Science, Anthropology and Archaeology in The Urantia Book, Part 4

by Dr. Ken Glasziou


Science Topics of Interest in the Urantia Papers



The Birth of the Solar System

An image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows that newborn stars may emit jets of material as gravitation pulls in gas and dust from a rotating disk. One jet, HH-47, is about 3 trillion miles long and 1500 light years away. "Bends in the jet appear to be caused by wobbling of the central star but its tight focus remains a mystery. Theorists will need new models to explain the Hubble data." (New Scientist.1)

Discussing the origin of the solar system, The Urantia Book states: "As Angona more closely approached the sun, at moments of maximum expansion during solar pulsations, streams of gaseous material were shot out into space as gigantic solar tongues. At first these flaming gas tongues would invariably fall back into the sun, but as Angona drew nearer and nearer, the gravity pull of the gigantic visitor became so great that these tongues of gas would break off at certain points, the roots falling back into the sun while the outer sections would become detached to form independent bodies of matter, solar meteorites, which immediately started to revolve about the sun in elliptical orbits of their own." (656)

The book informs us that this state continued, "for about 500,000 years until Angona made its closest approach; whereupon the sun, in conjunction with one of its periodic internal convulsions, experienced a partial disruption; from opposite sides and simultaneously, enormous volumes of matter were disgorged." (656)

As described above, the initial periodic internal convulsions of the embryonic sun may have been independent of the approaching Angona, the sun's partial disruption occurring only with its close approach. The book states that the Angona system captured none of the solar matter, but our sun did capture material from Angona, among this being three tributaries which included three major planets. It adds, "the impact of the three tributaries injected new and foreign directional forces into the emerging solar system with the resultant appearance of retrograde motion." (657)

The Angona system is portrayed as a passing dark giant of space, solid, highly charged and possessing tremendous gravity pull. At our present state of knowledge this could be a description of an astronomical system accompanying either a black hole or a neutron star. In the mid-1930's, both of these ideas belonged to the realm of science fiction, and even at 1955, the year the book was published, the concepts were more fictional than scientific (Novokov, 19904). Evidence for participation of a secondary system in the birth of our solar system

Evidence for the participation of a secondary system during the birth of our solar system comes from the studies of meteorites (Dyson, 19922). In a supernova explosion, a small fraction of its energy may be converted into the nuclear energy of unstable atoms of thorium, uranium, and plutonium, and small amounts of these radioactive elements may be injected into the interstellar gas. This appears to be the only mechanism that can create the special conditions for the production of such fissionable nuclei.

According to Dyson, the evidence that a local violent environment existed immediately before the birth of the solar system is contained in the presence of xenon gas in certain ancient meteorites which has the isotopic composition characteristic of the products of spontaneous fission of plutonium 244. It is likely that this violent environment and the origin of the solar system were part of the same sequence of events. Supporting evidence is provided by radiation damage in the form of fission tracks that can be made visible by etching. The meteorites do not contain enough uranium or thorium to account for either the xenon or the fission tracks. They must have contained plutonium at the time that they solidified. Plutonium 244 has a half life of only 80 million years, hence the meteorites must be as old as the solar system and must have originated close, in both time and space, to the event that gave birth to the sun. A possibility would be that the Angona system was the result of a supernova explosion, perhaps one involving a twin star system inclusive of planets, occurring in the order of about 100 million years before the time of the formation of the solar system.

The Urantia Book states that retrograde motion in any astronomical system is always accidental and the result of collisional impact of foreign space bodies. In our solar system, retrograde motion is exhibited by Venus, Uranus, and Pluto, as well as the four outer moons of Jupiter which orbit it in the opposite direction to its other twelve moons.3

Evidence for the capture of "space bodies" by our planet The Urantia Book also states that 2 billion years ago our planet captured enormous space bodies that markedly increased its mass. (659) In The Planets, Henbest tells us that the peculiar composition of planet Mercury, plus other parallel evidence, has caused astronomers to now think that the birth of the "rocky" planets (Venus, Mercury, Earth, and Mars) involved collisions between bodies we can think of as giant asteroids or small planets.3

The Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered evidence that must cause theorists to re-think ideas about the formation of planetary systems and the involvement of jets of material originating from newborn stars. In studying what The Urantia Book states about the origin of the solar system, readers need to keep in mind that it remarks that most planetary systems have an entirely different origin. (466) Readers also need to keep in mind that because of their mandate, the revelators were obligated to use outdated mid-1930's scientific opinions but were also permitted to supply certain key pieces of enlightening information. (1110)

Urantia Older Than the Universe?

One example of key information may be the time given for the origin of the solar system at about 4.5 billion years ago. (655) In the mid-1930's, Hubble's measurements of interstellar distances had indicated an expanding universe having an age of only about 2 billion years. These measurements underwent major correction in 1952 due to the discovery of two classes of Cepheid variable stars, a discovery that doubled the estimated universe age, but still left the solar system as old as the universe. The first radiometric dating of meteoric material was done in 1955, the result giving an age of about 4.6 billion years. This finding, now considered correct, could hardly have been the source for information in The Urantia Book, since its metal printing plates had been completed long before that time. To incorporate such information would have required a last minute, major rewrite of the section on the origin of Urantia, and on the basis of unverified information supplied by an untested methodology that gave the meteorite material an age greater than the then current estimated age for the universe. However, as with all such information, truth is in the eye of the beholder, and its meaning is a decision for the individual.

