Q: If we humans on Urantia are evolutionally at "the bottom of the ladder, " so to speak, where were we before this life? Were we just a drop in the pool of consciousness, waiting to be given a body?
A: Thank you so much for your thoughtful question. We love to hear from our visitors.
When you talk about whether "we" were a "drop in the pool of consciousness, waiting to be given a body, " and ask "where were we before this life?" you are asking very deep questions.
When we think about our identities, we naturally go back to what makes us, us—and that is personality. It is what distinguishes us, one from another.
The Urantia Book is very clear on personality:
Since personality is a bestowal from the eternal Father, one might safely assume that "we" have eternally had potential in the personality of the Father, and this potential was established before the beginning of time itself. That potential was realized when our moms and dads joined to make the potential actual at our conception. The resulting person—that actuality of personality—became a physical expression of your aspect of the Father's personality when you were born—eternal and divine in potential. Actually, I guess one cannot say for certain exactly WHEN that personality is bestowed (at conception or at birth), only that it IS a certain bestowal at the pleasure of the Father.
Personality. The personality of mortal man is neither body, mind, nor spirit; neither is it the soul. Personality is the one changeless reality in an otherwise ever-changing creature experience; and it unifies all other associated factors of individuality. The personality is the unique bestowal which the Universal Father makes upon the living and associated energies of matter, mind, and spirit, and which survives with the survival of the morontial soul. (0:5.11)
It was—and is—God's prerogative to decide what aspect of himself that he bestows on which physical body that is conceived. There really is no "pre-existence;" I guess you you might say that all personality is pre-existent in the whole of the Father's personality. But that individual personality that belongs to you has no actuality, or "you-ness, " ( for want of a better term) prior to its bestowal upon mortal flesh.
Among other thing, The Urantia Book acknowledges the "mystery" of personality, so the comprehension of these revelations concerning personality, while somewhat graspable by our human minds, still requires our faith and trust in God to settle our ideas of it. It is a fascinating subject...
Just for more information, you may be interested to visit our topical study on PERSONALITY, where Urantia Book teachings on this subject are pretty thoroughly explored.
Thanks again for this most interesting question; I hope that this answer is of help to you. Please write back any time!