THE GHOST FROM THE PAST

Misstatements

I bought the book - Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery written by Martin Gardner to check the correctness of its use in Wikipedia. I knew already, from a cursory reading, that this book is rather biased. But careful analysis of its text has shocked me. Some examples below:

The Urantia Book states that the Trinity of Trinities on the first level contains not two, as M.G. writes, but three Trinities - The Paradise Trinity, The Ultimate Trinity and The Absolute Trinity (106: 8.8). In UB there isn’t any information about "lower trinities."

Only the part of our memory, called in UB "Adjuster memory", remains intact. Purely materialistic and wholly material associations are not part of Adjuster memory and perish with physical brain. Gardner inadequately presents the UB statement. 

The Urantia Book: Your Adjuster memory remains fully intact as you ascend the morontia life. Those mental associations that were purely animalistic and wholly material naturally perished with the physical brain, but everything in your mental life which was worth while, and which had survival value, was counterparted by the Adjuster and is retained as a part of personal memory all the way through the ascendant career. (535.1)47:4.5

This way Martin Gardner describes the final arrival to Paradise but he simply mistakes the transit sleep with death.

The Urantia Book: The last rest of time has been enjoyed; the last transition sleep has been experienced; now you awake to life everlasting on the shores of the eternal abode. “And there shall be no more sleep. The presence of God and his Son are before you....(299.5) 27:1.5

This is untrue information. The Urantia Book is strongly monotheistic. Maybe Gardner calls the Sons of God, angels and myriads of other servants of God - gods, to show that UB is polytheistic. The Urantia Book doesn't present these celestial beings as gods. Gardner demonstrates here his lack of understanding of basic UB concepts.

The Urantia Book: 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. (21.1) 1:0.1
“There is but one God, the infinite Father, who is also a faithful Creator.” (34.1) 2:1.2

This is Gardner's invention. No information exists in The Urantia Book about system Satania named after Satan.

Adam and Eve don't live now on Edentia but on Jerusem as in the quotation below:

The Urantia Book states:Adam and Eve quickly passed through the worlds of progressive ascension until they attained citizenship on Jerusem, once again to be residents of the planet of their origin but this time as members of a different order of universe personalities. They left Jerusem as permanent citizens — Sons of God; they returned as ascendant citizens — sons of man. They were immediately attached to the Urantia service on the system capital, later being assigned membership among the four and twenty counselors who constitute the present advisory-control body of Urantia. (853.4) 76:6.3

Adam didn't want to "communicate with Urantians." It was Andon and Fonta who "sought to send greetings to Urantia in connection with these revelations, but this request was wisely denied them." (717.4) 63:7.3 This way Martin Gardner creates his own version of The Urantia Book; Andon is not Adam but that doesn’t make any difference to him.

The Urantia Book informs only about seven dimensions of personality self-expression (112:1.9). I don't know from where Martin Gardner took the idea of Paradise in seven dimensions, but it wasn’t from the UB.

The Urantia Book doesn't say that some race is "destined by God to slavery." The fragment of UB about enslavement describes the history of humankind and the races of primitive men: The more backward humans are usually employed as laborers by the more progressive races. This accounts for the origin of slavery on the planets during the early ages. The orange men are usually subdued by the red and reduced to the status of servants — sometimes exterminated. The yellow and red men often fraternize, but not always. The yellow race usually enslaves the green, while the blue man subdues the indigo. These races of primitive men think no more of utilizing the services of their backward fellows in compulsory labor than Urantians would of buying and selling horses and cattle. (585.2) 51:4.6

This is Martin Gardner’s idea of Lazarus resurrection however this idea doesn't exist in UB. Jesus personally decided about resurrection of Lazarus and this resurrection was performed be celestial beings according to his bidding.

The Urantia Book: Then said Jesus, looking straight into the eyes of Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life...."(1843.1)168:0.7
The small group assembled before Lazarus’s tomb little realized the presence near at hand of a vast concourse of all orders of celestial beings assembled under the leadership of Gabriel and now in waiting, by direction of the Personalized Adjuster of Jesus, vibrating with expectancy and ready to execute the bidding of their beloved Sovereign. (1845.1)168:1.10

And there is more information in UB (Paper 168) that the resurrection of Lazarus was Jesus’s, not Gabriel’s, idea.

