THE SCIENTIFIC ERRORS
Probably no other area of interest in the Papers
has received as much attention as that of the scientific content. In 1961
William Sadler and Alvin Kulieke published a two-volume set titled
in the Urantia Book. This was a summary of scientific material but
they did not discuss the validity of the presentations. Three separate
symposiums were conducted around this subject: Nashville in 1988, Oklahoma
City in 1991, and again in Oklahoma City in 1994. In 1991 Ken Glasziou,
Matt Neibaur, Dick Bain, and Frank Wright published a small booklet through
the Brotherhood of Man library called The Science Content of the Urantia
Book. Many other papers and presentations have been given. Refer to
the Urantia Book Fellowship web site at
which has a section entitled "Exploring Science and The Urantia Book,"
and another by Glasziou titled "Science, Anthropology and Archeology
in The Urantia Book.."
Much of the scientific discussions have centered on the "false" science found in the Revelation, with attempts to reconcile it to our current understanding. Glasziou has written books and papers discussing difficulties he finds with the scientific statements of the Papers. See especially his journal series titled Innerface. Glasziou's later work has been motivated by desire to refute the "false science" assertions made by Martin Gardner in Gardner's two chapters on science in "Urantia, The Great Cult Mystery." Glasziou spent a major portion of his life trying to "prove" the Papers through science.
Dick Bain proposed that the science errors in the Papers were "time bombs," intentionally placed there by the Revelators to prevent us from making a scientific fetish out of the Revelation. Sooner or later we would discover the "false" science, and turn our attention to the religious aspects of the Revelation. Dick's proposal was an attempt to make sense out of the difficulties, but not many people bought it.
For many years I took a similar attitude. I thought that perhaps the "false" science of the Papers was intended to prevent us from concentrating on the material aspects of the Revelation, and to force us to seek the greater truths and spiritual content. Would we condemn the Revelation for its "false" science, rather than clinging to its insuperable truths? Did the Revelators use this technique to determine who had their hearts centered on God, and who would be trapped in the material orientations of today's world?
My view was reinforced by the famous (or infamous)
statement given in the Papers:
Does this mean that we must deal with a caveat which permits most any kind of false science, or at least of science compared against knowledge (popularly) current at the time of the revelation?
As Ken Glasziou wrote:
While I agree with Ken's sentiments, it seems we should hold to a rule that the Revelators would not intentionally provide false statements. Why would holy and divine beings purposely misguide us?
How do we justify so many confusing contradictions that scientifically informed persons reject the Revelation, even though they may have a keen interest in God?
We might ask other questions.
Why the science of the early 20th century, as Glasziou claims? Did the Revelators expect the mental framework of the 1920's to prevail in the first generation Urantians? Did they cater to general public attitudes in the early stages of the Revelation, to get it off the ground, so to speak, and to make it compatible with those world views?
On the other hand, it seems that the Revelators intended to caution us about the impact too much revelation would have on our natural development. If they went too far they would force unnatural intellectual evolution. If they limited their information to "near theories" or "moderate discoveries" they would not greatly modify our cultural evolution.
Their attitude about our level of scientific understanding is captured in this brief statement:
We are in this twilight zone, not because half of the world "languishes in the arms of ancient superstition," but because we, as a planet, are so ignorant about higher universe "physics," even though we are so proud of our scientific accomplishments.
What is meant by "additional scientific developments and new discoveries." Does it refer to "major" scientific developments and "new" discoveries of universe processes hitherto unknown?
Would the statement --
-- provide revelation of "new" discoveries if there would occur a sudden and unexpected periodical change in the material world? That, indeed, would be a dramatic development, and would thoroughly shift our scientific understanding. It would throw out a whole range of scientific views about "slow evolutionary changes" and would bring back to mankind the knowledge that "sudden and unexpected" periodical changes actually do take place in the material world.
Or, as it has been revealed to us:
That forthcoming event certainly will change the current godless attitudes of mankind.
See also my discussions of the periodical geophysical changes in our planetary history under "The Legacy of Adam and Eve."
