of Martin Gardner's book,
“Urantia, The Great Cult Mystery”
I was recently reading Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason", and was struck by the contrast between Paine's style of writing in his attempt to prove his case, and Martin Gardner's style of writing. The only debate tactics or techniques that Paine used were those of calm logic, reason and eloquence. He clearly did not feel threatened by the material he was debunking. Gardner's debate style on the other hand is a scorched earth, use any tactics, win-at-any-cost style. As evidence of this, review his paper "The Great Urantia Mystery", from the Skeptical Inquirer, Winter 1990. At first I thought that particular article might have been an aberration, but in a later comment in the Letters to the Editor section of the Skeptical Inquirer, Martin referred to it as a Mencken type attack after one H. L. Mencken, who apparently went to the Don Rickles School of Journalism. It's too bad it has to be an attack at all, and one wonders why Martin feels the need to attack, especially so viciously. It's sad that he couldn't figure out how to use a Thomas Paine type attack, if attack be needed.
But Martin has a problem of which we all should be aware. His job is to debunk, and most of his targets have been easy. This time however, he has chosen a religious target. If he can't debunk The Urantia Book to his satisfaction, where does that leave him? It leaves him faced with the prospect of having to change or modify his own belief system, if he is intellectually honest. Subconsciously perhaps, Martin is trying to preserve his own belief system, and the best way to do that is to attack that which is perceived as threatening. The Urantia Book is a threat to Martin, just as Jesus' teachings were a threat to many. Nor is Martin unique in this. It is the same with many, be they Christians, Moslems, Jews, Deists, Urantians or Atheists. Most people with strong religious views will do almost anything to avoid having their belief system altered. Martin is like Saul, going after the new Christians with a vengeance. He simply must succeed in debunking The Urantia Book. His present belief system depends upon it.
Martin's book is all over the map. He flops from Adventism to OAHSPE, from Mormonism to constipation and masturbation. For the most part, it's an unfocused, scatter-gun approach to a serious critique of The Urantia Book. In short, it's a mess.
I have tried to cover as many of Martin's mistakes, misstatements and misrepresentations as possible, but the sheer number of them makes the task difficult. In some cases, I am not knowledgeable enough to deal with a suspected problem, but it can be inferred from the large number of found problems that the balance of the book is similarly flawed.
Martin has a penchant for making bald unsupported statements. He speculates wildly. He loads sentences with enormous spin, faulty assumptions and distortions. In this review, I will try to hit the high spots, the glaring problems with his book. I know those with expertise in other areas will also want to comment on Martin's musings.
Page 12: Martin sets the stage spinning when he says, “The UB's cosmology outrivals in fantasy the cosmology of any science fiction work known to me.”
Page 12: Martin says, “Although the UB is highly imaginative in its cosmology, the opposite is true in its descriptions of the 'mortals' who live on inhabited planets.” One wonders where else would they live, -on uninhabited planets? Then he goes on to say that The Urantia Book says the height of mortals on other spheres varies from thirty inches to 10 feet, some are non-breathers, etc. He quotes The Urantia Book as saying, “Nonbreathers neither eat food nor drink water, and in almost all respects differ enormously from breathing mortals.” This hardly sounds as if it fits the idea that The Urantia Book is unimaginative in its description of other mortals. While the book says that all mortals are erect bipeds, beyond that there is a wide diversity.
Page 13: Martin delves into his “thing,” his numerology games with his imaginary friend, Dr. Matrix. Martin wastes considerable book space with this nonsense, which he later told me in a letter was all a “joke.”
Page 18: Martin spins, “The UB bristles with neologisms and bizarre proper names.” In his short list he has “Tabamantian midwayers,” which term I was unable to find in The Urantia Book. Nor could I even find the single term “tabamantian.” It seems as if Martin made this one up himself, perhaps trying to get into the spirit of things. (Midwayers, by the way, are beings halfway or so between humans and angels.)
Page 19: Martin worries over the difference between the terms “sponsored by” and “written by.” Later on he frets over “indicted.”
Page 19: Martin talks about polytheism and The Urantia Book, mentioning “billions of lesser gods.” This is an incorrect characterization of the book. As with Christianity, in The Urantia Book there is a unity of the Godhead, one God in a Trinity. While The Urantia Book's trinity concepts are more complex than those of Christianity, if the UB is polytheistic, then so is Christianity. The Bible, Genesis 1:26 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:...” In OUR image, and after OUR likeness. This is plural. It would be polytheistic according to Martin, who himself is a theist, if not a Christian.
The Urantia Book says:
“Only the concept of the Universal Father--one God in the place of many gods--enabled mortal man to comprehend the Father as divine creator and infinite controller.” (Page 21)
Perhaps Martin is thinking about the “Father fragments” that are bestowed upon all mortals. There are indeed “billions” of these gifts of the Father to us. Jesus even alluded to them in a seldom quoted but momentous passage in the Bible. In Luke 17:21 Jesus says, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Page 20: Then as if to contradict himself on Page 19, Martin says, “It is true that in the UB's mythology there is one supreme, undivided, absolute deity, the great I AM, who is above all the other gods.”
Page 21: Martin says, “Among the higher early inhabitants of Urantia, the most bizarre are the secondary midwayers.” It seems that anything which is new or unfamiliar to Martin is “bizarre.” Any new idea takes some getting used to. The fact that this is revealed information, concerning an order of beings about which we had no inkling, does not make it bizarre. On this same page Martin says that the local system of stars, Satania, was named after Satan. I don't know how Martin arrived at this conclusion as The Urantia Book does not say anything of the sort. Perhaps Satan was named after the star system and not the other way around. Perhaps there is no connection at all. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...
Martin says that the violet race, the direct descendants of Adam and Eve “had white skin...” This is simply made-up-by-Martin material, completely false. You see, this is a lot like the trick question, “Who is buried in Grant's Tomb?” A shrewd reader should be able to guess the skin color of “the violet race.”
Page 23: Martin says, “Of course when we finally reach the UB's Paradise we are in a region beyond our spacetime, in seven dimensions, but Paradise is a long, long way off.” What? When we reach Paradise, either we've reached it or we haven't. And “beyond our spacetime?” What is that about?
Martin talks about the “Eadoman tribes.” You won't find out anything about them in The Urantia Book. The word Eadoman is not in it.
Page 24: Martin tries to pin the racism badge onto The Urantia Book. If one reads the UB one soon finds out that all of the races were supposed to have been uplifted and blended by the Adamic plan, by “the violet race” of Adam and Eve. If everything had gone according to plan, by now there would be one planetary race, upstepped, blended and purged of all genetic problems. While it may be true that The Urantia Book does not say that all the races are equal in physical or intellectual abilities, it does say that they are all equal in the eyes of God, and that we as individuals must treat our brothers and sisters as God would have us treat them, with love and respect. We are all part of God's family.
Martin says, “The doctrines of the UB are a weird mix of recorded teachings of Jesus with views that are offensive to conservative Christians.” The doctrines of The Urantia Book are indeed a mix. The reason for that is because some of the doctrines of some religions are correct and some are not. The UB sorts out the correct ones and reports them all in the same place. No longer does one have to “pick and choose” or accept a whole program while knowing that some of it is wrong, as many religious people do today.
Page 25: Martin says that The Urantia Book will equally offend non-Christians by defending the Incarnation and many of the New Testament's greatest miracles. Why would any of this offend a Muslim, or a Hindu? Are they offended by these doctrines now?
Page 26: Martin says, “Contrary to all evidence, the Jesus of the UB is as knowledgeable about Greek philosophy, mathematics, art, and science as Aristotle.” In the first place, there is no “evidence” to the contrary. The historical Jesus is mostly lost to 20th century man as far as the biblical accounts are concerned. In the New Testament, eighteen years of Jesus' life are completely missing. What can we really know of Jesus from that story? The Urantia Book is after all, a revelation. It gives us this lost information about Jesus' life. And what should one expect from the Son of God? He came here to reveal the Father to us and to live the life of a mortal human in the flesh, learning everything he could about our life and how it is lived. It is not surprising then that Jesus was well educated and well versed in the ways and knowledge of mankind.
Page 28: Martin says that Lazarus' resurrection was not caused by Jesus' power, but that a group of celestial beings decided to revive him on their own. That's not correct. Reviving Lazarus was Jesus' idea. He communicated this to the Father who approved of the plan. On Jesus' say-so, Gabriel ordered that the deed be done. The celestials who carried out this order were acting on Jesus' and the Father's wishes through the command of Gabriel.
Page 29: Martin says, “The UB renames the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth.” This is not correct. The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Truth are not the same. The Spirit of Truth is the actual spirit which was bestowed at Pentecost, the spirit of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity as Christianity already knows. The Urantia Book refers to the Holy Spirit as the Infinite Spirit. This is what Revelation does, it clarifies, corrects and adds to our information and understanding.
Pages 31 and 32: Martin complains about what he calls The Urantia Book's “fideism,” or belief on faith alone. This is nothing new in any religion. But then, after setting up this “fideistic” straw man, Martin wonders how this alleged fideism is compatible with the statement in The Urantia Book that “the Urantia Midwayers have assembled over 50,000 facts of physics and chemistry which they deem to be incompatible with the laws of accidental chance, and which they contend unmistakably demonstrate the presence of intelligent purpose in the material creation.” Well, that’s them (the midwayers), and we’re us.