    References
  • 1. New Scientist No. 1982, June, 1995.
  • 2. Dyson, Freeman. (1992) From Eros to Gaia (Pantheon Books, New York)
  • 3. Henbest, Nigel. (1992) The Planets. Portraits of New Worlds (Penguin Books, London)
  • 4. Novokov, I. (1990) Black Holes and the Universe (Cambridge University Press)

Black Holes

The Urantia Book (173) tells of "dark islands of space" that are the remains of dead suns, devoid of light and heat, and their density is "well-nigh unbelievable." Only white dwarf stars, neutron stars, and black holes would appear to be candidates for such high density bodies. Being devoid of light and heat increases the probability of their being black holes, the remnants of massive stars that have undergone gravitational collapse when their nuclear fuel has run out. Neither light nor heat can escape beyond the event horizon of black holes. The Angona system that helped to give birth to our solar system (655) is described as a "dark giant of space, solid, highly charged, and possessing enormous gravity pull." Angona may have been a black hole, or possibly a neutron star system of some kind. The concept of material bodies of mass so large that light could not escape from their gravitational clutches arose as a speculative idea following the discovery of Newton's laws of gravitation. One of the first to come up with a prediction about this kind of invisible star was French mathematician and astronomer, Pierre Laplace. Having the profound conviction that gravitation affects light in the same way as other objects, Laplace wrote, "A luminous star, of the same density as the Earth, and whose diameter should be two hundred and fifty times larger than that of the Sun, would not, in consequence of its attraction, allow any of its rays to arrive at us. It is therefore possible that the largest luminous bodies in the universe may through this cause be invisible." A star of that size and density would have about 64 solar masses, hence a very short life time, and would end its career as a black hole. British priest and geologist, John Michell, made a similar proposition in 1783. No earnest search for black holes (and neutron stars) before 1960

The concept of stars undergoing gravitational collapse to become neutron stars or black holes was not taken very seriously until well after The Urantia Book was published. Eminent Russian astrophysicist Igor Novikov, who worked extensively in this field, wrote, "Apparently no searches in earnest for neutron stars or black holes were attempted by astronomers before the 1960's. It was tacitly assumed that these objects were too eccentric and were most probably the fruit of theorists' wishful thinking....in all likelihood they never happened. At any rate, if they existed, then they could not be detected." Today, it is accepted that heavenly objects, called pulsars, that are the source of intense radio and/or X-ray beams are, in actuality, neutron stars. However, neutron stars are thought to be relatively rare compared with black holes that must form from the collapse of massive stars. The detection of these is difficult, but may be done through their gravitational effects in binary systems. The first to qualify was a dead star of about 10 solar masses in the constellation Cygnus, known as Cygnus X-1. Objects known as quasars are also thought to be huge black holes at the centers of galaxies. It is reasonably likely that our Milky Way has a black hole at its center. Black holes might be useful

There are many references in The Urantia Book to dark gravity bodies that match up with black holes. Some of these may be used by the Power Directors to improve gravitational stability of many different systems, and also in the control of energy flow. It should be kept in mind that the universe described in The Urantia Book is quite dissimilar to the theoretical universe as studied by astrophysicists. The former is one in which energy flow is continuously monitored and controlled by intelligent beings. The latter assumes that there is no intelligent control, and that, overall, energy always flows "downhill," in the direction of increased entropy. Perhaps the only exception to this occurred at the beginning of a theoretical Big Bang occurring at a timeless instant when the present laws of physics were not operative.

On page 170, the book states, "Some of the dark islands of space are burned out isolated suns, all available space-energy having been emitted. The organized units of matter approximate full condensation, virtual complete consolidation; and it requires ages upon ages for such enormous masses of highly condensed matter to be recharged in the circuits of space and thus to be prepared for new cycles of universe function following a collision or some equally revivifying cosmic happening." This appears to be a description of a controlled recycling of black holes. Current thought is that colliding black holes would simply coalesce.

A process that might contribute to recycling of black holes was proposed by S. Hawking. A black hole is considered to have a boundary, the event horizon. From the black hole side of the boundary, nothing can escape. On the other side, escape is possible. Quantum theory allows that pairs of virtual particles, such as an electron and its anti-electron, the positron, can come into existence momentarily at the boundary. If one escapes, it becomes real and will cause leakage at the event horizon.

A phenomenon termed superradiance associated with rotating black holes was proposed by Y.B. Zel'dovich by which rotational energy may be extracted from the black hole through irradiation of electromagnetic waves or, if they exist, gravitational waves. The rate of leakage for large black holes via the Hawking process is trivial. For superradiance, an amplification factor of 4.4 percent is predicted for irradiation with electromagnetic waves, contrasted with about 140 percent with gravity waves. Perhaps the Power Directors are better at physics and can speed things up a little. Reference: I. Novokov, 1990. Black Holes and the Universe (Cambridge University Press) A Galaxy Too Far Dick Bain Using the latest generation telescopes, astronomers continue to find ever more distant galaxies. The most recently discovered record-holder was reported to be between 12 and 15 billion light years from Earth, based on the red shift of light from this galaxy. This galaxy is apparently five times the size of M31, the giant spiral galaxy in Andromeda1. Astronomers feel that these most distant galaxies were formed close to the time of the Big Bang. But if so, there is a small problem.

