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If space aliens are this boring, I rather stay on Earth
on 19 December 2010
"The Urantia Book" (sometimes erroneously called the Urantia Bible) is a religious scripture first published in 1955. The authorship is unclear. A defected Adventist named William Sadler is often pointed to by sceptics as the probable author, perhaps with the aid of some other people (the entire work is over 2000 pages). Today, several small groups accept "The Urantia Book" as their holy scripture, most notably The Urantia Foundation.
I can't say I was thrilled by this book. Quite the contrary. It's tedious, frivolous and bizarre. I'm frankly surprised that the work has generated so much attention, and been translated to a dozen different languages, including Finnish and Lithuanian. And very few things surprise me these days! Of all silly "new religious movements", this must be the silliest one.
"The Urantia Book" is said to be written by superhuman intelligences, some kind of crosses between angels and space aliens. The universe is supposedly ruled by these intelligences. They have a vast, almost Byzantine, bureaucracy with countless commissions, committees and administrative levels. It seems every little miracle on Earth is first debated and decided upon by committees of angels in some capital city on another planet. There are also courts, laws and decrees to deal with planetary rebellions and what not.
The foreword, gracefully bestowed upon humanity by "an Orvonton Divine Counselor, Chief of the Corps of Superuniverse Personalities assigned to portray on Urantia the truth concerning the Paradise Deities and the universe of universes", contains the following, almost classical lines: "Your world, Urantia, is one of many similar inhabited planets which comprise the local universe of Nebadon. This universe, together with similar creations, makes up the superuniverse of Orvonton, from whose capital, Uversa, our commission hails. Orvonton is one of the seven evolutionary superuniverses of time and space which circle the never-beginning, never-ending creation of divine perfection--the central universe of Havona. At the heart of this eternal and central universe is the stationary Isle of Paradise, the geographic center of infinity and the dwelling place of the eternal God."
Large sections of "The Urantia Book" sound as if they were written by a person with an obsessive compulsive disorder, a person who simply must write interminable documents containing weird ideas and meaningless prose. Other sections look frankly frivolous, at least to a non-believer. They come across as a manuscript to a really bad science fiction movie. The planets and solar systems have absurd names such as Satania, Edenia, Salvington and Jerusem. The last section of the book deals with Jesus, whose real name turns out to be Michael of Salvington. Evangelical heresy-hunters will have a field day: Jesus' death on the cross wasn't an atonement, his resurrection was purely spiritual ("morontian" in the lingo of the aliens), and his physical body remained in the tomb until the aliens - after a committee meeting - decided to quite simply disintegrate it. And yes, the Russellites believe that Jesus was an incarnation of the archangel Michael. Any secret connection? For more tips, please call Hank Hanegraaf!
On a more disturbing note, the authors of "The Urantia Book" are obsessed with racial purity, degeneration and atavism. Ancient wars were good, since they weeded out the weaklings. Modern wars, by contrast, are bad. They only destroy the well-bred people. Since I haven't read all 2000 pages, I don't know exactly how the racial hierarchy looks like, but it seems as if Aborigines and Blacks are at the bottom. Slavery is said to have a civilizing effect. The unknown writers are also at great pains to prove that Joseph and Mary weren't really Jewish. Especially not Mary, who was a tall blond girl. Unsurprisingly, the Old Testament is declared to be non-canonical.
Only a very strong suspension of disbelief can make anyone believe this alternative "bible". Above all, it's boring. If space aliens are like this, I rather remain on Earth!
Finally, some more direct quotes, to give you the flavour of this document, misspellings and all.
[EXTENSIVE QUOTATION BEGINS]
Adam and Eve arrived on Urantia, from the year A.D. 1934, 37,848 years ago. It was in midseason when the Garden was in the height of bloom that they arrived. At high noon and unannounced, the two seraphic transports, accompanied by the Jerusem personnel intrusted with the transportation of the biologic uplifters to Urantia, settled slowly to the surface of the revolving planet in the vicinity of the temple of the Universal Father. All the work of rematerializing the bodies of Adam and Eve was carried on within the precincts of this newly created shrine. And from the time of their arrival ten days passed before they were re-created in dual human form for presentation as the world's new rulers. They regained consciousness simultaneously. The Material Sons and Daughters always serve together. It is the essence of their service at all times and in all places never to be separated. They are designed to work in pairs; seldom do they function alone.
