On the Revelatory Status of The URANTIA Book

Some years ago I wrote an article for the Six-O-Six newsletter implying that the scientific content of The URANTIA Book may contain errors. This statement brought an impassioned response categorically denying that the book could contain error and stating that in no circumstances would the revelators lie to us. The inclusion of a science content section in Innerface has stirred similar emotional responses, the most extreme being that whenever current science is in disagreement with The URANTIA Book, it is science that is wrong and never the book.

I admit to having subscribed to a similar sentiment when I first accepted the book as a divinely authored revelation. Eventually I discovered so many examples of what I felt sure were errors that the demands of simple logic required me either to abandon my faith in the book as revelation or to delve more deeply into the nature of epochal revelation. If the book was not authored by celestial beings, what then are the alternatives? It contains in-depth coverage in many fields of human knowledge–cosmology, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, geology, anthropology, archaeology, pyschology, biblical scholarship, and then some. It was written prior to the age of computers, computerized data bases, and search and find programs. The amount of research required to write it would have been colossal. And then there was the ‘prophetic’ material I discovered in its pages–such as about neutrinos, supernovas, and neutron stars, the sub-atomic strong force, its statements on continental drift, the time of origin of the solar system–and, in our current Cosmic Reflections section, what might turn out to be a mind-blowing commentary about quantum physics.

It is dubious that a single individual could have written the Urantia Papers. In any case, style analysis indicates multiple authorship. Could a committee have written it, yet maintain both secrecy and the consistency displayed in its text? Taking all factors into consideration, I find the book entirely unique. In my experience, nothing else comes even close to it in terms of its quality and consistency. Hence I have concluded that human authorship is impossibly unlikely. My personal problem then becomes to make sense of its peculiarities. In part, what follows is a result of my delvings.

To the time-space creature, all things must have a beginning save the ONE UNCAUSED–the primeval cause of causes. Therefore do we conceptualize this philosophic value-level as the I AM, at the same time instructing all creatures that the Eternal Son and the Infinite Spirit are co-eternal with the I AM; in other words there never was a time when the I AM was not the Father of the Son, and with him, of the Spirit.

Most of us are content to distil the Foreword’s account of beginnings to something approximating the concept that the I AM escaped solitude by voluntarily occupying a self-created Paradise at the same time as becoming the Universal Father of the Eternal Son. Together, the Father and the Son created the God of Action, the Infinite Spirit. Then, collaboratively, these three created Havona, its inhabitants and the rest of the administration required to put together the Grand and Master Universes. Finally they created ourselves.

In giving us such a time-dependent concept, the book unabashedly acknowledges that it is false, but that it is necessary to do so because our feeble, finite minds are incapable of comprehending the incomprehensible–a spaceless, timeless, infinity that is the dwelling place of likewise incomprehensible, eternal Gods. So did the Revelators lie to us? No, of course not, for they told us what they were going to do.

To fully appreciate the Fifth Epochal Revelation, we really do need to consider the horrific difficulties confronting the revelators in coping with our relatively primitive mental and spiritual capacities. Then there was the further difficulty imposed by the mandate under which they were authorised to work.

I have always thought it strange that the mandate to produce the book was not spelled out in some kind of preface. Surely that would have been the logical place for the Revelators to inform us about the limitations to what they were permitted to tell us. But this is not so–bits of the mandate are scattered throughout the pages of the book, with the part that concerns its science coming long after most of the science content has already been presented.

Another point that we need to note is that this revelation nowhere claims to be either a divine revelation, a divinely inspired revelation, or a product of divine dictation. It is given to us by a goodly number of celestial or superhuman beings ranging from the very high (Divine Counselors, Perfectors of Wisdom, Universal Censors, etc.) to mere midwayers and seraphim who, reputedly, are not all that far above our own lowly levels of intellect.

It is also worth noting that Part 1 of the book has been provided by the most senior group of authors, probably all of whom would have experienced the very presence of the Universal Father in Paradise. Yet these same beings are humble enough to use the words “I/we do not know/understand/comprehend…” at least 35 times in that first section of the Revelation!

Truth, what is truth?” is a phrase made infamous by Pontius Pilate during the trial of Jesus of Nazareth. In The URANTIA Book, speaking to Nathaniel, Jesus says, “Nothing which human nature has touched can be regarded as infallible. Through the mind of man, divine truth may indeed show forth, but always of relative purity and partial divinity. The creature may crave infallibility, but only the Creators possess it.” (1768)  Only the Creators possess infallibility!! None of the authors for the Urantia Papers were of Creator status!  Hence we would indeed be foolish to expect an infallible revelation. The book also tells us:

 Truth is inconcussible–forever exempt from all transient vicissitudes, albeit never dead and formal,  always vibrant and adaptable–radiantly alive. But when truth becomes linked with fact, then both time and space condition its meanings and correlate its values. Such realities of truth wedded to fact become concepts and are accordingly relegated to the domain of relative cosmic realities.  [Paper 118:3.3, page 1297.4](emphasis added)

None of the 5th Epochal Revelation claims to be infallible truth. We, the recipients, are on a journey of discovery. For us, truth is relative, progressive, experiential. There are grades of relativity for the truth in the book. Each of us is expected to discover his/her own truth. Undoubtedly, some of its truth comes close to being divine truth, may even be divine truth. But that discovery is personal and experiential.