Maybe The Urantia Book version created by Martin Gardner has the powers higher than Sovereign of Nebadon - Jesus of Nazareth at the scene of the wedding in Cana, where he turned water into wine.

The Urantia Book: On this occasion power transformers, midwayers, and all other required personalities were assembled near the water and other necessary elements, and in the face of the expressed wish of the Universe Creator Sovereign, there was no escaping the instantaneous appearance of wine. (1530.4) 137:4.12

The power transformers, midwayers etc. are not "higher powers" for Jesus of Nazareth - Local Universe Creator, and they acted to fulfill his wish - turning water into wine.

Martin Gardner’s persistency in misleading the readers of his book and his attempts to prove that The Urantia Book is polytheistic amazes me. He doesn't understand the book which he attempts to debunk.

The Urantia Book: After the chief of archangels had been granted this request, he summoned to his assistance many of his fellows, together with a numerous host of the representatives of all orders of celestial personalities, and then, with the aid of the Urantiamidwayers, proceeded to take possession of Jesus’ physical body.... (2023.2)          189:2.3
The tomb of Joseph was empty, not because the body of Jesus had been rehabilitated or resurrected, but because the celestial hosts had been granted their request to afford it a special and unique dissolution, a return of the “dust to dust,” without the intervention of the delays of time and without the operation of the ordinary and visible processes of mortal decay and material corruption. (2023.6)189:2.7

Again there is misleading information. Martin Gardner calls the archangels and other celestial personalities "Gods."

"Two pages later" there is no information that the Spirit of Truth "operates inside our hearts" through seven adjutant mind-spirits. The adjutant mind-spirits are mentioned twice on the page 2062 but not as the means of the Spirit of Truth.

The Urantia Book: The early evolutionary races of mortals are subject to the progressive contact of the seven adjutant mind-spirits of the local universe Mother Spirit. As man progresses upward in the scale of intelligence and spiritual perception, there eventually come to hover over him and dwell within him the seven higher spirit influences. (2062.1) 194:2.12
6. The mind-spirit of the Universe Mother Spirit — the seven adjutant mind-spirits of the local universe. (2062.7) 194:2.18

UB doesn't mention any ships as the vehicles for angels, this similarity between UB and OAHSPE was invented by Gardner.

The Urantia Book: 875,000,000,000years ago the enormous Andronover nebula number 876,926 was duly initiated. (652.2) 57:1.6

There is no statement in the UB that suggests our galaxy came into existence 875 billion years ago. If Martin Gardner would read the book more carefully, he would eventually avoid such blunders and discover that the Andronover nebula is not our galaxy.

This apparent inconsistency of The Urantia Book with today's astronomical observation Gardner creates by using misleading information that the Andronover nebula is our galaxy. Also, there is nothing in UB that can suggest any similarity between the Andronover nebula and Andromeda galaxy.

UB nothing says about "two more [planets], beyond the orbit of Pluto." Planet Pluto is not mentioned in UB. I think Gardner should be familiar with the fact that there are more than nine planets in our Solar System (together with dwarf planets) according to classification of International Astronomical Union from the year 2006. This fact places The Urantia Book information (12 planets) much closer to the current astronomical observations than to scientific opinions popular in the year of the book's publication (9 planets).

Gardner writes about the system which came close to our Sun a long time ago and this statement is correct. But on page 187 Gardner contradicts himself writing about the same event:

 

The UB doesn't provide any information about the age of our universe and the above number doesn't exist in its text. 

And a few lines below:


"If future space probes drive the final nail into the coffin of Planet X, will loyal Urantians shrug and say that UB's claim of two planets was another joke by fun-loving celestials?

