"Convergence"--The Science Content of The Urantia Book
Ken Glasziou, Australia
While at a recent Urantia Book conference, I had occasion to sit in on a discussion between various groups who were in the process of translating the text of The Urantia Book into their own languages. Virtually everyone of them had what, to me, seemed a strange, but understandable, attitude toward the text. They acted as if it were divinely hallowed truth in the same sense as the fundamentalists treat their Bible, a book dictated by God himself, and therefore infallible. These people gave the impression that they were in fear of making a mistake in their translation, lest lightning from the heavens should terminate their efforts.
Yet it is a fact that, among the many authors of The Urantia Book, not a single one has that "Creator" status that would grant them infallibility (1768)--not even those Divine Counselors who authored papers in Part 1. In reality, some of the authors, the midwayers and the seraphim, are only a little above the level of us mortals. Besides that, the revelators inform us that about 3000 contributions have come from human sources, and that the conditions of the mandate were that human sources should be used wherever possible. The revelators tell us that the cosmology of the book is not "inspired," and that they expected that much of the science and cosmology would come to be outdated and in need of correction. Hence when thinking about this book, we need to get our expectations right, and maybe take the recommendation of Bill Sadler who advised Urantia Book readers to never equate their hopes and their expectations.
The book, of course, calls itself the Fifth Epochal Revelation, and regardless of how it got here and who wrote it, for many, including myself, that is precisely what it is, a book that reveals truth of a quality, spirituality, and consequence that far exceeds anything previously available to mankind. But the book itself makes it clear that "revelation" and "absolute truth" are not synonymous.
There is so much material out there on the book shelves of the world claiming to be revelation that we would have to be either naive or desperate to accept the claims of The Urantia Book without at least making some effort to validate its claims. But if we attempt to validate the book's status on the basis of its science, we must distinguish between its prophetic content, its topical content, and its outdated materials. An alternative approach is to concentrate on the prophetic component and also to consider who, other than celestial beings, might have written it--and this is the approach we will take today.
Most of the Urantia Papers bear the date of having been given to us in the 1934/5 period, but history tells us that much of the source material that gave rise to those papers was received and discussed long before that time, even as much as twenty or more years earlier. According to the book, the mandate given to the revelators carried the proviso of "the proscription [prohibition] of the impartation of unearned or premature knowledge," but with a few minor exemptions that permitted correction of errors and divulgence of key facts. This latter provision is what allowed the revelators to include prophetic materials unknown to science at that time. For some of us, the prophetic science content was the justification for singling out The Urantia Book from among all the others for continued in-depth study. Later, many would have found, as I did, that the book's lofty spirituality carries its own justification and validation.
However, The Urantia Book is no ordinary book for not only does it provide us with a multitude of reasons for believing in its revelatory status, but it also provides much ammunition that keeps our options open to reject that status--if that is our desire. In this article, we'll touch upon more than ten physical phenomena that were, at best, the wishful thinking of theoretical physicists at the time the Papers were received, plus a couple of others that they had not even thought of. But if a reason to reject the book's revelatory status and even to make fun of its content is needed, there are always the giant birds that talk while carrying their passengers on 500-mile non-stop trips, or the couple who conceived red, orange, blue, green, yellow, and indigo children, or the other couple that had 16 invisible progeny who, as pairs, produced 248 more invisibles per couple at the rate of one every 70 days. Surely anyone first opening the book where that kind of material occurs would be justified in concluding it was simply rubbish for the gullible. And as well as that, there are the errors now accumulating from its outdated science.
So who wrote the book?
But let's get back to the question that if celestial beings did not write the Papers who did? Because of the magnitude, diversity, and depth of the book's content, I believe that the book could only have been put together by a committee that included highly knowledgeable academics, or people of similar bent and interests.
A committee wrote the book!!
I think that such a committee would have needed a top rate physicist who had close contact with the frontiers of research in sub-atomic physics and astronomy. As well, people with a good knowledge of archaeology, anthropology, geology, the Bible, philosophy, history, and theology would have been required. Some members could have had interests covering more than one area. For the sake of brevity we'll refer to this hypothetical group as