Now and the Future According to The Urantia Book
Recent world events indicate we are living in challenging times, hence the theme of ANZURA’s annual conference at Hepburn Springs in Victoria from 29 Sept to 2 Oct 2017 titled : The Challenge of Survival – Now and the Future according to The Urantia Book.
Paper 99 has insights to help guide us.
Mankind is on the march toward a new and unrevealed planetary destiny. [Paper 99:1.1, page 1086:1].
We can’t …hope to settle down as in past ages. The social ship has steamed out of the sheltered bays of established tradition and has begun its cruise upon the high seas of evolutionary destiny; and the soul of man, as never before in the world’s history, needs carefully to scrutinize its charts of morality and painstakingly to observe the compass of religious guidance. [Paper 99:1.3, page 1086:6]
With the advance of modern communications and travel the challenges of today are echoing around the globe and at the conference we looked at some of the most immediate matters of concern: – End Times prophesies – including the Second Coming of Christ, Nuclear War, Global Warming – Pollution, Overpopulation – Extinction, Terrorism – War, Globalisation – New World Order – Mass Surveillance. (Note: none of the matters examined were based on any expertise–each in themselves could fill a conference. The information was gleaned from the internet and other sources both written and audio then sprinkled with some common sense). In confronting these issues, what can we contribute as Religionists / Spiritual people? What guidance can we get from the Urantia Book ?
A new and fuller revelation of the religion of Jesus is destined to conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and to overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism. Urantia is now quivering on the very brink of one of its most amazing and enthralling epochs of social readjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment. [Paper 195:9.2, page 2082:7]
We live in truly defining times, not only for ourselves and our families and friends, but for this beautiful blue and green spinning sphere on which we co-exist, at the back end of the local universe on the outer fringes of the Grand Universe… amidst 7 trillion inhabited planets.
Religions / Non Religions, Today. In 2012 religious and non-religious populations in the world, in terms of percentage, consisted as follows: – 31.5 Christians, 23.2 Muslims, 16.3 Unaffiliated, 15 Hindus, 7.1 Buddhists, 5.9 Folk religionists, 0.8 Others, 0.2 Jews. “Unaffiliated” includes ”…agnostic, atheist, secular humanist, and people answering ‘none’ or no religious preference. Half of this group is theistic but nonreligious. According to a 2012 study by Gallup International “59% of the world said that they think of themselves as a religious person, 23% think of themselves as not religious whereas 13% think of themselves as convinced atheists”. (Wikipedia)
End Times. Is it the fear of climate based disaster that has brought on the discussion on our planet that we are in the End Times? Each of the world religions has prophesy about the end of the world we know and a saviour who redeems the planet, and science has a list of theories about the ultimate end of the planet. Interestingly Islam has an end time in which its saviour Mahdi obtains assistance from Isa (Jesus) to triumph over the false messiah. Christianity, based on various interpretations of the Biblical book of Revelation cites the increase of violence, leading to the anti-christ gathering followers in the name of world peace, later to deceive them, resulting in the final battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ, who will be the world’s saviour.
The Urantia Book cites confusion by Jesus’s followers when he told them that “…while he intended presently to leave this world, he would most certainly return to consummate the work of the heavenly kingdom.” 176:2.1 (1914.2). “…But the Apostle John never became thus confused”.176:2.8 (1915.5). It was the apostle John who then went on to write the book of Revelation. We presume therefore that some truths are contained in Revelation. The Urantia Book however does not emphasize the importance of, or provide assurance, as to any expectations that we may have of the Saviour coming to deliver us from the potential calamities that we face at this time.
Each generation of believers should carry on their work, in view of the possible return of the Son of Man, exactly as each individual believer carries forward his lifework in view of inevitable and ever-impending natural death. When you have by faith once established yourself as a son of God, nothing else matters as regards the surety of survival.
