A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: Urantia

3 Oct 2005
I'm actually surprised at the comments you received; being a site that claims to be a 'skeptic', you seem to have attracted only those people most inclined to be 'believers' -- you'd think just one post would ask the magic question, first (to my knowledge) posted by Jesus, that being "you tell false prophets by their fruit" ... i.e., does it yield any useful results?

Put more clearly, is there, or is there not, within the Urantia Book, even one single scientifically verifiable fact which was 100% unknown prior to 1955? Just one extra-terrestrial observation would suffice.

This needn't be the cure for cancer. A mention of our galaxy being a bar-type and not a spiral would do (anyone able to cross universes should know this, but we did not know it until last year) or that our galaxy is centered on twin black holes, or a simplification of the derivation of E=mc2, or the completion of Fermat's Theorem or a doodle of Penrose tiles or anything that shows the tranced medium was hooked into anything other than pure bunkum.

When our early explorers traveled abroad, they would dazzle the encountered civilizations with prisms, compass needles ... and gunpowder, and they would return with breadfruit (and slaves) as proof of their claims. It only stands to reason, and any truly omni-cognizant supra-spirit surely must know that if there's any one truth to be known about humans it is that they can be doggedly skeptical. Anecdotes are not proof; they are only entertainment.

And I'm surprised you yourself, selling a book on "critical thinking" did not once ask this question. True, critically to the point, any such extraterrestrial fact does not ipso facto validate the rest of the book, but it would call into question your own dogmatic trust in Moyer's tale of the UB cosmology.)

You may reprint this if you wish, but I'll not be surprised if you don't

-- Gary Lawrence Murphy

reply: I have no idea what Mr. Murphy means by "your own dogmatic trust in Moyer's tale." Nevertheless, I like the idea of requiring allegedly prophetic books to make specific predictions regarding future scientific discoveries of a fundamental nature.

17 May 1999
I recently found your website and have enjoyed most of it. Concerning the entry on Noah's Ark, I found it to be very informative, though I disagree with the findings.

reply: I know, I'm right about everything except this one thing that you happen to know is true. I've heard this for almost every entry.

My reason for writing you concerns the Urantia entry, or more specifically, a reader response to it. I do not understand why celebrities (Elvis, Janis Joplin, Jackie Gleason) are always mentioned in causes/movements like Urantia, As if their adherence actually gives the movement more credibility. Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who do think that something must be true if a celebrity believes it as well. So what if Elvis read the Urantia? Everything I've read on Elvis points to the fact that he read LOTS of different things on all sorts of metaphysical subjects due to major insecurities in his life.

Incidentally, Kerry Livgren, of 1970's band 'Kansas' fame, was a Urantia believer for about a year, before he became an evangelical Christian. What are ordinary believers supposed to do when a celebrity renounces his or her belief in the Urantia?
Doug Hugo

reply: They should renounce Satan and buy a copy of the Demon Haunted World!

02 Mar 1999
For your information --- I had a lengthy relationship with Gardner during the preparation phase of his
Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery. Exchanged more than forty letters. Visited in his home.

Perhaps you would like to know more.

Visit my web site at http://www.world-destiny.org

There you will find much material on the origin of the Urantia Papers never before published, and background on William Sadler.

To say that Gardner was biased would be an understatement.
Ernest (Moyers)

reply: I am pleased to refer readers to your clearly "unbiased" materials.

05 Jan 1999
You have a wonderful site, I've enjoyed browsing and agree with you about 95% of the time.

I was a born skeptic...early on in the small group who argued the implausibility of the Bible in classroom discussions. In college, I found many more free-thinkers. But 25 years ago I felt I had to prove the Urantia Book was bogus because someone close to me, who is quite bright, said it was true, and I just knew it couldn't be....all religions were actually very similar and crutches for illogically minded people.

Two years, and a ton of reading & research later....I realized it was true, and that the reason all religions had so much in common is that they have common evolutionary roots. The differences are in the dogma...and some of the dogma is pretty crappy. This book, however, is PACKED with logical science, history, and soul-satisfying inspiration. No conflict here with evolution. At least read Paper 100 and the last paper.

I've met over 500 people who are involved with this book, including Norman Lear (Jewish), Buffy St. Marie (Native American), many clergy people (typically liberal traditions, but including Baptists and Catholics), dozens of teachers (I teach math right here is Sacramento!)...Mo Segal (of Celestial Seasoning's Tea...see the connection?), and a whopping percentage of scientists and computer people. Of course, there is the wacko group in Sedona...anything like this will attract egoists. Many more of the big names in Rock & Roll than you might realize are/were dedicated readers including Elvis, Jerry Garcia, Moody Blues, Spirit, Janis Joplin, and many others. Jackie Gleason was really into this book.

Over 350,000 books have been sold since 1955. I know over a dozen people who knew Sadler; he was not a fake, nor a liar. His experiences were unimaginable, but there is no reason at all for him to make this stuff up. Financially, it was far better off not being involved. Harold Sherman, on the other hand was very unstable. He is the one passing of lies and the only reason Gardner believes his stories is that it supports his skeptical arguments. Sherman was one in favor of all kinds of traditional channeling and nonsense. Martin G. did not read the UB through, it is very clear from his sloppy analysis. He did do some good research, but there are many web-references with good critiques of his work. I am close friends with many of the people he refers to and he has got his facts wrong at least as often as he got them right.

Do your own analysis of the Urantia Papers, I challenge you, as I did, by reading them and comparing them with scientific, historical, and other research.

You'll find a gem like no other.

I've been a reader for 25 years...half my life.