The telescope is in effect a time machine. The further light travels from a distant galaxy, the earlier in the history of the universe we are seeing that galaxy. Since the newly discovered galaxy is perhaps 15 billion light years distant, we are seeing it as it was 15 billion years ago. The problem is that this galaxy is fairly well developed. It even appears to have either old stars or dust clouds from a past generation of stars1. If the Big Bang happened about 15 billion years ago, then this galaxy would have to have developed in a few hundred millions of years rather than in billions of years like later galaxies have. Now someone has to explain how the first galaxies could develop many times faster than later galaxies, or another crack may appear in the Big Bang edifice.

1. R. Cowen, Keck "Goes the Distance," Science News, Jan 14, 1995.


The Jupiter Problem

 

Jupiter has always been fascinating to astronomers and non-astronomers alike. For Gustav Holst, Jupiter was the bringer of joviality in his composition The Planets. But some solar system theorists may not feel so jovial when considering a recent theory about the likelihood of Jupiter's existence. A group of astronomers have found evidence that giant gas planets like Jupiter may be rare in other solar systems, and this may say something important about the origin of our solar system. The author of Paper 57 in The Urantia Book informs us that our solar system formed from material pulled out of our sun by a passing dark giant of space, Angona. (657.) This theory of origin, known to astronomers as the catastrophic or dualistic theory, was proposed independently by Thomas Crowder Chamberlin and Forest Ray Moulton in the early part of this century.1 Another source2 says that a revised version of the theory was first suggested early in this century by astronomer Sir James Jeans and geophysicist Sir Harold Jeffreys. The astronomic community eventually rejected this theory for several reasons, one being that such an encounter would be quite rare. In fact, we are told on page 466 that most planets did not have such an origin. The Encyclopaedia Britannica gives an additional reason for rejection of the catastrophic theory: "...the realization that hot gases stripped from a stellar atmosphere would simply dissipate in space; they would not condense to form planets."1 It seems to me that the idea in The Urantia Book sounds more reasonable; some of the material pulled out would fall back into the sun, some would be captured by the body passing by the sun, but some material would stay in orbit. Perhaps this orbiting material formed a disc around our sun, and from this disc the planets of our solar system formed.

Another problem was found with the catastrophic theory, namely the distribution of angular momentum in the solar system. Angular momentum is a measure of the speed of rotation of a body around a center and its distance from that center of rotation. Though the sun has 99.9% of the solar system's mass, it has less than .5% of its angular momentum. Jupiter, with only a fraction of one percent of the mass in the solar system has about 99% of the angular momentum of the solar system. This situation would not be expected if the solar system had a catastrophic origin. Significantly however, this unexpected distribution of angular momentum is also an unresolved problem for the other major theory of planetary formation, the nebular or monistic theory.

In the eighteenth century, the philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed that our planetary system coalesced from a cloud or nebula of dispersed particles. About twenty years later, the mathematician Pierre Laplace proposed that a cloud of dust and gases around a sun would form into rings from which planets would coalesce.1

In fact, this idea of ring formation is mentioned in The Urantia Book on page 170. The author does not specifically say that the rings form into planets, but the entry is under the heading "The Origin of Space Bodies," so that planetary formation from the rings is intimated. Astronomers are now finding many young stars with discs of dust and gas around them, and this tends to support the idea that planets form from such rings. But in the case of our solar system, the nebular hypothesis has problems other than that of the distribution of angular momentum.

One of the unusual features found in our system is retrograde motion (or more correctly, retrograde rotation) of some planets, and moons of several planets. If a planetary system formed from a uniform disc of material, we would expect the planets and their satellites to all lie in the same plane and rotate in the same direction. If a planet rotates in the opposite direction from the others, that phenomenon is an example of a type of retrograde motion. Both Venus and Uranus exhibit retrograde rotation in our solar system. Astronomers have not found an explanation to account for this retrograde motion that is satisfactory to everyone.The problem of retrograde motion in our solar system is mentioned on page 657 where the Life Carrier author tells us, "Retrograde motion in any astronomic system is always accidental and always appears as a result of the collisional impact of foreign space bodies. Such collisions may not always produce retrograde motion, but no retrograde motion ever appears except in a system containing masses which have diverse origins." According to the author, the masses which caused the retrograde motion were captured by our sun from the passing Angona system. And in addition to the problems already mentioned, the nebular hypothesis now has a Jupiter problem.

A recent article in Science News3 reported that a team from MIT examined 20 nearby, sun-like stars one to ten million years old and reported that even these very young stars did not have enough molecular hydrogen in their vicinity to form a planet the size of Jupiter. The researchers conclude that either a planet like Jupiter would have to form very quickly before the hydrogen was lost, or more likely there is only a small chance of such planets forming in the first place. If, on the other hand, material were pulled out from our sun as claimed in The Urantia Book, there would be plenty of material to form the two gas giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn. The catastrophic origin hypothesis/Angona theory may still have more strikes against it than the nebular hypothesis, but it looks like the score is beginning to even up. Perhaps early in the third millennial inning astronomers will resurrect the catastrophic hypothesis and come to the same conclusion as the author of Paper 57.

  • (1) Encyclopaedia Britannica Macropaedia, 1993
  • (2) Preston Cloud (1978). Cosmos, Earth and Man, (Yale University Press)
  • (3) "The Importance of Being Jupiter", Science News, Feb. 18, 1995

Mitochondrial Eve and the Origins of Andon and Fonta

Conventional wisdom on the origin of the human species is that, 4 million years ago in Africa, a little creature just over a meter tall emerged from the evolutionary melting pot, and stood up.

