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Despite the evidence exemplified by the text of its true revelatory nature many readers find it beyond their capability to accept the book's claim of being an epochal revelation -- logical cohesiveness, spiritual authority, truth response, disclosure of previously unrecognized facts -- these are still insufficient to satisfy many doubting readers as they focus on attempts to discredit the authenticity of the text, looking for contradictions and inconsistencies.

The following is from the Standardization Committee report regarding the phrase “in the manger” at 119:7.6:
Informational: first printing; These men of God visited the newborn child in the manger. — “in the manger” removed at the second printing. Presumably, this change was made because the original seems to be inconsistent with the narrative of Jesus’ birth in 122:8, which states that three wise men from the east visited Jesus when he was almost three weeks old — about the time the family left the inn and over two weeks after they had moved out of the stable. However, it is certainly possible that Joseph and Mary might have taken the manger with them up to the room in the inn in order to continue to have a cradle for Jesus. The need for a cradle would have been no less in the room than in the stable, and if the manger was portable, as small feed-boxes often are, moving it along with the family seems quite reasonable.

The alteration of the "in the manger" phrase after the 1955 printing is illustrative of a major issue with students of The Urantia Book. First, the phrase was written as given by the revelators. Second, well-intentioned trustees of the revelation thought the revelators were mistaken due to the later description of Jesus' birth in Paper 122, therefore, before the next printing the phrase was removed without notification of that alteration. Third, this and other textual alterations made by the trustees over the following years were discovered by readers in the 1990s, a discovery that was partially responsible for a general distrust of the stewardship among the readership. The work of the Standardization Committee will hopefully restore the readership's confidence in the integrity of the original text.

The "in the manger" story in The Urantia Book:
Certain Chaldean wise men of spiritual insight learned of the forthcoming bestowal of Michael on Urantia through contacts of one world with another. The seraphim of former attachment to Adam and Eve in the first garden did, through the midway creatures, make announcement to these Chaldean priests whose leader was Ardnon. This announcement to Ardnon and his associates was the only supernatural event associated with the birth of Jesus. The original Urantia text said "These men of God visited the newborn child in the manger."

Biblical record of "in the manger":
The only mention of "manger" in the New Testament is in Luke 2:7-16. Luke, a story teller and chronicler of Jesus' life and teachings, wrote in the year 82 in Achaia:
Mary gave birth to her first-born son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger. An Angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds saying, "You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and laying in a manger." They went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

In Matthew 2:1-11 is found the story of the Chaldean wise men:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod heard these things, he was troubled, called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Luke says shepherds visited Jesus laying in a manger. Matthew says wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus in the house. The Urantia book appears to say that wise men visited the newborn child in the manger; this appears to disagree with common understanding of the Bible.

Gavalia, Chief of Evening Stars of Nebadon, is the author of Paper 119 where the reference to "in the manger" is found. In the beginning paragraph he says "In making this presentation, I will adhere strictly to the limitations imposed by my commission." and that introductory section ends with "I will now proceed to unfold the nature and character of these bestowals as fully as my commission permits." Gavalia then describes Michael's seven bestowals, several times referring to restrictions placed upon what can be revealed. Obviously correcting Biblical lore was outside of that mandate -- the stories of Luke and Matthew being straight forwardly referred to as "visiting the newborn child in the manger," not as a statement of fact but as a point of reference to that Biblical lore of which we are so familiar.

Speculations about moving the manger to the inn (the house) are not supported by the revelation in Part IV--the third revelatory commission was not subject to the marked revelatory limitations of Gavalia, as a member of the second revelatory commission. Namely, Jesus was "laid in a near-by manger"; that is, the manger was too heavy or bulky to even move into the grain storage room from the stalls immediately back in the cave (see 122:7.7 and 122:8.1).

Not only did the wise men not visit Jesus "in the manger", but also Jesus was not a "newborn". Jesus "was almost three weeks old at the time of their visit." A child was a newborn only until the eighth day (see 123:2.5). Male children were circumcised on the eighth day. As the midwayers state, the legend that Gavalia is alluding to is "of the 'star' of Bethlehem and the adoring Magi led thereby to the 'manger', where they beheld and worshiped the 'newborn' babe." (122:8.7) And Gavalia stresses that the only supernatural event was the announcement to Ardnon. In other words, the supernatural event of star-manger-newborn, that he alluded to in the previous sentence, did not happen.

