Summary of Philosophy in the Urantia Book: Outline for an Exploratory Study
by Dr. Jeffrey Wattles
The qualities needed for philosophy:
- accuracy (113.8)
- courage (1114.1)
- goodwill (1467.5)
- living unification of values ( 507.4; 1749.1)
- spirit, mind, and body (1110.8)
- validity of wisdom (1141.7)
- the I Am (1152-53).
- logic (1138.53) defined (1139.6)
- the observation of observation (1228.7)
- the body and soul of philosophy (1120.4).
Our challenge and opportunity:
- we must construct a new philosophy (43.4)
- we need liberation from dogma and tradition (141.7) which is fourfold (1114.3)
- the focal role of philosophy in light and life (630.3; 806) and on a neighboring planet (811.5; 819.4)
- Revelation provides needed concepts (1137.3)
- Jesus' philosophy of life (1572.9) is amply portrayed
What is Philosophy?
The Urantia Book tells us that the search for wisdom (1122.8) has eight levels (806). The unification of science and religion-- unity (2096.7; 1120.3-4); Philosophy coordinates science and religion, fact and value, the outside of life with the inner, into a concept of complete reality, a unified attitude towards the cosmos. (1110.5, 1122.1, 1135, 1136.5, 1139) Revelation makes this unification possible. (1106.1, 1122.1, 1139.2)
Unification will be considered in terms of conjunction, priority, analogy, and interassociation.
- (a) Conjunction. The observation that science and religion must be considered together, even though they are different. (1135.5-8, 1137-39). Religion needs science (1006;7), science ultimately hypothesizes a First Cause (1122.7-11, 1106.5-7D 1125.4). Science and religion are often merely conjoined in mentions of philosophy.
- (b) Priority. Religion is supreme (2096.5); spirit strives for the mastery of matter through mind (1274-75): and energy is intrinsically prepared for this over control (1274.5; 1229.1). The material is the shadow of the spiritual. (140;9, 1641.3)
- (c) Analogy means that the same principle can be discerned in different spheres. All has the same ultimate source. (21.1, 1477.3, 638.3, 467.4, 71.4-6, 84, 103-04) There is a common pattern of creation (1298). Spirit and energy are lawful. (552.5, 560.6, 46-48, 137.4) Science and religion both rely on assumptions based on intrinsic reality responses. (192, 196.6, 1139.4, 1141.7)
- (d) Interassociation of matter and spirit. (118.1) Everything has a material base. (467.1) Physical worlds were created for a spiritual purpose. (21.3) The organism is the rudimentary association of spirit and matter. (403-04) Biologic evolution was tied to geologic development. (664ff) Personal (1209) and civilizational (576, 589ff) progress requires balanced development of material and spiritual factors. Our body is more refined as we ascend spiritually. (534.8)
The harmony that we can hope to perceive is far greater than the harmony that we actually perceive. (637.2)
Thing, Meaning, and Value (2094.2)
Thing, energy, or fact, is the correlate of science, an experience in the consciousness of the scientist (102.5, 1127.3) and we become aware of things through the ministry of the Mind Spirit circuits (402) as we recognize sense impressions according to memory patterns. (2129.8)
Experience is defined (1123.3) as the interaction of the self with external realities.
Facts are not to be overlooked; they pertain to every level of reality, including God (52.5), they are essential to the right use of reason. (1138.6)
- Judas refused to face them (2056.3)
- Jesus accumulated, sorted, classified, correlated, and organized them for dynamic service (1405.7)
The Urantia Book points out that the culmination of this process of working with fact is integration into a dynamic network of principles. (1220.1)
Meaning is associated with intellectual reality, idea, wisdom, and philosophy. (2094.2) It is an experience in the consciousness of the philosopher (1127.3), the appreciative consciousness of value (1097.2), and it is what experience adds to value (1097.2). It is the mortal shadow of Paradise truth. (648.2) Human consciousness is described as proceeding from fact to meaning to value (1299.3) and from fact to value to meaning (740. 3). If we think of meanings as the interpretations of facts (1220.2), the former order is fitting; if we conceive them as the correlation of facts and values, the latter is obviously demanded. (1110. 3) Jesus gave a masterful discussion of these three realities in terms of knowledge, truth, and wisdom, (1435.3) And his technique was always to put profound meanings very simply and vividly. (1171.2)
Value, first of all, is real. (1261,2, 2094.7) God is the source of value. (67,1, 73.3, 1279.6) The standard of value is divine. (1457.2) Deity has provided the patterns of value for creature striving. (1299.3) The ministry of spirit enables us to recognize values. (42.7; 2094.10) The nature of values (1096-97) is nonstatic, dependent upon the fact of relationships, and to be distinguished from "that which has value". Values must be lived in order to be known (193.6). Truth, beauty, and goodness are the supreme values.