[Paper 176:3.3, page 1916.3]
You would do well, therefore, to disassociate the Master’s personal return to earth from any and all set events or settled epochs. We are sure of only one thing: He has promised to come back. We have no idea as to when he will fulfill this promise or in what connection. As far as we know, he may appear on earth any day, and he may not come until age after age has passed and been duly adjudicated by his associated Sons of the Paradise corps. [Paper 176:4.6, page 1919.3]
The children of light are all destined to see him, and it is of no serious concern whether we go to him or whether he should chance first to come to us. Be you therefore ever ready to welcome him on earth as he stands ready to welcome you in heaven. [Paper 176:4.7, page 1919.4]
It is up to us therefore to deal with, confront where necessary and come to terms with our present predicament, guided by our unseen divine helpers, and without any overt material or other saving manifestation of the Master. He will surely return and we will surely not survive this realm, but we are destined to see him.
Nuclear War. There are some 16,300 nuclear weapons spread between nine countries. Russia has 7,500, USA – 7,200, France – 300, China – 250, UK – 215, Pakistan – 100 to120, India – 90 to 110, Israel – 80, North Korea – less than 10. (Statista). In this context it takes only one Guy (Fawkes) to ignite the ensuing bonfire and it takes level headed non-egotistical leaders to diplomatically steer their countries and the realm through hostilities and not revert to nuclear war. Unfortunately at this time we do not appear to have that hoped for leadership in North Korea and USA. North Korea with less than 10 warheads has enough to conflagrate an awful calamity and the US leader appears reckless with questionable diplomatic skills and insults directed to his opposite. Further to this, there are apparently no legal or Congressional impediments between the President and his decision to exercise nuclear armaments and this is also feeds into collective fears of doom.
There is an old Catholic based prophesy from the late 1880’s / early 1900’s about the earth being enveloped by darkness lasting three days and three nights. All the enemies of the Church, whether known or unknown, will perish over the whole earth during that universal darkness, with the exception of a few whom God will soon convert. This would appear to mirror nuclear war wherein burning cities would create millions of tons of thick, black smoke. “This smoke would rise above cloud level, into the stratosphere, where it would quickly spread around the planet. A large nuclear war would produce enough smoke to block most sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface….this would utterly devastate the environment and cause most people to starve to death. Deadly climate change, radioactive fallout and toxic pollution would cause already stressed ecosystems to collapse. The result would be a mass extinction event that would wipe out many animals living at the top of the food chains – including human beings.” (http://www.nucleardarkness.org)
Facing these insurmountable and overwhelming events should they happen, what reassurance can we obtain from the Urantia Book? There is no real temporal relief revealed in the Book; we will suffer as others shall whatever befalls the planet. There are however, as expected, insightful and uplifting homilies albeit they are challenging and awesome in themselves.
Jesus portrayed the profound surety of the God-knowing mortal when he said: “To a God-knowing kingdom believer, what does it matter if all things earthly crash?” Temporal securities are vulnerable, but spiritual sureties are impregnable. When the flood tides of human adversity, selfishness, cruelty, hate, malice, and jealousy beat about the mortal soul, you may rest in the assurance that there is one inner bastion, the citadel of the spirit, which is absolutely unassailable. [Paper 100:2.7, page 1096:4]
After such spiritual attainment, whether secured by gradual growth or specific crisis, there occurs a new orientation of personality as well as the development of a new standard of values. Such spirit-born individuals are so remotivated in life that they can calmly stand by while their fondest ambitions perish and their keenest hopes crash; they positively know that such catastrophes are but the redirecting cataclysms which wreck one’s temporal creations preliminary to the rearing of the more noble and enduring realities of a new and more sublime level of universe attainment.
[Paper 100:2.8, page 1096:5]
If however the inevitable happens and the planet is plunged into horrific nuclear war (or hit by a celestial comet or some other catastrophe) what will happen to our mortal terrestrial existence? There is some otherworldly assurance from the Book.
