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Spiritual truth cannot rely on external Authority


If this seems a bit rambling, I'm attempting to address your many questions without quoting everything back.

One big problem Truth has with people is our dependent reliance upon authority other than our own God-given spirit of Truth in discerning what has spiritual authority. In earthly things, we intelligently seek earthly substantiation, but for spiritual matters, we too often still try to seek earthly substantiation. As you read Jesus in the Gospels or in part 4 of the UB, you will discover that Jesus had the same problem: some of the authorities of his time — and their followers — refused to acknowledge the value of his teachings simply because he had no ecclesiastical standing. They said the same about the Baptist, before him. If you want to find Authority, look within to the Spirit of Truth, and ask yourself if this rings true.

I can understand concern about its trappings, though. When I first began studying the UB in 1974, I was enthused because from studying it I was finally getting answers where other religious teachings I'd persued had only managed to exaggerate the questions. (Good answers always generate new questions, of course, but at a higher level, and the UB definitely put my questions onto a new level.) I was enthused about what this UB had given me, so I was jealously guarded about its source — and what cult may surround and be using this. To make a long story short, a visit with a friend and fellow new reader to a Chicago gathering that year persuaded me that, yes, there was a small incipient cult growing around the book — an inevitability that the book itself acknowledges — but they were most emphatically forming around the book, rather than having created it or using it to some nefarious end; apparently none of these mostly sweet but simple folks were the geniuses who propounded it; above all, they were all about in the same position I was — a student of the book with no priesthood or hierarchy other than our relative comprehensions of the teachings. If they were trying to strike it rich, they sure weren't going about it right. Nobody's ever asked me to join or pay dues or anything. (I've bought several books for others....) And nobody has become rich off of this, that I've been able to detect. It's just a book, and not all that good a seller at that, so far.

Like asking about any possible cult background, to ask next where it came from is also entirely natural. Although its origin in time and space is documented, we cannot with surety know its actual source. We can never objectively verify its fantastic claims to superhuman authority (e.g. the paragraph at the end of Paper 1);^ for that, we have to judge it on the value of what it teaches. No matter what anyone tells you or what you may learn about its earthly or its celestial origins, the words will remain the same on paper, and you are still required to determine their value for yourself in your life. Take it all as a great big hoax or somebody's hallucination and I can still argue that it's the most powerful cosmological and theological teaching in the time and place of its appearance; as fiction I would find it more valuable than most "factual" religious so-called scriptures.

If one discovered or recognized values — even real spiritual values — in the Carlos Castanedaw books, or from Tolkien'sw mythic epic, or from an Uncle $croogew comic, does their dubious or fictional or secular origin diminish the values of what's been conveyed? Even one of the most powerful lessons of history — the Gospel accounts of Jesus' manner of laying down his life and dying on the cross — has essentially nothing of reliable independent historical substantiation and must be taken on face value for what this has to teach. If the Creator would be known, you must appreciate that his Truth is so powerful it will come out; some pundit said if Jesus hadn't lived we would have had to invent him; Jesus said, if you silenced the hosannas of the throng the rocks and stones themselves would start to sing. You can perceive and respond to God's Truth, whatever its source, just as you respond to your hand on a hot stove, because you have the Truth-sensing spirit.

The UB is not simple, nor for the very simple-minded, that is true. (Although its essential teachings are spiritual truths a child can understand — as my children could testify.) It is complex, it is difficult (very difficult in places), and it is broad in scope both cosmologically and theologically. These are in-depth answers to key theological questions humanity has considered in complex ways. The absolute answer may be as simple as "God loves you," but our sub-absolute intellects can appreciate complex answers to the difficult challenges faithful living asserts. Any such work, of such length and complexity, is going to seem esoteric at first blush. Jesus' listeners didn't always appreciate his more difficult teachings, but he spoke true nonetheless. I and many people I know have been studying this work for decades, testing its teachings in daily living, too, and the "esotericness" of it has long since worn off. To express to someone who hasn't found faith what it's like to be living with God as a constant daily companion seems pretty far out there, really esoteric, even insane or impossible. But for the faithful, it's a daily fact of life.

