Workshop Summary: Spirit in Society, Overcoming Resistance

At the 2019 Canberra Urantia Conference, I facilitated a workshop titled Spirit in Society – Overcoming Resistance, where the intention was to look at some common atheistic objections (in the form of questions),  and see what we could come up with in terms of what The Urantia Book teaches on these problems and what we could potentially say when facing such objections.

The attendees were divided into three groups, and each group attempted to answer one of the common objections, given 30 minutes to do so. Afterwards, the group leaders were given an opportunity to report back to everybody.  I’ll now attempt to summarize the group answers produced during the workshop:

Group A

Why does God choose to remain unannounced to many?
The Atheist Says: Why has God never said ‘hello’ to me?

  • God delegates everything he can to subordinates. The assumption is that a God does,
    or should do, everything. God delegates choice to  us, and one of those is to believe
    or not believe.
  • When a prayer does not appear to have been answered, bitterness might ensue. Are our expectations of God reasonable though?
  • We are the custodians of the planet so it’s up to us to improve conditions.
  • Faith (believing without seeing and hearing) is of great value.
  • Cause and effect are in operation in the physical universe. Prayer does not usually alter
    the processes of cause and effect in the physical.
  • The Urantia Book teaches us to pray for values rather than material things. Spiritual goals
    can be achieved regardless of material circumstances.
  • One’s upbringing and genetics influence the capacity to communicate with God and may
    influence the interest in the spiritual.
  • Has a person truly reached out to God? Is a person afraid of a life-transformative
    relationship with the Creator? 

Group B

Why does God allow bad things to happen?
The Atheist Says: If God is there, why does he allow bad or even terrible things to happen?

  • Consider the stories of atheists who become believers. Can their stories help?
  • If a building collapses, it is because of the laws of material things, not because of God?
  • Consider what happens when free will is gone, i.e. the ugliness of a dictatorship?
  • Atheists are ignorant of the true qualities of God and of the divine plan.
  • An arena of choice would not be very functional if God constantly intervened in it.
  • Atheists may not recognise the time lag of justice.
  • The bad situations on Urantia are still very much a result of the rebellion, rather than God’s will.
  • A cosmic perspective removes most of the un-bearableness of difficult life situations experienced on Urantia.

Group C

Why is faith a valid approach to reality, as opposed to the scientific method?
The Atheist Says: Isn’t faith too subjective and unreliable? How do you know you’re not making it up?

  • Faith can be based on reason and does not have to be blind.
  • Truth extends beyond facts (the pursuit of science).
  • Tested faith is scientific.
  • Truth = faith + reason + wisdom.
  • Science can’t answer the “Why” questions.
  • Belief in an intelligent universe is reasonable.
  • Faith connects us to the goodness of values.
  • A counter question may be asked: How do you know that I don’t know?
  • Even a so-called delusional faith may produce good results for life.
  • Science can’t explore all aspects of life.
  • Rather than getting into an argument with someone, why not ask a good question?
  • Fundamentalism is perhaps a bad example of faith, there are healthier kinds.

I hope these summaries of our workshop discussions were useful.

Kind regards,

Dylan Roberts,