…While there is this dematerializing technique for preparing the Adams for transit from Jerusem to the evolutionary worlds, there is no equivalent method for taking them away from such worlds unless the entire planet is to be emptied, in which event emergency installation of the dematerialization technique is made for the entire salvable population. If some physical catastrophe should doom the planetary residence of an evolving race, the Melchizedeks and the Life Carriers would install the technique of dematerialization for all survivors, and by seraphic transport these beings would be carried away to the new world prepared for their continuing existence. The evolution of a human race, once initiated on a world of space, must proceed quite independently of the physical survival of that planet….[Paper 51:2.3, page 582:3]
No-one wants an apocalyptic catastrophe terminating our lives on the planet and ultimately the planet itself. The Papers concerning Light and Life describe the intended future of Urantia as eternal. Civilization through the epochs evolves into a near paradisiacal spiritual society guided by the golden rule. We humans are however (mostly) the most intelligent beings and custodians of the planet in a material sense. As revealed in the Book we are also not forgotten even as we wander the planet and at times wreak horrific and wanton destruction. Whilst we are given free will to choose our planetary destiny, we are also in the watch care of our awesome and lovingly loyal celestial creators and carers – us budding developing souls not lost but found in the cosmic kindergarten of the eternal divine school of life.
Global Warming – Pollution – Overpopulation.
Pollution. Whatever the causes, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record, have occurred since 2001. Satellite data shows that earth’s polar ice sheets are losing mass. Average sea levels have risen 7 inches (178 mm) over the past 100 years. Carbon dioxide levels in the air are at their highest in 650,000 years. (https://climate.nasa.gov/)
Some 80% of all urban areas (world–wide) have air pollution levels above what’s considered healthy by the World Health Organization. Pollutants can be especially dangerous because they can get lodged in the lungs and cause long-term health problems like asthma and chronic lung disease. (www.businessinsider.com)
Plastic pollution is epidemic. Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times. It takes 500 to 1,000 years for plastic to degrade. Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated). One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
Facing these survival challenges is daunting and if we don’t meet these our future looks grim. Overheating of the planet, rising sea levels, breathing the air we so need, cleaning up our planet and in particular urban environments are immediate concerns. Plastic is a staple in our lives, it is everywhere and finding a viable replacement is yet to be achieved.
Overpopulation. Various extinctions have occurred throughout history. Conventional science research says that when the human race—Homo sapiens sapiens—migrated out of Africa to the Middle East, waves of extinction soon followed. Large vertebrates were hunted to extinction by hunter-gatherers. Discovery of agriculture caused a population boom and a need to plow wildlife habitats, divert streams, and maintain large herds of domestic cattle. The next and largest extinction cycle began around 1800 with the harnessing of fossil fuels. With enormous, cheap energy at its disposal, the human population grew rapidly. Humans’ impact has been so profound that scientists have proposed the “…global environmental effects of increased human population and economic development” dominate planetary physical, chemical, and biological conditions. (biologicaldiversity.org.)
Extinctions have grown and virtually equalled the growth of world population. 30,000 species per year (or three species per hour) are being driven to extinction.
Effects of overpopulation are listed as loss of fresh water, species extinction, increased habitat loss, lower life expectancy, deletion of natural resources, increased emergence of new epidemics and pandemics, increased global warming and climate change, elevated crime rate. (Everythingconnects.org)
There are however some positive reports concerning diminished growth. Before 1800, the world population growth rate was always well below 1%. Over the course of the first fifty years of the 20th century, however, annual growth increased to up to 2.1%—the highest annual growth rate in history, which was recorded in 1962. Since peaking, the growth rate has systematically been going down, with projections estimating an annual rate of 0.1% for 2100. This means that while the world population quadrupled in the 20th century, it will not double in the 21st century. (ourworldindata.org)
The Urantia Book echoes these logical and inherent concerns
4. Human resources. Man power is indispensable to the spread of civilization. All things equal, a numerous people will dominate the civilization of a smaller race. Hence failure to increase in numbers up to a certain point prevents the full realization of national destiny, but there comes a point in population increase where further growth is suicidal. Multiplication of numbers beyond the optimum of the normal man-land ratio means either a lowering of the standards of living or an immediate expansion of territorial boundaries by peaceful penetration or by military conquest, forcible occupation.