- (a) Truth is living and cannot be codified (1949.4) Jesus lived the truth fully (1101.7)
- (b) Beauty involves the unification of contrasts (646.4), especially that of creature and Creator. Beauty is the recognition of the reflection of Paradise in the material creation. (647.9)
- (c) Goodness is the summit of personal and spiritual value. (31.3, 647.1) Goodness includes man's striving for perfection in morality, ethics, and religion. (647)
Love is the source of supreme values (2047.4), the recognition of God as Father and the desire to do good to man, and the greatest reality in the universe (648).
The Failure of Unification:
Science, Philosophy, and Religion in Mutual Isolation
Religion in isolation: Religion sees things from the inward (1728.2) perspective but this by itself distorts. (1135.6-1136.1) Only when worship is guided by wisdom does real religion develop. (948.9) To avoid social entanglements religion needs a philosophy that is critically corrective. (1098.2) Religion, to grow, must be broadened by philosophy (1088.9), and religion should welcome the interpretation of and critique by philosophy. (69.5)
The Jews of Jesus' day seriously lacked a saving philosophy of living. (1076.2, 1070.6) It was not Jesus' intent that man should be motivated solely by spiritual impulses. (1582.2) Modern religion emphasizes morality at the expense of philosophy, art, and science. (43,3)
Philosophy in isolation: There are two extremes of philosophy to be avoided -- materialism and pantheism. If we deny the personality of the First Source and Center we cannot avoid one of these extremes. (29.1-2. 1137.5) Pantheism regards God as nonpersonal (29.2) and as doing everything (1300.5); it pictures man's union with God as a drop merging with the ocean (31.2). Materialism, the doctrine that matter alone is real, will be discussed as a consequence of science in isolation. Both errors make the same mistake -- taking part of reality and declaring it to be the whole. (42.6) One variation of this blunder of over simplification is studying universe reality by trying to derive higher levels from lower levels. (215)
Jesus taught the Greek philosopher that without a doctrine of whence, why, and whither, philosophy leaves the basic questions to religion.(1641.3) He saw the speaker at the Forum show fine logic and false ideas (1461.6); and Nalda tried to avoid truly encountering him by fleeing into philosophy and theology (1613.4). Theology at its best is a legitimate attempt to understand one's own religious experience (1130.5), but it easily degenerates into an enslaving code for the mind and spirit (993.1, 2087.5). Over analysis kills truth (2075.5), and without the spirit our finest theory and moral concepts remain husks (380.8).
The Brahmanist philosophers did lofty metaphysics, but they depersonalized the concept of God, undervalued the significance of the individual, proposed the enervating doctrine of reincarnation, and fostered concentration on self. (1029.30) Buddha's philosophy fell far short of his life, and ended in agnosticism. (1035-37; 1467.1)
The Greeks spoiled the Melchizedek gospel, indulged in abstract, pantheistic speculation, and became incomprehensible to their countrymen who were hungry for salvation. Their intellect outran their religious experience.(1079 -1081) These philosophical traditions all made great advances, too, but history makes the wise student alert.
Science in isolation: Jesus warned against any scientist becoming one-sided and overspecialized (1726.2, 1135.5-8) and he showed the limitation of logic and mathematics in application to the social and even the material realms (1476).
Reductionism is the current name for the so-called scientific attempt to explain the higher by the lower -- religion by psychology, psychology by biology, biology by chemistry, chemistry by physics -- until we find the putative basic laws that "explain everything." This endeavor is bankrupt (1125.5). Religion cannot be explained psychologically (1215.1, 1122.9). The reduction of psychology to biology is blocked by the repeated sharp distinction between the personality -- the system of indwelt mind and soul -- from the body; (1228.5, 1216.7); biology can never become chemistry because the spark of life is spirit (403.7); and even chemistry cannot be predicted by physics (141.7).