The first such creature to be discovered received the name "Lucy" later changed to Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy had knee joints that allowed her to straighten her legs. Also she made footprints that confirmed that she stood up. Dating of fossils beyond 200,000yrs old is not easy. It is generally done indirectly by dating the ground where they are found for Lucy at about 4 million years B.P. (before the present).

Lucy had a skull more ape-like than human and was probably no smarter than the average ape. Fossil remains of two other primate-like species found in Africa, Paranthropus boisei, and Paranthropus robustus are thought to have been evolutionary dead ends.

Supposedly Lucy and her buddies gave rise to the next step, named Homo habilis (handy man). H. habilis was a tool maker, may have appeared about 2.5 million years B.P., looked something like Lucy, but had a larger brain. He/she was about 1.5 meters tall, under 45 kg, probably a scavenger, and supposedly gave rise to the next evolutionary jump called Homo erectus. This guy was more advanced so is measured in feet and inches 5ft 6in. to be precise. He was almost indistinguishable from modern man except for a flattened forehead, prominent brow ridges and no chin (remind you of anyone?). Conventional wisdom has him originating in Africa around 2 million B.P. He was supposed to have taken a long time to get out of Africa and to migrate to Java (1 million B.P) and Peking. When Java man was re-dated to 2 million B.P. in 1970, the work was at first ignored. New dating putting two Java fossils at 1.8 and 1.7 million B.P., is probably reliable, but was unwelcome as it did not fit conventional wisdom.

Oldest human fossils?

The oldest "human" fossils from Africa and the Middle East were put at 120,000 B.P. until new, also unwelcome reports from China came up with a 200,000 year old human skull. Neanderthal man is still in trouble. Dated from 200,000 - 20,000yrs B.P. he/she is thought to be either unrelated to modern man, or to have evolved independently into Europeans, or at least be ancestral to some Europeans. Take your pick.

How does this tie in with the announcement about the recent African genesis of humans from a single "mitochondrial Eve" 200,000 yrs ago? (Wilson and Cann, Scientific American, April 1992). And how does that tie in with Andon and Fonta (about 1,000,000 B.P.) or Adam and Eve (37,898 B.P.)?

Mitochondrial DNA

There are more ways than one of breaking eggs but they may not all produce the same result. Mitochondrial Eve is based on the concept that the DNA of little energy-producing organelles in living cells derives only from the egg. The male part of the fertilization package contributes about half of the chromosomal DNA but none of the mitochondrial DNA. If we can measure the average rate of mutation of mitochondrial DNA and get some line on diversity, then maybe we can extrapolate backwards to when all mitochondrial DNA was one - or something like that. Wilson and Cann came up with Mother Eve having spawned the human species 200,000 yrs B.P.

Another way of breaking eggs looked at a different class of DNA, and combined this with the coalescence theory of population genetics to come up with the conclusion that all human alleles (variations of the same gene) date back no further that 400,000 yrs which is twice as old as Mitochondrial Eve. There are problems with both these methods. Taking the last one first, the idea is to select "neutral" genes randomly and do much the same thing as the Mitochondrial Eve job to date back to the ancestral gene. The problem is whether the genes are truly neutral. To be so there must be no selective advantage in comparison with other genes. The work that gave the 400,000 yr. answer was shot down in flames as being a vast underestimate. Now here's the bit that takes a swipe at Eve:

"In fact, the study demonstrated no such thing. What the authors did claim to establish although contested by several investigators is that all mitochondrial DNA variants are derived from an ancestral molecule borne by a female who lived some 200,000 years ago. This conclusion, even if true, would not mean that the human pedigree began with a single mother but only that the extant mitochondrial DNA alleles coalesce to a single ancestral molecule extant 200,000 years ago."

What this says is that even if the data are correct it only means that there could have been a large population of Eve's at that time, all with the same brand of mitochondrial DNA.

Evidence from the human immune system

Of more interest to Urantia Book readers are the other scraps that have come from these studies. Most of the work has been on the "MHC" genes of the human immune system concerned with "self-recognition." These ensure that if you get a skin graft from your neighbor, it will drop off. But if you get it from your identical twin, it might stick. Besides telling us that we derive these genes from a cross species ancestry going back at least 65,000,000 years, it also permits an estimate of the size of breeding populations that give rise to a species, including the human species. Klein et al state "The MHC data imply that the early hominid line split, at some stage, into at least two populations one of which led to modern Homo sapiens (us). This population consisted of at least 500 but more likely 10,000 breeding individuals who carried most of the MHC alleles and allelic lineages now found in human populations."

Andon and Fonta were not our sole human ancestors

Many (most?) readers think that The Urantia Book claims that Andon and Fonta were the sole ancestral parents of all of us. In fact, it does not. It says: "Even the loss of Andon and Fonta before they had offspring, though delaying human evolution, would not have prevented it. Subsequent to the appearance of Andon and Fonta, and before the mutating potentials of animal life were exhausted, there evolved no less than seven thousand favorable strains which could have achieved some sort of human type of development. And many of these better stocks were subsequently assimilated by the various branches of the expanding human species." (734). Which would account quite nicely for the present polymorphism of the MHC alleles, as well as the estimates of the initial size of the breeding population at between 500 and 10,000. Ain't that marvellous? Reference: Klein, J., N. Takahata, & F.J. Ayala. "MHC Polymorphisms and Human Origins." Scientific American 269 (6) 46-51. 1993.

