos, etc.) simply because we will never “earn” this knowledge through science or through the scientific method. The UB does say that much of the science in the book will be outdated-and soon, by new human discoveries. In some cases it’s possible that the UB will predict discoveries that science has yet to make. But this is not the essence of this book, its essence is to aid in the spiritual evolution of humankind.
I personally would recommend the UB to scientifically-educated people because our evolution, both culturally and individually, does not depend upon merely knowing data, facts and truths about the physical universe, but equally upon our living ethical, moral, and spiritual lives–living with love and practicing kindness, fairness, patience and mercy. A scientist needs to learn that as much as a non-scientist.
You are right about the UB and in this paper I list the core of the spiritual teachings (besides the Jesus papers), papers 1-10 and 99-118. But there is much more scattered around. The scientifically educated must be warned about this or they will reach the cosmology and throw the book out. That’s the problem… But things are more complicated that that. The cosmology is not just a little wrong it’s self-contradictory–what it says about Orvonton and Andromeda given what our part of the cosmos from the local cluster up to the super cluster looks like. Why, we must ask, would genuine revelators contradict themselves.
Marvelous as the spiritual teachings are (and I agree they are) these issues have no ready solution
Jerry Gerger wrote: “the UB’s assertion that the Andromeda galaxy is about a million LY from earth.”
The Urantia Book doesn’t assert that. Read the text carefully.
Is the UB science contradictory, or is it we humans that are contradictory? I don’t ask this rhetorically because I am not sure. I do know that science is, and will, continue to change and evolve, whereas the UB will not.
I’ve struggled for years trying to understand whether Orvonton and the Milky Way or synonymous. One UB reader I spoke to (not a scientist or astronomer) said “of course they’re the same, the UB says so”. But it’s really not clear. And it’s not clear if a local universe is the same thing as a part of the galaxy, whether it’s an entire galaxy or whether it’s a local group of galaxies. We can have strong opinions either way, but strong opinions do not necessarily equal fact.
Early humans thought the earth was flat because the horizon appears to be so. In the 11th century, many people believed the sun revolves around the earth–because it appears to do that. So, how do we know that due to our location within the galaxy, that we’re miscalculating many things as well? How can we be sure that what appears to be so isn’t really so?
We know the blackbody radiation, the redshift and the expansion of the cosmos are congruent with all of our observations and measurements, the evidence is there. But from that evidence we created the “big-bang theory”, which, of course, is only a theory. We do not have evidence for the origins of the cosmos, we have evidence for the redshift, the expansion and the blackbody radiation. So we interpret that evidence and come up with a theory. But it may very well be wrong.
Today in our study group we started reading paper 57 that states that the earliest origins of the nebula from which our sun was born began 987 billion years ago when it was determined that a star-producing nebula would be suitable to create at that location in space. Do you think our science will ever be able to prove that statement true or false? 987 billion is a far cry from 15 or 16 billion, which in itself is being challenged by what the JWST is now seeing. Many astrophysicists are expressing various degrees of misgivings about the big bang theory and I would not be surprised if these doubts grow larger with every passing decade.
If a scientist dismisses the science in the UB because much, or some of it, doesn’t jive with current scientific knowledge it may be simply what the revelators told us, which is that the science in the UB corresponds to human scientific knowledge around the time the UB was being transmitted and/or published. The UB says that the science in it is not inspired and will become outdated as scientists learn more and have better tools to study the cosmos with.
The UB is fallible, simply because anything human beings are involved with is fallible. But rather than torture myself over the perceived problems of the science in the UB I tend to focus on the profound spirituality that the book inspires. A book that helps move us towards a personal philosophy that embraces moral, emotional, spiritual and intellectual growth is welcome. A book that tells us that religion must free itself from superstition, dogma, misogyny, nationalism, materialism, sexism, racism and the practice of war is a book I wholeheartedly endorse. God knows our planet is suffering from all of these things as we are temporarily moving backwards in too many ways to count.
A lot of food for though here. I have more questions than answers…
There are a lot of observations yet to be explained. JWST images are triggering a lot of rethinking but nothing brings over-all observations closer to the UB’s picture–for example that on largest scales the cosmos looks the same in every direction, flatly contradicting the UB picture.
Really tho I’m with you, the “science” parts are not so important. I wrote this essay because I was tired of reading UB fundamentalists trying to rationalize the discrepancies. It’s better (IMHO) to recognize there is a problem (with the UB) and let it go at that.
Speaking of cosmology, I created this short, 6 minute video using one of my musical compositions as the soundtrack to my astrophotography. I recommend a large computer screen, high-quality speakers or better yet, headphones, and take your mind off this confused world for a few moments…
[video src="https://www.jerrygerber.com/video/The%20Galaxies.mp4" /]
Thanks Jerry. I will have a listen!
By way of introduction, I’m Bob Boden, and have read and studied the UB since 1970. I was an early FUSLA (First Urantia Society of Los Angeles) member…#78 as I recall. I knew Julia Fenderson quite well… she sponsored my membership, and met Emma (Christy) Christensen in 1973. From such folks as these I’ve heard first-hand a number of stories about Sadler and Urantia apocrypha. I knew Vern Grimsley more than a decade before his great unraveling. I’ve read the book from cover to cover on multiple occasions and my wife and I hosted study groups for many years. For nearly 50 of those years I was confident of the authenticity of the book. I am no longer.
I decided to write this after reading your essay. We have both taken the increasingly apparent inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the UB under consideration. The improbability of a physical universe as described in the book, and the impact that has on the personality ascension scheme, combines with questions about book origins to cast increasing doubt in my mind regarding it’s authenticity. I’ve come to a different conclusion regarding these issues than your own, and I’d like to share it with you.
Three years ago, a cover-to-cover read left me uneasy. Though containing some fine philosophy and useful wisdom, it no longer appeared to be authentic in its claims of otherworldly origins nor its description of the cosmos. This was a significant change in my thinking. I had long accepted the explanations for inaccurate science in the book, counseled as we are regarding the “need for revision” of much of the science, but the scale of outright fantasy being passed off as cosmology, biology, archeology and particle physics, among others, seemed puzzling. What was the point to this? That which I had previously viewed as novel cosmological and historical planetary information appeared incorrect, as those sciences have advanced markedly since the mid-twentieth century. It was apparent that the information offered as science or history in the book that could be testable was, in the case of universe construction and ancient events in the history of humankind, often wrong.