The Urantia Book says nothing about "two undiscovered planets beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto" on the pages 656 and 658. In 2004 and 2005 three more planets have been discoveries of in our Solar System close to Pluto: Makemake (diameter about 2/3 the size of Pluto), Haumea (one-third the mass of Pluto) and Eris (27% more massive than Pluto). These planets are now classified as dwarf planets together with Pluto. It is hard to believe that Martin Gardner, creator of "Mathematical Games" section in Scientific American couldn't notice such important discoveries and didn't correct the second edition of his book, published in 2008.
"Fun-loving celestials" didn't make any joke of Urantians, but Martin Gardner put himself into a very funny position by this statement. 

This is another misstatement. If Gardner would read the entire book, he should know that the term "universe" is used for the whole material creation as well as for the parts of this creation. The entire known universe, called in UB "master universe" is described on the pages 128 and 129 of the UB. Nothing in the UB suggests that "our entire known universe is a tiny portion of a much vaster realm of being" or that there are "other universes, totally beyond the reach of any conceivable telescope." This is another example of Martin Gardner's fertile imagination.

The Urantia Book places a great emphasis on the worship of Universal Father but there isn't a word in this book that can suggest any worship of angels. There isn’t any article or document that speaks about any sort of angelolatry among the UB readers. This is Martin Gardner groundless speculation, not the first and not the last.

There is nothing in two following quotations from the page 438 which can suggest that "the transport seraphim... take souls of the dead to Jerusem". Probably Gardner confuses these two quotations and adds to them his own ideas:

The Urantia Book: 5. The Transporters.The planetary transporters serve the individual worlds. The majority of enseraphimed beings brought to this planet are in transit; they merely stop over; they are in custody of their own special seraphic transporters; but there are a large number of such seraphim stationed on Urantia. These are the transport personalities operating from the local planets, as from Urantia to Jerusem.(438.3) 39:5.10
Your conventional idea of angels has been derived in the following way: During moments just prior to physical death a reflective phenomenon sometimes occurs in the human mind, and this dimming consciousness seems to visualize something of the form of the attending angel, and this is immediately translated into terms of the habitual concept of angels held in that individual’s mind.(438.4) 39:5.11

Over and over again Martin Gardner persistently tries to suggest that UB is polytheistic, calling angels and other celestial personalities - Gods.
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” said Joseph Goebbels - Propaganda Minister of Third Reich. It looks like he found a worthy follower in Martin Gardner.


Gardner persistency in regarding UB as polytheistic leads him to such enormous misunderstandings as on page 371 where he wrote:


"Sprunger's ability to harmonize his Christianity and respect for the gospels with UB's elaborate polytheism is a thing to marvel". 


A thing to marvel is rather Gardner ignorance of UB text.

Martin Gardner again returns to his idea of two planets beyond the orbit of Pluto. He ponders this subject on the page 189 of his book, contrary to UB statements and today's scientific knowledge.

Martin Gardner provides a page number from the UB to create the impression that his research is reliable. Unfortunately for him on the page 1352 there is nothing about "the appearance of a single star."

The Urantia Book: 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 worshiped the newborn babe.(1352.3) 122:8.7

The word “conjunction” in astronomy means “an apparent proximity of two planets or other heavenly bodies...” according to Oxford English Dictionary, not the appearance of a single star.
But Martin Gardner is very persistent in spreading the products of his imagination. In his another book Did Adam and Eve have navels? published by W. W. Norton & Company New York, London 2001, there is the following text on page 42:

  • "On page 1352 of the Urantia Book we learn that Jupiter-Saturn encounter on May 29, 7 B.C. gave the appearance of single star, which we know it didn’t, and this accounts for what the supermortals calls the “beautiful legend” that grew up about the “Star.”
  • In Skeptical Inquirer a bimonthly magazine published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Volume 23.6, November/December 1999, Martin Gardner promoted his "single star" idea:

  • "In recent years the 7 B.C. conjecture has been revived in the lengthy life of Jesus section that makes up the final third of the massive Urantia Book (1955)." "On page 1352 of the Urantia Book we learn that the Jupiter-Saturn encounter of May 29, 7 B.C., gave the appearance of a single star, which we know it didn't, and this accounts for what the supermortals call the “beautiful legend” that grew up about the “Star."