When Did the Red Man Arrive in the Americas? Prepared from material supplied by: Dr Edmund Roache, Watertown, N.Y., U.S.A. Clovis, New Mexico is the home of the archaeological site, discovered in the 1930's, that has given its name to the people thought to have first set foot in America. Buttressed by radiocarbon dating, this event was supposed to have been 11,200 years ago. The migration of the first Americans was thought to have been timed to the rhythm of glaciers. Twenty thousand years ago, glaciers are thought to have completely blocked routes south from Alaska. Only around 11,200 years ago when the glaciers had retreated sufficiently did a passable route reopen more or less along the present borders of Alberta and British Columbia. That is the standard model but it has problems. It appears that these people had reached the southernmost tip of South America 10,000 miles away within 300 years! Apparently that is four times faster than the current world record for pre-historic hunter gatherers. It has other problems. In 1978, researchers in southern Chile started to excavate a site at Monte Verde that they claim was occupied 2000 years earlier than the Clovis site. This site has now been well documented but it appears that the supporters of the standard model do not want to know about it.

Trouble from mitochondrial DNA

Further trouble for the standard model has now arisen due to investigations using the mutation rate for mitochondrial DNA as a time clock. Investigations at Emory University on North American Indians indicate that these people belong to four distinct groups that diverged from a common maternal ancestor who presumably walked across the land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska. The genetic clock places this event at upwards of 21 to 41 thousand years ago. But that is not the worst blow for the standard model. Another project using mitochondrial DNA has been carried out on the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe of Vancouver Island by workers from the Universities of Utah and Munich. This revealed an astonishing degree of diversity - 28 separate molecular variants in just 63 individuals. Measured by the mitochondrial DNA clock it seems that the ancestors for these people must have left Siberia up to 78,000 years ago. The Urantia Book tells us that the actual time was 85,000 years ago. Only time will tell.

Primate ancestry

An article appearing in Natural History (8/92) indicates that the ancient North American lemur (Northarctus) was previously thought to be more primitive than the Euro-pean variety and not to have contributed directly to the primate and the human lineage. Recent fossil discoveries made at Bitter Creek, east of the Bridger Basin, Wyoming, have completely altered this view. Formerly described as a fox-faced little primate similar to today's ring tailed lemur, the finding of an almost complete skull shows Northarctus to have had a much smaller muzzle than either extinct adapids or many living lemurs. Its discoverer states that it may have independently evolved a few features of the anthropoids, such as the reduced lachrymal bone of the face, and that, in some ways, Northarctus more closely resembles the ancestral stock that produced the monkeys and apes than the line that led to the Malagasy lemurs and sifakas of Madagasca. The Urantia Book states:

"Slightly to the west of India, on land now under water and among the offspring of Asiatic migrants of the older North American lemur types, the dawn mammals suddenly appeared. These small animals walked mostly on their hind legs, and they possessed large brains in proportion to their size and in comparison with the brains of other animals. In the seventieth generation of this order of life a new and higher group of animals suddenly differentiated. These new mid-mammals - almost twice the size and height of their ancestors and possessing proportionately increased brain power - had only well established themselves when the Primates, the third vital mutation, suddenly appeared. (At this same time, a retrograde development within the mid-mammal stock gave origin to the simian ancestry; and from that day to this, the human branch has gone forward by progressive evolution, while the simian tribes have remained stationary or actually regressed.)" (700)


The Origin of Life on Urantia

What is life?

In recent times, the sheer complexity of many viruses, and their counterparts in the bacterial kingdom (the phages), has induced many scientists to include them as life forms. At the other end of the scale the simplest of the plant virus particles appear to consist of a single molecule, a strand of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Furthermore, under appropriate conditions, some RNA molecules have the rudimentary capacity to synthesize new RNA molecules. Hence the extreme view that a single RNA molecule can constitute "life" is a defensible argument, but brings with it the impossibility of defining death. The fact is that we do not know precisely what we mean by the word "life", nor can there be a totally satisfactory definition of the term. What is of interest to Urantia Book readers is what the book means by "life," and is there a conflict between the book's version of the origin of life on this planet and that of current scientific concepts? Of relevance is this quote: "The material self, the ego entity of human identity, is dependent during the physical life on the continuing function of the material life vehicle, on the continued existence of the unbalanced equilibrium of energies and intellect which, on Urantia, has been given the name, life." (1229) Life according to The Urantia Book

The Urantia Book tells us that:

"550,000,000 years ago the Life Carrier corps returned to Urantia. In co-operation with spiritual powers and superphysical forces we organized and initiated the original life patterns of this world and planted them in the hospitable waters of the realm. All planetary life (aside from extraplanetary personalities) down to the days of Caligastia, the Planetary Prince, had its origin in our three original, identical, and simultaneous marine-life implantations. These three life implantations have been designated as: the central or Eurasian-African, the eastern or Australasian, and the western, embracing Greenland and the Americas." (667)

Much earlier in The Urantia Book we are told:

"The original life plasm of an evolutionary world must contain the full potential for all future developmental variations and for all subsequent evolutionary changes and modifications." (398).