The Planetary Adam and Eve of Urantia were members of the senior corps of Material Sons on Jerusem, being jointly number 14,311. They belonged to the third physical series and were a little more than eight feet in height. At the time Adam was chosen to come to Urantia, he was employed, with his mate, in the trial-and-testing physical laboratories of Jerusem. For more than fifteen thousand years they had been directors of the division of experimental energy as applied to the modification of living forms. Long before this they had been teachers in the citizenship schools for new arrivals on Jerusem. And all this should be borne in mind in connection with the narration of their subsequent conduct on Urantia.
When the proclamation was issued calling for volunteers for the mission of Adamic adventure on Urantia, the entire senior corps of Material Sons and Daughters volunteered. The Melchizedek examiners, with the approval of Lanaforge and the Most Highs of Edentia, finally selected the Adam and Eve who subsequently came to function as the biologic uplifters of Urantia. Adam and Eve had remained loyal to Michael during the Lucifer rebellion; nevertheless, the pair were called before the System Sovereign and his entire cabinet for examination and instruction. The details of Urantia affairs were fully presented; they were exhaustively instructed as to the plans to be pursued in accepting the responsibilities of rulership on such a strife-torn world. They were put under joint oaths of allegiance to the Most Highs of Edentia and to Michael of Salvington. And they were duly advised to regard themselves as subject to the Urantia corps of Melchizedek receivers until that governing body should see fit to relinquish rule on the world of their assignment.
Adam and Eve fell asleep on Jerusem, and when they awakened in the Father's temple on Urantia in the presence of the mighty throng assembled to welcome them, they were face to face with two beings of whom they had heard much, Van and his faithful associate Amadon. These two heroes of the Caligastia secession were the first to welcome them in their new garden home. The tongue of Eden was an Andonic dialect as spoken by Amadon. Van and Amadon had markedly improved this language by creating a new alphabet of twenty-four letters, and they had hoped to see it become the tongue of Urantia as the Edenic culture would spread throughout the world. Adam and Eve had fully mastered this human dialect before they departed from Jerusem so that this son of Andon heard the exalted ruler of his world address him in his own tongue.
And on that day there was great excitement and joy throughout Eden as the runners went in great haste to the rendezvous of the carrier pigeons assembled from near and far, shouting: "Let loose the birds; let them carry the word that the promised Son has come." Hundreds of believer settlements had faithfully, year after year, kept up the supply of these home-reared pigeons for just such an occasion. As the news of Adam's arrival spread abroad, thousands of the near-by tribesmen accepted the teachings of Van and Amadon, while for months and months pilgrims continued to pour into Eden to welcome Adam and Eve and to do homage to their unseen Father. Soon after their awakening, Adam and Eve were escorted to the formal reception on the great mound to the north of the temple. This natural hill had been enlarged and made ready for the installation of the world's new rulers. Here, at noon, the Urantia reception committee welcomed this Son and Daughter of the system of Satania. Amadon was chairman of this committee, which consisted of twelve members embracing a representative of each of the six Sangik races; the acting chief of the midwayers; Annan, a loyal daughter and spokesman for the Nodites; Noah, the son of the architect and builder of the Garden and executive of his deceased father's plans; and the two resident Life Carriers.
The next act was the delivery of the charge of planetary custody to Adam and Eve by the senior Melchizedek, chief of the council of receivership on Urantia. The Material Son and Daughter took the oath of allegiance to the Most Highs of Norlatiadek and to Michael of Nebadon and were proclaimed rulers of Urantia by Van, who thereby relinquished the titular authority which for over one hundred and fifty thousand years he had held by virtue of the action of the Melchizedek receivers. And Adam and Eve were invested with kingly robes on this occasion, the time of their formal induction into world rulership. Not all of the arts of Dalamatia had been lost to the world; weaving was still practiced in the days of Eden. Then was heard the archangels' proclamation, and the broadcast voice of Gabriel decreed the second judgment roll call of Urantia and the resurrection of the sleeping survivors of the second dispensation of grace and mercy on 606 of Satania. The dispensation of the Prince has passed, the age of Adam, the third planetary epoch, opens amidst scenes of simple grandeur; and the new rulers of Urantia start their reign under seemingly favorable conditions, notwithstanding the world-wide confusion occasioned by lack of the co-operation of their predecessor in authority on the planet.
[EXTENSIVE QUOTATION ENDS]
Only considerations of space prohibit me from quoting any further.
One star - for the carrier pigeons.