  • On the website of Skeptical Inquirer Gardner was confronted by Robert Reno, a reader who quoted appropriate text from The Urantia Book and wrote:


     "The first sentence in the paragraph states clearly “These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem.” Nowhere in the paragraph in question is it stated that the Jupiter-Saturn encounter gave the appearance of a single star. I searched the online version of the Urantia Book and could find no statement that the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction “gave the appearance of a single star.” This appears to indicate that Gardner has misquoted the Urantia Book by adding information that was not in the original source and omitting information, the first sentence of the paragraph in question, which contradicts his own fallacious statement. Gardner then goes on to use his own false statement as a basis upon which to criticize the Urantia Book, by stating “which we know it didn’t.” I fail to see how this erroneous quotation, which falls short of even minimal accuracy and fairness, furthers the cause of good science."


    Martin Gardner answered:

  • "The writer is correct. The Urantia Book does not state that the conjunction gave the appearance of a single star."

  • Despite this answer the misleading information remains in all Gardner's publications which refer to this subject.

    The Urantia Book: 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 instantaneous disruption of the central proton with the wild dispersion of the electrons and other liberated energies.(478.1) 42:7.7

    This is a typical example of Gardner misstatement. He suggests that UB denies the existence of transuranium elements with atomic number greater than 100. What UB says is that these elements exist but not in nature and they can be created artificially but as such are impermanent. As today science knows many transuranium elements, Gardner tries to suggest that the information in UB is inconsistent with scientific discoveries.

    Largest pigeons as passenger birds!? The ridiculing effect is obviously achieved, however this is not true. This is another Martin Gardner misstatement. In the UB text there is no mention of the largest pigeons as passenger birds. There isn’t even any mention that the carrier pigeons have been trained, as there is no necessity for any training; pigeons have an innate homing ability. How "carefully" Martin Gardner read the UB is illustrated in the quotation below, which can be compared with his understanding of text quoted in the paragraph above.

    The Urantia Book states: It was in these days that carrier pigeons were first used, being taken on long journeys for the purpose of sending messages or calls for help. Bon’s group were successful in training the great fandors as passenger birds, but they became extinct more than thirty thousand years ago. (746.4) 66:5.6

    More misleading information about the UB text, similar to these from the pages 18, 193 and 194. The transport seraphim carry alive, not dead personalities.

    The Urantia Book: The angels cannot transport combustion bodies — flesh and blood — such as you now have, but they can transport all others, from the lowest morontia to the higher spirit forms. They do not function in the event of natural death. (431.2) 39:2.13

    The Urantia Book: Such surviving souls must rest in unconscious sleep until the judgment day of a new epoch, a new dispensation, the coming of a Son of God to call the rolls of the age and adjudicate the realm, and this is the general practice throughout all Nebadon. It was said of Christ Michael that, when he ascended on high at the conclusion of his work on earth, “He led a great multitude of captives.” And these captives were the sleeping survivors from the days of Adam to the day ofthe Master’s resurrection on Urantia. (341.1) 30:4.11

    Probably Martin Gardner creates his opinion according to information from the quoted above page 341 of UB, but there is no mention about Christ Second Coming as the event required to resurrection.

    The Urantia Book: The entire transaction of the materialization of this Melchizedek Son was completed by the planetary receivers with the co-operation of the Life Carriers, certain of the Master Physical Controllers, and other celestial personalities resident on Urantia.(1014.5) 93:1.3

    Again Martin Gardner calls planetary receivers, Life Carriers and the Master Physical Controllers - Gods, persistently misleading the readers of his book that UB is polytheistic. And that’s not all.

