Star Maps [UPDATED]

May 27, 2009 at 1:13 pm (By Amba)

[S]ociety can never 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. The paramount mission of religion as a social influence is to stabilize the ideals of mankind during these dangerous times of transition from one phase of civilization to another, from one level of culture to another.

What the heck is the Urantia book?  A bizarre mixture of good sense and nonsense:

[T]he greatest error of the teaching about the Scriptures is the doctrine of there being sealed books of mystery and wisdom which only the wise minds of the nation dare to interpret. The revelations of divine truth are not sealed except by human ignorance, bigotry, and narrow-minded intolerance. The light of the Scriptures is only dimmed by prejudice and darkened by superstition. A false fear of sacredness has prevented religion from being safeguarded by common sense. The fear of the authority of the sacred writings of the past effectively prevents the honest souls of today from accepting the new light of the gospel, the light which these very God-knowing men of another generation so intensely longed to see.

* * *

The Urantia Book teaches us that there are three planets near us that are suitable to harbor life, but perhaps not intelligent life, as we know it. However, there MAY BE intelligent life on some of the moons in our solar system.

Even if a planetary moon may appear to have no familiar attributes that would support life as we know it on Earth, it may yet be able to support life-forms that are unlike us, for example, the nonbreathers. The nonbreathers are a fascinating group, and they are mortals like us, except that they are not Adjuster-fused. Their lives are very different from our own, as you will see if you follow the links.

We are told in The Urantia Book that there are nine moons in our local universe which can support the nonbreather type of life, and, intriguingly, “You would be more than interested in the planetary conduct of this type of mortal because such a race of beings inhabits a sphere in close proximity to Urantia.” p564:2(49:3.6)

A brave if sometimes screwy attempt to carry Christian wisdom into an expanded universe.

UPDATE:  Related, crazy stuff:

In short, there are two and only two options.  1. You learn to accept the mythic dimensions of yourself (whatever your particular views on God, no God, or whatever) and learn to transmute them.  You learn in other words, as Ricoeur said, to have a second naivete.  You take them with an “as if” quality.  First naivete or actual mythic faith takes the mythic stories as literally/concretely true as Myers, Hitchens, and Dawkins do with their atheist myth.  Numerous theistic fundamentalists could be brought up as examples as well (Pat Robertson, Bill Donahue, etc. etc.). 2. Or you continue to bumble around castigating others for the speck of myth in their eye while never noticing the giant plank of unconscious myth coming forth from yours.

But what myth to teach?  The prime difficulty an atheist religion will have if it tries to translate downward into a mythic form in a honest self-conscious manner is that it is hard to form new myths after the rise of the scientific-critical age.  Just ask The Mormons. Since the Jewish & Christian myths have such a long history they have that piece of Universe Property pretty well in hand. Which is why attempts to generate counter-myths in Western history almost always (if not always) end up parroting the Jewish-Christian myth:  e.g. communism’s ideal state as a secularized version of the myth of the Millennium.  Same with liberal capitalism’s argument for the inevitable land of wealth, peace, and liberty when all adopt those mechanisms of economics and governance (”The End of History”).

Probably the best version of an atheist mythos would be to mythicize the up to date scientific story of Creation.  You don’t need a god/God for that story but properly done it evokes awe, wonder, care, and humility (the best responses to good myth).  It isn’t opposed to religious understandings of the same story–i.e. not a militant anti-theistic atheistic spirituality–though it doesn’t have to be subsumed by the classic religious Western myth either.  It makes science, rightly done, a worshipful devotional act (read: 2nd naivete) without worshiping science. And lastly as a good myth it will need to deal with the question of evil, finitude, and death.  Given that 99+% of all species ever in existence have gone extinct, this worldview is soaked in death (as well as creative rebirth).

9 Comments

  1. Halbert said,

    Hi,

    You may be interested to know about the UBtheNEWS project, which documents how new discoveries and scientific advances are increasingly catching up to the history and science in the Urantia Book. Reports are published as a free service and are written for those who are unfamiliar with the book. See: UBtheNEWS.

    The “quality control” expert for this project is Chris Halvorson, PhD. He has long worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. Chris is the foremost scholar of the Urantia Book and his scholarship is highlighted on the UBtheNEWS website. Of particular interest to this blog would be a 20 minute audio of a talk he gave recently on the 12th planet and UFO’s. This is an extremely intriguing talk, but I warn you there are about 10 minutes of foundation that needs to be explained before he starts getting into the really interesting stuff.

    If you click on the “Info For UB Readers” button and then scroll down the page a little bit, you’ll see how to access the page for Chris’s contributions. There’s a paragraph about each of the recordings, so it will be easy enough for you to locate.

    Enjoy.

    Namaste,
    Halbert

  2. Bruce B. (chickenlittle) said,

    Perhaps I need to read all the links you posted including the books before commenting, but seems to me that the atheists would quibble over one fundamental aspect: the very existence of spirit.

    Robert Frost wrote:

    But God’s own descent
    Into flesh was meant
    As a demonstration
    That the supreme merit
    Lay in risking spirit
    In substantiation.
    Spirit enters flesh
    And for all it’s worth
    Charges into earth
    In birth after birth
    Ever fresh and fresh.
    We may take the view
    That its derring-do
    Thought of in the large
    Is one mighty charge
    On our human part
    Of the soul’s ethereal
    Into the material.

    Don’t you think that there are those who would wish to destroy that notion as surely as the notion of vitalism was destroyed?

  3. Ron said,

    Let’s discuss the myth of having only two options first, shall we?

  4. amba12 said,

    El Pollo: Wow. And Yes. I worked with a neuroscientist who’s a heretic in that he’s a dualist; he doesn’t believe “spirit” or consciousness is entirely reducible to electrical activity in the brain. Standard scientific view nowadays is that it is.

    Ron: Oh, you want to go there again, do you? Worked last time.

  5. amba12 said,

    Oh, Chicken, and speaking of vitalism, they’re no longer so sure that there isn’t something like “the ether.” Now they call it “dark energy.”

  6. chickenlittle said,

    Ron: Oh, you want to go there again, do you? Worked last time.

    That sounds interesting and I’m afraid I missed it first time around. Is there a link to any of that discussion?

    Now they call it ‘dark energy’.

    Now why is it that we hear much more about the known and familar science rather than about the fringes of the unknown?

    That was rhetorical. Only the curious are thinking about those things. I’d like to know more actually.

  7. amba12 said,

    Dark energy is seriously weird. It’s the second stunning blow cosmology has suffered, about 10 yrs ago — they still haven’t recovered. The first was dark matter, suspected in the 1930s by Fritz Zwicky, confirmed in the ’80s by Vera Rubin. About 90 percent of the mass of the universe is undetectable except indirectly, through its gravitational effects. It doesn’t emit or reflect light, and it doesn’t interact with ordinary matter, and nobody knows even now WTF it is. Then comes dark energy in I think 1998. See, after Big Bang everything should have continued to fly apart until the momentum was overcome by gravitation; then the expansion should have slowed, until everything should’ve started to fall back together. Instead, THE EXPANSION OF THE UNIVERSE IS ACCELERATING. I had to learn quite a bit about this to fact check two articles, which is not to say that I understand it. Here’s dark matter, and here’s dark energy,, and here are some more links on the subjects.

    How’s that for TMI?

  8. chickenlittle said,

    Thanks for those links!

  9. amba said,

    De nada.

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