The consternation regarding this "in the manger" phrase and the altering of the revelatory text to correct the supposed fault is indicative of the human tendency to focus on facts rather than on spiritual substance. Lack of spiritual insight in dealing with human concepts may not be of much concern but it is a definite hindrance when studying The Urantia Book where the revelators not only expect readers to have the requisite background education to understand the revelation, in this case knowledge of the Bible, but also to be able to transcend that knowledge by grasping the significance of revelation itself.

This is a restatement of an explanation given by Chris Halvorson during his study group session in July, 2011.
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i didn't remember all of the below, but like with everything else with the bible and tub it's just the expanded story in tub while you get the abbreviated version in the bible. they definitely made a deliberate attempt to have supernatural events occur with the birth of jesus, the visible visit of gabriel to mary, which she didn't mention to jesus until after his baptism, through john actually, which was weird, and this below about ardnon seeing an angel. the things man stresses greatly have some basis in truth, the thought adjuster circuit of the universal father doesn't leave man completely stupid in what they do and believe. they may not know who jesus is, but there is a church every three block radius dedicated to him because of the truth of who jesus is. real falsehoods don't get so much intuitive play by mortals and certainly not for this long a time. falsehoods fade away from man's intuitive belief. jesus was born amongst animals to show that the creator son of all animals loves animals too. they have a mind.

119:7.6 Certain wise men of earth knew of Michael’s impending arrival. Through the contacts of one world with another, these wise men of spiritual insight learned of the forthcoming bestowal of Michael on Urantia. And the seraphim did, through the midway creatures, make announcement to a group of Chaldean priests whose leader was Ardnon. These men of God visited the newborn child in the manger. The only supernatural event associated with the birth of Jesus was this announcement to Ardnon and his associates by the seraphim of former attachment to Adam and Eve in the first garden. 122:7.7 The inn was overcrowded, and Joseph accordingly sought lodgings with distant relatives, but every room in Bethlehem was filled to overflowing. On returning to the courtyard of the inn, he was informed that the caravan stables, hewn out of the side of the rock and situated just below the inn, had been cleared of animals and cleaned up for the reception of lodgers. Leaving the donkey in the courtyard, Joseph shouldered their bags of clothing and provisions and with Mary descended the stone steps to their lodgings below. They found themselves located in what had been a grain storage room to the front of the stalls and mangers. Tent curtains had been hung, and they counted themselves fortunate to have such comfortable quarters. 122:8.1 All that night Mary was restless so that neither of them slept much. By the break of day the pangs of childbirth were well in evidence, and at noon, August 21, 7 B.C., with the help and kind ministrations of women fellow travelers, Mary was delivered of a male child. Jesus of Nazareth was born into the world, was wrapped in the clothes which Mary had brought along for such a possible contingency, and laid in a near-by manger. 122:8.5 At the noontide birth of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias. 122:8.7 These wise men saw no star to guide them to Bethlehem. The beautiful legend of the star of Bethlehem originated in this way: Jesus was born August 21 at noon, 7 B.C. On May 29, 7 B.C., there occurred an extraordinary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. And it is a remarkable astronomic fact that similar conjunctions occurred on September 29 and December 5 of the same year. Upon the basis of these extraordinary but wholly natural events the well-meaning zealots of the succeeding generation constructed the appealing legend of the star of Bethlehem and the adoring Magi led thereby to the manger, where they beheld and worshiped the newborn babe. Oriental and near-Oriental minds delight in fairy stories, and they are continually spinning such beautiful myths about the lives of their religious leaders and political heroes. In the absence of printing, when most human knowledge was passed by word of mouth from one generation to another, it was very easy for myths to become traditions and for traditions eventually to become accepted as facts.

135:8.6 There was a tone of finality and authority in Jesus’ voice. John was atremble with emotion as he made ready to baptize Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan at noon on Monday, January 14, A.D. 26. Thus did John baptize Jesus and his two brothers James and Jude. And when John had baptized these three, he dismissed the others for the day, announcing that he would resume baptisms at noon the next day. As the people were departing, the four men still standing in the water heard a strange sound, and presently there appeared for a moment an apparition immediately over the head of Jesus, and they heard a voice saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” A great change came over the countenance of Jesus, and coming up out of the water in silence he took leave of them, going toward the hills to the east. And no man saw Jesus again for forty days. 135:8.7 John followed Jesus a sufficient distance to tell him the story of Gabriel’s visit to his mother ere either had been born, as he had heard it so many times from his mother’s lips. He allowed Jesus to continue on his way after he had said, “Now I know of a certainty that you are the Deliverer.” But Jesus made no reply. 135:9.1 When John returned to his disciples (he now had some twenty-five or thirty who abode with him constantly), he found them in earnest conference, discussing what had just happened in connection with Jesus’ baptism. They were all the more astonished when John now made known to them the story of the Gabriel visitation to Mary before Jesus was born, and also that Jesus spoke no word to him even after he had told him about this. There was no rain that evening, and this group of thirty or more talked long into the starlit night. They wondered where Jesus had gone, and when they would see him again.