Are you really trying to understand the answers to the questions you're asking? Are you engaging in "my book can beat up your book" brawling in place of comparative theology? Seriously, are you prepared to give this book a genuine chance? You've compared this strange, new teaching with your comfortable old one and found the newcomer disturbing by comparison. But there's really no comparing Bible and UB. They're both books of religion, and there's a lot of reference to the Jewish and Christian scriptures in The Urantia Book, but they're really apples and oranges, to say the least:

The Bible is historical, a collection of scriptures over hundreds of years and several generations (and at least two major religions); the UB purports to be a revelation, a single work, propounded entirely in the first half of this century. The Bible is a canon collected by some Christians in the hundreds A.D. (pardon me for not recalling or looking up the original dates); the UB was designed and intended to be a single, unified work. The books of the Bible, even Revelations, were humanly authored (most devout Fundamentalists don't actually claim that God was the author, only the inspiration for the human authors); the UB is attributed directly and entirely to superhuman authorship. Finally, although some do claim that the Bible speaks with a unified teaching — to prove the which I have seen great straining at gnats and swallowing of camels — I have to hold with the more moderate (IMO) Christian school which considers the Bible a collection of records of some of humanity's unfolding search for and finding of God, some books being better and some worse — and (again IMO) with Jesus' as the pinnacle of that evolution of understanding; the UB by contrast despite the several apparent voices of the alleged presenters of its papers, has no theological conflicts, and is indeed extraordinary among religious writings of my experience in its internal consistency despite enormous complexity.

Still with me after that long-winded paragraph? My point is, the Bible and the UB are not in conflict; they're not even on the same game board, in a sense. To contrast them as works is just not fair to either one. That's football-contest religion. To glean the teachings that may present themselves to us from each, and then to live that truth we find — that is our real task.

A certain intellectual capacity is requisite, of course, for this is a work of literature, and a very fine one at that. Not everybody should expect to get everything in it, but if a certain allowance is made for "I just don't get this part right now so I'm going to skip over it," just about anybody can read and appreciate it. I can find you passages which a newcomer to the book's jargon might find impenetrably dense (like, most of the Foreword), but 'most anyone can appreciate, say, the bulk of the Jesus papers. Also, like any course of study, the more you study it, the more penetrable the other aspects of the book become. What it takes is not so much a super mind as a sincere effort.

But I don't think the UB is for everybody, at least not in this day. The religion it teaches about is for everybody, any time, but you don't have to be a UB student to be of that religion which holds that we have one Creator-Parent, one spiritual family and upon this hang all the rules. The UB cannot improve upon Jesus' teachings, but it can clarify and emphasize them. I've found that a simple-minded illiterate can be more devout than the best-educated theologian, haven't you? So the intellectual content of the UB is not necessarily anyone's salvation in and of itself. You know that some people read the Bible and get nothing out of it of spiritual value. The UB nor Bible nor Koran nor Upanishad can reach those who don't or won't hear. The UB elevates human religion for those who are ready and if its teachings are worthy, then the students of that religion will let their light shine and enflame the hearts and inspire the minds of all fellows, of all levels of ability.

The UB acknowledges that it sips from many human sources; if you study its quotes carefully, though, you'll find that many, if not most, are paraphrases; the thoughts have been tweaked to fit the UB's perspective. The explanation for the use of human sourcing is given in the book; the purpose of the paraphrasing or "restatement" is also explained; no explanation for non-attribution is given. There has been some debate about the ethical nature of what some regard as plagiarism by alleged celestials. As one might expect, those who are critics of the UB tend to be more upset by this than those who admire the work.

For me, well, the Gospels inform me that Jesus didn't always cite chapter and verse nor was he always even precisely orthodox in his appropriation of scripture. I long ago realized the source-noting of the UB was up to us, much like Biblical scholarship, and I waited years to see such works as have now been produced which attempt to reference the sources of the UB's "quotes."^ Duane Faw's Paramony stands out for its extensive cross-referencing of the UB and the Bible. I tend to keep a UB, my dog-eared KJV, a Bible Concordance, Clyde Bedell's Concordex to the UB, and the Paramony all handy at my desk.

I understand the UB is taking off in cultures which are not Bible-based, and as one steeped in Christian culture, I find it hard to imagine that something isn't lost for students of the UB who aren't familiar with the historical scriptures that are so extensively referenced. But the same can be said for other cultures and works that the UB references — it's just as important to be familiar with Buddhist or Hindu cultures or other non-Levantine religions to fully appreciate the UB. But not required.

Nobody asks that the UB be accepted unexamined on faith in nothing more than its fantastic claims to authorship. The UB itself, to my reading, would not recommend such an approach to any religious teaching. But in the search for its authority, the book isn't going to tell you anything more than the words which are in it. Which is more important, what people say about the Bible or what the Bible says? The former illuminates the latter, but is certainly not always right. Whatever you want to know about the UB, you're still going to have to read and study it to find out what it has to teach, and then be able to decide for yourself.