Page 33 Martin spins with the phrase, “...one monstrous blue-covered volume.”
Page 35 is largely irrelevant to The Urantia Book. Gardner tries to make a link between The Urantia Book and Seventh Day Adventism. While it is true that Dr. William Sadler was an Adventist in his early years, The Urantia Book is not an offshoot of Adventism. It does have some doctrines in common with Adventism, but it also has doctrines in common with many religions.
Chapter 3, on Dr. John Kellogg, is much like Chapter 2, only more so. It has little or nothing to do with The Urantia Book. Martin spends page after page discussing Dr. Kellogg's strange medical beliefs. While it is amusing in places, it is irrelevant with regard to The Urantia Book. Dr. Sadler married Dr. Kellogg's niece, Lena, and like Dr. Kellogg, was an Adventist until he too was ousted from the church. On page 51 Martin makes an odd, completely unsupported statement. He says, “Many of John Kellogg's heretical views [about Adventism apparently] worked their way into the UB.” The Urantia Book contains more than a million words and thousands of concepts. It covers a lot of territory. There are ideas in The Urantia Book which many people believe in and which are common to many religions. The fact that there are things in The Urantia Book in which Kellogg shared a belief does not mean that his views on anything worked their way into it.
Chapters 4 and 5 are yet more of the same. Again on page 93, Martin volunteers his opinion that Adventist doctrine found its way into The Urantia Book via the holdover beliefs of Drs. Kellogg, Sadler and their wives. It so happens that in the larger scheme of things, some Adventist doctrines, like doctrines from other religions, are in The Urantia Book because they are true. There are also only a limited number of ways to go with some doctrines, such as the doctrine of Hell, for example. Either there is a Hell or there isn’t. If The Urantia Book happens to endorse the same view of Hell that Seventh Day Adventism espouses, it just means that the Adventists had it right. Many religions don’t believe in Hell, a place of eternal torture at the hands of God. Martin calls many of Kellogg's and Sadler's beliefs “heresies,” such as the fact that they did not believe in the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Jesus or the blood Atonement. As a Theist, Gardner does not believe in those things either, so he himself must be a heretic. Many people do not believe in the Virgin Birth or the Atonement doctrine. They are hardly heretics. One person's heresy is another person's truth.
In Chapter 6 Martin tries to make his case that the sleeping subject in the transmission of the Urantia Papers was Wilfred Custer Kellogg. While this is interesting speculation, the fact is that it will never be known who the person was, nor is it important. If you get an telegram from your father, is it necessary to know the name of the telegram boy? Of course it’s not. This is just idle curiosity run rampant.
Page 104: Martin makes another possibly faulty assumption concerning the idea that Sadler was speaking about Ellen White when he said that “he has encountered 'only one or two cases' in which phenomena similar to that of trance mediums may have a 'spiritual or supernatural' basis.” No one knows who Sadler was speaking about; this is conjecture. The dictionary defines “conjecture” as “guesswork.” Martin is just guessing. On page 107 Martin repeats the same mistake, except now he is no longer speculating, but says it with the tone of completely unfounded assurance!: “Sadler's first case,...was of course Mrs. White.” And there is more such on page 109.
“The Revelation Begins.” Of the hundreds of people who were part of the Forum over the years, Martin chooses one, Harold Sherman, a lone dissenter and troublemaker, a person who believed in almost every psychic fraud to come down the pike, to hold up as evidence that there was something amiss with the origins of The Urantia Book. On page 113 Martin says,
“Sherman tried to persuade Sadler to incorporate into the UB some information about psychic research and communication with the dead--to be checked and authorized by the sleeper (see Appendix C). It was a futile effort because Sadler, still loyal to many Adventist doctrines fully believed that no communication with the departed is permitted by God.”
Martin's spin, that Dr. Sadler would not include any psychic material in The Urantia Book because of Sadler's continuing belief in Adventist doctrines is strange indeed. Martin, who is an author of science articles and writer for the Skeptical Inquirer, knows full well that most if not all alleged psychic phenomena is hogwash. The psychic material is not in The Urantia Book because it is not true. Martin knows that, the Revelators knew that, and Dr. Sadler knew that. The only one who was clueless was Harold Sherman. Sherman may have been working for Caligastia (The Devil), unwittingly perhaps, trying to subvert the Revelation. (My speculation only.) He introduced tensions into the Forum by asking for “complete honesty,” democratic votes, etc. The situation was however, that Dr. Sadler was working for the midwayers whose sole purpose in this undertaking was to get the Revelation to mankind intact. Democracy and freedom of information were not necessarily something that the midwayers desired. They needed a human leader and a human organization that would get the job done in the most straightforward manner. The Forum was not a democratic organization, nor was it ever meant to be.
Page 119: Martin says, “Who would have suspected that the Gods would have chosen Chicago for what the UB calls the Fifth Epochal Revelation?” This is amusing because it so closely parallels a similar statement in The Urantia Book concerning the site of the origin of the Fourth Epochal Revelation, Jesus' incarnation on earth. The Urantia Book says a common saying of the day in Jerusalem was, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And in fact, that very idea is in the New Testament:
John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
Indeed, “come and see.”
Also on page 119 Martin advances the idea that The Urantia Book was “channeled” in the same manner as many other so-called channeled works. This is not so. In most channeling it is acknowledged that a spirit entity of some sort invades the mortal mind, taking over and transmitting information through that mind, which by necessity must digest and garble it. In the case of The Urantia Book, the subject was asleep in such a way that his mind was not used at all, it was bypassed. No spirit entity used the mind of the contact subject. It is forbidden. (113:5.1 Angels do not invade the sanctity of the human mind. –The Urantia Book) The way the information was passed to mankind intact was by a combined use of both the contact subject's Adjuster (the fragment of God that Jesus says in the New Testament is “within you,” -Luke 17:21), and the skills and abilities of the secondary midwayers. These midwayers have the ability to manipulate physical material. And in this way did the midwayers actually use the vocal chords and fingers of the sleeping subject. No material was channeled through the subject's mind. In any case, all of this was probably just a means of accustoming the humans to the celestial activity. There is reason to believe that in the end, when all of the papers had been hashed out by the Forum and re-worked by the celestials, the completed papers were simply materialized by the Revelators in the handwriting of the subject. By the way, “midwayers” are semi-spiritual beings, existent on this planet, halfway between humans and angels. Believe it or not.
Page 120: Regarding Mark Kulieke (who wrote a booklet about the early history of the Urantia Book) and the story about the Contact Commission being allowed to “see” seraphic transports over Lake Michigan, Martin says, “This is one of the craziest of Urantia myths that Kulieke takes seriously.” What is crazy is that Martin, in his ignorance, would characterize it in this way. I don’t know if the story is true or not, myself.
Also on page 120 Martin gets mixed up between a supposed acquirement by Dr. Sadler of psychic powers, and some other process by which Dr. Sadler was “taken out of his physical body...,” according to Harold Sherman. The latter would not be a psychic phenomenon as we understand the term. In any case it is unlikely that it ever happened, and Martin knows it. Dr. Sadler probably had an informant at the meeting in question (if it in fact happened) and was having some fun with it. As Martin might say applying Ockham's razor: “Which is more plausible, that Dr. Sadler was taken out of his body to view the meeting or that he had a human informant at the meeting?”
Page 126: Martin makes much of the, considered by some, error in the first printing of The Urantia Book concerning the wise men visiting the baby Jesus in the manger, when later it says that the wise men didn't visit Jesus until he was three weeks old. The problem being that Jesus would not have been in the manger at that time as Joseph and Mary had relocated to an Inn. This could be a mistake, but then again it doesn't have to be, as a small manger could have been moved to the Inn if no other suitable cradle could be found.
Page 130: Martin introduces us to one Bert Salyer. After telling us that Salyer was into masonry, theosophy, a California cult called the Lemurians, Silva Mind Control, various New Thought churches, hypnotherapy, a religion called “Universalism,” speaking with his dead wife, and with two celestials called Gus and Charley, Martin then says that Salyer thought The Urantia Book was a fraud, “as phony as a three-dollar bill.” This man's judgment is surely subject to question. Why does Martin even offer the opinion of one who clearly cannot discern truth from fiction? It’s a complete diversion.
Page 131: Martin offers some examples of Clyde Bedell's rhetoric in regard to a critique by Bedell of Harold Sherman's account of the Urantia Movement. Bedell is reported as calling Sherman's chapter in his book, “How to Know What to Believe,” “an appalling mass of fiction fleshed over a fragile skeleton of misshapen fact,” ...filled with “fabrications,” “misstatements” and is utterly “contemptible.” One could say much the same about Martin's book, and as a matter of fact, Martin uses much the same if not stronger rhetoric in describing The Urantia Book in his review in the Skeptical Inquirer, Winter 1990. He said, “No holy Bible offered to the Western world in the past few centuries is thicker, heavier, or stranger than The Urantia Book.” “Nothing could persuade me to read every line of this monstrous mishmash of claptrap interspersed with puddles of pious platitudes, but I have perused it carefully enough to get the drift of its wild science-fiction themes...” And “Indeed it may be the largest, most fantastic chunk of channeled moonshine ever to be bound in one volume.” Martin Gardner knows about rhetoric and he should not be criticizing Clyde Bedell’s rhetoric when Martin’s is as bad or worse.