Many stories seemed contrived. The examples are legion and I mention but a few. The human as animal until adjuster indwelt seemed just a more modern twist on the original sin story. The Eve default seemed laughably improbable for a being of such alleged universe experience, and there is real trouble with fandors, or at least the physics of riding on one. An extinct condor, Argentavis, had a wingspan of 20 feet and weighed about 160 pounds. It is the largest known true bird. It could not generate sufficient lift by wing flapping to stay aloft without riding columns of heated air, and probably took off by running into the wind. A human riding on a bird taking off is not possible. The physics are pretty clear. As the wingspan increases, the wing area increases by the square and the bird’s weight increases by the cube. Large birds can only carry about 30% of their weight. In order to carry a 200 pound adult human, the bird would need a wingspan in excess of 40 feet and weigh about 600 pounds. That’s a pretty big bird. About the size of a small jet like the Embraer Phenom 100. Takeoff from the ground would be impossible, as flapping the wings would cause them to strike the ground with each stroke.
The Rebellion story is equally problematic. Isolating helpless beings for hundreds of thousands of years while more realized and experienced beings are given unlimited time to chose between good and iniquity seems hardly sporting. Reminds me of the Covid pandemic…mass quarantines which ultimately had little effect on disease transmission but produced disastrous collateral damage. It would seem that best policy would be to protect and nurture the young and less able while the big people war with each other. Civilized beings do it that way. The idea of being an experiment for these beings feels a bit too much like a William Golding novel. It appears to me that the rebellion story is likely fiction, and like other “revealed” content, appear to be embellishments of apocryphal stories in Iron Age religious texts from a time of superstition and widespread illiteracy.
Despite saying they would not foreshadow scientific discoveries of a thousand years, the revelators offered a new fundamental particle. My readings in particle physics suggest that ultimatons have no current theoretical or experimental basis. There is, as I understand it, a fairly good understanding of electron architecture, and it is not known to be reducible. Quantum field architecture, in its mathematical description, does not suggest being composed of tiny spheres. Some argue that we simply lack the current requisite capacity to detect them. That general argument can’t be dismissed out of hand. There are many instances where new discovery replaces old theory. But quantum mechanics has brought us to the Planck level of propagated perturbations in quantum fields. Even more than our increasingly accurate view of the cosmos, quantum science is astonishingly accurate in its predictions of physical phenomena. One would need to revise current theories of the strong nuclear force, gluons, quarks and gravity, among other things, in order to substantiate the UB version of field potency, electron and hadron dynamics. I was surprised to learn that by the mid-1920s quantum mechanics theory was fairly fully developed. de Broglie’s 1923 theory of matter waves was extended by Heisenberg, Born, and Jordan who developed matrix mechanics, and Schrödinger who invented wave mechanics. It was widely accepted by the late 1920s. Nor surprisingly, the book makes reference to it without attribution, but extends it to invent a particle more fundamental than the quantum field.
42:5.4 2. Ultimatonic rays. The assembly of energy into the minute spheres of the ultimatons occasions vibrations in the content of space which are discernible and measurable.
This puts ultimatons into the Standard Model with no theoretical or experimental validation.
Amazingly, quantum wave / particle duality is solved by the flick of the wrist thus:
42:5.14 The so-called ether is merely a collective name to designate a group of force and energy activities occurring in space. Ultimatons, electrons, and other mass aggregations of energy are uniform particles of matter, and in their transit through space they really proceed in direct lines. Light and all other forms of recognizable energy manifestations consist of a succession of definite energy particles which proceed in direct lines except as modified by gravity and other intervening forces. That these processions of energy particles appear as wave phenomena when subjected to certain observations is due to the resistance of the undifferentiated force blanket of all space, the hypothetical ether, and to the intergravity tension of the associated aggregations of matter. The spacing of the particle-intervals of matter, together with the initial velocity of the energy beams, establishes the undulatory appearance of many forms of energy-matter
This sounds pretty good, but there are underlying assumptions which we currently don’t observe. Undifferentiated force blanket, hypothetical ether, and intergravity tension are novel explanations.
What is the point of fabricating this stuff in order to deliver a spiritual message? It’s assertions about the transit of a surviving mortal personality through a structured, corporate universe appear to be allegory or invention. Increasingly, the testable assertions in the book have been found to be false. JWST has pretty much dispelled any illusions of the book’s cosmology being correct, as you thoroughly explained in your essay. It is more difficult to take as true other assertions which seem contingent upon that cosmology. I’m reminded of an old phrase that “only half the lies the Irish tell are true”. There seems to be no rational explanation for these and many other issues which have come to my mind, except that the book is not authentic.
You’ve suggested an allegorical or literary/dramatic solution to the question…a vehicle to convey otherwise less understandable or dramatically compelling content, as I understand it. I can’t make sense of it in that way. Is that saying that the real story of personality survival would not be interesting enough or understandable to humans without these apparent fabrications? What seems to follow from this is that the actual story is so unintelligible or uninspiring to human kind so as to require this device. I would then have to conjecture that the reality of the spiritual universe and the experience of personality survival would be alien to human experience and understanding. This calls into question the applicability of the experience of human phenomenal consciousness as an initial phase of the personality’s universe journey. Taking these things on “faith” requires me to swallow a caravan of camels.
There is another hard problem with the UB, and all religious doctrine. Perhaps the hardest. I’m deeply skeptical of claims of events which transcend natural physical law. My skepticism increases when secrecy is used to obscure or prevent a thorough examination of the claim.
A study of Joseph Smith and the “revelatory” Book of Mormon, as well as the various “miracles” now associated with the origins of the LDS Church, reveals two marked similarities with the appearance of the UB… both origins are shrouded in secrecy and both depend upon events which transcend natural physical law.
I think it is important not to “whistle past the graveyard” with this, as it is at the core of the the UB’s existence, and the authority of the world’s religions. For instance, the 1848 Mormon “Miracle of the Gulls” was not recognized as a miracle until a few years after the event. It was local knowledge that the resident gulls of the Great Salt Lake periodically descended upon the massive blooms of Mormon Crickets. There are no known records contemporary with the event which describe it as miraculous. The LDS Church official summary of the first few years of the Mormons living in the Salt Lake Valley mentioned the crop damage, frost, and crickets, but not the gulls. It was not until 1853 that it was designated a miracle and became part of the central narrative of the Mormon Church. What is one then to think about the miracles of antiquity? What credence may one attach to descriptions of events transpiring two millennia in the past from persons who did not witness them? Or the writings of those who spoke with those who claimed to witness such things. Or to claims even from Chicago from the early 20th century. It is entirely logical and reasonable to cast a jaundiced eye upon all such claims.
I find it most probable that all miracles of the past, including the resurrection, reviving the dead, and other supernatural events associated with Jesus and all other religious figures, likely to be of the same character. I have heard readers accept the miracles of Jesus, while discounting those claimed by other religions. This is characteristic of human psychology. Humans are impressionable and both filter and embellish their experiences in psychologically predictive ways, especially in groups and over time.