If you want to study the book as a thing, its history and origins, and all that, there's little secret or vague. There are some mysteries about the particulars of the UB's origins, the actual method of transmission and the identity of the main person apparently associated with its transmission. The identity of the individual alleged "contact person" is pure supposition, because those in a position to know all went to the grave without revealing it, as they were sworn to do. About all we know about the "contact personality" associated with its origin is that one Dr. Sadler dealt with this patient, and noted that the content of the material was beyond the likely capacity of his patient; Sadler was in a position to know, having dealt with many cases of aberrant psychology. (An article about this yours for the asking.) It's my understanding the papers are presented in the book in just the order in which they were presented originally. Although there was reportedly some minor revision of the papers over the years prior to their publication, and involving some interactivity with mortal responses and questions, I've gathered that they are pretty much as they were originally dictated in toto, and in the order originally presented to the early Forum conducted by Dr. Sadler. If you have to have those missing bits of information "or else," then yes, you've got a problem with the UB. Consider it equivalent to those who can't believe Jesus was God because they aren't given the technical details of how a divine personage could incarnate as a mortal infant. Do you really need to know how he did that trick to appreciate what he taught and how he lived and died, who he was?

There are no mysteries about what the ink on paper has to say. If you have questions about its teachings or its origins, either one, there are answers, though, from those who have studied those things. You could start with my own introduction regarding the UB and follow links from that page to other sites. There's several papers online which will tell you all that's known about the origins of the book, and about the Urantia Foundation, the Fellowship nee Urantia Brotherhood, and other marvels of the book's history and its social repercussions. I even have a mini-comic book about its origins (sort of). For information about the origins of the UB in particular, see the Fellowship's site^ for information about the book^, and especially The Historicity of The Urantia Book by Dr. Meredith Sprunger^, who was as close to being in a position to know as anyone still alive.

The UB does not represent an attack on the Bible, on Christian spiritual truths, or on faith. It does challenge preconceptions and settled thinking. Its teachings draw from many truth sources but it does not comport entirely with any human doctrine, so it does require theological scrutiny and pondering. Bewilderment was the response of most of the readers I know, at first, myself included. When you've sincerely studied the book even a short while, the clouds begin to part. I hope you'll continue your study of it.

Meantime, I hope we can be united beyond any possible ecclesiastical or doctrinal differences, in faith and service to our Creator Parent and the family of that Parent's creation as we encounter each other here on Urantia.... or on earth, if you prefer [grin].

I don't often get a chance to correspond. Sorry if my keyboard ranneth over.

The Art of

Universal encouragment of confident pictographic self-expression

…so go ahead and doodle!

Sure, Bob
Anyone can
Don't you?

Radical Incline

Are U.S. Constitutional religious rights refused non-aligned religionists?

Intersection of Church & State[*]High Times, June 1996 issue, Peter Gorman reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has "unanimously ruled that Rastafarians have the right to use a freedom-of-religion defense in marijuana-possession cases. The ruling, based on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration the first of its kind with regard to marijuana use." Details of the case are given, not relevant here, and then the article notes, "The ruling does not suggest that Rastafarians have a right to smoke or possess marijuana, only that they have a right to raise their use of the herb, which they consider a sacrament, as a defense against possession charges."

In case you're not familiar with the act, the article notes that "the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [guarantees] protection of religious practices unless there is a 'compelling government interest' at stake and if prohibiting them is the 'least restrictive means' of achieving that compelling interest."

Now here is the crux of the matter, my reason for posting this, again from the article: "the court went to great pains to note that Rastafarianism is a recognized religion with a long history of marijuana use and that 'It is not enough in order to enjoy the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to claim the name of a religion as a protective cloak."

Now, this stands in line with past decisions on religious freedoms, as I understand them (I am not a lawyer). Federal schools require children to have had certain vaccinations, unless those children are members of a "recognized religion" which has objections to such programs, e.g. the Jehovah's Witnesses. It is not enough to have an ethical, moral, or personal material (scientific) belief in the inefficacy or dangers of vaccinations, you must be a member of a "recognized religion" which has a standing religious objection to vaccinations. Similar rulings, so I understand, regard military conscription (recalling the furor and accusations when Muhammad Ali invoked his Islam beliefs to refuse to take up arms against his fellow human being).

