The Story of Everything: A Synopsis of The Urantia Book
Paper 92: The Later Evolution of Religion
Religion has progressed from nature worship through ghost worship to fetishism. Throughout history fear has been the basic religious stimulus, but as civilization advances fear becomes modified by reverence and repentance.
Attempts to suddenly accelerate religious growth are unwise. Religion clings to mores; traditions become sacred; passing generations are afraid to discard what their ancestors deemed holy. Morality is not determined by evolutionary religion, rather, religious forms are dictated by morality. At some time in history, all that is now considered immoral was once accepted. Religion has handicapped social development in many ways, but without religion there would have been no enduring morality or worthwhile civilization. Religion has provided the discipline and self-control that makes wisdom possible.
Evolutionary religion, unlike science, does not provide for its own correction. The only two influences that can uplift religious dogma are the pressure of advancing mores, and periodic epochal revelations. Evolutionary religion must continue to be refined by revealed religion and genuine science, but revelation cannot be far removed from the thoughts of the era in which it is presented.
Evolutionary religion is a human reaction to the spiritual world; revelatory religion is the spirit realm's reaction to the human search for truth. Revelation is always limited by human capacity. There have been many events of religious revelation, but only five were of epochal significance: the Planetary Prince's arrival, the mission of Adam and Eve, Melchizedek's teachings, Jesus' teachings, and the Urantia Papers. The fifth epochal revelation differs from all previous revelations because it is the collaborative work of many persons instead of just one person.
There is an instinctive longing in the human heart for help from above. This impulse was designed to foster the work of the Planetary Prince and the Material Sons and Daughters. People have always venerated their leaders, sometimes even at the expense of his teachings. There have been hundreds upon hundreds of religious leaders on our planet who have served as the personality fulcrums on which the levers of revelation depend.
New religions cannot be invented; they either evolve or are suddenly revealed. Religions are good if they bring mortals to God and bring the realization of God to mortals. It is wise to study and assimilate the truths contained in every faith; it is arrogance for any group of religionists to think that they possess the only truth.
The quality of religion is indicated by loyalties, values, and the cosmic progress of the persons involved. Religion is devotion to the service of supreme values, a living experience of love, a technique of thinking, and the eternal foundation of all enduring civilizations. No revelation short of the attainment of the Universal Father can ever be complete-all other celestial ministrations are partial adaptations to local conditions in time and space.