[Paper 81:6.11, page 907:8]
You are sometimes shocked at the ravages of war, but you should recognize the necessity for producing large numbers of mortals so as to afford ample opportunity for social and moral development; with such planetary fertility there soon occurs the serious problem of overpopulation. Most of the inhabited worlds are small. Urantia is average, perhaps a trifle undersized. The optimum stabilization of national population enhances culture and prevents war. And it is a wise nation which knows when to cease growing.
[Paper 81:6.12, page 908:1]
Terrorism – War. …Terrorism is “…a set of methods of combat rather than an identifiable ideology or movement, and involves premeditated use of violence against (primarily) non-combatants in order to achieve a psychological effect of fear on others than the immediate targets.” Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health.
When Fear is a Weapon ….The aftermath of a terrorist attack can make people feel more vulnerable. And as cities go on alert because of the threat of future attacks, fear can colour our daily routines and world views. Theconversation.com – Daniel Antonius
…“nations are hampered by an inability to define and criminalise terrorism” and this remains a problem in achieving trans-national counter-terrorism. Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health.
As to the number of deaths due to terrorism worldwide between 2006 and 2016: 25,621 people were killed by terrorists in 2016. The number of terrorist attacks worldwide declined between 2006 and 2016. In 2006, about 14,371 terrorist attacks were counted, while in 2016, 11,072 terrorist attacks were counted. (www.statista.com.)
Terrorism and its threat has not only seriously heightened alarm about safety and security it has also activated considerable political, social and legislative changes around the world so as to prevent and protect day-to-day lives of citizens where attacks have least been expected in the midst of relatively peaceful communities. It has reciprocally caused civil liberties and freedom of movement and other rights enjoyed by communities to be circumscribed on the basis of protecting the innocent. In western countries, especially after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001, the fear of Muslim terror attacks has been pervasively published. In attempting to examine the impact of this threat looking at the statistics can put some perspective on this heightened alarm and the power of its effect.
World-wide deaths – Of the 56.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes… heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed 3.2 million lives in 2015, while lung cancer (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.7 million deaths. Diabetes killed 1.6 million people in 2015, up from less than 1 million in 2000. Deaths due to Dementia more than doubled between 2000 and 2015, making it the 7th leading cause of global deaths in 2015. ( World Health Organization)
Muslim Terrorist Attacks. …The truth is that the number of acts of terrorism committed by misguided Muslims—in violation of clear Quranic texts and established Islamic principles—is only a tiny fraction of the violence committed in our world. In the 4 years between 2011 and 2014 there were 746 terrorist attacks in Europe. Of these, only eight were religiously-inspired, which is 1% of the total. But even the perpetrators of these acts were not all Muslim. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on US soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. ( firstname.lastname@example.org.) 2.6% of victims of terrorism this century have been in Europe and North America. 95% of all victims in 2015 were in Africa, Middle East and South Asia.
Globalisation – New World Order – Mass Surveillance. The world-wide-web, blogs and other literature recite and repeat numerous conspiracy theories about the threat of domination by a world order and the enslavement of the ordinary citizen.
“There is a plan for the world – a New World Order – devised by a British/American/European financial elite of immense wealth and power, with centuries-old historical roots…(it) controls the politicians, the courts, the educational institutions, the food, the natural resources, the foreign policies, the economies and the money of most nations. And, the major media, which is why we know nothing about them. ..For most of history…the world has been ruled by powerful elites who wielded absolute power over their societies, controlled the wealth and resources of their known world, and dominated their people by force. The New World Order cabal plans to restore this model of totalitarian rule on a global scale.
The endgame will be a one-world government presiding over the earth for the benefit of global oligarchs…leaving the mass of humanity as serfs, to serve the elite, while suffering impoverishment and immiseration. The plan includes scientifically engineered global population reduction (viruses/vaccines/genetically-modified food), cutting the world’s population to less than one billion, leaving the earth’s resources for the exclusive use of this global oligarchy.