Page 132: Martin says Sherman believed that Christy was sympathetic to Sherman's desire to have The Urantia Book include material about psychic phenomena. A paragraph from Harold Sherman's book, “How to Know What to Believe” is cited as proof. It seems obvious even from this subjective excerpt that Christy was probably putting Sherman on, and this is verified on the next page of Martin's book, by Clyde Bedell, who maintained that Christy was not being serious, she was simply doing her best to “get rid of [Sherman's] suggestion without argument.”
In another excerpt from a letter between Sherman and one Harry Loose, Sherman asks, “...why wasn't there something in the book explaining many so-called 'psychic happenings' which millions of people have experienced?” Sherman and Loose may not have known the answer to that question, but Martin as a science writer and professional debunker surely does. Such psychic phenomena does not exist, that's why it's not in The Urantia Book. Like Salyer before them, both Sherman and Loose had a thing for fringe psychism. Martin bases much of his case against The Urantia Book on these questionable witnesses. Bedell's description of Sherman on page 133 of Martin's book seems to tell the tale.
It's odd that Martin, who assuredly has no time for such airhead beliefs as the psychic interests of Sherman, would hold this man up as a paragon of honesty compared to a distinguished doctor such as Sadler. At the end of chapter 7, Martin says that it is not Sherman's account that is filled with lies, but Bedell's. He states, “...at no time did Sherman wish to discredit the Urantia Papers or to take over the movement.” Martin has no basis on which to make this statement, it's simply necessary for the premise of his book. Which is more likely, that of the hundreds of people who comprised the Forum over the years, the lone dissenter and believer in bogus psychic phenomena and a man who couldn't get his way is the more honest, or that Dr. Sadler and the rest of the Forum are on the side of truth? Martin says the reason he has quoted so extensively from Bedell's “angry speech” is so that people can see the obsessive devotion to Dr. Sadler, and to the idea that The Urantia Book came from the celestials, untainted by human hands. Yes, Clyde was devoted to the cause, but the real reason that he probably gave his “angry speech” (if in fact it was angry, which we don't know) was because what Sherman was doing, either wittingly or unwittingly, could potentially adversely affect the Revelation in progress.
Chapter 8: “Harry Loose.”
Harry certainly was an interesting and colorful fellow who, like Sherman if not more so, seemed to have a truckload of airhead beliefs. ESP, psychokinesis, etc. They were two peas in a pod, Harry and Harold, kindred spirits. Martin says that Sherman was mightily impressed by Harry Loose. A meeting was described by Sherman as “three of the most remarkable and inspiring hours I have ever experienced on this planet.” One might think rhetoric like that would be saved for an audience with Jesus himself.
Page 141: Martin reports that “Sherman became deeply interested in all aspects of parapsychology and the paranormal,” and thought he had psi powers. “He wrote more than twenty-five books about ESP, PK, precognition, poltergeists, animal ESP, dowsing, ouija boards, UFO's and so on.” As noted, Martin is a science writer and also a debunker for the Skeptical Inquirer. Martin doesn't believe in any of this trash, yet he holds Sherman up to us as someone whose judgment and writings are to be believed against the word of Dr. Sadler, a distinguished psychiatrist, and the hundreds of members of the Forum. Sherman also believed in “psychic surgery” which Martin acknowledges is just another psychic scam. Sherman and a man named Ingo Swann attempted to make “out of body” trips to Jupiter. Martin says the results of their efforts has not been published. Later, the two would-be astral travelers attempted to “remote-view” Mercury and Mars. This also resulted in more non-information not being published. The psychic mysteries go on and on, even astral travel to downtown hotels, etc. Sherman is quoted as saying that the event was one of the “most authentic cases of astral visitation in the history of psychic phenomena.” It is implied by Martin Gardner that Harry Loose played an important part in the early days of the Revelation, but we never find out what that part was.
Page 149: Martin announces, apparently based on material from Sherman and Loose, two known psychic “crackpots,” that “Sadler became convinced he was in direct contact with the celestial beings, authorized by them to edit the papers, to take out sections, and to add fresh material.” Martin makes the same statement on page 151, as if to reinforce it if we didn't get it the first time. Sadler was in fact in contact with celestial beings. He was their man on the ground, their human worker for the kingdom, the real contact personality, though not the subject person. He worked for the Revelators but there is no validity to the assertion that Sadler felt authorized to edit, delete or add any material to the Revelation of his own accord. This is simply a bald, unsupported premise necessary for Martin's story.
Page 151: Martin tells us about an alleged incident as related to Loose by Sherman, wherein Sadler told the Forum that a midwayer had told him that a couple [the Shermans] would come into the group and cause endless trouble, thereby making the Shermans outcasts in the group when they did arrive. Martin says that Sherman felt Sadler was lying, but we are given no evidence. In any case one can only wonder why, when once the Shermans had become persona non grata in the Forum, they continued to attend where they were not particularly welcome and were considered troublemakers. On this same page we are told about Harry Loose's belief about a group of beings on earth called the “hybrids” who were “ascended personalities” from other planets who had “been sent to earth” (by whom?) to be “enfleshed” as small intelligent primates in order to aid primitive humans on the continent of Lemuria. Apparently Loose believed that Sadler had kept this information out of The Urantia Book. One can only say, thank you Dr. Sadler. It must have been a struggle for him to combat the fringe elements who had their own agendas over the years, especially Loose and Sherman.
Martin says, “You will find no mention of hybrids in the UB, nor any reference to Lemuria, sometimes called Mu. Why was this part of the Revelation omitted from the UB?” The obvious answer to this leading and presumptive question is that it is not and never was “part of the Revelation.” It's untrue material, just Harry Loose's fantasy, and Martin knows it. That's the saddest part -that Martin really does know better.
Then, answering his own question, he thoughtfully gives us a choice of two answers. On one hand we are told that “Urantians” (it is unknown exactly who these Urantians are) say that for “some unknown reason” the material was left out. On the other hand it is suggested that Sadler realized it was too absurd to be believed. It is undoubtedly true that Sadler realized it was absurd, but the real reason it is not in the book is because the Revelators do not put nonsense in the Revelation. I am thinking of some weird fantastic story right now. I wonder why my story isn't in Martin Gardner's book.
Page 154: This page contains another of Martin's bald unsupported statements. He says, “Contrary to what Mark Kulieke writes in his history of the Urantia movement, at no time did Sherman consider trying to unseat Sadler and take over the cult's leadership. As a true believer in the Revelation, his sole motive was to bring into the open the way Sadler was manipulating the Papers.” This may be simply Martin's opinion, but more likely it is something more sinister, a cynical device used solely to make a case. Sherman had a vested interest in psychic phenomena and he believed such phenomena were real, contrary to all scientific knowledge. Sherman was insistent that his false pet beliefs must be included in The Urantia Book or else that meant that someone was keeping them out, thwarting him and in his view, the truth about psychic phenomena. But since the Revelators have no interest in including such false information and fantasies in The Urantia Book, they are not in it. We know from Martin's book and from his reputation and background that he does not share Sherman's beliefs and even considers those beliefs to be “crackpot” as he likes to say. How then can he hold Sherman up as the righteous one? He is simply doing this in order to prove his point no matter what the cost to truth and objectivity. As a professional debunker Martin has a vested interest in debunking The Urantia Book, and if he cannot, then he too must change his own religious views. People are loathe to do that.
Martin continues, “Sherman was convinced that mediums can communicate with the dead.” In fact, Sadler believed that no such communication was possible and The Urantia Book validates that. So the question is, “Which is really correct?” Martin and most of the intelligent people in the world know that Sadler views are more likely correct. Why then does Martin attempt to make Sadler out to be the one who is at fault for rejecting Sherman's fantasies as if Sadler was the closed minded freak and Sherman was the purveyor of truth? These are shameful tactics from Martin, totally dishonest journalistic devices.
Again on page 156 Martin tries to reinforce his unsupported central premise by repeating it. “Sherman had no desire to discount or undermine the Fifth Epochal Revelation, but to authenticate it.” Yes indeed. This must be why he was so insistent in getting fantasy information inserted into the book, and when he couldn't, he accused Sadler of mischief.
According to Martin, on page 158, Sherman wrote to Sadler in 1967 and asked him to help with an account of the origin of The Urantia Book. In the letter Sherman told Sadler about his new book, “Wonder Healers of the Philippines.” These “wonder healers” are also known as “psychic surgeons” and are total and complete frauds. Sherman had fallen for yet another psychic scam. How then, in the name of rationality, are we to throw Dr. Sadler overboard in favor of Sherman who seems to have personified the saying by P. T. Barnum: “There's a sucker born every minute.”
Continuing in his letter to Sadler is Sherman's clamoring for Sadler to “reveal the WHOLE TRUTH,” and telling him, “This is the time for the TRUTH to be made known,”...and... “I will speak the TRUTH.” Martin says, “There is no evidence that Sadler replied.” Why should Sadler reply? It seems that Sherman was unable to distinguish the truth from a hole in the ground. And while all this agitation for “truth and democracy” sounds so reasonable and so lofty, it could easily have been the disruptive and divisive tactics of Caligastia at work in an unsuspecting Sherman.