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lwatkins wrote:
Despite the evidence exemplified by the text of its true revelatory nature many readers find it beyond their capability to accept the book's claim of being an epochal revelation -- logical cohesiveness, spiritual authority, truth response, disclosure of previously unrecognized facts -- these are still insufficient to satisfy many doubting readers as they focus on attempts to discredit the authenticity of the text, looking for contradictions and inconsistencies.


It's interesting that you explain skepticism as demonstrative of a lack of "capability", i.e., a kind of incompetence.

Quote:
The consternation regarding this "in the manger" phrase and the altering of the revelatory text to correct the supposed fault is indicative of the human tendency to focus on facts rather than on spiritual substance. Lack of spiritual insight in dealing with human concepts may not be of much concern but it is a definite hindrance when studying The Urantia Book where the revelators not only expect readers to have the requisite background education to understand the revelation, in this case knowledge of the Bible, but also to be able to transcend that knowledge by grasping the significance of revelation itself.


This is a similar kind of characterization. To my ear, it's very similar to what the "skeptics" do when they dismiss all manner of religious belief as symptomatic of weak-mindedness, and inability to cope with godless reality. It comes down to, "The reason why others don't believe what I believe is that they aren't as advanced (or enlightened, or spiritually insightful, or tough-minded) as I am."

I have to wonder who is supposed to be edified by this. Is it the skeptic who, reading these comments, will say "Now I see that the only thing keeping me from believing the UB is my lack of spiritual insight"? Or is it the believer, who will feel congratulated at not being one of them?

So let me ask this question: Is the existence of doubting readers a problem in need of a solution? If so, what is at stake?

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So let me ask this question: Is the existence of doubting readers a problem in need of a solution? If so, what is at stake?


No its not a big deal, to not survive this life you have to be a real a-hole. So there is not alot at stake. Also the book talks about superhuman's putting an exclamation mark on everything inside so even if the whole world doubts it diety doesn't seem like its going to leave any of this up to chance.

I would think that rejecting god on the mansion world is where you start rolling the dice very seriously. Or on a planet where life spans are 400 or 500 years long you probably get into life and death situations alot more. Not knowing what to believe in while living on a planet touched by rebellion is not a crime, etleast in the U.B its not hahaha.

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boomshuka wrote:
I would think that rejecting god on the mansion world is where you start rolling the dice very seriously.


The question was about doubting readers (as Larry's post described), not rejecting God. Are doubting readers a problem to be solved?

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The question was about doubting readers (as Larry's post described), not rejecting God. Are doubting readers a problem to be solved?


No.
I suppose though in certain settings it may be a bit annoying :lol:

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boomshuka wrote:
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The question was about doubting readers (as Larry's post described), not rejecting God. Are doubting readers a problem to be solved?


No.
I suppose though in certain settings it may be a bit annoying :lol:


Well that's true, no doubt. But I'm on good behavior!

What Larry doesn't acknowledge in his post is that there is another sound reason for trying to criticize--or discredit, as Larry prefers to call it--the UB. That reason is that one is trying to get at the truth. One way of getting at the truth is to subject truth claims to severe criticism and see how well they hold up. I happen to think that's a very good way of getting at the truth. I have good reasons for thinking that. The human capacity for confirmation bias is well known and well documented. It has been understood (not by that name) for a long time.

One of my favorite statements of this point is Richard Feynman's statement about science: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." That sums it up, and the point is by no means limited to science.

How do you keep from fooling yourself? It's not such an easy thing, in my experience. I regularly fail at it. It requires, among other things, a willingness to keep on confronting views that challenge, and not necessarily gently, my own. That's no fun at all. It's far easier to adjust my world so that I only have to see and hear things that confirm what I already think.

Returning to the "in the manger" issue, I think Larry is no doubt right to point out that the modification of the text was the result of a well-intentioned effort to "correct" the published text. "You are the easiest person to fool" may be very relevant to the human decision to do this. We don't know how much of this sort of correction went on before the first printing. Some people, such as Ernest Moyer and Harold Sherman, have made much of this, while others dismiss them as cranks. The real problem is that all of the records and evidence that might allow posterity to make an informed judgment were systematically destroyed.

