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Sci-Fi Stories and the Reality of a Progressive Universe

2016-03-11 12:17 PM | Dave

“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.” 

― Arthur C. Clarke

Many have heard The Urantia Book (The UB) described as “the alien Bible.” Maybe you’ve encountered similarities in its content that resonate with science fiction literature, television and film. Our sci-fi media falls roughly into a couple of main categories (there are actually many more): (1) dystopian: about societies in cataclysmic decline (“Dying Earth” sci-fi), (2) utopian (advanced, progressive) describing ideal societies, and sometimes there is a kind of New Age wisdom literature (Perelandra by C. S. Lewis).

The UB is realistically optimistic about the future, but it also has its version of the dark side, the Lucifer Rebellion, and Caligastia’s interference with Adam and Eve. The Urantia Book account of Earth history provides much more detail about the “war in heaven,” that you may have first read about in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, 12:7-13. Yet The UB emphasizes a friendly universe, convincing to me because it answered a longing in my soul. As it says, “When such spirit-led mortals realize the true meaning of [the] golden rule, they are filled to overflowing with the assurance of citizenship in a friendly universe.” (180:5.8) And as Jesus taught the Athenian philosopher, “The real universe is friendly to every child of the eternal God.” (133:5.8) 

Occasionally science fiction writers have imagined their aliens as citizens of a “friendly universe.” In Ray Bradbury’s, The Fire Balloons, he tells the story of church missionaries who visit a colony on Mars. One of them, Father Stone, discovers universal truth when he decides to contact the older Martian race and subsequently has a realization of a shared universal religion. “The way I see it is there’s a truth on every planet. All parts of the big truth. On a certain day they’ll all fit together like pieces of a jigsaw. This has been a shaking experience. I’ll never doubt again, Father Peregrine. For this Truth here is as true as Earth’s Truth, and they lie side by side. And we’ll go on to other worlds, adding the sum of the parts of the Truth until one day the whole Total will stand before us like the light of a new day.” (pg 134, Bradbury, found on

The UB’s reassertion and expansion of the gospel of Jesus was practically an afterthought per some of the apocryphal lore. We love the expanded story of Jesus. But there are other things going on in the book. The revelation of previously unknown, organizational information virtually constitutes what seems to be a prep course, intended to help our isolated planet take the initial steps towards re-integration with the universe.

Carl Sagan was the scientist who first popularized the idea (emphasizing its logic), that other earth-like, inhabited planets exist in the vast reaches of space. His Cosmos television series depicted just such a universe. In 1974, he worked with NASA on the first attempts to communicate with other civilizations using the Pioneer and Voyager space flights. Since then, astronomers using NASA’s Kepler satellite have found about 21 potentially habitable planets around stars beyond our solar system ( ). The science community still searches, to no avail so far, for a sign of life on the newly discovered spheres.

During the early decades of our discovering of The Urantia Book, many were watching Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek series of the 1960’s, in reruns well into the late 70’s. Our friend, Andrea Barnes, once said, “We could do outreach 24/7 for years and still not achieve the type of cultural shift that Rodenberry achieved with Star Trek.”

In 1980, we also watched Sagan’s Cosmos; then came back to a revived Star Trek: the Next Generation (1987-1994) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999). There are many other shows I could mention. I’ve seen a blogger claim The UB was Gene Rodenberry’s main inspiration in his creation of Star Trek, a claim often repeated, but I have never seen it verified,

In Star Trek, a preeminent guiding principle of the United Federation of Planets known as the Prime Directive, Starfleet’s General Order #1, states there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations. The show was based on the plausible possibility of a universe organized into a federation more advanced than we’ve imagined before. However, not every extraterrestrial alien race belonged to this alliance of over 150 planetary governments which included Vulcans and Andorians. There were outsiders, “sinister others,” like the Klingons and Romulans. Thus the scripts often featured stereotypical television scenarios of our “cowboy and Indian” unreality here on Earth, war in space, highly technological wars, spaceship battles with less evolved (un-federated) peoples in the universe. This pop culture depiction of “good guys versus bad guys” also became the basis of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga, now eight episodes and counting.