For Urantia, this could mean nothing less than that the original "life" plasm must contain the necessary informational content that would, at some later stage of evolution, lead to forms of life possessing intellect (1229), and be responsive to the ministry of the adjutant mind-spirits. Thus, a simple, relatively small RNA molecule such as exists in some plant viruses would not qualify, and on the basis of present-day knowledge, the original life plasm would need to have been an exceedingly complex system. What then are we to make of the claims of some scientists that life has existed on earth for about 3.5 billion years? Could there have been some form of organized protoplasm in existence prior to the time nominated in the Urantia Papers for the introduction of life to this planet, and could the anomaly be due to a different definition of what constitutes life?

The term life' as used in The Urantia Book is something very special. The book tells us:

"Things material may enjoy an independent existence, but life springs only from life. Mind can be derived only from pre-existent mind. Spirit takes origin only from spirit ancestors. The creature may produce the forms of life, but only a creator personality or a creative force can supply the activating living spark." "Life Carriers can organize the material forms, or physical patterns, of living beings, but the Spirit provides the initial spark of life and bestows the endowment of mind. Even the living forms of experimental life which the Life Carriers organize on their Salvington worlds are always devoid of reproductive powers. When the life formulas and the vital patterns are correctly assembled and properly organized, the presence of a Life Carrier is sufficient to initiate life, but all such living organisms are lacking in two essential attributes mind endowment and reproductive powers. Animal mind and human mind are gifts of the local universe Mother Spirit, functioning through the seven adjutant mind-spirits, while creature ability to reproduce is the specific and personal impartation of the Universe Spirit to the ancestral life plasm inaugurated by the Life Carriers." (403,404) A living system of original protoplasm on Urantia as introduced by the Life Carriers 550 million years ago would have to have been activated' and endowed with both mind and reproductive potential. Could there have been pre-existing protoplasm, perhaps similar, but not endowed with all of these vital qualities?

In describing "mind," The Urantia Book states:

"Mind such as man comprehends is an endowment of the seven adjutant mind-spirits superimposed on the nonteachable or mechanical levels of mind by the agencies of the Infinite Spirit." ( 399).

So, besides the mind endowment derived from the adjutant mind spirits, there is another form of mind that is mechanical - non-teachable. On page 402 we are told that the spirit of intuition is the only one of the adjutants to make extensive functional contact with the nonteachable levels of mechanical mind, and then on page 403 we may read the following:

"These mind-adjutants of a local universe Mother Spirit are related to creature life of intelligence status much as the power centers and physical controllers are related to the nonliving forces of the universe. They perform invaluable service in the mind circuits on the inhabited worlds and are effective collaborators with the Master Physical Controllers, who also serve as controllers and directors of the preadjutant mind levels, the levels of nonteachable or mechanical mind." "Living mind, prior to the appearance of capacity to learn from experience,is the ministry domain of the Master Physical Controllers. Creature mind, before acquiring the ability to recognize divinity and worship Deity, is the exclusive domain of the adjutant spirits." (403)

These two paragraphs tell us that physical controllers have domain over a form of living mind' that is non-teachable and mechanical, and compare the relationship of the mind-adjutants to creature life to the relationship these physical controllers have to certain nonliving forces. How does creature life relate to nonliving forces'? There is nothing in these statements that would preclude the interpretation that nonteachable mind can exist in protoplasmic material that is nonliving' according to the essential attributes required for living' systems as defined by The Urantia Book.

Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes

There is a very distinctive difference between the prokaryotic organisms and those that are classified as eukaryotic that could embrace the differences required by The Urantia Book statement that the original life plasm of an evolutionary world must contain the full potential for all future developmental variations and for all subsequent evolutionary changes and modifications. Besides having their genetic material, the chromosomes, contained in a specialized cell compartment, the nucleus, the eukaryotes have a unique and remarkable system of transcribing genetic information contained in the DNA of the chromosomes and subsequently translating that information into the multitude of cellular proteins. This system includes pieces of apparently nonsensical DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) being inserted into the DNA of the gene. This strange system is then copied into the messenger RNA that defines the structure of a protein. However, before leaving the nucleus, all of this nonsense material present in the RNA message, is snipped out and the free ends of the pieces of RNA are joined in such a manner as to give a single molecule that specifies the correct pattern for copying into a particular protein molecule. The snipped out pieces have been labelled introns, and the pieces that are rejoined to form the correct messenger RNA molecule are called exons. A single gene may have as many as 50 introns that must be snipped out before a correct message' is obtained.

The strangeness and the complexity of the system of introns and exons quite staggers and perplexes the imagination. But the evolutionary facts are that the prokaryotes' relatively simple and straight-forward means of copying genetic information from the DNA of their genes into their functional proteins must nevertheless be considered as evolutionary failures when compared to the remarkable advances made by the eukaryotes. One such advance is that by splitting a gene into segments, the opportunity arises to join together specific segments from different genes that specify such things as the binding sites of enzymes and in this way producing totally new enzymes. Such a system has the potential to increase the rate of evolution by an enormous factor when compared with a system of accumulating random point mutations, the system that may have proved to be so restrictive for the prokaryotes. (One analogy is the way a learner assembles a computer program one step at a time, whereas the professional often uses sub-routines program pieces that are already tried and tested.)

If the introduction of eukaryotic organisms marks the point when the Life Carriers introduced life to Urantia, then the prokaryotes may be a group that were utilized to prepare the planet for the later introduction of life plasm that has "the full potential...for all subsequent evolutionary changes and modifications." One such preparatory task may have been performed over billions of years by the prokaryotic blue-green algae in the evolution of an atmosphere low in carbon dioxide and high in oxygen content.