Reductionism is the pseudo-theoretic basis of "scientific" one-sidedness, and the antidote for it is to recognize that the cause of a universe phenomenon has at least as much reality as the effect (53.2).
Philosophy must always be more than science (1079.4, 480.2, 1012.3, 1457.2).
Materialism is the denial that man possesses spirit, and in the extreme form, the denial of mind altogether. This latter variety is repeatedly and variously found to be self-contradictory (2076-81). The high water mark of materialism has passed (2076.9), but the lyrical description of the despair of the materialist still has a very contemporary ring to it (1118.1-2).
Here are the Urantia Book arguments against materialism.
- (a) Science and religion properly have no quarrel, as they pertain to different domains. (1078.6)
- (b) There is materialism in the universe, but that is not the whole story. (2078.1)
- (c)A universe of mathematics indicates a Master Mathematician. (2077.4)
- (d) If mind were nothing but matter then there would never occur differing interpretations of physical phenomena (2077.7) and if men were merely machines, all would react more or less uniformly (2077.9). A mere materialistic universe becomes more and more uniform and deterministic (2078.2).
- (e) Every scientific discovery demonstrates the freedom of the scientist as well as the uniformity of the principle discovered. (2078.4)
- (f) Machines cannot operate upon themselves (2097.6).
- (g) Mechanism, materialism, is a concept, a philosophy, and as such a mental phenomenon. (2079.1) An automaton could not form a theory of automatons (2080.3). And the mental agility of the mechanist disproves his own assertions (2077.2).
- (h) Machines cannot love, know, have faith, serve other machines, feel guilty, become conscious of their own identity, or strive for perfection. (2079.9, 2079.3, 2077.7-8).
- (i) If the universe were a machine then we would have to transcend it to know that. (2079.7)
- (j) No scientific account should leave out the scientist, should make his activity impossible or nonsensical, just as no philosophy should render the philosopher's activity meaningless. (2080.4) Mechanism renders the scientist's achievement impossible; if true, it could not have been known.
Humanism is the vain attempt to exalt ideals without a personal God. (2084.1) It cannot effect lasting social improvements (1087.2), and its adherents can tap their endowment of spiritual energies to bring forth social fruits only, not spiritual fruits (1126.4).
The Urantia Book Doctrine of Reality:
The Revealed Substitute for Metaphysics
Metaphysics, the human philosophic attempt to describe the heights and depths of what is, of being, has failed. (1136.4-5, 1137, 1139.1) Revelation affords what we failed to win on our own -- first, a doctrine of the most universal categories of what is: All reality is either deified or undeified; some appears to be interassociated. Reality is further divisible as actual and potential, absolute and subabsolute, existential and experiential, personal and impersonal. (6-7)
Even revealed teachings about reality are not absolute truth. We must use a relative concept frame for thinking (1260), and our concepts are conditioned by the limitations of mortal mind and language (1163. Living truth is dynamic, and the account of spiritual things can only be locally accurate (42.3-5).
Our first philosophic postulate is the I AM, the infinite source of all reality, primal, undifferentiated. While the I AM is the First Source and Center, it is an hypothesis intentionally transcending every experiential concept of the Universal Father.(1152-53)
The developing religious consciousness, once the fact of the personality of the divine being is attained, evolves the recognition that personality implies relation to other and equal personalities, and a notion of the trinity is born (31,1145). We are taught to conceive highest reality as the Seven Absolutes of Infinity: the original, the Universal Father; the Absolutes of potentiality, the Unqualified Absolute, the Deity Absolute, and the Universal Absolute; and the Absolutes of actuality, the Eternal Son, the Infinite Spirit, and Paradise (13, 1155)
Philosophy wants to know how the First Source and center relates to non-personal realities outside the trinity, and this leads to the comprehension of the triunities (1146ff). We must appreciate the complexity of the revealed order of deity personalities, and make allowance for primary and secondary causes.(1298)
The entire grand universe is a living organism (1276), and philosophy must comprehend the part in terms of the whole (1122.6, 1227.7) whether in the material realms or the spiritual (647.6, 761.3, 138.7). The entire evolutionary process can be summarized as energy-matter becoming increasingly dominated by mind according to the purposes of spirit in the presence of personality (1274-75).