A wealthy and powerful oligarchy of banks, corporations, and dynastic families and institutions, runs the world…through interlocking boards of directors and stock ownership, acting through private clubs, societies and institutions, dominating national governments, both democratic and authoritarian…generating obscene profits from …weapons trafficking, funding wars and controlling the global trade in drugs…they accumulate more and more wealth and power, they undermine democracy, exploit the weak and vulnerable, ruin lives, and kill hope for millions. …. The endgame of this plutocracy is global financial domination and world government.( realworldorder.net)
Away from the conspiracy theories the benefits and costs of Globalisation are discussed from greater free trade, free movement of labour, greater competition, increased investment to developing countries struggling to compete, the environment suffering, diminished cultural diversity, tax competition and avoidance. (www.economicshelp.org)
Rich and Poor. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says. In its 34 member states, the richest 10% of the population earn 9.6 times the income of the poorest 10%. “CEOs today get pay that’s roughly 300 times that of ordinary workers – it used to be 20 or 30 times. No increase in productivity justifies this change in relative compensation. “ ( bbc.com/news/business-32824770)
Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population—more than 3 billion people—live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day. 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Oxfam estimates that it would take $60 billion annually to end extreme global poverty–that’s less than 1/4 the income of the top 100 richest billionaires.
Despite the considerable inequities there are positive statistics that there has been a decline in global extreme poverty. “The share of the world population living in extreme poverty has fallen very substantially in the last 200 years: from over 80% in 1820 to 10% in the latest estimates. In recent decades, extreme poverty has declined faster than ever before in human history. Economic growth over the last 200 years completely transformed our world, with poverty falling continuously over the last two centuries. This is even more remarkable when we consider that the population increased 7-fold over the same time…this would be potentially be enough to drive everyone into extreme poverty. Yet, the exact opposite happened. In a time of unprecedented population growth, we managed to lift more and more people out of poverty. (ourworldindata)
Responses from the Urantia Book. In relation to the above issues Terrorism – War, Globalisation–New World Order, the Urantia Book does not necessarily answer specific issues directly but does give overall insight, guidance and wisdom.
…Wealth is not a natural gift; it results from labour, knowledge, and organization.
[Paper 69:2.2 , page 773:3]
…In the past, institutional religion could remain passive while the upper strata of society turned a deaf ear to the sufferings and oppression of the helpless lower strata, but in modern times these lower social orders are no longer so abjectly ignorant nor so politically helpless.
[Paper 99:1.5, page 1087:2]
…cultural society is no great and beneficent club of inherited privilege into which all men are born with free membership and entire equality. Rather is it an exalted and ever-advancing guild of earth workers, admitting to its ranks only the nobility of those toilers who strive to make the world a better place in which their children and their children’s children may live and advance in subsequent ages. And this guild of civilization exacts costly admission fees, imposes strict and rigorous disciplines, visits heavy penalties on all dissenters and nonconformists, while it confers few personal licenses or privileges except those of enhanced security against common dangers and racial perils.
[Paper 81:5.3, page 906:1]
…Might does not make right, but it does enforce the commonly recognized rights of each succeeding generation. The prime mission of government is the definition of the right, the just and fair regulation of class differences, and the enforcement of equality of opportunity under the rules of law. Every human right is associated with a social duty; group privilege is an insurance mechanism which unfailingly demands the full payment of the exacting premiums of group service. And group rights, as well as those of the individual, must be protected, including the regulation of the sex propensity. [Paper 81:5.6, page 906:4]
The Profit Motive.
Present-day profit-motivated economics is doomed unless profit motives can be augmented by service motives. Ruthless competition based on narrow-minded self-interest is ultimately destructive of even those things which it seeks to maintain. Exclusive and self-serving profit motivation is incompatible with Christian ideals — much more incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. [Paper 71:6.1, page 805:5]
…The profit motive of economic activities is altogether base and wholly unworthy of an advanced order of society; nevertheless, it is an indispensable factor throughout the earlier phases of civilization…(and it) …must not be taken away from men until they have firmly possessed themselves of superior types of nonprofit motives for economic striving and social serving—the transcendent urges of superlative wisdom, intriguing brotherhood, and excellency of spiritual attainment.