As Star Trek scholars have noted, every season had a few episodes that glossed over, overlooked, forgot, or simply ignored the Prime Directive (from Rubicun III scifi blog). The laws of TV popularity prevented the show from maintaining an ideal of a governed and managed universe, and society was too secularized to imagine a spiritual universe “paralleling the physical universe.” (8:4.1)

In The Urantia Book (The UB) we learn about the policy of noninfringement, somewhat equivalent to the Prime Directive of Star Trek based on the concept of free will. “The basic laws of Nebadon, [are] laws designed to afford the greatest possible co-ordination of a whole constellation consistent with the fixed policy of noninfringement of the moral free will of personal creatures.” (39:3.3) and “Man’s ability to choose good or evil is a universe reality. This liberty to choose for oneself is an endowment of the Supreme Rulers, and they will not permit any being or group of beings to deprive a single personality in the wide universe of this divinely bestowed liberty—not even to satisfy such misguided and ignorant beings in the enjoyment of this misnamed personal liberty.” (54:3.1)

Generations brought up on Star Trek found the more advanced cooperative organization of the universe presented in The UB, to be a more credible model, a truer vision. Taking Trekian logic to its max, The UB gives us a “revelation” of the real universe government, planets linked by interplanetary communication. This along with the sad fact of Urantia’s isolation from such a government; “when some planets (or even systems) have plunged far into spiritual darkness, they are in a certain sense quarantined, or partially isolated from intercourse with the larger units of creation. And all this, as it operates on Urantia, is a spiritually defensive reaction of the majority of the worlds to save themselves, as far as possible, from suffering the isolating consequences of the alienating acts of a headstrong, wicked, and rebellious minority.” (3:1.10)

In The UB, intercommunication is the norm for planets which have achieved “social brotherhood,” and are in “the spiritual circuits of their realm” (52:6.8, p. 598). “From Salvington, broadcasts are simultaneously directed to the constellation headquarters, the system headquarters, and to individual planets. All higher orders of celestial beings are able to utilize this service for communication with their fellows scattered throughout the universe. The universe broadcast is extended to all inhabited worlds regardless of their spiritual status. Planetary intercommunication is denied only those worlds under spiritual quarantine.” (33:6.5)

Not just Urantia, of course, but the thirty-seven other worlds that seceded (53:7.1). In this article, I assume the broadcasts have not been re-established, as some have claimed.

The movie that perhaps comes closest to The UB’s conception of a unified and orderly, friendly universe, “an organization for the mutual protection of all planets,” as alien visitor Klaatu described it, is The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951). Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, Childhood’s End (1953) also explored similar ideas. The spaceman, Klaatu, comes as an emissary from this peaceful federation of planets. It’s obviously a first visit; and it’s immediately apparent that Earth has been “quarantined” from this universe government, just as The UB describes. Klaatu arrives with Gort, the robot policeman, to warn Earth it will face destruction because of the “new threat” it poses, the use of nuclear energy to power spaceships, unless Earth renounces its violent ways. Klaatu describes his federation in a public speech to the people. “We live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more profitable enterprises.” The movie portrayed a resolution to the Fermi Paradox known as the Cosmic Quarantine hypothesis proposed by cosmologist, Edward Harrison in 1981. The physicist Fermi formulated his well-known paradox, the apparent contradiction between the probability of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact or visible evidence, in 1950, just a year before the release of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

In the famous Star Trek episode, Errand of Mercy (1967), the Organians, a civilization of spiritually advanced beings, concede to make themselves visible to the visitors from Earth by taking on the appearance of a pastoral culture much like the Israel of Jesus’ time. “None of the physical beings of the central universe would be visible to Urantians.” (14:2.4)

Like Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still, they use their power to disarm the warring factions. The Organians seemed to exist in a kind of alternate reality (a parallel universe?) that could not endure the disruption and compromise of their world by lower, less evolved planets. Starship Enterprise had transgressed the borders of the Cosmic Quarantine in some way.

The Fermi Paradox has had many hypothetical answers proposed besides Harrison’s Cosmic Quarantine. That the most evolved civilizations would prevent an upstart world from disrupting their stability, by treating Earth as a deadly virus for which they must establish immunity, follows the logic established by Carl Sagan, and our sci-fi dreamers. Now it’s being confirmed by our scientific discoveries. It’s beginning to make sense (for more on this topic, see the Zoo hypothesis and Such a planetary status is confirmed by revelations in The Urantia Book given to us in the faith that we are ready to know the more complete story. 

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