Chapter 9 is about OAHSPE and how Martin says it is like The Urantia Book. The chapter is irrelevant to both Martin's book and the UB. It's like saying there are similarities between an apple and an orange. Both are round. Both are edible. They have a lot in common that's for sure. Martin does say OAHSPE is “vastly inferior to the UB...” One edition of OAHSPE apparently has a blue cover, and Martin has amazingly decided that this means that “Palmer [a publisher of OAHSPE] clearly intended his OAHSPE to imitate the UB in appearance.” Perhaps this psychic stuff is true after all. Martin seems to have some ability. Prematurely in this chapter, Martin starts in on his science critique saying, “There is, however, one aspect of OAHSPE cosmology that rises above the cosmology of the UB. I refer to its theory about the origin of our solar system....As we shall learn later, the UB defends the Chamberlin-Moulton hypothesis, popular at the time the Papers were written, but since today totally discarded by astronomers in favor of the theory that stars and planets condensed from rotating nebulas.” Note that according to Martin, the new idea from astronomers is also a “theory.” Further, The Urantia Book doesn't “defend” the Chamberlin-Moulton hypothesis, it simply says this is the way events happened. And last, Martin frequently uses this sort of unsupported rhetoric, “totally discarded,” as a means of spinning things his way without any proof whatsoever. Martin is misrepresenting the book here. While The Urantia Book does say that our solar system had a different origin than current scientific theory holds, it also says that the new science theory is in fact the manner in which most stellar systems come into being. There are a number of ways by which planetary systems form around stars. Science now knows the one whereby most systems are formed, but our particular system was not so formed.
After pointing out absurdity after absurdity in OAHSPE Martin gives us further insight into the Shermans. He reports that Sherman said that he and his wife Martha were “deeply drawn to this remarkable book...”
Page 173: Martin engages in more numerology, which as noted before is apparently all just a joke.
Page 177: Martin attempts to connect the Sherman's fascination for OAHSPE with other “Urantians” at other times, telling us about one fringe Australian Fred Robinson, a man who was eccentric, to say the least. On page 178 Martin attempts to link in our minds The Urantia Book with Seventh Day Adventism by saying, “The UB emerged from the Seventh-day Adventist movement...” This seems too easy. Yes it's true that Sadler was once a Seventh Day Adventist, but so what? Most everyone is, or was, something. We all have a history. The Urantia Book emerged from the revelations of God's agents, celestial beings. When once one gives The Urantia Book a good reading it is clear that The Urantia Book did not “emerge” from Seventh Day Adventism. Then he says, outrageously, “Many Urantians believe that Newbrough [Writer of OAHSPE] was under Caligastia's influence when he channeled OAHSPE.” I don't know of any Urantians who believe that, few who even know of OAHSPE, and even fewer who care. I do know two UB readers who are familiar with OAHSPE and they both rather like it. They certainly don't attribute it to Caligastia. One can only wonder where these distortions are coming from in Martin's mind, and why.
Chapter 10: “Science in The Urantia Book, Part I”
Page 181: Martin says, “UB science is a strange mix of knowledge widely accepted by mainline scientists during the years the UB was crafted, and wild speculation about truths either unknown to science or contradicted by recent science.” It's hard to deal with such a statement when there are so many problems loaded into it. It has several false assumptions and insinuations, the worst of which is the idea that “recent science” has contradicted any of the scientific statements in The Urantia Book. This is false. Continuing the relentless spin, Martin says, “Our [Our?] next chapter will cover the UB's absurd theory that inside every electron are 'huddled' exactly one hundred particles called 'ultimatons'.”
Page 183: Martin says, “Liberal Urantians freely admit the UB contains serious scientific errors.” Who are these Urantians labeled as “liberal”? Can they “freely admit” anything about The Urantia Book if they didn't write it? No, they can only have an opinion. Does The Urantia Book contain serious scientific errors? Again the answer is no. Martin has successfully included three false ideas in one sentence. He is a master at this. Continuing with one outrageous statement after the next, Martin writes, “Urantian fundamentalists, like their Jewish, Christian, and Moslem counterparts, are tireless in their efforts to show that their Bible's science not only is error free, but in many cases far ahead of its time.” It should be noted that The Urantia Book is not the Talmud, the Bible or the Koran.” And I don’t know any believers in the Talmud, Bible, or Koran who say that the science in their books is far ahead of its time. Neither do most Urantians say that though there may be a case to be made for it. The problem is that when you show someone some science from The Urantia Book that IS far ahead of its time, the naysayers will say, “Well, it can’t be proven so we can’t tell.” For instance, The Urantia Book says that our sun will last for 60 billion years. That is not what “modern” science’s current knowledge and theories supports. And how can The Urantia Book’s statement be proven? I guess we’ll just have to wait 5 or 6 more billion years to find out. Related to this, The Urantia Book talks about energy circuits and currents throughout space that science knows nothing about.
Another zinger from Martin: “As more information surfaces, the fundamentalists are rapidly losing ground.” This is simply ridiculous. While there is a diversity of opinion concerning some ideas in The Urantia Book, there is no “pitched battle” going on in the movement.
Then Martin says, “Most of the science in the UB obviously reflects opinions that prevailed from the time the revelation began until 1955 when the UB was published. In many cases modern research has shown much of this science to be wrong.” This last statement is completely false. Why Martin does this is a mystery, but he clearly has a mind that is closed to truth and will do everything he needs to do to keep it that way.
“As we shall see,” Martin says, “the revelators themselves stated that UB science was based on current scientific opinion, to be revised in future decades. In view of such caveats, it is not easy to understand why Urantian fundamentalists are so quick to defend every scientific statement in the UB which critics contend is outdated.”
If it's true that “the Revelators themselves have stated...,” then why isn't what follows those words in quotes in Martin’s book? Why don't we let the Revelators speak for themselves, the better to avoid any inaccuracies and spin? Martin should not be paraphrasing the revelators. It’s nice though that he calls them that. Furthermore, that “which critics contend is outdated” is just that, contention. Just because someone “contends” something does not make it so. And why shouldn't one who believes the book to be accurate be quick to defend it?
From The Urantia Book:
“We are not at liberty to anticipate the scientific discoveries of a thousand years. Revelators must act in accordance with the instructions which form a part of the revelation mandate. We see no way of overcoming this difficulty, either now or at any future time. We full well know that, while the historic facts and religious truths of this series of revelatory presentations will stand on the records of the ages to come, within a few short years many of our statements regarding the physical sciences will stand in need of revision in consequence of additional scientific developments and new discoveries. These new developments we even now foresee, but we are forbidden to include such humanly undiscovered facts in the revelatory records. Let it be made clear that revelations are not necessarily inspired. The cosmology of these revelations is not inspired. It is limited by our permission for the co-ordination and sorting of present-day knowledge. While divine or spiritual insight is a gift, human wisdom must evolve.”
Just as an early map of the US would be incomplete today and in need of revision, so too will some of the scientific information in The Urantia Book ultimately be in need of revision, “in consequence of additional scientific developments and new discoveries.”
Martin says, “None of the great scientific discoveries of the last half of this century is in the UB. It contains, for example, no hint of Big Bang cosmology.” This is a good one, and shows how Martin has a “thing” for current popular science even if it is wrong. A recent Skeptical Inquirer carried a quote that I am sure Martin would be comfortable with. It said,
“While it is never safe to affirm that the future of Physical Science has no marvels in store even more astonishing than those of the past, it seems probable that most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established and that future advances are to be sought chiefly in the rigorous application of these principles to all the phenomena which come under our notice....The future truths of Physical Science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.” [American physicist Albert Michelson, 1894, from the Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 95] Wow, what scientific arrogance from 1894!
The fact that there is no Big Bang cosmology (theory) in The Urantia Book is, rather than being an error or an embarrassment, actually a proof that The Urantia Book is a Revelation. Even now, the Big Bang theory is coming under heavy pressure and is subject to fall. The Revelators could hardly be expected to put in bogus science, -the Big Bang theory, knowing it to be wrong. Keep one thing in mind: it’s just a theory.
Page 183: Martin writes, “A few maverick astronomers have put forth alternate cosmic models, the most impressive being a plasma model by the Swedish physicist and Nobel winner Hannes Alfven. An American plasma physicist, Eric J. Lerner, even wrote a book about Alfven's model titled The Big Bang Never Happened (1991). The media gave Lerner's book a great deal of publicity without making clear that the overwhelming majority of astronomers consider it a crank work.”
Actually, both Alfven's work and Lerner's review of it have been prominently published in Sky and Telescope magazine, the premier astronomy magazine in the world today, and neither has been treated as a “crank work.” Following is a quote from the 1994 Grolier CD Rom Encyclopedia:
“Some plasma physicists, such as Hannes ALFVEN, have proposed a plasma-based cosmological theory to replace the currently dominant BIG BANG THEORY. According to these scientists, gravity together with the electromagnetic forces of plasmas were sufficient to shape the universe as it now known, with no need for an initiating event.” ... “Although observed only in isolated circumstances on Earth, it is the state in which most of the universe actually exists. According to plasma cosmologists, the magnetic and electrical properties of plasmas are sufficient to account for the large-scale structures of a universe without beginning or end. Supporters of this theory are mainly plasma physicists, although astronomers are taking notice of this concept.”