No need to respond....just FYI.
Claudia Ayers

reply: There may be no need to respond, but your mentioning of Jackie Gleason (also "a gem like no other") brought back fond memories of my childhood. Did Art Carney introduce Gleason to the UB? Perhaps they read the Croatian translation together in-between alcoholic stupors. I suppose it was good enough for Elvis and Janis Joplin, the world should take notice.

Oct 1996

I've been reading your Skeptic's Dictionary and I like most of what I read. I have to ask you, though: the Urantia Book was "allegedly" channeled by William Kellogg??!!

I've been reading the Urantia Book for 15 years and I have NEVER heard that claim made before! Did Martin Gardner make that claim? And if so, where did he get his information? The identity of the human being who wrote down (and it was NOT channeling, according to Dr. Sadler) the papers of the Urantia Book has never been revealed. Dr. Sadler, I understand, said that he and the others who knew this person had been sworn to secrecy because it was felt that the message of the book itself was more important by far than the person wrote the words down. No human name was to be associated with the book, ever.

reply: I would imagine that you are not the only reader of the book who has never heard that the Urantia Book was channeled by Wilfred Kellogg. The book itself claims that the Urantia papers "were authorized by high deity authorities and written by numerous supermortal personalities." [Origins] Sadler and his group tried to avoid associating the origin of the Urantia Book with words like spiritualism . The word channeling was not used in those days, of course. But when you claim that an individual, whom you will not name, wrote a book but the authors were really "supermortal personalities," then you have claimed the book was channeled in today's New Age terminology. Gardner's research uncovered the author as Wilfred Kellogg. You can read about it in his book and articles, listed below. Of course, Sadler's version differs from Gardner's.

Sadler claims he and other equally brilliant men could not detect any other type of psychic phenomenon except revelation from on high when they examined the "author." Their author was not telepathic, clairvoyant, a spirit medium, nor did he go into trances or do automatic writing. Sadler also declared that his man was not insane (actually he says he did not have a split personality). One thing Sadler and his illuminati seem to have failed to consider was the possibility of fraud. Or maybe they were in on the con. Who knows? In any case, Sadler was right about one thing: focusing on who wrote the book takes attention away from the content of the book. If you are looking for spiritual teachings, apparently this book has plenty of them and many people find these teachings agreeable. For those of us who are no longer on a spiritual quest, such books are mainly of interest because of the Byzantine intrigue surrounding their authorship and the people who would invent such stuff. Gardner himself says: "Why do I waste time on such a pretentious tome? Two reasons: One, the Urantia movement is gaining new recruits. More interestingly, the book's origin is a capital mystery." According to Gardner, Iola Martin and Mrs. Harold Sherman (who he identifies as members of the original Urantia movement in Chicago) revealed to him that Wilfred Kellogg wrote and dictated the Urantia Book. All the sordid details are revealed by Gardner. The one I find most fascinating, though I don't know why, is that Wilfred Kellogg, his wife, Anna Kellogg and Dr. Sadler's wife, Lena Kellogg (Anna's sister), all had the same grandfather, John Preston Kellogg, who was the father of William Keith Kellogg (the Cornflakes king) and Dr. John Kellogg. The latter did battle with Ellen G. White and was excommunicated from the Adventist church.

I also am unaware that there is a separatist 7th Day Adventist cult that uses the Urantia Book's teachings. To say that the book has Adventist teachings is like saying the Bible has Adventist teachings, when actually both books contain teachings used by all manner of religions and belief systems. The religions get their teachings from the books, not vice versa.

reply: As I understand it, Adventists interpret the Bible differently from other Christians, especially in their notions of the Millennium and The New Earth and in accepting the words of Ellen G. White as revelations.

I don't belong to any cult. There are groups of Urantia Book readers who get together and some of them are pretty weird, to my way of thinking, so I don't belong to any groups espousing the Urantia Book's teachings. I find the book's value in what it says and how I can apply those sayings to my own life-not anybody else's. (I add that I was raised a Catholic, left the church at 14, became an atheist and a devotee of Ayn Rand and finally read the Urantia Book 18 years later.)

reply: I guess we could say that you are on the road to Wellville!

There is no organized religion of any kind involved in the reading of the Urantia Book. There are no "thou shalts" or "thou shalt nots". There is no guilt. There is no "we've got the answers and we'll only tell you if you give us money". The only money I've spent is on the book itself, and I consider the price worth it.

reply: The fact that you and many other readers of the Urantia Book do not belong to any organized cult or religion does not mean that such a group doesn't exist. According to Gardner, such a group does exist and is growing. On the other hand, he may be using the word 'cult' loosely to refer to the some 50,000 (according to one of the Urantia Websites) who belong to Urantia groups who meet regularly.

I suspect that you have not read the book, as it's over 2000 pages long. I assume you are passing on the information that you found in Gardner's book. I find it hard to believe that Gardner, intelligent man that he is, would so lightly pass off a book by identifying it with an organized religion that really had and has nothing to do with the Urantia Book at all. It almost sounds as if he'd just recently heard about the book and asked someone and they said, "aw, it's some book some crackpot offshoot cult of the 7th Day Adventists uses."

reply: Believe me, it is not the length of the Urantia Book which keeps me from poring over its pages. I've probably read over 2,000 pages of Gardner over the years! In any case, you underestimate Gardner and I suspect you haven't read his book on Urantia, either.

I applaud the idea of debunking all the stuff you include in your dictionary. It's a great service. I only ask that you do a little more solid research on the Urantia Book before tossing off such a casual and inaccurate review.

Sharon Carthy

reply: ok. In the future, before tossing off an inaccurate review, I'll do more solid research.

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