Thousands claimed to witness a miracle of the Sun dancing in the sky, which they interpreted as divine, in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. Modern scientific analysis revealed the event to be one of illusion prompted by expectation and meteorological phenomena. Extremely low probability outcomes, which nonetheless have some actual small probability of occurring within the constraints of natural physical law, like surviving accidents or avoiding disaster, are often described as miraculous. Cloth or even toast with the purported image of Jesus are viewed by some as miraculous. Apocrypha from two millennia in the past provide unreliable testimony as to actual events. I am convinced, for instance, that there have been no “translations” of humans in “fiery chariots” a la Enoch. One might reasonably expect a fairly large number of these events in more modern times, given the exponentially larger current human population. They don’t occur. Seems probable that this is, like the Melchizedek saga and so many stories in the UB, most likely an embellishment of biblical apocrypha.
In 2005, neuroscientist Karl Diesseroth used optogenetic techniques of selective control of brain neurons with light to trigger or suppress specific behaviors in mice, and to probe the structure and dynamics of circuits related to schizophrenia, autism, narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety and addiction. Other researchers have probed the functions of brain structures in humans which produce the sensation of mystical awe and of the seeming invisible presence of another being. These studies suggest a more rational explanation of “revelatory” religious phenomena. There are documented cases of stroke or seizure victims with no prior history of personal religiosity suddenly becoming hyper-religious. A study of Vietnam veterans (Neural Correlates of Mystical Experience, (Cristofori, Bulbulia, et al, Neuropsycologia, Jan. 2016, Vol 80, pp 212-220) showed that those who had been injured in the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were more likely to report mystical experiences. Studies with psilocybin propose a theory of the chemical induction of mystical thinking and revelatory religious experience by the mechanism of decoupling of the Default Mode Network of brain activity affecting the medial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate cortex/precuneus. ( Barrett, Fredrick S, Griffith, Classic Hallucinogens and Mystical Experiences: Phenomenology and Neural Correlates, Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2018, 36, 393-430). I experienced effects like those identified with spirit contact when I took psilocybe cubensis mushrooms in 1971.
The intentional decoupling of the DMN through meditation can also produce the sensations of mystical awe and the invisible presence of another being. One might argue that these brain structures and responses are evidence of proof of God or other spirit influences, and that they are part of the brain encircuited by the adjutant mind circuits described in the UB, and that what is sensed is the presence of deity. But no such frequencies have been discovered to which the material structures of the brain are known respond, and artificial stimulation or pathological and traumatic injury to specific brain regions are known to produce these phenomena. I think it is illogical to assume a metaphysical explanation in the presence of such evolving understandings of brain science.
This does not diminish the observable positive effects resulting from stimulation of these brain assemblies in some people through meditation and prayer. Au contraire. There are powerful evolutionary predispositions and advantages associated with these attitudes and behaviors, and of the finest people I have met have been religionists who routinely engage in these practices, as well as non-religionists who’s meditations are not deistic. Many successfully rely upon them to cope with and explain life’s vicissitudes. Dr. John C. Wathey, Phd ( The Phantom God and The illusion of God’s Presence) hypothesizes an ethological basis for human mystical experience and identifies specific evolutionary imperatives and brain structures which are involved. His assertions are novel, but they are logical and defended with both established and plausible science. And he doesn’t diminish the value of the practice of decoupling, just the explanation of its mechanism. His theories deserve as much attention as metaphysical explanations. I think that progressive evolution, absent the assumption of divine design or overcontrol, has the capacity to explain the phenomenon.
Consideration of Dr. Sadler’s history and writings has played a role in my deliberations. I never met him, but many of my older associates had. I won’t discuss it all here, his history is available from multiple sources. Marvin Gardner discusses much of it in his book Urantia, The Great Cult Mystery, and concludes that it is more probable that the book is of human origins, with Sadler either being taken in by a psychological phenomenon, or orchestrating its production with objectives similar to Joseph Smith or Ellen White, the Adventist channeler. That is, to create a new and better religion. It is apparent that Gardner has much less detailed knowledge of the book than a long-time reader, but his critique is not superficial. It is a serious conclusion by a serious intellect, not to be brushed aside casually.
Folks have gotten around issues with the text in a number of ways. Matthew Block defends divine origins in the face of rampant unattributed plagiarism. He finds it to be appropriate and takes it as evidence of the book’s authenticity, ostensibly because the authors said they were doing it. Many believe this to be true. Parsimony suggests it was curated and used by humans absent divine inspiration. Many other readers, like Meredith Sprunger, have in past elaborated explanations generally consisting of the perspective that the spiritual truths are so powerful as to render the issue of manifold factual errors and mysterious origin moot. I believe, If I read you aright, that is your conclusion. Phil Calabrese has for years defended the science in the book. His predictions that we would discover the truth of such UB assertions as Eden and ultimatons have required significant revision over the years. His more recent, mathematically dense essay ( The New Cosmology of The Urantia Book) comparing book content with current particle physics is erudite, but to the extent I could understand it his assertions and proofs were unconvincing (they are very technical and require a grasp of probability theory and mathematics well above my pay grade). I think examples like this reveal a basic uneasiness about this dichotomy with many readers. He has also offered a probability analysis of it’s provenance. Despite its elegance…Phil is a brilliant mathematician…I think it may suffer from the same problem as Drake’s Equation in providing estimates of the probable number of worlds in the universe inhabited by intelligent life. Contained in each are variables which I think cannot be derived from experience.
The book indeed contains much wonderful philosophy and should, given the unrestricted use of the best of human thought. It also contains a very engaging and detailed story about the life of Jesus. But all of that appears within the context of empirically untestable or provably false assertions. Sadler’s personal bias, known from his previous writings, regarding a number of religious, social and biological theories, appears too frequently to be disregarded. I don’t dispute the ennobling philosophic and moral value of some UB content, rather I now suspect that the whole corporate universe and God delineations are fantasy, and the Jesus story an embellishment on previous accountings. If Michael of Nebadon, in his earthly guise, performed acts which transcended physical law, he must have been aware that those “miracles” would provide the bona fides of the Christian religion. The Resurrection is his bona fides. It’s reported in the Jesus Papers as a factual event. Surely a few modern demonstrations of the craft could do no harm.
The fact remains that Sadler destroyed all material that would elucidate the actual processes by which the UB came into existence. If indeed he witnessed actual events which transcended physical law and directly communicated with non-human universe personalities, one wonders if he and the small group of individuals who claimed this contact then sacrificed their agondontor status in doing so.