It hardly sounds as if the Encyclopedia writers consider either Hannes Alfven or his work “crank.”
The fact that the majority of astronomers are not ready to discard the Big Bang does not mean it is right, it simply means that many have a lot invested in the theory and, as is often the case with science, will be slow to give it up. Alfven and Lerner may not be in the majority, but that doesn't warrant the almost malicious labeling of them as “maverick” or “crank.” One wonders, is there no end to this spin?
Martin continues, “It is understandable that Urantian fundamentalists would eagerly seize on recent doubts about the Big Bang to support the UB's denial of Big Bang cosmology. Their hopes were dashed in 1992 when new observations of the microwave radiation showed fluctuations and patterns that strongly support the Big Bang. As one astrophysicist exclaimed, 'The Big Bang is alive and well, very well!' Of course all science is corrigible, and Big Bang theory may indeed some day be discarded for a better model.” With this last sentence Martin can now have it both ways. If the Big Bang theory holds, well then he was right, and if it falls, well, he said it might.
No one's “hopes were dashed in 1992.” Who is he talking about? Where does this come from? Since there was no Big Bang, the background microwave radiation has nothing to do with it. There are other explanations, one of which will be cited later in this paper.
Martin says, “Also missing from the UB is any hint that the atom would be split in 1942, more than a decade before the UB was published. Why was this news not added to the UB? Because its papers dealing with atomic, structure had been finalized by 1934, and it would not have seemed right to rewrite them in the light of the latest scientific discoveries.”
The papers weren't re-written because they weren't re-written. There was a war coming. Perhaps the Revelators had an idea that the atomic bomb would be used. In any case, why would they have said anything about the splitting of the atom in particular? Everyone knew it could be done. This is just gratuitous speculation on Martin's part. The Revelators also didn't tell us anything about personal computers, cell phones, microwave ovens, cruise control or polyurethane long underwear. So what? There is a lot of science the Revelators didn't mention. Who is Martin to suggest what the Revelators should have put in The Urantia Book? Then Martin makes another re-statement of The Urantia Book, saying, “It would be necessary to add a proviso that the UB would not go beyond the science of the day, and that the UB science would soon be contravened by new developments.” Contravened means to oppose, to be counter to. The Urantia Book does not say what Martins says it does. (See again the paragraph above which begins, “We are not at liberty...”) Then Martin continues with a discussion of more science that is not in The Urantia Book, as if the choice of material to be included was his to make, … a la Harold Sherman. Everybody wants to help bake the cake.
Page 184: Martin says “Because the revelators cannot reveal unearned science, they are forbidden to correct errors that are to be discovered after the UB is published.” The fact is that there are no real “errors” in The Urantia Book, except perhaps for some few typos. Most “errors” that some think they have found are easily and reasonably disputed. One should remember that “current science” is changing all the time. Then Martin continues paraphrasing, “In spite of the UB's clear statement that its science will soon be found inadequate...” As already noted above, The Urantia Book actually says,
“...many of our statements regarding the physical sciences will stand in need of revision in consequence of additional scientific developments and new discoveries.”
At the bottom of page 184 Martin reminds us of what he calls “Melchizedek's plain warning” against looking for unearned science in The Urantia Book. I could not find any such “warning.” In fact, for whatever reasons, and in spite of the statements about not giving us unearned or premature knowledge, there is much of it in The Urantia Book. We are told that our Sun will last about 62 billion years. Current science says about 10-12 billion. The book tells us that the red man crossed the Bering Land Bridge about 85,000 years ago. Until very recently science thought that event happened 10,000-12,000 years ago. There are other such examples of what seem to be unearned knowledge in The Urantia Book.
Page 185: Spinning again, Martin refers to a 35 page booklet entitled, “The Science Content of The Urantia Book” calling it “this fantastic document.” The authors of the booklet, according to Martin, believe that there were no changes made to the text after 1934. Martin thinks otherwise and even says that it would have been “easy” to recast new nickel printing plates on a whim. This seems unlikely. In any case, the plates apparently weren't cast until at least 1941. It would hardly make sense to have cast 2200 plates and then start on a campaign of major revisions. Easy or not, it would have been a big expense and bother to re-do the plates. Logically, the Revelation was finished once permission was granted to cast the plates. No more changes would be made, except possibly to correct the few typos that might be found before publication.
Later on page 185 Martin moves back to the Big Bang, telling us how old the universe is with the self assurance of one who puts all his faith in science. Martin says, “The UB denies any Big Bang.” This is wrong. The Urantia Book doesn't deny the Big Bang, it simply doesn't mention it. Why would the Revelators mention something that didn't happen? Martin writes, “Our galaxy, it says, came into existence 875 billion years ago...” The Urantia Book does not say that “our galaxy” (the Milky Way) came into existence 875 billion years ago. It is very difficult to deal with this sort of misstatement of what The Urantia Book really says. Every sentence of Martin's has to be checked for accuracy. As a matter of fact, a careful reading of the text of The Urantia Book will show that the Andronover Nebula was a part of Orvonton, which itself is actually the galaxy we call the Milky Way (in my opinion).
From The Urantia Book:
“The recording of this permit signifies that the force organizer and staff had already departed from Uversa on the long journey to that easterly space sector where they were subsequently to engage in those protracted activities which would terminate in the emergence of a new physical creation in Orvonton. 875,000,000,000 years ago the enormous Andronover nebula number 876,926 was duly initiated.”
Andronover was a nebula within the larger galaxy of Orvonton, which we call the Milky Way. The Urantia Book refers to Orvonton as “the seventh galaxy.”
On pages 186 and 187 Martin attacks The Urantia Book's version of how our Solar system came to be, saying that it was popular in the 30's but is wrong now. The fact is that science doesn't know exactly how it came to be, it just supposes that the most likely way is the way it happened. The Urantia Book even acknowledges that the way it did happen is a way that is not very common as concerns the origin of stellar systems. The Urantia Book says, “Less than one per cent of the planetary systems of Orvonton have had a similar origin.”
Science also knows that the odds are that most stellar systems are created in a different manner from what The Urantia Book describes for our own system, and since science likes to play the odds it assumes that our solar system was created by the most common method. Nonetheless, Martin rants on about this “false theory” being in The Urantia Book. At one point in rephrasing the book he says, “The big star pulled from our sun two filaments which condensed into twelve planets.” Later, on the next page he says, “The UB does not call the massive body that approached our sun a star.” Well then Martin, why did you misstate the book to imply that it did? Martin announces categorically that by 1940 the tidal theory of solar system formation was dead.
Speaking of planets in our solar system, Martin makes one of his worst blunders saying, “...we only know of nine; the UB predicts three more, not yet detected, beyond the orbit of Pluto.” As if that wasn't a bad enough error, he compounds it by saying, “The UB unequivocally states that our solar system has three undiscovered planets beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto.” The Urantia Book says that the asteroid belt is a disrupted planet, one of the twelve original planets. That leaves two more (counting Pluto as it was considered a planet at that time), probably beyond the orbit of Pluto. The Urantia Book does not state anywhere that “our solar system has three undiscovered planets beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto.”
I must ask at this point that with as many mistakes and misstatements that Martin makes with the text of The Urantia Book, how is his book “Urantia, The Great Cult Mystery” to be trusted?
Page 188: Martin asks two leading rhetorical questions in one sentence. He says, “Does not the UB explicitly deny the accuracy of its cosmology, and say that much of it will be out of date in a few years?” The answers are, No, The Urantia Book does not deny the accuracy of its cosmology, and yes, sort of, The Urantia Book does say that some of its scientific statements will stand in need of “revision” in the future, in light of “additional scientific developments and new discoveries.”
In the 1930's the theory was that the Sun's energy came (apparently exclusively) from the “annihilation of electrons and protons,” according to Martin. The Urantia Book says that indeed this is the #1 source, but lists several others, the second of which is now the most popular theory of fusion and transmutation of elements.
Page 190: Martin misstates or misunderstands The Urantia Book when he says, “According to the UB our entire known universe is a time portion of a much vaster realm of being in which flourish a raft of other universes, totally beyond the reach of any conceivable telescope.” There may be a “raft” of other galaxies, but not a raft of other universes as we use the term today. The Urantia Book uses the word universe in much the same way as we use the term galaxy. Galaxies are island universes. The Milky Way Galaxy is the superuniverse of Orvonton.
Page 194: Speaking about The Urantia Book's take on evolution which says that in many cases species change “suddenly” and sometimes in one generation, versus the Darwinian theory of minuscule changes gradually accumulating over millennia, Martin says that Urantians make a mistake when they say that The Urantia Book's “suddenly” explanation is the same as the modern theory of “punctuated equilibrium” or the “jump theory.” The fact is that the “jump theory” is almost the same as The Urantia Book's explanation, thereby validating The Urantia Book. While what used to be called the Theory of Evolution is now a “fact” in general, the details of how evolution happened are still theoretical, guesswork, and the fossil record is largely unfound.