If we are to understand the motives behind the Revelation design we should try to gain higher insight into the purpose of the Revelators before bringing bald charges against them for "false" science. Perhaps if they had included overt statements about future "scientific discoveries" they would have hopelessly undermined the spread of the Revelation. They did not tell us "too much" for fear many souls would have rejected it.
On the other hand, outright errors exist. We must deal with them.
I have another proposal.
In offering this proposal I do not intend to engage in the worthiness of scientific details. My purpose is to do a brief survey to cast another light on the scientific controversies encountered.
Is it possible that corruptions occurred to the Urantia text which would cause us to go off into endless and fruitless debate? Were they introduced, not by the Revelators, but by Caligastia?
Although of engineering training, with some scientific background, I am not sufficiently competent in science to wade through the Revelation to rigorously examine all of its scientific content. Nor is anyone else because so many of us are so tightly bound to scientific specialities. I decided to catalogue the errors which have been published. Martin Gardner's work was especially important, not because he was a blind believer, but rather a ruthless commentator. Gardner may be one of the few individuals in this society who is more versed generally in science. Therefore, he makes a good source for such research.
Neither Sadler nor anyone else associated with the Revelation was competent to evaluate the scientific accuracy, especially if it was pulled from current scientific papers and books.
In the following I do not include scientific theory, merely established scientific fact. We could debate the big-bang theory for ages; it is only a theory. Therefore, I shall not discuss the contradictions in the Papers with such theories.
Martin Gardner spent two chapters of his book on exposing scientific errors. Perhaps it would be helpful to pick up where Gardner left off. If we go through his list, can we find patterns which would suggest intentional errors in the Papers?
In his expose Martin Gardner did more than fault the Revelation because of false facts. He also faulted it because of inadequate theories of science, and because of foolish ideas of (his) reality. He took the position that all-wise and all-knowledgeable intelligence should know better than to present foolishness, and that if foolishness were found it had to be of human origin. He claimed that the inadequate theories were based on current (1920's to 1940's) scientific speculations and that those theories came out of written works in circulation at the time, with borrowing by William Sadler when Sadler edited the channelings of Wilfred Kellogg.
While such suggestion might appeal to more thoughtless persons, more reflective persons were not attracted by such nonsense. Even a cursory examination of the Revelation revealed a depth of conceptual structure and provoking spiritual insight that went beyond the capacity of primitive minds who might plagiarize current printed sources. Something far more was going on than grasped by Gardner in such harebrained proposals.
Clearly, Gardner was appealing to the thoughtless masses. His work was an emotional response to a serious challenge of his personal world-view.
My method is this:
I shall list some of the "good" science of The Urantia Papers. I shall then list some of the "bad" science. I shall attempt to show how damaging it may be to our appreciation of the Revelation. This review may provide us with a larger perspective of how the revelations on science will affect the future.
I illustrate twenty-four examples. These were obtained from the discussions by Glasziou, Gardner, and others. The initials MG refer to Gardner's comments.
The following fifteen examples show interesting
scientific discussions, or "predictions" by the Urantia Papers.
Age of the Solar System
Moyer: Agrees with current estimates. A good value in 1935. Not outlandish. Would not bring a scare in scientific views, nor cause a sudden interest in scientific investigation.
Dark Islands of Space
MG: The UB (173) explicitly identifies "the dark islands of space" as "dead suns and other large aggregations of matter devoid of light and heat. It correctly describes these black stars as having an unbelievable density that can be calculated by their effect on nearby luminous suns. It may well turn out that such stars are more plentiful than supposed, and may contribute to the mysterious "dark matter" that today's cosmologists are searching for.
Moyer: Statements would not bring undue excitement from astronomers, although insightful for 1935.
Moyer: Thought to be 2 million light-years at the time of the Revelation. Since revised to UP value of one million light-years.
MG: One of the UB's most successful predictions about future science is on pages 378-79.
MG: As early as 1855 the Russian biologist E. van Middendorf conjectured in a paper that migrating birds are able to sense the earth's magnetic field.
MG: Note that the UB says magnetic "bodies" were first found in Urantia life forms "about the time of this narration." This implies that evidence for such bodies had been claimed by someone prior to 1955 when the UB was printed.