That is an interesting proposition. If no impediment to witnessing celestial contact exists, why not give a crack at it to a regular Dick or Jane? Or billions of them, for that matter. The teaching mission claims this but the content of their messages often contradicts the book, themselves, and good sense. On one occasion a group with such leanings built a bonfire and danced around it to welcome the appearance of a Melchizedek to the planet. The ritual was apparently unsuccessful. Gabriel of Urantia (aka Tony Delevin) has predicted the end of the world and apparently arranged for space ships to rescue his followers from the cataclysm. Predictably, neither the end of the world nor the space ships arrived. Vern Grimsley convinced himself and large number of otherwise rational book readers that celestial personalities told him nuclear war was at hand. I think that it is unfortunate that the book’s most probable future is to have it’s useful content diminished by some of its more bizarre adherents, and its unsupportable claims and inaccurate telling of history, science and cosmology. One might suppose that the Most Highs would have thought this out a little more fully.
The book has been hijacked by charismatic and clever crackpots like Gabriel of Urantia, many in the so-called Teaching Mission, and more reasonable though intensely evangelical folks like Vern Grimsley, all of whom succumbed to voices in their heads after demanding to hear them. It has been fought over like a marrow bone among starving dogs with Martin Meyers proclaiming special guidance in unsuccessfully directing the scrum during its critical copyright transition. I watched an old friend “channel” many years ago during the beginning of the “Mission”. Folks were all in a lather about it. Even back then I rejected the authenticity of the thing, and in this particular case, felt for many specific reasons that it was no more than a self fulfilling prophecy in a person psychologically predisposed to such activities. The “messages” were usually rather pedestrian or outright nonsense, exemplified by all of us finding out our “spiritual” names. All of this, I think, is the mind deluding itself.
The book also contains needlessly inflammatory content. It has sown the seeds of rejection by many rational folks for its statements about race. One wonders if the Most Highs might not have anticipated our current cultural turmoil less than 75 years after publication and thought better about opining in the manner they employed, unless of course it was Sadler showing through. He seems to quite often. It is difficult to see the utility, and not difficult to imagine the harm of presenting such content. I would have expected that the Most Highs would have ordered such content edited out prior to publication.
My wife Cheryl and I were both Registered Nurses by profession. Perhaps more than most other folks, as a function of our work, we saw much of the worst and most terrible human suffering, as well as some of the saddest and most disrupted human behavior. We are also parents of a schizophrenic son. We never saw a glorified hem to touch for agonized parents experiencing the death of a child. The sheer cruelty of afflicting nearly two of very one hundred humans, regardless of culture or race, with schizophrenia, and shattering the material mind for the sake of an experiment in biology, and a default in cosmic watchcare, strains credulity. And that is just one element of widespread human suffering. The suffering of many millions born into circumstances exponentially less advantageous than our own with no greater comfort than “don’t worry, it will all work out” seems too easy to bear by our unseen “friends”. I don’t buy the idea that many must suffer desperately that others might be afforded the opportunity to be altruistic. Many do believe that. They tend to be on the altruistic side of things. It also seems unlikely that those responsible for the creation and watchcare of struggling and suffering beings would display behaviors absent those central to loving parenting. I have carefully considered the justifications in the book for such behavior. They suggest either a rather bumbling set of outworlders, or ones demonstrably cruel. The uber-reality evolution of the Supreme would appear to involve some roadkill. The results of the genetic crapshoot are perilous for many and borne too easily by many less afflicted.
Some of my Urantia associates have been reasonably inquisitive, though often surprised, regarding my change in thinking. Others don’t care to discuss it with me. One was concerned that I had come under Caligastia’s nefarious influence. I’ll take that risk, as opposed to fearing non-existent influence from a likely fictional character. That kind of magical thinking is destructive to inquisitive thought.
I have no thought to dissuade others from their beliefs, but rather to describe a few of the factors which have now persuaded me, after so many years, that the book is most likely one of human philosophy embedded in a fanciful accounting of the origins and nature of the universe. It appears to have been written by men with no verifiable contact with unseen universe personalities. I do not think that it’s statements about the human soul nor those of the transit of that soul in the universe can be regarded as authentic.
I have given up my former assurances grudgingly. This perspective is the product of my own evolution. As you can see, I have extended my readings well outside the orthodoxy, to include reasonable alternative explanations for these things as part of my deliberations. It was more comfortable to think that the book actually reported spiritual realities and destinies. I have always wanted the book to be true and authentic. But after much reflection, I think that it is probably not so. That said, I remain open to truth as I can perceive it.
I don’t have a good answer for creation. We are not privy to hundreds of millions of years of the universe’s early history. Even the heat from the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation that pervades all space only gets us to within about 400,000 years of the singularity event we call the Big Bang. It is unclear to me whether eternal deity is the creative force behind universe reality, or if the universe is simply pre-existent. One is as remarkable as the other, and no less probable. I don’t have an acceptable theory for the origin of life, but I don’t rule out an origin devoid of divine intervention. That science continues to evolve. The Fermi Paradox bothers me. The universe should be teeming with intelligent life, if the book is to be believed. Yet we find no evidence of it, and we are currently capable of discovering it. I don’t know what if any destiny a person has in the universe. I’m unable to accept their story on face value. If it is true, we will all discover it eventually.
I am aware that much of this essay involves a reductionist approach, which has limitations when explainable phenomena are apparently no longer reducible and emergent phenomena are not explainable. The physical brain and emergent mind illustrate that principle. But that doesn’t prompt me to abandon logic and rational thinking in the face of so many unsupportable claims in the book. From the times when earthquakes and thunder were thought to be caused by invisible agents, humans have always attributed unseen agency to things they don’t understand. Science and rational thought have progressively forced that agency from earth, animals and sky out into the universe. I think it is true that an assertion made without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. Subjective “spiritual” testimony is too widely variable to be definitive, and current science is suggesting an underlying ethological and neurobiological explanation for the ground state upon which the subjective mystical experience is constructed.
I don’t write this to demean or diminish the personal experiences or convictions of those who believe the UB is authentically inspired. The mystical experiences they have may well involve authentic contact with deity, and my current persuasions may well be wrong. I cannot rule out the possible spiritual authenticity of the UB, but I am not convinced of it. I suppose I will eventually learn the truth of this, or no. In my case sooner than later at age 75. I share your impatience with those who seem to need to defend the “science” in the book in order to justify its origins and spiritual authenticity. They do no good service for those to whom they introduce the text. Honest faith is one thing, clever reframing or plain denial quite another. I will continue my wonderings. Thank you for your thought provoking essay. It was a pleasure to read.
A powerful essay. I’d like to reproduce it as a “guest essay” on the blog where it might be seen…
So let me say that I fully agree with 98% of it. I am not, like M. Sprunger. I do not claim the spiritual truths are so profound that the inaccuracies are moot. My speculation as to it being a dramatization is only that and offered as a way of saving something.