Philosophy of Mind
The Absolute Mind is the Infinite Spirit who bestows finite mind to us via the Local Universe Mother Spirit and who ministers to all mind through the mind gravity circuit.(54.7, 102-04) Mind is the connecting link between spirit and matter. (484, 1222.4-6, 1274.5-6, 1275.2, 1271.1, 1110.4, 638.5, 140.5-6, 8.6) The human mind is extensively dominated by electrical and chemical factors (1199, 1207.5, 1213.2), but it is also indwelt by a fragment of the Father's spirit. (1104.5, 142). There are many hindrances to Adjuster functioning (1199.7, 557.5, 103.6, 1199.5), but the superconscious mind contacts the indwelling spirit (1105.1, 1099.5) and we can enhance that contact. (1209.5, 1206, 2097)
Preintelligent, mechanical, nonteachable levels of mind respond to the physical controllers (730.3, 739.1). Mind functions capable of learning from experience are encircuited in the seven Adjutant Mind Spirits of intuition, understanding, courage, knowledge, counsel, worship, and wisdom (401-03, 378.6-7).
Jesus rejected the notion of consciousness as a bundle of sensations without a functional center in the Discourse on Mind (1479-80), and he indicates the Adjuster as the source of mental unity (1479.7). Definitions are given of experience (1123.3), will (1431.5), and the role of sensation and recognition in understanding (1219.1ast).
The classical problem of distinguishing true knowledge from mere opinion is treated with balance. On the one hand, our knowledge is relative (1163, 1260) and is based on assumptions (1139.5, 1141.7). On the other hand, we can achieve a temporarily coherent integration of our knowledge (1109.4) and the correspondence of our consciousness with reality in insight (192, 1226.last) thanks to our mind and spirit endowments.
Mind is most vitally important to us as the arena in which we are free to make the choices that lead to eternity or oblivion. (1216-17)
Ethics and Morality
We are inherently endowed with sensitivity to other mindedness (1123.4-6); God is the supreme other, and our relation to God is the foundation of duty (1284.5, 1585.3). Duty is one of the three reality responses of cosmic mind with which mortals are endowed (192) Ethical obligations are universal (616.4) and inherent in our coexistence with other beings (300.4). Duty is in no way external to life (555.2). We study it further as we ascend (453, 494.3). High duty is a joy (274.4), and our first duty is worship (303.5).
Ethics has evolved from the philosophic postulate of the consistent behavior of good and bad ghosts (956.3, 961.7-8) and its resultant code of duty, right, and truth (963.5). The Dalmatian Code of the Planetary Prince (751.3) was the pattern for the moral teachings of Adam and Eve (836.3) and of Melchizedek (1017.6). These codes greatly simplified the multitudes of evolutionary prohibitions and promised reward from God for obedience. (975.2) The apex of this development is Jesus' teaching of the Great Commandment (1901). The Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man is a new standard of moral values (1859.penultimate).
While we should always do what we ought--our duty, we should not be motivated in our performance by the awareness of its obligatoriness. The motivation of friendship, for example, is superior (1945.4); goodness should be unconscious (1583.1, 1862,3). Because what we must be is prior to what we must do (1584.4). Jesus was not concerned with ethics as such (1862.3); for him ethics was the result of religion (1862.2). God's will is not to be our law but our will (1589.1).
The need for morality is great: On the personal level, it is the prerequisite for God-consciousness and spiritual growth (2096.2, 1738.2) On the plane of civilization we lack second-milers (2084.5) and ethics lags behind science (909.7). Society founders in moral crisis (2086.6), and the individual has unparalleled need of righteousness (1086.6, 977.3).
To flee from duty is disaster (1428.3). Evil is inevitable if man is to be free (615.4). Sin must be understood anew (984.5, 754.5, 1660.3-6) as deliberate resistance to spiritual leading. The first rebellion against truth of planetary consequence was that of Lucifer, whose ally Caligastia, our Planetary Prince, embraced the sophistry of personal liberty divorced from cosmic obligation (613).
The next significant planetary blunder was the attempt of Adam and Eve to mix good and evil (842.6). The effects of sin are never local, but spread to the entire community (761). The experience of evil doing and its harvest is unforgettably portrayed in the story of Judas (1998.5).