    The Urantia Book:Though Machiventa lived after the manner of the men of the realm, he never married, nor could he have left offspring on earth. His physical body, while resembling that of the human male, was in reality on the order of those especially constructed bodies used by the one hundred materialized members of Prince Caligastia’s staff except that it did not carry the life plasm of any human race. Nor was there available on Urantia the tree of life. Had Machiventa remained for any long period on earth, his physical mechanism would have gradually deteriorated; as it was, he terminated his bestowal mission in ninety-four years long before his material body had begun to disintegrate. (1015.6) 93:2.6

    There is nothing in above paragraph which suggests the lack of "the genetic equipment necessary for producing offspring". Melchizedek body was "on the order of those especially constructed bodies used by the one hundred materialized members of Prince Caligastia’s staff" and this staff was involved in sexual reproduction as is explained on the page 757 of UB. Martin Gardner again jumps to his own conclusions.

    Angels (seraphim) achieve the Paradise Deities but not "become Paradise Deities" as Gardner wrongly stated. Probably he confuses the UB text from the two paragraphs below:

    The Urantia Book:For seraphim, the surest way of achieving the Paradise Deities is by successfully guiding a soul of evolutionary origin to the portals of Paradise. Therefore is the assignment of guardian of destiny the most highly prized seraphic duty. (1249.1) 113:7.7
    Only destiny guardians are mustered into the primary or mortal Corps of the Finality, and such pairs have engaged in the supreme adventure of identity at-oneness; the two beings have achieved spiritual bi-unification on Seraphington prior to their reception into the finaliter corps. (1249.2) 113:7.8

    There isn't any information in UB that can suggest a "mystery of evil." UB explains evil in over 400 places, leaving no room for mystery. It looks like Martin Gardner tries to bend the UB text so that it suits his own conclusions about Seventh-day Adventist influence in the UB teaching. Below there are two UB paragraphs that explain evil and there are many other similar explanations in UB.

    The Urantia Book:Evolutionary man finds it difficult fully to comprehend the significance and to grasp the meanings of evil, error, sin, and iniquity. Man is slow to perceive that contrastive perfection and imperfection produce potential evil; that conflicting truth and falsehood create confusing error; that the divine endowment of freewill choice eventuates in the divergent realms of sin and righteousness; that the persistent pursuit of divinity leads to the kingdom of God as contrasted with its continuous rejection, which leads to the domains of iniquity. (613.1) 54:0.1
    The Gods neither create evil nor permit sin and rebellion. Potential evil is time-existent in a universe embracing differential levels of perfection meanings and values. Sin is potential in all realms where imperfect beings are endowed with the ability to choose between good and evil. The very conflicting presence of truth and untruth, fact and falsehood, constitutes the potentiality of error. The deliberate choice of evil constitutes sin; the willful rejection of truth is error; the persistent pursuit of sin and error is iniquity. (613.2) 54:0.2

    This information doesn't exist in UB; there is not even the slightest suggestion about such transfer of orders. This is Martin Gardner invention.

    Martin Gardner tries to suggest that some humans are numbered according to assignment number of their guardian seraphim. This is not true. Below there is UB statement which Gardner apparently doesn't understand.

    The Urantia Book: The current planetary assignment number of this seraphim on Urantia and to this human subject is 3,641,852. (1243.3) 113:2.6

    Michael (Jesus) does not belong to Magisterial Sons order but to the Creator Sons, as is explained in UB, Paper 20, chapter 1.

    Jesus toured the Far East with two Indian friends?! Martin Gardner fertile imagination is amazing. As for Greece and Rome his statement is correct. The farthest eastern journey Jesus undertook was to the Caspian Sea region and without any Indian friends (UB Paper 134). To the Far East belong such countries as China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia.    

    Some other facts

    Aside from misinformation about the text of The Urantia Book there are few other blunders in Martin Gardner work.
    In his book Gardner introduces his imaginary friend Dr. Matrix, numerologist. Hundreds of numbers are quoted in UB but this book doesn't speak about numerology as we comprehend it today. When an UB reader asked Gardner about his reason for using Dr. Matrix and his numerological calculation, Gardner answered him in a letter that it was all a "joke." The involvement of professional skeptic in such sort of numerological pseudoscience is rather strange, as shown below:

     

    Unfortunately Martin Gardner doesn't provide the source of his information about the detection of neutrino in 1953. In 1953 Frederick Reines and Clyde Cowan performed the first neutrino detection experiments and constructed the first neutrino detector, but this particle was in fact discovered in 1956. Maybe the discovery of the neutrino in 1956 was an uncomfortable topic for Gardner who’s persistent in discrediting UB.  This date suggests some sort of scientific foreknowledge in the UB, published in 1955.