Only one genuineness remains IMHO… Besides physics, cosmology, and lots of other science (I was for a time a professional biologist) I have read lots of theology from ancient to modern times. To me, the core theology of the book (papers 1-10, 99-118), eclipse everything ever written on the subject by humans. Sadler might have invented ALL the rest, but if he also invented the theology, he is the greatest theologian who ever lived! If also he wrote the Jesus papers he could be the greatest novelist who ever lived! How to explain that?
Only concerning the horrors perpetrated by humans on humans and the suffering occasioned by the weakness of human genetics (birth defects, etc) do I slightly disagree with you. Our overseers (if there are overseers) need not be cruel. All of this because the physical universe is relative and much we have done of our own [collective] free will. The horrors of war, torture, crime, etc are obviously so. But the persistence of birth defects, the result of naturally imperfect biology (which is physical and so entirely relative), might long ago have been mitigated had there been competent control over reproductive privileges. The UB mentions this. Who now (sans Adam & Eve) can make such judgements?
On a more autobiographical note, I first read the UB in 1975, and several times since then. I’ve been over what I called the theology papers dozens of times. I’ve also written book reviews of the reviews like Gardner and others. I am 73. We are pretty close. I hope you see this reply. Please send me your email. I think we might talk more… I am email@example.com
Thank you for the thoughtful reply Quine. I think that you make a serious point about the core theology. It is the primary reason I have not been able to rule out the spiritual authenticity of the book. Were it not for that, I think I would discard it rather easily. I feel less swayed by the Jesus Papers. They are a remarkable piece of literature. They also may well have been produced over a very long period of time if not the result of some otherworldly transfer technique. Though you might think it stretching the point, Tolkien spent about the same amount of time writing the Trilogy. To my taste, his creation of an entire world, a history, multiple cultures, languages, gods, characters of extraordinary depth, folly and wisdom, and some of the most elegant prose I have read attests to the enormous creativity the most gifted among us possess. Had not Sadler, for reasons I can’t understand in light of the obvious shade it would cast upon book origins, destroyed all material which would elucidate the matter, then the rational mind would be allowed survey of them. Otherwise produces suspicion of fraud. All of that said, for me the rubber meets the road with miracles. It obviates all other factors. I know of no evidence of any event which has transcended natural physical law, with the possible exception of moments after the Big Bang, where standard physics may not apply. The Jesus Papers tell the story of a being who does so. It may indeed be true, but I think it is not.
As related to the unfortunate among us, I spent my working life in service to them and spent much more time among them than most. Whatever any individual, or human kind has done with free will, the suffering is local, personal, devastating, and often undeserved. I can’t imagine sitting back, after the failure of my own efforts, and surveying the scene with some sort of cosmic understanding while consigning blameless humans to such terror and misery, no matter how short the time may be in cosmic terms. The biological uplift story tends to reinforce my feelings about bumbling outworlders. Seems hardly equitable to blow so critical an assignment and then blame the primitives (in a very real sense) for failure to purify themselves biologically. As to the question of if not A & E, then who? I think that the answer right now and in the even distantly foreseeable future is no one.
I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. It is always a fine thing to find another person who enjoys the sharing of ideas, and in this case important ones. I’ll send along my email while looking forward to further good conversation. As for using the essay…let me make a few refinements if you would. Is a bit of a work in progress serving as an instrument to organize my thoughts. I’ll send a more finished version soon.
Best Regards, Bob
So… Of miracles, the book says that none are super natural EXCEPT those promulgated by Jesus, and this makes perfect sense in the context of who the UB says he is. This material is outside the theology papers, but one of the things that impresses me about the Jesus papers is how they make use of everything else in the book. It’s almost as if everything else was written to support the Jesus story.
Do send me your email. No rush on the article. Yes, nice to meet you Bob!
Hi Bob and Quine,
I too have had increasing doubts about the authenticity of the UB over the past several years. I started reading it in 1981 and have read it twice from cover to cover in addition to reading various sections and papers for many years, including years of participation in study groups. I am also a long-term meditator, practicing daily for over 50 years.
It’s clear to me that faith in God and faith in the authenticity of the UB are not synonymous; alter all, billions of human beings have faith in divine realities who have never read, or even heard of the UB.
A sticking point for me is the astronomy in the science book. In the 1920s, the great debate in astronomy was whether M31, the Andromeda galaxy, was a separate “island universe” or whether it was within the Milky Way, our own galaxy. This debate was resolved of course and it was settled that M31 is a galaxy, thought to be at the time about 1 million light years away. Subsequently in the decades since, it has been confirmed using three different measuring techniques, that M31 is much closer to 2.5 million light years from earth.
So why does the UB use the science of the 1920s to tell us the distance is 1 million light years? Surely if the authors were of celestial origins they would know this was incorrect. Is it a typo? Why would the authors not want to reveal something that our own astronomers would figure out only a few decades after the publication of the UB? The UB says the authors cannot reveal “unearned knowledge” to us, yet they tell us countless facts about the afterlife, about Paradise and the Morontia worlds, about the myriad of celestial beings that govern and administer in the universe–none of which is “earned knowledge”; so why not reveal the actual distance to the closest galaxy, particularly when humans would figure it out in a relatively short period of time?
Is it possible that we still have it wrong and M31 is closer to 1 million light years away? Doubtful, but possible. Science is always in a state of corrective evolution and change, the scientific facts of today may not be the scientific facts of a hundred years from today. But on the other hand, Newton’s laws of gravity still hold up in non-quantum realms, which tells me that much of science can be trusted as so long as we distinguish between what is scientific fact and what is scientific theory.
If you read my other posts, you can see I sometimes contradict myself. Of course I do because I do not really know with certainty what is and what is not true regarding the UB. I go back and forth, but it feels healthy to do so, humility, curiosity and imagination demand that I do not settle into fixed and rigid ideas that may or may not be true. With some exceptions of course. I know gravity is real, I know light exists and I know that love is better than hate or indifference.
I don’t take my faith or my doubt in the UB too seriously. I allow myself to accept much of the beautiful moral and ethical insights of the book and still believe that Christ was a spiritual genius whose insights into the moral potential of human beings was accurate. But as to whether the authors of this enigmatic text are of non-earthly origin? I don’t know and I don’t make it my life’s work to know, believe or doubt. It is what it is. I live in the now, I work in the now, I plan in the now and that’s good enough for me. Whatever I learn in the future, both in this life and, if there is another one awaiting me, I will learn then. In the meanwhile I try to put into practical practice what I know now.