At the very bottom of the gradation of relative truth is the science component of The URANTIA Book. The revelators have told us so: “…within a few short years many of our statements regarding the physical sciences will stand in need of revision in consequence of additional scientific developments and new discoveries….The cosmology of these revelations is not inspired. It is limited by our permission for the co-ordination and sorting of present day knowledge.” (1109) Only in special circumstances could the revelators go beyond the bounds of the knowledge of the mid-1930’s. Important lost knowledge could be restored, and where there were vital gaps in otherwise earned knowledge, information could be supplied.

There are some other important statements that we should be aware of concerning the limitations to the 5th Epochal Revelation. One of them states that, “we shall, in all our efforts to reveal truth and to co-ordinate essential knowledge, give preference to the highest existing human concepts pertaining to the subject to be presented.” (16) For Part 1 of the book, “more than one thousand human concepts representing the highest and most advanced planetary knowledge of spiritual values and universe meanings” have been used. (17) For Part 4 of the book, the midwayer responsible for preparing the narrative of the life and teachings of Jesus utilized thought gems and superior concepts assembled from “more than two thousand human beings who have lived on earth from the days of Jesus down to the time of inditing of these revelations, more correctly re-statements.“(1343) Other sources were used only when the midwayer could testify that he had failed to find the required conceptual expression in purely human sources.

The mandate states, Any cosmology presented as a part of revealed religion is destined to be outgrown in a very short time. Accordingly,  future students of such a revelation are tempted to discard any element of genuine religious truth it may contain because they discover errors on the face of the associated cosmologies therein presented.” (1109) What could be clearer? The URANTIA Book contains a cosmology as a part of revealed religion. It does not exclude itself from the consequences of its own statement. In effect, it says, “expect to discover errors, but please do not throw out the baby with the bath water, do not discard the genuine religious truths contained herein.”

Many of us have tended to ignore these statements and have read the book as if it was entirely derived from superhuman or celestial sources. Only in the last few years has there been any concerted effort to identify the human sources of Urantia Book material. Slowly it is becoming evident that the book’s own statements regarding human sources are accurate. Much of its science and cosmology is directly derived from human sources available at the time of writing of the Papers–and often includes what are now thought to be the errors contained in that material. But how could it be otherwise? Surely a version of mid-1930’s speculative science and cosmology from which all error had been eliminated would have provided us with a very large mass of unearned knowledge, something specifically proscribed by the mandate.

The URANTIA Book contains revelation. Of that I am sure. It contains a vast amount of authentic, original religious truth just waiting for us to discover and make our own. It also contains a cosmology appropriate to the level of human knowledge in the 1930’s. Hidden within that cosmology, there is prophetic information to discover that covers vital missing gaps in our knowledge. For me, the fun in exploring the science content of the book has been to try to identify some of those prophetic segments. Finding them has helped me in my personal search for truth, particularly during the early days of my puzzling about the book. At first it helped me to take the book seriously, then to persist in trying to understand it until, eventually, I learned to rely upon my Thought Adjuster and the Spirit of Truth to take charge of the truth in my life.

Recognition of the book’s peculiarities raised many questions in my mind. Why was it written in this strange way when many of the problems so generated could easily have been avoided simply by not mentioning them? Was it really necessary to give us such near unbelievable information? Examples are the incredible passenger birds, every fourth child of Adamson and Ratta being born invisible, and the single couple that gave birth to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo children. In contrast, it also provides prophetic statements about neutrinos and neutron stars, continental drift, the age of the solar system, etc. I do not pretend to have a complete answer to the riddle of The URANTIA Book. For me, its prophetic material certainly tipped the scales in favor of accepting the book for what it claims to be. Perhaps it was written as it is so that any sincere truth seeker would inevitably find their own revelation somewhere within its pages. Perhaps those who are consciously or sub-consciously seeking their own ‘cop-out’ will also find what they seek. Perhaps also, this must be so because God has decreed that our free will is sacrosanct.

Though it be a puzzle, the existence of its riddles has only served to increase my reverence, awe, and respect for the book. As the years go by, more and more its revelatory religious and spiritual content becomes the hub about which my very being revolves. But it is not a book that is at the center of the hub. It is its simple gospel message, to wit: the revelation of Jesus that I am a child of a gracious, compassionate, and loving heavenly Father and the recipient of a progressive unfolding by my Thought Adjuster and the Spirit of the meaning of my existence–provided only that I voluntarily seek to know and do the Father’s will.

This article was first published in InnerFace International  2.1 – Jan/Feb 1995