Page 195: without offering any support for the statement whatsoever, Martin says, “The conjecture that a single mutation can be large enough to produce a new species is now totally discredited.”
Page 196: Martin starts out with vigorous spin saying, “The four authors of “The Science Content of the Urantia Book” freely admit that the UB's astronomy is in spots hopelessly flawed.” This is another bald statement without foundation. We are given no quotes from the authors, nothing. In any event, it seems doubtful that all four individuals are in complete agreement. Then Martin cites a secondhand example from The Urantia Book, -secondhand because Martin does not quote the book, but restates it in his own words thereby making it say what he thinks it says. He writes, “For example, the UB says that the Andromeda galaxy is a million light years from the earth.” Actually The Urantia Book does not say that, contrary to what some think. It says, “This far-distant nebula is visible to the naked eye, and when you view it, pause to consider that the light you behold left those distant suns almost one million years ago.”
The light left Andromeda almost one million years ago. Is that the same as saying Andromeda is one million light years away? One supposes that it should be, but in any case one should read the book as it is written and not as one thinks it is written. No one has been a half million light years out in space, and no one knows for sure what goes on out there between the galaxies. Seriously, we can only surmise.
To make matters worse, in an intellectually dishonest exercise, Martin tries to have it both ways. Of the one million light year distance he says, “This was an accepted estimate in the 1920's, but modern instruments have doubled the distance.” Then, in a footnote, he says, “Recent evidence from the Hubble telescope suggests that the Hubble constant (the rate of universe expansion) may be larger than suspected. If so, it reduces both the size and age of the universe, and restores to Andromeda a distance of about one million light years from the earth.” Then in an incredible display of wiggling, Martins says, “This is highly controversial, and in any case has no relevance to the UB's accuracy because the UB merely reflected the opinion of astronomers in the 1930's.”
This is completely outrageous. Even when The Urantia Book is right, Martin says it's wrong. One must have a lot to protect in order to resort to this sort of mental gymnastics.
Further on, Martin says, “The UB also errs in saying that, like Mercury, the moon does not rotate on it's axis.” While the sentence in The Urantia Book may be somewhat difficult to read and possibly ambiguous, perhaps intentionally so, it does not necessarily say what Martin thinks it says.
From The Urantia Book:
“The planets nearest the sun were the first to have their revolutions slowed down by tidal friction. Such gravitational influences also contribute to the stabilization of planetary orbits while acting as a brake on the rate of planetary-axial revolution, causing a planet to revolve ever slower until axial revolution ceases, leaving one hemisphere of the planet always turned toward the sun or larger body, as is illustrated by the planet Mercury and by the moon, which always turns the same face toward Urantia.”
Many think the Revelators are using Mercury as an example of a planet revolving ever slower and slower, and the moon as an example of a world that has locked one face forever toward the parent body.
Martin asks, “How do the four authors of the booklet on UB science justify the UB's science errors?” This wrongly implies that all four authors are of one mind which they are most assuredly not, and that there are scientific errors in the book, which many would dispute. Martin then hangs around the necks of all four independent authors the tentative “theory” of one of the men, that being the idea that the Revelators have deliberately included errors to act as “time bombs” set to go off to assure that we would never be able to make the book into a fetish item. Later, Martin correctly attributes this theory to Dick Bain. Most reject the notion of “time bombs” in the book. Any so-called “time bombs, meaning deliberate errors placed in the book for a covert reason by the Revelators would in fact amount to lying, thereby sabotaging the credibility of the Revelation. This of course they would not do.
Page 197: Martin again mentions “...Melchizedek's warning that the UB contains no unearned knowledge...” There is no such warning. The actual quote from The Urantia Book is a simple statement, not a warning. It says, “The laws of revelation hamper us greatly by their proscription of the impartation of unearned or premature knowledge.” In spite of this statement however, it appears that there is much new material in The Urantia Book. There must be other considerations which allow the Revelators to work around the “proscription of the impartation of unearned or premature knowledge.”
With continental drift, as with the distance to Andromeda, Martin says that even though The Urantia Book is right, it is still wrong. The book's science is correct but Martin says it is incorrect because in the 1920's a scientist named Wegener was right for the wrong reasons.
Page 199: Martin makes another mistake. The date for the explosion of the Crab Nebula supernova is erroneously given by Martin as 1054 BC rather than 1054 AD. According to Martin, The Urantia Book says the explosion came from a “mother star.” These are his quotes. Do quote marks mean anything? The term “mother star” as such is not in The Urantia Book The actual statement from the book reads, “And all this explains the origin of many types of irregular nebulae, such as the Crab nebula, which had its origin about nine hundred years ago, and which still exhibits the mother sphere as a lone star near the center of this irregular nebular mass.” Concerning The Urantia Book's statement, “And all this explains the origin of many types of irregular nebulae, such as the Crab nebula...,” Martin then says, “The authors [of the science booklet on The Urantia Book] contend that this was not known until after 1955.” We can't be sure if all the authors contend this, but in any case in the very next paragraph Martin proves the authors case and contention by saying, “In the 1960's Rudolf Minkowski found what he believed to be the mother star...etc.” The 1960's would seem to be after 1955.
Moving on to Tycho Brahe's supernova of 1572, a double star explosion according to The Urantia Book, Martin again says if the book is right it is only because science knew it all along. In the case of 1572, The Urantia Book is right. Martin makes a big deal out of trying to discredit the book for being right. The Urantia Book says,
“The most recent of the major cosmic eruptions in Orvonton was the extraordinary double star explosion, the light of which reached Urantia in AD 1572. This conflagration was so intense that the explosion was clearly visible in broad daylight.”
Following is an excerpt from a paper on Martin's book by Todd Moody, as posted to Urantial (an early Urantian board). He seems to already have made a good case for The Urantia Book being correct and Martin's suppositions incorrect as concerns the supernova of 1572.
“I also discussed with Gardner the difficulties of his claim that “The belief that a binary star was involved in the 1572 supernova was the favored view of astronomers well before the UB was published. Gardner explains that the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 supernovas was recognized in the 1930s. This is true, but the distinction was made in terms of observed brightness. The theory that explains the difference in brightness, which Gardner also cites, did not come until later, after the publication of the UB. Even the citation that he gives from the 1911 Britannica that explains novas as either the explosion of a single star or the collision of two stars is not really relevant. The UB describes the 1572 supernova as a 'double star explosion,' not a collision. I have looked through dozens of astronomy texts, from the 1920s to the 1950s. In none of them have I been able to find a reference to Type 1 supernovas as being produced by binary systems. This theory does not appear until one consults sources from the 1960s and later.”
Over and over Martin uses the theme: Which is more plausible? That celestials used human sources when they could (as they have stated), or that Sadler or other humans plagiarized in order to gather material to write The Urantia Book. Normally perhaps a case could be made for human plagiarism as being the most likely, but on the other hand, an epochal revelation comes along very seldom. It would be a shame to dismiss it simply because it was a lower probability. Ockham's razor aside, the most likely answer isn't always the right answer.
Page 201: When confronted with a situation where he is apparently not able to find any aspersion to cast on The Urantia Book regarding a certain statement that has proven to be true, Martin calls it a “lucky hit.”
Page 205: Martin talks about The Urantia Book's description of the earth's atmosphere as being midway in density between that of Mars and Venus. I cannot find any such statement, but there is a related statement to which he is perhaps referring. The Urantia Book says:
“Beings such as the Urantia races are classified as mid-breathers; you represent the average or typical breathing order of mortal existence. If intelligent creatures should exist on a planet with an atmosphere similar to that of your near neighbor, Venus, they would belong to the superbreather group, while those inhabiting a planet with an atmosphere as thin as that of your outer neighbor, Mars, would be denominated subbreathers.”
Martin says that before The Urantia Book, it was well known by science that the earth's atmosphere was midway between that of Mars and Venus. Then he writes, “Why the four authors [of the booklet on the science content of The Urantia Book] consider this highly prophetic beats me. Telescopic observation of the two planets long ago showed Venus totally covered with dense clouds and Mars to have an atmosphere too thin even to be visible.” This is a word distortion or a word game. In the case of Venus, “dense” (in opacity) cloud tops do not necessarily equal a dense (in pressure) atmosphere at the surface. There were no measurements of the density of Venus' atmosphere prior to The Urantia Book. The 1957 Encyclopedia Americana states, “The actual surface is never visible to us as Venus is clothed in an apparently impenetrable cloud mantle.”... “How high this atmosphere extends from the surface, or even how high the tops of the cloud layers are, remain conjectural.” Little else is said, leaving the reader with absolutely no idea how dense the Venusian atmosphere is. Mars, being considerably smaller than the Earth could be expected to have a thinner atmosphere but it wasn't known exactly how thin until the Viking landings in the mid 70's. The 1957 Encyclopedia Americana does say however, “The atmosphere of the planet, though extensive, is probably tenuous.” Curiously, after stating that The Urantia Book says that the atmosphere of the Earth is midway between that of Venus and Mars (The Urantia Book doesn't exactly say that, but let's pretend for a minute), Martin tells us on the same page (205), “...but when it comes to unearned data likely to be obtained in the near future, such as the density of Venus's atmosphere, the papers are silent.” Then he goes on to discuss again the “three yet unobserved planets beyond the orbit of Pluto,” implying that The Urantia Book says the same. It does not.