Some new research findings

Between the mid 1930's and 1950's (the years of receipt and publication of the Urantia Papers), evolutionists considered that all mutations were random events, and those that conferred a selective advantage were likely to be perpetuated by being passed on to progeny that were thus better equipped to meet the exigencies of the battle for survival. The planned development of life forms endowed with will are not envisaged in this scheme of things. New techniques accompanying advances in the science of genetic engineering are producing evidence that is at least consistent with The Urantia Book account. For example, genes have been isolated from a number of homeotic mutations in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. A homeotic mutation causes a body part to be replaced with a structure normally found elsewhere in the body. Antennapedia mutants have extra legs where the antennae should be. In 1983, Gehring and McGinnis found that the Antennapedia gene contained a DNA sequence that was also present in other homeotic genes, thus indicating a sequence concerned with development that was conserved in different genes. The conserved region in each homeotic gene was named a homeobox and the sequence of 60 amino acids specified by the homeobox was named a homeodomain.

A radioactively-labelled DNA probe was prepared from the Antennapedia homeobox and used to locate the same DNA sequence in hybridization experiments with DNA from other sources. Besides being present in other homeotic mutations, it was also found in DNA from a range of invertebrates including centipedes and earthworms that are thought to be ancestral to insects. When the Antennapedia DNA probe was mixed with DNA from a vertebrate, the frog Xenocarpus laevis, to the surprise of all concerned, it again hybridized with a DNA sequence which was subsequently isolated and labelled XLHbox 1. The work was quickly extended to include mice which were shown to have many genes containing homeoboxes. The proteins that contain homeodomains were found to include transcription factors that regulate the expression of target genes.

There from the beginning?

This work suggests that XLHbox 1 is an ancient gene whose function antedates the appearance of tetrapod structures such as digits. The same gene is functional in the regulation of leg development in the fruit fly and is present in lower orders thought to be ancestral to insects including earthworms.

Currently (1995), 38 different homeobox (Hox) genes have been identified in mammals. Interference with these genes can uncover ancestral body plans. Before about 400 million years ago, the most advanced ancestors of mammals were fish with inflexible, jawless mouths. Interference with a gene called Hoxd-4 in mice embryos can cause development of embryos having jaw structures like their ancestral jawless fish all of which is consistent with the statement in The Urantia Book that the blueprint for the emergence of man was present from the beginning.

That something strange happened on Urantia at about the time the Life Carriers are stated to have introduced their life plasm is indicated by an article from Time magazine, December 1995: "Until about 600 million years ago, there were no organisms more complex than bacteria, multicelled algae and single celled plankton. The first hint of biological ferment was a plethora of mysterious palm-shaped, frond-like creatures that vanished as inexplicably as they appeared. Then, 543 million years ago, creatures with teeth and tentacles and claws and jaws materialized with the suddenness of apparitions. In a burst of creativity like nothing before or since, nature appears to have sketched out the blueprints for virtually the whole of the animal kingdom. This explosion of biological diversity is described by scientists as biology's Big Bang." Amazing!!

    REFERENCES
  • Cech, T.R. 1986. "RNA as an Enzyme" Scientific American 255 (5), 76
  • Steitz, Joan A. 1988. "Snurps" Scientific American 258 (6) 36
  • Struhl, K. 1989. Annual Review of Biochemistry 58, 1051
  • Robertis, E.M. de, G. Oliver, and C.V.E. Wright. 1990.
  • "Homeobox Genes and the Vertebrate Body Plan," Scientific American 263 (1) 26
  • New Scientist 148 (2001) 30 (1995)
  • The Urantia Book, 398, 733.

Computer Analysis of Dates in The Urantia Book

In 1572, a former professor from Bologna named Ugo Buoncampagni became Pope Gregory XIII; ten years later the Gregorian calendar was introduced. The Julian calendar, founded 16 centuries earlier by Julius Caesar, was inaccurate and the need for reform was widely recognized. Its principal failure was the discrepancy between the mean length of its year, 365.25 days, and the tropical year, then averaging 365.24232 days. This is nearly eleven minutes and four seconds shorter than the Julian year. This small discrepancy had continued to accumulate until it was no longer a matter of minutes but days. By the time of the Gregorian reform, the error had grown to eleven days. Understandably this was of concern to the Pope. If the calendar had continued unchanged, Easter would eventually be celebrated in the summer.

The attempts at reform set off a wide range of debates, both academic and religious. At one point, excommunication was threatened against anyone who refused to accept the new calendar. The details about this reform are to be found in the May 1982 issue of Scientific American by G. Moyer.

In Part 4 of The Urantia Book there are more than one hundred citations in which a date in the first century is given together with the day of the week for that date. In the pre-computer days prior to the publication of The Urantia Book, ascertaining this information was a monumental task. A number of algorithms that took into account the Gregorian reform had been published but at least one of them did not give the correct day of the week for the stated date, being out by one day.

Opponents of the revelatory nature of The Urantia Book have proposed that the papers were initially channeled and subsequently edited by Dr Sadler and associates. If the channeled information originated in the subconscious mind of the medium, then it appears to be impossible that the initial dates and days would have been correctly stated. It would seem then, that Dr Sadler or his associates must have undertaken the extremely tedious task of determining which day of the week corresponded to each date. We might then ask why would they do it? It was almost forty years before anybody even realized the difficulty of such a task at a time when computers were unavailable for its performance.