But what about the individual believer? Like many devout members of "organized" and "recognized" religions, one might have a religious belief against military service, against vaccination, or for marijuana or peyote, but as a "non-aligned" individual of faith, THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THAT RELIGION. In effect, individual religionists are penalized for their beliefs, their religious liberty denied. The government considers such individual believers to be "claiming the name of a religion as a protective cloak."

Such is my understanding. As an independent religionist, a cult of one (or at most a cult of my immediate family), with strong beliefs in the involvement of the Spirit at all levels of physical and mental activities, this is outrageous to me. If a Jehovah's Witness can claim religious objection to protect children against invasive government-ordained medical procedures, why cannot any religious individual who holds that the body is the temple of the spirit? If a Quaker can be exempted from military conscription, why cannot any religious individual who holds that individual conscientious choice dictates against forced military service? If a Rastafarian or a Peyote-using AmerInd is permitted to partake of their sacraments (and this is not, to my understanding, yet decided, due to the anti-"drug" hysteria which addles society's morality), then why cannot any individual believer rightfully partake of the bounty of God's spiritually-uplifting medicines?

In none of these cases, you will note, does an individual transgress against another. Thus, all such private individual behaviors or substance use abide by the Golden Rule of love of God and fellowship with one another upon which are supposed to hang all the laws, as Jesus taught. This is Principle, and religiously-held. But if you're not a Member of a State-recognized (and therefore State-sanctioned) organized religion, you're not "religious." The law, therefore, defines and establishes "religion," in violation of the First Amendment proscription on doing so. Even if religious defense were permitted, the burden of proof would not be upon the State to show that religion is only being invoked as a protective cloak, but upon the individual to prove that these are truly religious beliefs; without an "organized" religion with a "history" of beliefs in these regards, any such defense is likely to fail.

Until the individual religionist can rightfully claim to BE a religionist, and rightly point to such "unpopular" beliefs and find protection therefore, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, not to mention the First Amendment, are being violated.

Related Mindful Webworks:
Prohibition fuels gangsterism —It's not drugs but PROHIBITION which provides the fuel for the modern equivalent of rum-runner profits and Al Capones.
Repeal! / Repeal Heals — not only is the so-called war on drugs utterly unwinnable, it is in its very conception a perversion of the important purposes of good government. The way to personal or social health is positive.
The Golden Rule and Prohibition — Countering common erroneous arguments for prohibitionism and applying the Golden Rule
A run-in with Officer Green"WHAT'S THAT SMELL??" scowled Officer Green, and ordered me out of my car.
Head Shop — Cartoons, songs, and more regarding the appeal of indulgences and the consequences of desire.

Dad tries another lesson on sharing and giving with the toddlers.


What is this? My personal introduction.

dancing angel
A variation on the grace I learned as a child:
Bless O Lord this web to our use,
and us to thy service.
Keep us ever mindful

The Urantia Book originated in the early- to mid-20th Century in Chicago. It was originally propounded in the English language, and published in 1955 by the Urantia Foundation of Chicago. The work has since been translated into several languages, and is also available on PC-compatible diskettes, audiotape, and through the Internet.

A personal statement

When all is said and done, it's words arrayed on paper. (Or on audio tape, or in computer bytes, or....) What effect these words have, what you personally might glean in meaning and value from the words, is not something I would dare to predict. I can tell you what the book says, I can tell you what I think it means, I can tell you what value it has for me; each of those stages is increasingly personal, however, and thus increasingly open to subjective interpretation. Understand that the brief description here is simply to answer the "what is it" question for the absolute or relative stranger to the work; any meanings or values I ascribe to it are not intended to impose those meanings and values upon you. Discover a copy, recognize what meaning it may have for you, interpret those meanings for whatever value they may hold for you, and choose as you will in light of that.

[The particular phrase "discover, recognize, interpret, and choose" is one of many "Urantian" phrases which pepper my speech and thought patterns:

The human mind does not create real values; human experience does not yield universe insight. Concerning insight, the recognition of moral values and the discernment of spiritual meanings, all that the human mind can do is to discover, recognize, interpret, and choose.

—Page 2094, sixth Foundation printing]

I have been studying this book for over half of my nearly forty-four years, and it has had a significant impact on my life and thinking. Therefore, I cannot pretend to be objective about it. I have found it personally valuable, indeed practically invaluable. For all my enthusiasm for it, some others are more emphatic than I in their proclamations for its values; some others find it worthwhile, but do not take it to heart as strongly as I do; some find nothing of value in it. Therefore it cannot be said to be the perfect thing for everyone. I contend, however, that any seeker of truth should give The Urantia Book a careful perusal, for even those who reject its presumptions to authority can benefit from its presentation as, if nothing else, worthy mythology.