Page 206: Martin talks about the “background radiation” temperature. He says that The Urantia Book's mention of it is no big deal, and blithely asserts the Big Bang as the source. The Urantia Book however gives a quite different explanation of the space heat. It says:
“Gravity presence and action is what prevents the appearance of the theoretical absolute zero, for interstellar space does not have the temperature of absolute zero.”
Also on page 206, Martin misstates The Urantia Book in speaking about the dates of a famous conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter around the time of Jesus' birth. He says, “The UB says that these conjunctions gave the appearance of a single star...” This is false. The Urantia Book says no such thing:
“These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C., there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. And it is a remarkable astronomic fact that similar conjunctions occurred on September 29 and December 5 of the same year. Upon the basis of these extraordinary but wholly natural events the well-meaning zealots of the succeeding generation constructed the appealing legend of the star of Bethlehem and the adoring Magi led thereby to the manger, where they beheld and worshipped the newborn babe.”
Martin continues his error saying, “Unfortunately, the two planets were never close enough to appear as a single star.” The Urantia Book never says they were, so one can only wonder what's going on here. At the bottom of page 208 he is still working over this “single star” idea. This is sloppy work at best or deliberate misrepresentation at worst, take your pick. Finally Martin continues on into absurdity by saying of the Star of Bethlehem legend, “Seventh-day Adventists follow the more sensible approach taken by Mrs. White. 'It was not a fixed star or planet,' she writes in chapter 6 of her life of Jesus, 'It was a distant company of shining angels.'“ So, Seventh Day Adventist founder Ellen White believed that the Star of Bethlehem was “a distant company of shining angels”? I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if so it clearly shows that The Urantia Book is not Seventh Day Adventism.
Continuing, Martin tries to make a case for a conjunction in 2 BC saying, “This is close to the traditional year for the birth of Jesus, but ruled out by the UB's unsupported birthdate of August 21, 7 B.C.” Well, in spite of the implication by Martin that the “traditional birthdate” might somehow be correct, the fact is that the traditional date for Jesus is wrong and modern biblical scholars know it's wrong. Jesus was born during the reign of Herod, and Herod died in 4 BC.
Page 209: Martin apparently finds a real honest-to-goodness typographical error in the Urantia Book. It says that the Shawnee Indian prophet Tenskwatawa predicted a solar eclipse in 1808. The correct year seems to be 1806. Out of more than one million words, someone transcribed a wrong digit.
Page 210: Martin suggests that The Urantia Book refers to sunbeams as “highly heated and agitated electrons,” rather than, as Martin says it should be, photons. The Urantia Book doesn't refer to sunbeams as electrons directly. Martin is making an assumption from two separate sentences. And The Urantia Book does not use the word photon in the whole book. One wonders why, but as I did some research into the subject of photons, I was struck by the use of the word THEORY over and over in the various reference materials. Modern science does not seem to have a good grasp of what a photon really is.
Noting that The Urantia Book is right on the money as far as the age of the earth is concerned at 4.5 billion years old, Martin tries to take it away by suggesting that other texts in the time period of the late twenties to early forties give the age, one at 4 billion and one at 5 billion years old. He says “it could be that a human author of the UB, encountering estimates of 4 and 5 billion, compromised on 4.5. The real reason 4.5 billion is in the book is because the Revelators knew it was right.
It continues to amaze me that when The Urantia Book does not agree with science, Martin gloats that The Urantia Book (never science) is wrong, but when it does agree with science, Martin gloats that it is right for the wrong reasons. Interesting too is that Martin always holds up the science of the day as correct science. He is seemingly oblivious to the fact that science is constantly changing.
Martin begins a new topic on page 211 by saying, “Many pages in the UB are devoted to a theory of particles that is sheer fantasy.” Then, fudging, he goes on to say, “If some day it turned out to be correct.....”
Page 212: explaining particle theory to us, Martin says, “At the moment, matter seems to be made of...,” and then he goes on to tell us what matter “seems” to be made of, “at the moment.” If I am not mistaken, these are called theories and opinions, not to be confused with known facts. Martin then makes an absurd blanket statement telling us that “no particle physicist can see [The Urantia Book's statements] as anything but absurd.” Continuing on about the book's explanation of ultimatums, Martin, apparently a closet Stephen Hawking clone, calls it a “mad theory.”
Martin notes that The Urantia Book states that the size of the atom with its orbiting inner electrons is relatively comparable to the sun and its orbiting inner planet Mercury. He says this is obsolete, but doesn't say why, doesn't note that The Urantia Book is simply talking about a rough comparison of inner circuit sizes, and doesn't point out that The Urantia Book also says about atomic structure that, other than the relative size of the inner circuits, the two structures are only “faintly comparable:”
“Surrounding this energy center there whirl, in endless profusion but in fluctuating circuits, the energy units which are faintly comparable to the planets encircling the sun of some starry group like your own solar system.”
One can only wonder why Martin would selectively leave out such qualifying statements unless he has a hidden agenda, perhaps known only to his subconscious.
Wading further into atomic theory Martin misquotes the book saying, “It is impossible, the UB says, for the number of electrons in an atom to exceed 100. If a 101st electron is added, the element instantly disintegrates.” No where does the book say exactly what Martin has described. The actual quote from the book that he must be referring to is this:
“In Orvonton it has never been possible naturally to assemble over one hundred orbital electrons in one atomic system. When one hundred and one have been artificially introduced into the orbital field, the result has always been the well-nigh* instantaneous disruption of the central proton with the wild dispersion of the electrons and other liberated energies.”
[*Special note: In the first printing, the term “well-nigh” is missing, having been added later by persons unknown and for reasons unknown.]
The Urantia Book is talking about “naturally” occurring “elements” It's interesting to note that it doesn't even use the word “element” in this case, choosing instead the term, “atomic system.” Martin is talking about artificially created elements, and the way he goes about it is rather odd, referring to the “discovery” of the element Fermium, and the “finding” of the element Mendelevium, in such a way that one might perhaps discover or find a naturally occurring plastic mine. The fact is that these elements were man made, not “found” or “discovered” at all. On earth, all elements above Uranium, number 92, are artificial, none occur naturally, and all have short lives. Furthermore, they are “found” only in isotope form, never the pure element.
From Groliers CD ROM Encyclopedia-
“Like other TRANSURANIUM ELEMENTS, fermium does not occur naturally. All known isotopes of fermium are radioactive, their half-lives ranging from a few milliseconds to about 100 days.”
“The transuranium elements are the chemical elements (see PERIODIC TABLE) that have atomic numbers greater than uranium (93 and higher). All of these elements have been synthesized beginning in 1940, and all are radioactive. The transuranium elements have only radioactive ISOTOPES because their large nuclei are unstable.”
Moving on to anthropology, on page 214 Martin tries to show that even though The Urantia Book correctly omits any mention of Piltdown Man, which was proven to be a hoax in 1953, it is still somehow wrong. You can't have it both ways. Had The Urantia Book endorsed Piltdown Man as a true humanoid fossil, then Martin really would have had something to talk about.
On page 216 Martin says, “In 1928, D. R. Fotheringham published his landmark 'The Date of Easter'. Basing his arguments on astronomical tables and old Babylonian calendars he concluded that Jesus died on April 7, AD 30. This may have been the UB's source.” Yes, it's possible that Fotheringham discovered the correct date by using his own methods. It is “evidence” which supports The Urantia Book. The Revelators used the date of April 7, AD 30 because it’s the right date. Regarding the date of Jesus' birth, Martin takes a completely different stand. The Urantia Book gives the date of August 21, 7 BC about which Martin says, “...evidence is totally lacking...” and “If there is a precedent in Christian literature for the UB's date of August 21, 7 BC, I have not yet come across it.” The August 21st date of Jesus' birth is revealed information which had been lost.
One of Martin's most glaring errors and misrepresentations is his discussion of UB genetics. He says on page 217, “Another example of a clear error in UB science is its assertion that the number of chromosomes in a human cell - they are called 'units of pattern control' or 'trait determiners' - is 48.”
To make a long story short, The Urantia Book does not use the word “chromosomes” in this instance. Martin makes this connection for us and misrepresents the UB text in doing so. I have written to him and told him of his error, and he readily admits that The Urantia Book doesn't use the word chromosomes here, but he continues to imply that it does. The Revelators do use the word chromosomes elsewhere in the book, so we know that they know the word and what it means when they want that word. They have deliberately chosen not to use the word in this case, instead using the terms “units of pattern control” and “trait determiners.” One could assume that they are trying to make a precise distinction between what we commonly call chromosomes and what they are actually talking about. The simple fact is that Martin's statement above is false. The Urantia Book does not say there are 48 “chromosomes.”
Page 220: Martin talks about the fandors (large passenger birds mentioned in The Urantia Book, now extinct 30,000 years). He says, “Why no fandor fossils have been found is a mystery.” Actually, it's almost certainly no mystery at all. Contrary to what might be popular opinion, most of the potential fossil record has not been found. According to paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould in his book, The Panda's Thumb, “The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” There may be many reasons that fandor fossils have not been found. Birds tend to have light, hollow bones, easily destroyed. Perhaps they were a species small in number. Perhaps they died at sea like albatrosses. The fact that no fossils have been found just says that no fossils have been found. Lots of fossils haven’t been found.