Reading your comments, I find that for the most part I feel the same. I have of late…as can be seen in my response to Quine’s essay…been concerned with resolving my doubts about the authenticity of the book. Your accounting of more bogus “science” is added to a now extensive list of such failings. Having accepted it for so many years, the changes in my thinking have required a significant adjustment. I concur that the thing of value to be extracted and distilled from it are the moral and ethical principles contained therein. That said, whether Jesus was a moral and ethical genius, indeed whether the words attributed to him originated with him, have required reflection as they are bundled with his description of a spiritual cosmos, it’s originator, and the destiny of the “soul”. It seems increasingly more possible that this testimony is no more than an evolution of previous apocryphal religious dogma. I find that my need to attempt to resolve these issues is important, as it is I think for most of us. Increasingly I view the book as inauthentic, and I feel the need to resolve this in my mind. Having read Gardner’s book, as well as some of Sherman’s voluminous diaries which were made public in 2000, I have a completely different understanding of the personalities and processes involved in the book’s creation. Both sources have their own problems (a fascinating conversation), but they have been valuable in enlarging my understanding of the phenomenon. Instead of a genial polymath and debunker of mediums and spiritualists, Sadler appears as a passionate former Adventist quite amenable to celestial “channeling”. The cast of characters involved is fascinating. I did not have these information sources when I first encountered and later accepted it. Had that been so, I wonder if I might not have regarded it in a different light, and attributed to it far less authority. My current views are as found in my response to Quine’s essay. I frankly do not know if a “God” is the creator of all reality. I have no reliable information which directs me to believe in “soul” survival. The book seems inauthentic. I have had to discard a great deal of the story I have used to explain myself in the universe. Thus I adhere to your wisdom when you say that each day is all we have, and that our best moral and ethical impulses should increasingly guide us in maximizing each moment of consciousness we are somehow privileged to experience, and leave it at that. Your comments were a pleasure to read.
Nicely put Jerry!
Nice to meet you! I don’t think that logic and reason alone are going to ever help us to resolve the mysteries of life and cosmos. There’s just too much we cannot perceive due to our sense limitations, intellectual limitations and, quite obvious, our moral and ethical limitations as a species. I don’t trust Gardner’s take on the UB for two reasons, 1) he didn’t bother to read the entire book. I cannot take seriously any book critic who hasn’t taken the time to read the entire book. That to me is the basic requirement for offering criticism that might have any value. 2) He had an agenda in the first place: To show that the UB is fake, inauthentic and written by humans. He’s an atheist, and atheists purport to “know” that God doesn’t exist. Carl Sagan once said that atheism is stupid, which falls in line with another thing he said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.
My problem with the UB has less to do with the book and more to do with what people do with it. How much religious faith is actually driven by fear? Fear of the unknown, fear of death and non-being, fear of having to take personal responsibility and create purpose and meaning in your life–a book is not going to that for you and if you think it will, well, that’s your choice. Books are great, I find great meaning and pleasure in reading, but a mature human being realizes that life doesn’t hand us meaning and purpose–we create it ourselves. As I said earlier, I take my own beliefs and doubts with a grain of salt. My actions and my decisions, my words and thoughts are more important to me than what I believe or doubt. One of my ex-friends claims to be one of “the world’s leading exponents of the UB”. He also believes Melchizedek is talking to him and he’s in direct communication with higher beings. I ended the friendship because I prefer my friends not to be seriously deluded. Another UB reader I know decided that the holocaust was a myth made up by Jews who want to control the world. There went that friendship.
I cannot say with any certainty whether the UB was written by higher beings. I certainly do not believe for one second that we are alone in the universe. With some 500 billions suns in our own galaxy, most of which have planets orbiting them, and with billions or hundreds of billions of galaxies, it makes absolutely no sense to think that sentient life evolved on one small planet. Statistically that appears to be almost impossible. So, again quoting Carl Sagan, “keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out”.
I am not seeking resolution to these profound mysteries such as do we have soul? Is God the creator of all time, space, energy, matter, consciousness and personality? I have no need to be sure of any of this. I wake up, love as many people as I can, write music, do astrophotography and leave these big questions unanswered because they are most likely unanswerable. Creativity requires not only being comfortable with uncertainty, but embracing it. It’s not easy, but it also takes a lot of work to deceive one’s self!
Well met and thank you for your reply! I greatly enjoy discovering people to share good and substantial conversation. A couple of things in response: I don’t share your take on Gardner for the following reasons. After a thorough read of his book, it seems apparent that he has read a great deal of the UB, if not all. I find that his basic understanding of the text, as revealed by his summaries of its basic tenets, pretty accurate. His stated agenda is that as a former Adventist (he was in his youth), he was intrigued by the connections and similarities between the UB and Adventist doctrine and heresy. He came upon Sadler and his history in the Adventist movement while doing unrelated research. I think that his research is pretty sound and his conclusions quite reasonable. At times his narratives bog down with silly things like numerology, which I don’t think he takes seriously, but his tracing of the evolution of revelation from the Bible, Oaspe, and Ellen White channeling through to the UB was instructive and interesting. I could not find evidence in any of his statements that he is an atheist. Rather he is clearly deist in his thinking but rejects the idea that deity has conveyed revelatory information through human sources. I am persuaded that he is right. A survey of Sherman’s work is valuable in that it provides a day-to-day, nearly minute-to-minute meticulous accounting of his five year experience as a Forum member. I highly recommend that anyone who has interest about UB origins familiarize themselves with this information. Although of course representing his perspective, it would be inappropriate to dismiss his narrative as baseless. What really happened during the production of the book was unlike anything I imagined. It is probably statistically unlikely that we are the only sapient intelligence in the universe, and it is also unlikely that it is teeming with billions or trillions of inhabited worlds. We just have nothing with which to assemble reliable probabalistic predictions. We are the only event we know of. Drake’s equation demonstrates this. That said, of course my mind remains open. I share your impatience with those who, like some former friends of mine, are consumed with the book and have adopted it whole. They don’t generally manifest the behaviors they espouse, and they became somewhat boring to talk with. Twain observed that there is no one easier to fool than oneself, and I have take that as necessary wisdom. I do have a great desire to understand origins and destinies. It compels me to think, read and converse in order to derive answers which satisfy my sense of reason, logic and probability. Like you, I’m comfortable with uncertainty and know that some of these answers I seek I may not find, but it is an enjoyable pastime, and doesn’t interfere with the joy of the day, which I don’t doubt we both agree is the point to it all.
For several years knowing that it is self evident that the observed universe and the Papers cosmology are two different things accepting the disclaimer [Paper 101] as true I looked to resolve the seeming paradox. I mistakenly looked at the Papers cosmology as an allegory, a story told to tell a higher truth; however upon reexamination of the word allegory it became clear that its synonym, ‘not literal’, was a more apt categorization.
If one looks at the import of the disclaimer [in Paper 101: The Limitations of Revelation] the ‘meta-message’ from the revelators is that the cosmology will be quickly outgrown by further scientific discoveries and should NOT BE TAKEN LITERALLY!
They make that clear that such current timeline scientific statements accurate to the current level of earned human knowledge even so it is not literal tho such does authoritatively eliminate such error as a 6 day creation the sun stopping in the sky a flat earth …etc.