MG: Sure enough, in 1947 Life (September 22, pages 105-108) ran an article titled "How Homing Pigeons Find Their Way." It described research with army pigeons conducted by H. L. Yeagley, a physics professor at Penn State.
Moyer: Gardner was
attempting to show that these statements could have been added to the Revelation
after publication of Yeagley"s report in 1947.
MG: That space cannot be absolutely zero was obvious long before the UB was published because too many atoms are floating around out there, a large proportion of them produced by nova explosions Indeed, all the heavy metals, including calcium (UB 461-62), were then known to come from the stars.
MG: The only discovery after 1955 was how high this heat was.
Moyer: Gardner is askew. The fact of bodies in space, whether atoms or stars, does not provide evidence for "space heat." This "space heat" is so-called black body radiation that pervades all space. Gardner again is attempting to degrade the worthiness of UP statements.
MG: In 1935 Japanese physicist Hidekai Yukawa conjectured that just such a particle exists. Because it had to have a mass between that of a proton and electron, he called it a "meson," meaning "middle.. Some physicists preferred to call it a mesotron. Two years later, in 1937, the meson was finally observed. Its mass was estimated as 200 times that of the electron. This was close to the UB's estimate of 180.
Moyer: Gardner believes this discovery by Yukawa in 1935 was the source of the UP discussions. He persistently denies that the statements could have come from invisible spirit beings.
Sun Energy Carbon
MG: Hans Bethe announced in 1938 that carbon plays
a catalytic role in the sun's nuclear reactions.
Moyer: Same Gardner assignment to human borrowing.
Supernova #1: Crab Nebula
"Mother" star. See page 464.
MG: Search began
long before UP. Confirmation in 1960's
MG: Because the supernova of 1572 was Type 1, the belief that it resulted from the merging of two stars was the opinion of most astronomers long before 1952 when the remnants of the nova's explosion were first observed.
Moyer: Gardner does not consider the Revelation statements as worthy or attention. Just guesses, based on current 1935 understanding.
See comparison with James Jeans below
Moyer: Well known fact. Not revelation.
See comparison with James Jeans below.
Moyer: Well know fact. Not revelation. Conflicting theories of origins.
MG: Such rays from the sun were detected in the late thirties, and accurately measured in 1949, six years before the UB was published. In The Universe Around Us (chapter 5) Jeans has many pages on X-ray radiation from all stars. "A star is in effect nothing but a huge X-ray apparatus . . . the rate at which they are generating X-rays is merely the rate at which they are radiating energy away into space.
Moyer: Gardner views these discussions as mere elaborations on current knowledge. He does not perceive the exquisite form of the statement.
MG: Belabored discussion why this conjunction would not be regarded as "one star."
Light From The Sun
Light emanations are discussed. So also are the flinging into space of electrons.
MG: Don't understand why Bains would make an issue of this. In a section on solar radiation the authors refer to sunbeams as "highly heated and agitated electrons."
Moyer: This is a bad error by Gardner. Refer to UP discussions.
MG: This planetary model of the atom had been proposed by Bohr. Why did Sadler not remove it from the UB?
Moyer: Gardner did
not complete his homework. Note the following:
MG: In 1923 a false count of chromosomes yielded the 48 number and it was accepted as correct until 1956
MG: Unfortunately, in 1956, a year too late to give Sadler a chance to correct, the number was positively established as 46. Both males and females contain in each cell the same 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes, known as "autosomes.- Females have a 23rd pair of XX sex chromosomes. Males have a 23rd pair of XY sex chromosomes. Each person, therefore, has 23 pairs of chromosomes, or 46 individual ones.
Moyer: Perhaps statement is styled to current knowledge of the 1930's.
The following nine
examples show false scientific statements from the Revelation. Where they
display the hand of Caligastia I so note.
MG: Sir James Jeans in The Universe Around Us: the sun's energy "originates out of the annihilation of electrons and protons. The sun is destroying its substance in order that we may live."
Moyer: Now known as thermonuclear reactions where "hydrogen is converted into a variety of helium" Actual mechanism had to remain unrevealed in 1935. Would have caused considerable excitement to nuclear physicists of that period. However, time of anticipation was not great. I view this "elementary" explanation as one in the category to refrain from attracting premature attention to the Revelation.