Goodness is always contrasted with possible evil (1457.7), but as we progress in divinity values, evil becomes less and less a real possibility for us. (1458.7) Religious ethics unites the ethic of duty with that of the pursuit of values (435.1ast). Faith augments morals (1108.3), and the Adjuster makes it possible for us to derive supreme moral concepts from our experience (1045.6).
We are inspired to learn that our ideals of brotherhood have a superhuman origin in the leadings of the Adjuster towards unselfish, altruistic behavior. (1134.8) And every moral choice results in increased presence of God in our soul (2095.4).
Jesus shows us the new way to self-mastery: Not intellectual suppression, but spiritual expression (1609); an active, positive response is the new way to overcome temptation (1738-39); and the Master has given the Golden Rule new significance (1650-51). It directs the person to act towards another person as God would. From this perspective the New Commandment is no surprise: Love one another as I have loved you.(1944)
History of Philosophy
Because revelation is limited by the conceptual achievements of civilization, the state of philosophy at any time is partly a function of evolution. Having noted the blunders, "philosophy in isolation," these are the gems.
Melchizedek presented monotheism, a philosophic advance, a gain in unity: all creation was portrayed as the work of one God. This truth cannot be underestimated, and is only embellished by the revelation of trinities, secondary causes, and Creator Sons.
The most primitive philosophic activity was the overcoming of fear (990, 1004) and the beginning, of ethics (963). Evolving self-control and discipline made wisdom possible. (1006.6)
In the wake of the Melchizedek teachings the Brahmanist philosophers attained a high concept of the Absolute (1030), and the Buddhists discovered the relativity of all truth (1039). Confucius taught the heavenly pattern for earthly life, and Lao-Tse taught truths of universe causation, returning good for evil, life after death, childlike faith, the supremacy of God's purpose, the importance of sharing truth, and nonviolent action. (1033-34) The Greek philosophers exalted wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice, and achieved a great deepening of thought (1078).
Rodan is an Alexandrian Greek philosopher who shows us the integration of Jesus' gospel in a philosophy with an accent on maturity, harmony, and the art of living. The papers devoted to him remind us of the importance of integrating an intellectual philosophy into the whole of a dynamic life (1772ff).
Jesus' contribution to Urantian wisdom fulfills part of the bestowal commission (1328.2). He taught that philosophy can only achieve its goal of unity by recognizing the Paradise Father as the cause of material nature and of spirit value (1476.3). Jesus could see the limits of intellectual inquiry, too, and taught the Greek philosopher at Ramah that spirit realities cast intellectual facts as their shadows (1641.3) . The standard of true values is divine (l457), and love, the greatest reality in the universe is the source of truth, beauty, and goodness (2047.5). The essential in any philosophy of living is to seek and do the Father's will (1433). Jesus taught the moral, self-conscious nature of the soul (1478) and pointed to a new way to be good (1609, 1457-58). Jesus put personality at the center of his philosophy (1434) and taught that we belong to a friendly universe (1476).
Jesus gave discourses on Reality (1433), Time and Space (1439, Science (1476), the Soul (1478), and Mind (1479). Jesus understood the primacy of faith to philosophy (1459) and truth to knowledge and wisdom (1435,3); he knew the limits of mortal logic (1476). He warned against crystallization of thought (1459.3) and static concepts (1436.2). He clarified the understanding of mind by indicating its unity and that it transcends a mere collection of sensations (1479). He penetrated for us the nature of time and related this insight to a serviceable idea of maturity (1439). He defined the nature of will (1431.5) and presented in the Ordination Sermon a magnificent philosophy of life (1572.1ast).
In the contemporary world materialism, humanism, and religious philosophy compete. A1l three are partial and must be harmonized by revelation. (1090.5) The philosopher must read poems (1616) and laugh.(549)
Epigrams, Attitudes, and Philosophy of Daily Living
Jesus expressed most of his philosophy not in a discourse but in a phrase. Philosophy at its most livable and understandable is given in short expressions, such as we find as the mortal correlates of morontia mote (556-57). If science and religion are on trial before the bar of human need, then philosophy is doubly so. (1457.4)
To disdain the discourse is anti-intellectualism, to eschew the epigram is pedantry.