The Papers introduce the fact of universe concept frames [Paper 115.1], and upon such a non literal cosmological concept frame are the presentations of truths that scientific discovery will not refute.
Given the mandate to not reveal the scientific discoveries of 1000 years the revelators employ the artful revelation of such universe facts and truths that will stand the test of time, truths such as:
The spiritual hierarchy the Trinity and the functions of each person of the trinity
The spiritual gender of angels the ‘Daughters of God’
The ascendancy of mortals who both male and female are all ‘sons of God’,
The existence of separate local universes created and administered by a Michael Son and their consorts the local universe Mother Spirit,
Mansion worlds and the ascendant career,
The existence and eventuation of evolving Deities the Supreme and Ultimate
The goal of a Trinity of Trinities,
The potential of the”unrevealed Consummator of Universe Destiny”
qualified and unqualified Absolutes
The elimination of a so called God of wrath by the undeniable God of Love who IS love [love is not God tho]
God our Father who has an intimate personal relationship with all mortals and this through the Papers revealing of such details of the thought adjuster
Their ministry in coordination with unseen angelic ministry,
Such theology and new concepts are unique to the Papers along with too many other details to numerous to mention that evidence a theology and in such a consistent narrative demonstrating that it is beyond human in origin.
To paraphrase Leon Russel’s semi-heretical quip about Easter when “Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen” had a concert on Easter “don’t get hung up about it”
Regarding the Papers deliberately ‘not literal’ cosmology ‘don’t get hung up about it’
Having read them all and regarding the Sherman Dairies;
Harold Sherman had an overblown ego; regarded his beliefs as superior to Dr. Sadler’s; and held a life long grudge for slights to his ego both perceived and misperceived; after publication, often introducing others to the Papers for the purpose of later criticizing both them and also to seek sympathy for his mistreated by Sadler story.
The degree of contentious bias including the 5 years that he and his wife were stalking 533 W Diversey Pkwy, the Sadler residence/office/forum meeting place, from their upper floor apartment directly across the street is just creepy!
As to Gardner’s ‘Cult Mystery’ book not only is the forgone conclusion implied by its title Gardner, a noted avowed skeptic, to even further lower its level of credibility he either honored me, or dishonored me, mentioning me twice one of which is a quote so looking to me as a source defines its limitations[wink].
As to the idea that Sadler channeled the Papers a couple of things:
The Papers were not channeled!
They were physically materialized in a predetermined spot handwritten after being typewritten and carbon copied the dematerialized handwritten original departed both a locked safe and even a safe deposit box in a bank.
All this according to several sources:
The timeline of 1927 at:https://archive.urantiabook.org/archive/history/h_timlin_3.htm
Also contact commissioner Bill Sadler: this link a transcript from a recording in 1962 of his first person account of the process of receiving the Papers
Larry Mullen has a book which can be found on Amazon ‘A History of the Urantia Papers’ which also corroborates the physical materialization and dematerialization of the handwritten originals
As to Dr. Sadler being its author: such is refuted by the reported fact that he did not believe it until 1936 [see in above timeline link]; and the stylometric analysis done by Ken Glasziou indicating that by such computer analysis of the text that nine or perhaps more authors and 1000 to one Sadler was not the author.
To be clear a more modern stylometric analysis should be done, as a critique of Glasziou’s is the limited samples he used from Sadler.
If one has trouble with the cosmology and other errors, have not the Papers already effected your life and faith, if so does the cosmology really matter given its disclaimer and the fact that cosmology is simply not literal compared to the observed universe, aren’t there much more important truths in the Papers??
Thanks for the comments Dennis. I’ve given up worrying about this matter but if I do think about it I have to wonder why there is so much cosmological detail that cannot be true? “We’re not going to tell you everything” is fine. Why so much elaboration on that which cannot be true? The vexing problem (to me) is not that there isn’t much more important in and about the UB, but why stuff that cannot be true is in it at all?
I was pleased to see you share your thoughts about some of my responses to Quine and Jerry in the discussion about UB authenticity. The more the merrier here I say. After thinking about what you have written, I think the major differences in our perspectives have to do with how we define fact and truth, how we view factual errors and inconsistencies in the book, and our opinion of writings and ideas which don’t reflect core Urantian orthodoxy. A number of my old friends and associates…and I do mean old as most are now in our 70s…have said similar things. I’ve no problem with that of course, as I don’t claim to know. But I do think about these things and they are consequential to me. If you read what I’ve written since discovering Quine’s blog, you’ll find my best efforts to portray my current thinking about these things, and rationale for it. All that said, since one musical reference deserves another (or at least I’ll take the liberty), James Taylor reflects some of my thinking these days…
“There’s a song that they sing when they take to the Highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
But singin’ works just fine for me”
I want to see if my memory is correct Dennis. In 1978 Cheryl and I were on Big Island and visited UB readers David Saunders and his wife in Captain Cook. We met a number of their friends and I believe we met you then. I have a recollection of a Mac nut grove and fresh dried fruit that goes with that memory. Do you recall anything like that? Whether it be so or not, mahalo for your thoughts.
Well, I’ll defer to you about Gardner because I’d be a hypocrite otherwise, I haven’t read his entire book so I cannot be a fair critic of it.
As far as the Drake equation, the problem with it that we have no reference as to which numbers to punch into it–all we know as of today is that there are over 5000 exoplanets confirmed through various methods of discovery, and more being discovered every year. Though I think it is statistically ridiculous to assume we are the only inhabited, or inhabitable, planet in our galaxy, let alone the cosmos, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to assume there may be 10s of millions of inhabited planets in our galaxy alone. When I was a kid, astronomers thought there were about 100 billion suns in the Milky Way. A few decades later that number rose to around 300 billion. Sagan wrote that the number may be as high as 500 billion and since our ability to see our own galaxy is hampered by the fact that we’re inside it, there may be a lot more. but even if we assume a mere 1% of 500 billion stars having some kind of solar system, that leaves us with 500 million solar systems consisting of one or more planets. And this is just in our galaxy alone. But that 1% is extremely unlikely, I’ve read that astronomers now believe that about 50% of stars in our galaxy have at least one planet orbiting it. That’s 250 billion planets in the Milky Way, even if we ignore all UB numbers.
But to leap from inhabited planets to the existence of the soul to the existence of God, is, as commonly expressed, a leap of faith. It could not be otherwise. Science is not the tool to discover the existence of God or soul. I value and respect subjectivity as much as I do objective knowledge. The subjective experience of being alive, of relationships, of pleasure, meaning, pain and sorrow surely must exist to teach us something about life and ourselves. This is why we make art. Art expresses the inner life of individuals and cultures. It’s all about the subjectivity of experience, there’s no necessity or pretense of being materially measurable or related to physical reality. If the artist is gifted, skilled and honest, something objective will be expressed, but only through the subjective experience of being human.