[Paper 71:5.1, page 805:1]
Competition is essential to social progress, but competition, unregulated, breeds violence. In current society,..(it)…is slowly displacing war in that it determines the individual’s place in industry, as well as decreeing the survival of the industries themselves. (Murder and war differ in their status before the mores, murder having been outlawed since the early days of society, while war has never yet been outlawed by mankind as a whole.) [Paper 71:5.1, page 805:7]
…The ideal state undertakes to regulate social conduct only enough to take violence out of individual competition and to prevent unfairness in personal initiative. Here is a great problem in statehood: How can you guarantee peace and quiet in industry, pay the taxes to support state power, and at the same time prevent taxation from handicapping industry and keep the state from becoming parasitical or tyrannical? [Paper 71:5.2, page 805:2]
…Throughout the earlier ages of any world, competition is essential to progressive civilization. As the evolution of man progresses, co-operation becomes increasingly effective. In advanced civilizations co-operation is more efficient than competition. Early man is stimulated by competition. Early evolution is characterized by the survival of the biologically fit, but later civilizations are the better promoted by intelligent co-operation, understanding fraternity, and spiritual brotherhood.
[Paper 71:5.3, page 805:3]
…True, competition in industry is exceedingly wasteful and highly ineffective, but no attempt to eliminate this economic lost motion should be countenanced if such adjustments entail even the slightest abrogation of any of the basic liberties of the individual. [Paper 71:5.4, page 805:4]
Political Sovereignty–World Government
…Sovereignty is power and it grows by organization. This growth of the organization of political power is good and proper, for it tends to encompass ever-widening segments of the total of mankind. But this same growth of political organizations creates a problem at every intervening stage between the initial and natural organization of political power — the family — and the final consummation of political growth — the government of all mankind, by all mankind, and for all mankind.
[Paper 134:5.5, page 1488:3]
Urantia will not enjoy lasting peace until the so-called sovereign nations intelligently and fully surrender their sovereign powers into the hands of the brotherhood of men — mankind government. [Paper 134:5.10, page 1489:1]
…As the number of truly sovereign nations (great powers) decreases, so do both opportunity and need for mankind government increase. When there are only a few really sovereign (great) powers,..(USA, Russia, China ?)…either they must embark on the life and death struggle for national (imperial) supremacy, or else, by voluntary surrender of certain prerogatives of sovereignty, they must create the essential nucleus of supernational power which will serve as the beginning of the real sovereignty of all mankind. [Paper 134:5.11, page 1489:2]
Tyranny / Totalitarianism.
…Progressive Civilization. The appearance of genuine brotherhood signifies that a social order has arrived in which all men delight in bearing one another’s burdens; they actually desire to practice the golden rule. But such an ideal society cannot be realized when either the weak or the wicked lie in wait to take unfair and unholy advantage of those who are chiefly actuated by devotion to the service of truth, beauty, and goodness. In such a situation only one course is practical: The “golden rulers” may establish a progressive society in which they live according to their ideals while maintaining an adequate defense against their benighted fellows who might seek either to exploit their pacific predilections or to destroy their advancing civilization. [Paper 71:4.16, page 804:16]
…Idealism can never survive on an evolving planet if the idealists in each generation permit themselves to be exterminated by the baser orders of humanity. And here is the great test of idealism: Can an advanced society maintain that military preparedness which renders it secure from all attack by its war-loving neighbors without yielding to the temptation to employ this military strength in offensive operations against other peoples for purposes of selfish gain or national aggrandizement? National survival demands preparedness, and religious idealism alone can prevent the prostitution of preparedness into aggression. Only love, brotherhood, can prevent the strong from oppressing the weak. [Paper 71:4.17, page 804:17]