MG: The sun's interior temperature is indeed based on the Fahrenheit scale, but its surface temperature of 6,000 is based on the Kelvin scale
MG: Jeans, on page 241 of The Universe Around Us, (1929), gives 6,000 for the sun's surface temperature, using the Kelvin scale. On the Fahrenheit scale it is about 10,000. It is hard to comprehend how a superhuman intelligence could make such an elementary blunder, but easy to understand how a human, reading Jeans hastily, would be unaware that Jeans gave temperatures in the Kelvin or absolute scale.
Moyer: This is a typical Caligastian insertion. Merely by adding the simple offending sentence he could introduce the error.
Mercury and Moon
Moyer: Bad science. Mercury rotates with a cycle of 3/2. Moon rotates with a cycle of 1/1. Neither Mercury nor Moon stop axial revolution.
Moyer: I believe this is another example of simple insertions by Caligastia. Although the rotation of Mercury was not known until after publication of the Revelation, the rotation of the Moon was well known. Only unlearned minds would subscribe to the statements about the Moon.
MG: The Life Carrier of Nebadon, assigned to Urantia, in his description of the Cambrian period (Paper 59, page 674), made a glaring mistake. He makes crustaceans such as shrimps, crabs, and lobsters contemporaneous with the trilobites, when actually the crustaceans appeared on Urantia much later.
MG: A few Urantians have tried to justify this howler by saying that it was a typing or printing error.
Moyer: Another example of a contradiction introduced by Caligastia to bring doubt to the Revelation. Again, the insertion is simple, and does not involve complex discussion.
Maximum No. of
MG: Now 100 was a good guess in the 1950s because fermium, which has exactly 100 electrons, was discovered in 1953. Unfortunately, in 1955, the year the UB was printed, mendelevium, with 101 electrons, was found.
Moyer: Since then chemists have created elements with 102 through 111 electrons. (The last two were created in Germany in 1994.) Ken Glasziou has discussed this problem in some depth. Would require elaborate alteration of text to bring deception. This would be another example of more serious textual changes, illustrated by the 40-day Pentecostal problem.
Moyer: The caveat that the word "naturally" would cover those artificially created is denied by the further assertion of the "well-nigh instantaneous disruption." Some of the extra-100 elements have extended half-lives.
Moyer: Note that this passage was one of those arbitrarily changed by Sadler for the second printing.
Origins of Solar System
Moyer: No longer accepted by current science. Now origin attributed to accretion out of nubular dust cloud. Gardner gave the following as the "source" of Sadler's "borrowing."
MG: Oranges inside the hollow globe similar to Eddinton's tennis balls inside the hollow globe. Moulton's Astronomy (1931). James Jeans, The Universe Around Us (1929). Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World , 1927
Moyer: Theory dead by 1940. Gardner asks why Sadler did not change it. Difficult to assign to Caligasita. May be accommodation to current scientific notions.
Moyer: Papers infer drift of continental land masses on liquid basalt to separate continents. Contour "fit" of continents well known long before Revelation.
Moyer: Gardner assigns to Wegener theory, well known in the 1920's but discredited in the 1930's. Theory now based on "sea floor spreading," or the circulatory rise of liquid basalt along major crustal rift lines from the interior of the globe.
Moyer: Probably accommodation to current scientific views.
Age of the Universe
Oldest recorded event: 987,000,000,000 years stating that conditions were favorable for "materialization."
Moyer: 10-15 billion years, currently estimated from various data. Until we obtain other information this revelation cannot be confirmed. Many conflicts in current universe theories. Seems that Caligastia would have wanted to deny the revelation.
Number of Galaxy Stars
1,013,628, pg 655
Moyer: Gardner was in error on his assignment. He did not recognize the difference between local nebular system and galaxy.
Moyer: Billions according to current science. Could be assigned to Caligastia.
From this review
I would assign only four cases to the hand of Caligastia:
Maximum number of
Number of stars in galaxy
However the obvious contradictions on the sun temperature, mercury and moon rotation, and other crustaceans would be enough to bring denial of the Revelation. Only one bad case is sufficient.