As printed by the Urantia Foundation for its first forty years of existence, The Urantia Book comprises over two thousand pages of sometimes fascinating, sometimes difficult prose. The word "Urantia" is the name given our planet. The book's voice is one of superhuman authority, and it is internally credited to supermortal beings, angels and other orders of beings from on high and not so high, which orders are themselves defined in the book. No human authorship is claimed. Certain people were involved in whatever processes brought the book to print, but they are all now deceased, and while there are many conjectures as to the process and people involved in its origins, essentially everyone who ever knew for sure is now dead.

The book professes to be from beings who know Creation, the universe, our world and its peoples better than our human knowledge. It claims to be a revelation. What "revelation" means, and the limitations of revelation, are all described in the book.

So where did it come from?

It came from Chicago in the 1930s. (That sounds like a grade-B 1950s science fiction movie title, doesn't it?) That's all I care to say about its origins, because its means of transmission is essentially irrelevant to the message, in my personal opinion. I believe any work is tantamount to "myth." What you read in the daily news, what you believe about your politicians or heroes, what you think is the course of the world, these are your personal myths. Some people cherish and are personally uplifted by myths I consider unhistorical, even absurd and relatively without merit for me. This book presents a mythology: a cosmology and a history and to a certain degree a theology, for the reader's consideration. Whether what it has to say is "true," I cannot say, but I have always said this: If there is a capital-R Reality, God's reality, a reality which is true and known by the all-knowing, then if what The Urantia Book has to say is not true then Reality is going to have to be at least this good.

Unlike, say, certain adherants of the absolute validity of certain scriptures, The Urantia Book does not claim to be the absolute, complete, and final say on anything. The authors recognize and acknowledge that any words set down on paper are stuck immediately in time and space, and become gradually anachronistic to a greater or lesser degree. Some of what it has to say, like the truths in the most ancient of our religious writings, are "eternal" truths. In other aspects, the book acknowledges that it has an inevitable fallibility. This flexibility does not detract from its value for me; I find it refreshingly modern and honest in this regard. Those seeking some kind of final and absolute authority may be less satisfied, and that is right, because a book, words on paper, cannot ever be a final authority. It can, however, act as a ladder to lead you to the Supreme Authority.

And what's it about?

Briefly, some themes in The Urantia Book (U.B.):

  • The universe is God-centered. There is an eternal universe, to the center of which they apply our term "Paradise." ("The Isle of Paradise.") This timeless, spaceless, eternal creation is perfect and its inhabitants eternally in synchrony with the Creator. Time and Space lie "outside" this perfect universe. Beyond Time and Space are the Time- and Space-transcending universes, but I wouldn't go into that here if I even understood it well enough to write about. In the totality of reality, these three are one grand creation, all God-centered, and all ultimately subject to God's perfect will.
  • Within Time and Space, the Creator Sons (also called "Michael Sons") and their associated Creative Daughters, beings of direct descent from the Paradise Dieties, create evolutionary reflections of the eternal universe. Our particular Michael Son's universe is called "Nebadon." By various descending levels, these Sons and Daughters of God, and their created sons and daughters, rule and administer the whole of time and space.
  • As a part of these local universe creations, evolutionary worlds are developed and the life evolved thereon is destined to reach a point of potentially God-knowing material creatures--more or less "humans" like us. Our world is not a "normal" evolutionary world but an "experimental" sphere, and its course has had many strange twists on the path to our high destiny which the "average" world does not suffer. These are too complex to go into here, but they go a long way to explaining the depth of misery and suffering which has occurred here, especially the damage done by superhuman administrators of our immediate region of space (our "local system") and of our planet.
  • The Michael Sons do not rule their creations simply by divine right, but also earn experience by incarnating and living and experiencing in the forms of certain of their own creatures. Our Michael Son served six different times in this way, as various orders of beings, angels and other orders which are described in the book. The seventh and final qualifying incarnation is as a mortal of time and space, born as a material infant on an evolutionary sphere. Of some ten million projected inhabited worlds of our local universe, our world hosted this incarnate Creator Son, who (you might have guessed by now) was Jesus of Nazareth. While Christian theology has mostly held that Jesus was the Son of the Eternal Trinity, the U.B. acknowledges that Trinity, but removes Jesus one place from the actual Eternal Son, to the status of the Creator Son, of immediate descent from the Universal Father and Eternal Son of the Paradise Trinity. (His Creative Daughter co-ruler of Nebadon is directly derived from the third person of the Trinity, the Infinite Spirit.)