Using information obtained from Astronomical Formulae for Calculators by Jean Meeus, Dr Matt Neibaur wrote a computer program to check the correctness of the calendar data in Part 4 of The Urantia Book and found that for each of more than 100 instances, the day of the week was correctly assigned for the particular date quoted. Admittedly there is nothing prophetic or impossible about this fact. However, along with information that has been gathered about the multitude of archaeological facts also contained in Part 4 and listed later in this study, it does illustrate that these Urantia Papers cannot be less than the work of knowledgeable and dedicated scholars who have expended an almost unbelievable amount of time and effort in getting their facts right even to the minutest of detail.

Reference:
Dr Matt Neibaur. Scientific Symposium 1, published by The Urantia Book Fellowship, 1988


Planetary Atmospheres

"Beings such as the Urantia races are classified as mid-breathers; you represent the average or typical breathing order of mortal existence. If intelligent creatures should exist on a planet with an atmosphere similar to that of your near neighbor, Venus, they would belong to the superbreather group, while those inhabiting a planet with an atmosphere as thin as that of your outer neighbor, Mars, would be denominated sub- breathers." (561) Prior to the visits of the Russian and American space probes from 1967 and onwards, little was known of the planetary atmospherics of Venus and Mars other than that cloud could be detected on Venus and that something resembling ice was present on the polar caps of Mars. The probes determined that atmospheric pressure on Venus is about 96 times that of Earth and consists of 97-98% carbon dioxide and 2-3% nitrogen. The cloud consists of concentrated sulfuric acid. The atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 0.6% of Earth and also consists predominantly of carbon dioxide (95%), nitrogen (2.7%), argon (0.2%) and traces of carbon monoxide and other noble gases. The ice caps consist of frozen carbon dioxide. There is one chance in four of guessing the relative atmospheric pressures correctly.

Dinosaurs in Australia

"The largest of the dinosaurs originated in western North America. These monstrous reptiles are buried throughout the Rocky Mountain regions, along the whole of the Atlantic coast of North America, over western Europe, South Africa, and India, but not in Australia." (687) Although dinosaur fossils have been found in Australia, as of 1996 it remains true that no fossil remains of the giant (monstrous) dinosaurs have been found there.

Marsupials

An article in Scientific American has discussed whether marsupials originated in Australia and radiated to the Americas via Antarctica, thence Europe or the reverse. It states that marsupials flourished about 50 million years ago, and comments that proponents of continental drift think that Australia was connected to the Americas about that time. The Urantia Book tells us that the ancestors of kangaroos roamed Australia 45 million years ago, and that 35 million years ago the southern land bridge was extensive, reconnecting the then enormous Antarctic Continent with South America, South Africa, and Australia.

Marsupial fossils have been found in Australia in strata designated as Upper Oligocene (about 35-40 million years ago), and in the Americas in strata from the Cretaceous more than 65 million years ago. The fossil evidence indicates that marsupials could not have reached Australia from Asia or from Africa. Recently marsupial fossils have been found on Seymour Island in Antarctica.

    References
  • Scientific American, January 1985, p. 60
  • British Museum, Ed. L.R.M. Cocks (1981)
  • The Evolving Earth (Cambridge University Press)
  • The Urantia Book pp. 694, 695.

The Radii of the Electron and Proton

A Urantia Papers' "Prophecy," Source: Stefan Tallquist, Finland

"If the mass of matter should be magnified until that of an electron equaled one tenth of an ounce, then were size to be proportionately magnified, the volume of such an electron would become as large as that of the earth. If the volume of a proton--eighteen hundred times as heavy as an electron--should be magnified to the size of the head of a pin, then, in comparison, a pin's head would attain a diameter equal to that of the earth's orbit around the sun". (477)

First, let us check out how this matches up with modern estimates of the electron radius.

Electron rest mass is estimated as 9.1 x 10-28g 0.1 of an ounce is 2.8g Radius of the Earth is 6.4 x 106m

Let k represent proportionate magnification. Then

k x 9.1 x 10-28 = 2.8.....................................1 Radius of electron (re) x k = 6.4 x 106........2

Dividing 1 by 2, we get

Radius of an electron = 2 x 10-21m

The classical radius for the electron (current at the time of receipt of the Urantia Papers) was 2.8 x 10-15m, a difference in the order of one million-fold. However modern estimates for the upper limit is given by Nobellist Hans Dehmelt as 1 x 10-19m and a lower limit is given by high energy collision experiments as 1 x 10-22m. Hence The Urantia Book illustrative estimate presented in 1935 falls in between these modern values.

Let us now try out the relative comparison between a proton magnified to the size of the head of a pin being equivalent to a pin's head having a diameter of the earth's orbit around the sun.

Let n be the magnification factor for a proton sized up to a pin head of radius 1 mm. The radius of the Earth's orbit around the sun is taken as 1.5 x 1014mm. Then :

n x rp =1mm.....................................1 n x 1 mm = 1.5 x 1014mm..................2

Solving for the proton radius gives 7 x 10-15mm which is 7 x 10-18m. A modern value given in the November 1983 volume of Physics Today estimates the Bohr radius for a quark system (a proton) as 7.7 x 10-18m.

Thanks are due to Stefan Tallquist of the Technical Research Center, Finland for going to the trouble of making these remarkable comparisons.

Stefan also has a stab at the upper limit for the radius of the ultimaton through dividing the electron radius by 5 x square root of 2 giving a value of 3 x 10-22m. It will be some time yet before a direct confirmational measurement is made.