Just for fun, if we apply the equivalent of E=MC2 to consciousness, we can ask why would the cosmos waste consciousness if it apparently recycles matter and energy? Is it not possible that consciousness and personal identity are also “recycled”? Just as it would seem to be a huge waste of space if the cosmos is not inhabited, it would be a great waste of personal experience, learning, insight and loving if humans only live once. But of course, I don’t really know. I have a bias: I would like the UB to be authentic and true. But I truthfully do not know if it really is.
I’ve always avoided UB conferences and retreats because I don’t find it to be a lot of fun hanging out with people who all believe the same thing and who are convinced of the unwavering truth of their belief. Maybe I’m more like the Woody Allen quip, “I’d never join a club that would have me as a member!” ;>)
“…huge waste of space…” Good pun there Jerry!
Personally I’m left with “there is a God and the UB is still the world’s best presentation of him.” Also if there is a God there has to be an ascension of some kind or none of this makes sense..
As for the Drake equation there are 2 issues.
First “advanced culture” by our measure is not “advanced culture” from the viewpoint of the admin described in the UB (whatever the real version looks like). Most planets reach spiritual maturity long before they pollute their world to detectable ruin, or develop the tech needed to transmit detectable signals.
Second we are not a fully opened world. Those planets KNOW about us and have no intention of violating our isolated status…
Even if the UB is a fantasy, all those UFOs over the years have warned everybody else to “stay away from this crazy planet!” 😱
Yep that be me
David Saunders did help a lot of us readers settle in Kona
I was also a FUSLA member in 1975/76 then I moved to Kona after living in Silverado Canyon for a year
FUSLA folks I hung out with then: Kermit Anderson [ I attended his study group] Pat McNelly, Dennis Nicomede, Vinnie Ventola Scott Forsithe [sp?]and many more younger readers
Pat introduced me to Julia Fenderson after I met him at a Conference in Sacramento where Clyde Bedell, and Vern, and Dwayne Faw were also in attendance and Vern did a multi media show  that David Kantor helped create
I happened to be at Julia’s house when she and others were all dismayed by the recent publication of Harold Sherman’s ‘How to Know What to Believe’ book that disclosed the sleeping contact details of the book’s method of delivery
I became a member/minister of The Religion of Jesus Church in Kekaha Kauai in 1973 and attended The Religion of Jesus Church Divinity School [a SuperUniversity] for two years reading and discussing a Paper each weekday in group readings with 25 to fifty folks reading the Papers cover to cover twice in two years in such a group situation
Regarding the fact and truth question:
The Papers reveal that truth and fact are not necessarily equivalent
48:6:33 (555.1) But the fetish of factualized truth, fossilized truth, the iron band of so-called unchanging truth, holds one blindly in a closed circle of cold fact. One can be technically right as to fact and everlastingly wrong in the truth.
Thus something can be non factual yet be the truth; or, tho factual be something other than the truth [as proven repeatedly by a variety of politicians]
I also find the theology of the Papers so superior and unique such that the cosmology issue is a pop quiz in Agondonter 101
For me, my individual personal spiritual experiences leave me with out doubt as to the spiritual wisdom and veracity of those most important spiritual truths as so originally and creatively revealed by the Papers
In a prior post I did not include the link to the stylometric analysis done by Ken Glasziou
Such stylistic analysis needs to be done again with more of Dr Sadler’s writings but Glasziou does indicate 9 or more authors none of them Sadler
Thanks for the comment Dennis. You evoke many memories. Of course those “younger members” are nothing of the kind any longer… 😭🙄🤪😄
Aloha Dennis and thanks for the reply. I had thought my memory might be correct. Those people you mentioned were all well known to Cheryl and me back in those days. McNelly was one of the group of guys, including his brother Jim, Fred Schupp, Jerry Ricci, and a handful of others with whom I originally discovered the book in 1970. Ventola lived up here in Humboldt County for a few years in the 70’s. We still have a few of his paintings. Old Forsyth, as he was known to us, left for Chicago some time after Cheryl and I moved north from So Cal in‘74. The only name I didn’t recognize was Nicomede.
A couple of comments about some things you’ve written: As I recall, speculation about the sleeping subject had been a subject of interest to readers of the book since I encountered it, with the exception of the Forumites who had a significantly different relationship with the phenomenon. It would be hard to believe that, given the number of people who had that early contact, whatever real or apocryphal information was out there would eventually come to be more generally known. Impossible that revelators would have expected anything else. As for our fideistic difference in opinion about how truth and fact may be defined, we can leave it at that. I certainly have no proof of any kind that your assertion is wrong. It’s a classic debate resolved only internally by each person. The high philosophical/spiritual content is indeed exceptional, but in practical terms I think no more spiritually moving than for instance the Book of Mormon. I have known a few Mormon families that I felt were vastly superior in demonstrating the fruits of the spirit than virtually any other religionists, regardless of whatever doctrinal differences one might have with their faith. Finally, I’m not too much interested in a stylistic analysis. The book, as Block has documented, is so filled with plagiarized content as to render the subject moot. The more I reflect, the more I am persuaded that the book is not authentic.
After four purported Epochal Revelations involving universe personalities, it strains credulity to think that the 5th would be a book produced under mysterious circumstances and riddled with misinformation about things which are now testable. Seems to me that a demonstration of unquestionable authenticity in the form of real universe personalities, as had been done previously, would have suited the modern era better. In the end, all this is of little import to the central question of a first person of creation. I’ve pretty much rejected the Urantia version of it, but by no means rejected the idea of eternal deity. That said, if indeed the price of admission to the afterlife is that which is described in the book, I’m afraid this barbarian may well be out of luck. Time will most certainly tell.
Best to you and yours Dennis. Your name conjured memories of a wonderful time we had in the islands on that trip in ‘78. We saw the beach disappear at Magic Sands, swam in Queens Bath at Kalapana before Pele reclaimed it, and enjoyed the warm hospitality of you and all of the folk in that Captain Cook group. Memories like these are all the more lovely in these later years. If ever you find yourself out our way, and don’t mind hanging out with some heathens, we would enjoy a visit.
a quick note
You write “Seems to me that a demonstration of unquestionable authenticity in the form of real universe personalities, as had been done previously, would have suited the modern era better. ”
well once burned twice shy — the revelators probably figured if ya nail a book to a cross it doesn’t bleed [wink]
It occurred to me way back when that this was a “good reason” for a book. Indeed it raises a few speculative possibilities. But it also, one would presume, be known that as time went on a smaller and smaller percent of the world population will be able to read. One has to wonder if what they (whomever) hoped for it is on track or not.