Canberra Conference 2004
Though it’s obviously difficult to guess just what was taught in Eden 37,000 years ago, the children of Adam and Eve must have been told something of the nature and structure of Nebadon and its component constellations and systems, and particularly of their own future after their sojourn on Urantia was finished.
They would more or less comprehend that the apparent dichotomy between life in the flesh, and the subsequent morontia and spirit lives, is not entirely real.
In our era we are accustomed to thinking of “life after death”, but readers of
The Urantia Book are coming to understand the situation more from the Edenic perspective—that life begins, and passes through various stages. Instead of living, dying, and experiencing “life after death”, we are beginning to see life as a continuum where we are born into a life which extends into the future, a life we share with others in many different forms and phases, and in which we are already participating. Physical death is just a stage along the way.
This allows us to cultivate a vision of our place in the scheme of things where we are collaborating with that vast host of other beings described in the book, some like us, some not, in the great work of evolving an entire universe from an unfinished state to a state of perfection. And the work has already begun. We are not waiting for “life after death” to begin our participation in it.
Though not widely shared at the moment, there is absolutely nothing difficult or secret about this vision.
Certainly no-one wants to hide it. Anyone who shares it longs to introduce it to others. But we live in an era when there is a general lack of interest in anything non-material.
There are actually logical reasons for this, reasons which have to do with the history and behaviour of religionists, as well as the remarkable success of technological progress, but our civilization will collapse if the lack persists.
Many years ago, before I found The URANTIA Book, I remember reading a science fantasy—I think by Kurt Vonnegut Junior, or someone like that—which described how a group of people finished their work in the world, took off their bodies, folded them up neatly and discarded them, and moved into the next stage of existence. It was rather a silly image, but I thought it an interesting way of thinking about “life after death”, as I then conceived it, and I now see that he was trying to make the same point that I am trying to make now, namely that we are already living the life that is the “life after death”. The adventure has already begun. Death is just one transition stage, albeit a big one, in a long chain of experience and transition, an Echo of Eden which reverberates in The Urantia Book.
The Adamites would also have been educated into a reality suitable for the ready acceptance of the population they were intended to upstep. Whatever the level of culture at the time—and we don’t really know a lot about it—the knowledge of higher things embodied in the culture of Eden would have been expressed in symbols comprehensible to the people of the time, symbols designed to inspire them to progressive effort.
We, in our own time, encounter an analogous situation with The Urantia Book. The most influential cultures of today seem to be losing their way. The vision which stimulated such stunning progress in recent centuries seems to have lost the power to inspire. People who know something of physics, astronomy, evolution and so forth are just not inspired by the bible, the Koran, the Rig Veda or the Tao te Ching. Such expositions of reality seem irrelevant in a world of scientific rationalism. The Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, even though they produced great civilizations in the past, seem to be inspiring fewer and fewer in each generation, and the traditions are being abandoned in favour of scientific rationalism.
The restatement of the underlying truths in these inspiring traditions in symbols suited to an age of scientific reason is found in The Urantia Book. The best and most profound of these truths are not all that much different in essence—a few corrections here and there, some fine tuning of theological concepts, and the discarding of some of the worst errors—but the tone has changed from one of sacredness and mystery to one of information and education. The cosmology, though somewhat out of date now, as scientist-readers keep reminding us, is distinctly in the modern language of science and reason rather than in the traditional metaphor and superstition. We are left in no doubt that whatever scientific errors The URANTIA Book may contain, Science and Reason are the appropriate means to attempt to comprehend material reality. Magic, miracles and divine intervention are not normal parts of material cause and effect, and even though material reality is ultimately under God’s personal control, the agents of that control work mostly, at least in the finite realm, through causes and effects best studied by the scientific method.
The Adamites may well have been introduced to some quite advanced ideas. Like us, they must have wondered what God is up to. Why has he down stepped absoluteness to absonity, and then finity, thus bringing the universe into existence? Why has he set up the ascension scheme to elevate the lowest will creatures in that universe to the point where they can consort directly with him? Isn’t it truly extraordinary that a perfect and complete being should bother to be anything other than perfect, complete, self-contained and self-sufficient? To be crudely succinct, what is in it for him? Well, of course, I haven’t got the slightest clue what conclusions the Adamites might have come to, even though I bet they wondered, just as we do. But I suspect that God is creating associates, beings with whom he can interact personally, and who, on the absolute level are personal, individual, and evolved enough to be interesting to him in ways which are not purely infantile. It is almost as if he has separated off bits of himself, given those bits genuine individuality and free will, and allowed those who respond to his loving influence freely and of their own volition to evolve the capacity to interact directly with him. It’s as if the entire cosmos has been brought into existence so that divine love, alone and unassisted, can attract freewill creatures back to the source of personality. And these unique personalities have accumulated experience which he finds interesting. He participates in these experiences through the experiential deities, and (possibly?) finds those experiences more interesting as they occur on higher levels, and are harder-won. (Here I am sticking my neck out!) Personalities ascend godward by learning to do what it is impossible for them to do by trying to do it anyway.
The effort thus expended increases their ability, and this expansion of ability allows them to achieve what was previously impossible. The experience generated in the process is enjoyed by God through the Supreme and the Ultimate, and culminates, after the completion of the entire Master Universe, and the penetration of the Absolute begun by such personalities, in beings who can interact with the Universal Father himself in ways which he finds stimulating. Perhaps the analogy may be that the children have grown up, and can thus relate to their father in ways mature enough to intrigue him.
And so the old story is restated in terms appropriate to the modern era.
Eden echoes through it.