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Switch to Forum Live View Supposed Scientific Errors in the Urantia Book
5 years ago  ::  Mar 03, 2009 - 10:27PM #1
Posts: 715

When folks look up critiques of the UB on the web, they often find a criticism based on "errors of science". This is enough for some folks to then not bother to read the book at all, which is very sad indeed. I found a list on Wiki, which I will post here of these supposed errors.

Criticism of science

In Paper 101, "The Real Nature of Religion," the authors write:

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.

Skeptics like Martin Gardner see the science in The Urantia Book as clear reflections of the views that prevailed at the time the book is said to have originated. The claim by the authors that no unknown scientific discoveries could be imparted is seen as a ruse to allow mistakes to be dismissed later. That presentation of post-1955 scientific knowledge is avoided is taken to be evidence it was written by humans and not by celestial beings with superior knowledge.

Examples of criticisms regarding the science in The Urantia Book include:[7]

  • The described formation of the solar system is consistent with the Chamberlin-Moulton planetesimal hypothesis [1]. Though popular in the early part of the 20th century, by the early 1940s it was discarded by Henry Russell's argument that it was incompatible with the angular momentum of planets such as Jupiter [2]. The currently accepted scientific explanation for the origin of the solar system is based on the nebular hypothesis.
  • The age of our universe is stated to be more than 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) years old and the universe is said to periodically expand and contract — respire — at 2-billion-year intervals. Current observations, however, suggest that the true age of the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years. The big bang theory is not supported.
  • A fundamental particle called an "ultimaton" is proposed, with an electron being composed of 100 ultimatons. The particle is not known to be described anywhere else and the concept is not supported by modern particle physics.
  • Some species are said to have evolved suddenly from single mutations without transitional species. The theory originated with Dutch botanist Hugo De Vries, but was short-lived and is not now supported.
  • According to The Urantia Book, multi-colored human races originated suddenly in one generation and in one family, producing brothers and sisters that variously turned blue, yellow, red, green, orange, and indigo when exposed to sunlight. Their offspring subsequently favored the parent color. Later, Adam and Eve produced a violet race. In the book's account, the blue, yellow, and red races were considered "primary", and the green, orange, and indigo "secondary". The green and orange races were driven to extinction, and the rest mixed over time. Modern evolutionary theory does not support this account.
  • The book repeats the idea prevalent at the time of its origin that one side of the planet Mercury always faces the sun due to tidal locking. In 1965, radio astronomers discovered that Mercury actually rotates fast enough for all sides to see exposure to the sun. Also in the same passage, the book erroneously states that tidal friction will slow the rotation of a planet or other orbiting body "until axial revolution ceases". Revolutions do not cease, however, but stabilize so that the time to complete one revolution becomes equal to the time needed to complete an orbit.
  • The book says that a solar eclipse was predicted in 1808 by the Native American prophet Tenskwatawa. The eclipse actually was predicted in late April 1806 and occurred on June 16, 1806.

Controversial statements about human races can be found in the book. Supporters state that criticism has arisen mainly due to reading passages out of context. Gardner believes that William S. Sadler, who wrote some eugenicist works, had a hand in editing or writing the book, and that this is how the ideas were included. Controversial statements about the sexes can also be found. While the book supports the increase in status and autonomy of women, it also states that women and men inhabit separate "spheres," and that women tend to have more intuition but less logical capability than men.

While some adherents of the book believe that all of the information in The Urantia Book including its science is literally true, some others accept the book's caveats and do not believe that the science is fully accurate.

Meredith Sprunger, a liberal believer in The Urantia Book and retired minister in the United Church of Christ, writes, "research has revealed that virtually all of the scientific material found in The Urantia Book was the accepted scientific knowledge of the period in which the book was written, was held by some scientists of that time, or was about to be discovered or recognized." He argues against its literal infallibility and that fundamentalism over the book is "just as untenable as Biblical fundamentalism"[7].

Other believers maintain that the book has prophetically anticipated scientific advances already. They believe more of its science — if not all of it — will be proven correct in the future. Gardner evaluated many of these claims as of 1995 and found them unconvincing. Some arise because the book is said to have been indited by the revelators by 1935, but then was not published until 1955. Science discovered during the two intervening decades can be perceived as prophetic by believers, while skeptics think such facts were added prior to publication. For instance, the catalytic role that carbon plays in the sun's nuclear reactions is described in the book, though Hans Bethe's announcement of the discovery was not made until 1938.

The only apparent anticipation of science the book has made, in Gardner's opinion, is that it says the magnetic sense that homing pigeons possess is "not wholly wanting as a conscious possession by mankind". In 1980, a British zoologist, Robin Baker, published evidence that humans have a limited magnetic sense.

Mark McMenamin, a professor of geology, quotes a section of the book describing a billion-year-old supercontinent that subsequently split apart, forming ocean basins where early marine life developed. He says, "This amazing passage, written in the 1930s, anticipates scientific results that did not actually appear in the scientific literature until many decades later". McMenamin also states, "Of course I am being selective here in my choice of quotations, and there are reams of scientifically untenable material in The Urantia Book."[18]

I personally thought these were no big deal, but then I have evolved a certain callousness to error. I will post another link to an interesting article supporting the science, and an interesting statistical summary, evaluating the odds of it being of human origin.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 03, 2009 - 10:33PM #2
Posts: 715

A very interesting review of a number of scientific hypotheses that are now considered correct, but were not so clearly that way at the time the UB was ready for print, have been analysed in this paper: The Coming Scientific Validation of The Urantia Book

This states the odds against it being of human origin, are conservatively less than 1 chance in 100 billion. This is based on combining the probabilities of :

Phenomena correctly described in The Urantia Book Probability
Evolution is true but no “missing link” exists; Piltdown man is a hoax = 1/50
Pangaea, floating continents drifted, formed mountains when obstructed = 1/40
Injured cells secrete chemicals stimulating proliferation of nearby cells = 1/50
“No less than 375 million” new galaxies will be seen = 1/100
“Walls” (actually rings) of galaxies are separated by huge voids = 1/100
Stronger telescopes will see huge red shifts of more than 30,000 mi/sec = 1/5
Galaxies spin fast; dark matter keeps them together = 1/5
Neutrinos exist and have mass = 1/4

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 05, 2009 - 9:32PM #3
Posts: 17

For some more thoughts on the science concepts in the Urantia Book, folks might want to check out my article on Urantia Family [] titled "Science in the Urantia Book: Prophetic or Problematic?"

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