The fundamental theology of the U.B. will be familiar to both Christians and other religions, but especially to those who have read the so-called Gospels and appreciated the Jesus reported therein.

  • God is our immediate personal spiritual Parent, and all of us are thus siblings in one cosmic family. Although we are raised "from dust" and to dust our mortal shells will return, the transient vehicle of the material frame serves to permit the embryonic mortal personality to develop qualities of eternal survival value, a "soul." This soul, upon release from the material form, is given a new and slightly more spiritualized form in the "next life," and thus begins the long journey upward and inward (personally and literally) to Paradise and an eternal destiny. In this life, in the next, in eternity, God is always our personal Parent, and we are all always siblings.
  • The Golden Rule, difficult to understand and even more difficult to live in this life, is the fundamental rule of the universe. The U.B. acknowledges the more ancient and negative form of the Golden Rule as, in a general sense, "don't do to others what you wouldn't have done to you." This rule being satisfied by simply doing nothing is not enough, however. We are urged to live the more difficult-to-discern path of actually doing for others that which we would have done for us. The U.B. acknowledges the difficulties of interpreting this morally and ethically, but demands that we take the active course of doing for others rather than the simpler passive course of not doing. In the end, Jesus instructs that one love one's fellow, not just as oneself, but as God loves us. This is as far above the "do for others" rule as the "do for others" rule is above the "don't do" interpretation of the rule. The potential for erroneously interpreting the Golden Rule increases at each level, and spiritual insight, discernment, wisdom, is increasingly required. Nevertheless, "Love one another as I have loved you" is the law by which any truth-seeker must eventually come to live.

This is enough of a grounding for you to better appreciate the structure of the U.B. as I will describe it below. The whole of the U.B. consists of a Foreword and 196 "Papers," authored by various superhuman beings, some credited by name and order, others only by their order (e.g. "An Archangel of Nebadon"). The Papers are grouped in four major divisions, each successive section greater in size, descending from Paradise to our world to the life of Jesus, thus each is respectively more refined in scope:

The Central and Superuniverses
The Local Universe
The History of Urantia
The Life and Teachings of Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man

Okay, I'm tired of reading about it, how do I read it?

Look in your local library. If they don't have a copy, have them ask for one from the Urantia Foundation of Chicago, and one will be supplied free. A bookstore can order a copy from the Urantia Foundation. You can order a copy directly from the Foundation. Call them; they're in the book. Due to recent legal disputes, the Foundation's copyright of the text is in question, currently suspended in fact, although this is under appeal as of this writing, so others have printed or are preparing to print all or part of the book on their own. It is not my purpose here to enter into the debate on the lawfulness of any party's right to promulgate the Urantia Papers in whatever form they choose. Elsewhere, I (used to and will again) provide links to some Web sources of the U.B. itself and secondary resources. That I provide these links should not be considered an endorsement of any of the parties. I believe the Foundation has a reliable and essentially original printing of the Papers, but many changes--mostly punctuation and spelling but a few word and phrase changes--have been made in the course of the various printings of the U.B., and students of the book debate (as religion students will) the propriety of these changes. The Foundation is still the most extensive source of the book, with hardback and softback and software copies in various languages. What's most important is to get a book and read it for yourself. Discover it, recognize what you get out of it, interpret it in light of your own experiences. Only then can you choose with a fully-informed experience whether it is the revelation of truth to our world it claims to be.

Whatever you do, whether you read it or not, may you come to know and love God in your daily life, and treat your fellow human beings as if they were your most beloved and dearest siblings.

The transcendent goal of the children of time is to find the eternal God, to comprehend the divine nature, to recognize the Universal Father. God-knowing creatures have only one supreme ambition, just one consuming desire, and that is to become, as they are in their spheres, like him as he is in his Paradise perfection of personality and in his universal sphere of righteous supremacy. From the Universal Father who inhabits eternity there has gone forth the supreme mandate, "Be you perfect, even as I am pefect." In love and mercy the messengers of Paradise have carried this divine exhortation down through the ages and out through the universes, even to such lowly animal-origin creatures as the human races of Urantia.
—Paper 1, The Universal Father

Don Tyler, 22 March 1996