Martin then goes on in his customary style to ridicule the whole fandor idea and anyone who believes in them. Trying to have it both ways again, he says that if fandor fossils are ever found “it would be another example of the UB providing startling unearned science.” In an interesting aside, throughout the book Martin attempts to drive a wedge between Urantians, labeling some as “liberal” and others as “fundamentalist.” Fandors are, he says, the litmus test for orthodoxy.
Page 222: Martin tries to make the point that UB fundamentalism is just the same as Biblical fundamentalism, when in fact it is not. There is no similarity. The Urantia Book is revelation from God. Of course one should question any source, the Urantia Book included. Martin then brings out the big guns of ridicule, painting anyone who believes all of the book with the fetish paintbrush.
Finishing the chapter “Science in The Urantia Book, Part II,” Martin wonders why the Revelators didn't include “some statements about science that would prove they possessed a knowledge greater than known to Urantian scientists in 1955?” Of course this falls into the “signs and wonders” request that has been made before by humans to God, but the fact is that the Revelators did exactly that in many places, the fandors being just one case (also, the life span of our sun, the Big Bang, ultimatons, the migration of the Red Man to the Americas, sudden jumps in evolution, a detailed account of the races and how they came about, etc.), and in that case, and all the others, Martin has rejected and ridiculed them. Show me more, he says, those signs weren't good enough.
Chapter 12, “Adventist Influence on The Urantia Book” is like the OAHSPE chapter, largely irrelevant. One can find similarities between all religions, especially those that have in them Jesus as an important personage. Everyone has a past. I was raised Catholic. William Sadler was an Adventist in his youth. So what? Martin tries to make much of it, but he was also an Adventist. Isn't that interesting! The Urantia Book shares doctrines and ideas with a variety of religions. It also disagrees with many tenets of various religions.
In this chapter Martin frequently gets bogged down and in trouble trying to use the scant narrative of the New Testament (a book in which he does not believe) to prove not only Ellen White and Adventism wrong, but also The Urantia Book. On page 240 he says, “There is not a line in the gospels to suggest that the young Jesus made any special effort to study nature.” To which one can only say again, so what? It is well known to New Testament scholars that the gospels are missing a wealth of information on Jesus, including 18 years of his life from the age of 12 to the age of 30, and that many of the sayings attributed to Jesus were later added by others. The New Testament is a flawed document by any objective standard. Why is Martin holding it up as the “gospel truth,” so to speak? All through this chapter I found myself asking over and over, so what?
Page 249: Martin misstates The Urantia Book, saying, “Your two angel companions will then fuse...and become Paradise Deities.” The book doesn't say that, this is simply more of Martin's made up material. The Urantia Book does talk about the seraphim ACHIEVING the Paradise Deities (page 1249), not becoming them. Oh well, what's one more misrepresentation in the grand scheme of things?
Early in this chapter, Martin finds fault with the fact that The Urantia Book shares doctrines with Adventism. Later, on page 251, he takes the other tack, finding fault with the fact that The Urantia Book does not agree with Adventism all the time, saying, “As one would expect from the unconscious or conscious minds of disenchanted Adventists, the UB is in conflict with many fundamental Adventist dogmas.” One simply can't win in this sort of game.
In Chapter 14, Martin embarrasses himself again with another trip into numbers games.
Page 282: Martin says, “When information is channeled during a trance, either through spoken or written words, it never emerges in a form as polished and consistent as the Urantia papers.” He then goes on to explain that “Christy must have done some editing when she typed up the revelations...” In fact, the reason the Urantia papers emerged in a form as polished and consistent as it did, is because no one was ever in a trance and no information was ever “channeled.” As noted earlier, the subject was in a deep sleep, his mind was not involved in the process. Loyal agents of God never invade the sanctity of the human mind. Midwayers have the ability to manipulate the material world, and this they did with the sleeping subject, using only his hands and vocal chords to communicate. Furthermore, when it came time to produce the finished papers, the Revelators simply materialized them. The use of the sleeping subject was partly just to get the humans used to the idea of dealing with the supernatural methods of the Revelators.
Page 299: Back into science again in a chapter entitled “Did Sadler Contribute to the Papers? Part II,” Martin tries to roast The Urantia Book because in many places it says that species evolved “suddenly” in contrast with Darwin's gradualism theories. Modern science has realized that evolution did not progress with Darwinian slowness, though it has no real idea of just how fast events may have happened. One theory called “punctuated equilibrium” suggests that the changes or “jumps” happened over a period of some thousands of years, relatively quickly geologically speaking. Taking this theory as the truth Martin flails away at The Urantia Book and even at a theory of evolution as put forth by Hugo de Vries around the turn of the century in which de Vries also said that new species arise suddenly. Martin says that de Vries theory is now “totally discarded.” By whom, he doesn't say. Martin would have us think that there is a lot of difference between The Urantia Book account of evolution and Martin's latest source of all truth (theories), Stephen Jay Gould. The fact is that The Urantia Book is in good agreement with both Gould's and de Vries’ “theories.” The Urantia Book accurately describes what “modern science” has lately theorized.
Page 304: Martin tries to separate the Urantia Book from itself. First he begins by suggesting that if life has evolved on other planets, “it would be wildly different from any life we know on earth.” We can probably assume that he is mainly referring to biological differences. The Urantia Book says the same: “Life on [some other worlds] is radically different from what it is on Urantia. They…do not eat food or drink water as do the Urantia races. The reactions of the nervous system, the heat-regulating mechanism, and the metabolism of these specialized peoples are radically different from such functions of Urantia mortals. Almost every act of living, aside from reproduction, differs….” Then he quotes The Urantia Book. “Urantia life is unique, original with the planet.....There is no other world in all Satania, even in all Nebadon, that has a life existence just like that of Urantia.” The words “just like” would seem to be the key here, whether speaking biologically or otherwise. But Martin then castigates the book's paper 72 because it describes the history and social organizations of a nation state on a neighboring planet of which there are some similarities to our own Urantia at this point in our history. Martin implies that this planet is “just like” Urantia, when it clearly is not.
Page 312: Martin says, “The evidence is unquestionable that Sadler edited and revised material coming through Wilfred or written by himself and others.” Apparently Martin subscribes to the idea that if you make a statement enough times it somehow becomes true. Perhaps the “unquestionable evidence” was found by playing occult numerology games as he is wont to do.
Chapter 16 is entitled, “Plagiarisms in The Urantia Book.” Martin spends much time on this. The Revelators freely admit that they used human sources, and it does seem that they have used them without attribution. The Revelators are apparently plagiarists by our current system of laws. A midwayer states, “In carrying out my commission to restate the teachings and retell the doings of Jesus of Nazareth, I have drawn freely upon all sources of record and planetary information.” Concepts from over two thousand humans were used, we are told, from Jesus' time right on up to the day the Papers were completed. Early in the book an Orvonton Divine Counselor says, “Accordingly, in making these presentations about God and his universe associates, we have selected as the basis of these papers more than one thousand human concepts representing the highest and most advanced planetary knowledge of spiritual values and universe meanings.” It would seem that for the Revelators there really is nothing new under the sun, and that certain concepts, ideas and memories are not patentable, that they all come from God in reality. They have God’s permission to use His ideas. In the case of Part IV of the Urantia Book, it was the Revelators job to re-state the life and teachings of Jesus using human concepts to the maximum extent possible, and to resort to universe records when necessary.
Page 352: Martin makes a serious blunder, showing that he did not read the Urantia Book in full. He says, “It is curious that the UB, which has no truck with the Eastern doctrine of reincarnation or with Hindu mysticism, would tell how Jesus toured the East with two East Indian friends.” Nowhere in The Urantia Book does it say that Jesus visited or toured the “East,” by which Martin probably means India. Then to support this gross error he cites the work of one William Walker Atkinson and suggests that this is the source of The Urantia Book telling us “...how Jesus toured the East with two East Indian friends.” Martin is wrong about all of it.
In Chapter 17, “Bitter Schisms,” Martin does a good job in presenting historical facts about the splits in the Urantia movement, but then he tries to discredit the book by associating it with some of the fringe elements that are not solely in the Urantia movement, but which are also all over the world, and have been for centuries. It's called “channeling” now, and it's the latest rage. It has nothing to do with the Urantia Book. Furthermore, the various channeling groups are at odds with each other, each claiming to be the true pipeline to God and denouncing the others. Yes, it's a sad day for the Urantia movement, but it is more a commentary on people than anything else, and as noted, it's nothing new.
Page 367: Martin uses a device that he has used before, the voice of authority who “admits” The Urantia Book is full of errors. About Meredith Sprunger he says, “...he freely admits that the UB swarms with scientific blunders...” Now, I am unsure if this is a correct appraisal of Meredith's feelings, but it seems to me that no one can really “admit” to any such thing, except the actual authors. Some might “think” there are errors in The Urantia Book, but only the Revelators can admit to them. Beings must necessarily admit their own mistakes, not someone else's. And while there are a few typos, for the most part every “error” that someone thinks he or she has found is quite easily disputed.