New Testament scholars face similar issues in trying to discern the earliest form of the gospels. In the case of the gospels, however, there is nothing to suggest that the record was intentionally destroyed. It was lost, which is a very different thing. How close is the text of the 1955 First Printing to the text that was "frozen" in 1942, if indeed that occurred? We can never know.

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Hello Todd,

There's a difference between a truth seeker and being a discrediting unbeliever. Yes, we have logical minds and they should be engaged whenever we're attempting to discern truth. Truth however is not simply a scientific endeavor, it's spiritual as well and spiritual truths are not scientifically provable. When logical pursuits fail to dispel doubt one can continue to doubt or one can decide that there may be truth to what has been tested. There's also the old standard that when research has resulted in several answers to a question then the one that is simplest is usually most likely to be correct.

You said "We don't know how much of this sort of correction went on before the first printing. Some people, such as Ernest Moyer and Harold Sherman, have made much of this, while others dismiss them as cranks." This is an example of the thinking of a discrediting unbeliever, not a searcher for truth. [Oops, yes boss, this does sound judgmental and like a personal attack. I apologize] The "correction" is well documented -- the most accurate first-hand information is found at http://www.ubhistory.org. Both Harold Sherman and Ernest Moyer had/have personal agendas -- neither is a reliable source. Although Harold was in the Forum for a while Ernest's information is all second-hand.

Larry


Last edited by lwatkins on Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:49 am +0000, edited 1 time in total.

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lwatkins wrote:
Hello Todd,

There's a difference between a truth seeker and being a discrediting unbeliever. Yes, we have logical minds and they should be engaged whenever we're attempting to discern truth. Truth however is not simply a scientific endeavor, it's spiritual as well and spiritual truths are not scientifically provable. When logical pursuits fail to dispel doubt one can continue to doubt or one can decide that there may be truth to what has been tested. There's also the old standard that when research has resulted in several answers to a question then the one that is simplest is usually most likely to be correct.


The question of the authenticity of the UB is not, in my estimation, a spiritual one. It is a factual, historical question. It is not the same question as "Is there (any) truth in the UB?"

Also, there's more than one way to look at the "simplest" answer. Occam's Razor, a well-known principle of simplicity, stipulates that we "should not multiply entities without necessity." But how shall we apply that to the UB? Is the simplest answer to believe that it was written by members of various orders of celestial beings? I don't think so. That may be the right answer, but it isn't the simplest.

Quote:
You said "We don't know how much of this sort of correction went on before the first printing. Some people, such as Ernest Moyer and Harold Sherman, have made much of this, while others dismiss them as cranks." This is an example of the thinking of a discrediting unbeliever, not a searcher for truth.


This comment presupposes that you have some special insight into my motivations that supersedes the explanation that I've already given. The truth of the matter is, you don't. So I have to ask whether the comment counts as a "personal attack", and if so, to whom should I report it? Is it acceptable for me to speculate publicly about the psychological and spiritual shortcomings of other UB readers, as you've done in this thread?

At any rate, my purpose in this thread at least isn't to discredit anything.

Quote:
The "correction" is well documented -- the most accurate first-hand information is found at http://www.ubhistory.org. Both Harold Sherman and Ernest Moyer had/have personal agendas -- neither is a reliable source. Although Harold was in the Forum for a while Ernest's information is all second-hand.


I haven't questioned the documentation of the "in the manger" change to the text. I agree that it's well documented. The point is that the very fact that the change was made in the manner that it was--discreetly, unannounced, unmarked, anonymously--introduces the possibility that other changes of the same sort were made to the text prior to its publication in 1955. The fact that surreptitious changes, if I may use that word, were made in 1968, when members of the Contact Commission were still living, means that the possibility of similarly motivated changes prior to 1955, but after the "freezing" of the text cannot be ruled out by the premise that the Contact Commissioners would never have allowed it. They did allow it in 1968. Dr. Sadler may have been failing at that advanced age, but not Christy.

The purpose of this line of thinking isn't to discredit the UB, but to consider whether some other details of the text might be the result of well-intentioned "correcting" prior to publication. Maybe, instead of waiting for science to "catch up" to the UB on the distance to Andromeda, for example, it makes sense to suppose that the "one million years" was another well-intentioned correction, but this time prior to 1955. It can't be confirmed, thanks to the destruction of all the records, but the post-publication changes make it less easy to rule out.