    There is no “evidence” to the contrary. If Gardner believes that any of such evidence exists he should provide its source.


    In the second edition of his book Martin Gardner made some changes. This edition don't have any strange terminology as supposedly existed in UB, the terms "Tabamantian midwayers" or "Eadoman tribes" invented by Martin Gardner. The sentence: "The UB renames the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth" was also removed from the second edition. The number of planets "beyond the orbit of Pluto" (as supposedly exists in UB) was changed from three in the first edition to two in the second. But the sentence: "The latest evidence, based on extremely accurate measurements of the orbits of Uranus and Neptune show no discrepancies that indicate an object beyond Pluto large enough to be called a planet"(p. 189) was not removed. This is misleading information, since more planets were discovered in this region of Solar System in 2005, three years before the second edition of Gardner’s book was published. This fact, together with the incorrect information about the detection of the neutrino in 1953, raises the question: did Gardner adjust not only the text of UB but also well known scientific discoveries to suit his ideas?


    The number of false and misleading information in Gardner’s book is stunning, but maybe such depart from the statements of UB is the only way to discredit this book. 

     
    Many chapters of Gardner’s book are rather loosely connected with main subject of his work or not relevant at all, as the biography of Dr. John Kellog, OAHSPE, Seventh-day Adventism and information about Ellen White.


    The Urantia Book uses many human concepts to express its ideas. The authors clearly state that they have used human sources and "that those concepts which have had origin in the human mind will prove more acceptable and helpful to all other human minds" (UB page 1343). The use of these human sources is often handled in such a way as to arrive at a position differing from that of the human author. Martin Gardner jumps to his conclusion that this is plagiarism and dedicates a whole chapter of his book to this subject. He doesn't understand that the use of human sources without concealing it doesn't fit any definition of plagiarism. If following Gardner’s reasoning, the Bible can also be accused of plagiarism as there are many concepts already expressed in other preexisting sources.


    Generally, in his book Martin Gardner tries to prove the human origin of UB. He suggests that Dr. William S. Sadler, Wilfred Custer Kellogg or Contact Commission are the authors or co-authors of UB. He builds his conclusions on the comparisons of UB to former works of Dr. Sadler (Chapter 14 and 15). By analysing some numbers and the fact that Wilfred Custer Kellogg was bookkeeper, Gardner speculates about a possibility of his authorship of UB (p. 250).  Gardner’s conclusions are built rather on speculations than facts as in these sentences:

    If the description of UB ideas and text contains so many mistakes and misstatements, what to think about the rest of Gardner’s research? Part of this research is based on the writing documents and interviews with the people but a considerable amount of his book constitute a groundless speculations and assumptions, born in Gardner’s mind, as shown in the examples above.


    Soon after first printing of Martin Gardner book was published in 1995, Sandra Collins SLIS, Univ. of Pittsburg, wrote in a Library Journal an interesting review of this book:  "Given the lack of scholarly distance from the subject, the patronizing tone and the gross editorializing, it would be difficult to recommend this book to any library." Later on, in 2008, Sarah Levis, a lecturer of the Univ. of Wales, stated: "Martin Gardner is one of the few people outside the Urantia Foundation who has undertaken research into the movement. His research is worth noting, although his position as a great skeptic does not allow his conclusions much academic credibility." ["The Peculiar Sleep: Receiving The Urantia Book" (2008) in Sacred Traditions, James R Lewis ed, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 199-212]


    If any book about the New Testament would contain so many misstatement of its text, nobody will regard it seriously, however there are many who treat Martin Gardner’s book very seriously, so seriously, that this book is the main source of the Wikipedia article about The Urantia Book. Many other authors, for example Brad Gooch, base their work mainly on Gardner conclusions, consequently people that never read The Urantia Book are presented with a very distorted picture of its content.

    Paul Jaworski
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