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Todd
I will suggest that you're not being completely forthright in your attempt to discern the truth about the UB -- but I'm sorry that my criticism has come across as a personal attack -- I was busy, wrote several quick emails and comments and didn't spend much time considering what I was actually saying, so I apologize.

However... "The purpose of this line of thinking isn't to discredit the UB, but to consider whether some other details of the text might be the result of well-intentioned "correcting" prior to publication." is not analytical thinking, it is an attempt to befuddle, muddle, muddy the waters, discredit the UB. There is no factual evidence of "well-intentioned correcting prior to publication." That's a fabrication not supported by authentic documentation and to continue to promote this line of thinking is simply an attempt to discredit the revelators, the contact commission, the forum and the shepherds of the revelation.

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lwatkins wrote:
Todd
I will suggest that you're not being completely forthright in your attempt to discern the truth about the UB -- but I'm sorry that my criticism has come across as a personal attack -- I was busy, wrote several quick emails and comments and didn't spend much time considering what I was actually saying, so I apologize.


It is a personal attack, since there is "no factual basis" for your claim that I'm not being forthright--which is yet another personal attack. But I accept your apology.

Quote:
However... "The purpose of this line of thinking isn't to discredit the UB, but to consider whether some other details of the text might be the result of well-intentioned "correcting" prior to publication." is not analytical thinking, it is an attempt to befuddle, muddle, muddy the waters, discredit the UB. There is no factual evidence of "well-intentioned correcting prior to publication." That's a fabrication not supported by authentic documentation and to continue to promote this line of thinking is simply an attempt to discredit the revelators, the contact commission, the forum and the shepherds of the revelation.


A couple of points. Immediately after apologizing, you once again resort to personal attack. Instead of replying to the points I made, you disparage my "analytical thinking" and accuse me of attempting to "befuddle, muddle, etc." That is, you offer your conjectures about my less than honorable motives. That's a personal attack.

But let's set that aside, since it's boring to everybody. The reason why your original post caught my attention was not because it offered an opening to muddle and befuddle. It was because it occurred to me that there are various details in the UB that skeptics, like me, tend to pounce on. The "in the manger" item isn't really one of them, but it is an example of a surreptitious or "undocumented" change to a text that was understood to be preserved "inviolate."

But what about others, such as the matter of the distance to Andromeda? The UB implies that it's a million light years away, but we have multiple measurements that indicate that it's 2.5 million light years away. What are the possible responses to that?

1. The UB has it right, and eventually astronomers will catch up.
2. It only appears to be wrong, but there's some subtle way of reading the text that shows that it's not wrong after all.
3. The UB got it wrong.

For any given discrepancy, any of these responses might be appropriate. My personal opinion is that some attempts of type 2 are a bit strained, but that's a separate matter. I just want to consider the 3rd response, since that's of course what skeptics will insist upon.

If there are errors of fact in the UB, then the further question is why are they there? One answer is that its authors didn't know any better. That answer isn't very satisfying to those who believe in celestial authorship, since a big part of why we are impressed by celestial authorship is that we believe they know things that we don't know. Yet another answer is that the errors are the result of human sources, which the revelators were not authorized to correct. The trouble with this answer is that it's hard to reconcile with the "authoritative elimination of error". After all, the UB doesn't really owe us an account of how far away Andromeda is. If that detail were absent, no one would miss it. Moreover, they seemingly do correct errors in the human source materials from time to time.

Another possible answer is that at least some of these discrepancies between what the UB says and what we now have good reason to believe is that they were the result of mortal "corrections" of the same sort and intention as the "in the manger" case. To make this claim, one doesn't have to believe it was a Caligastian scheme, nor does it "discredit" the Contact Commission or anyone else. It's merely to attribute to them ordinary human errors in judgment.

Is there a factual basis for such a view?

Fact: Undocumented "corrections" to the text were made after publication, i.e., between 1955 and 1968. "In the manger" is one; "well-nigh instantaneous" is another.

Fact: We don't know who made these changes. If there ever were records, they are gone.

Fact: We don't know exactly when the last contact with the revelators is supposed to have taken place. If there ever were records, they are gone.

In light of those facts, it's not unreasonable to suppose that at least some of the apparent factual errors in the UB are simply the result of well-intentioned but unauthorized "corrections" prior to publication. I don't think such a stance discredits anyone or anything, unless one has a prior commitment to the view that the mortals involved were all above all possible errors in judgment. And that view would come very close to the kind of hagiolatry that we are told the revelators hoped to avoid.

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