The URANTIA Book Confirms the Findings of Science
Scientific Investigation of Religious Experiences
Most of us are aware of the human genome project, which has gone a long way in solving the DNA genetic code. But there is also lesser-known, internationally coordinated scientific research whose purpose is to map the brain, that is, to relate the content of our conscious minds, as well as the more machine-like aspects of physiological functioning, to what is happening in the organ's electro/chemical circuits. And some of the early results of this study have prompted secular humanists to claim that God has been "explained away". A part of the brain newly named the "God Module" has been found and linked to apparent religious experiences. Historical and Biblical visions are now being discounted as symptoms of a type of brain epilepsy.
Dr. Michael Persinger has been studying the relationship between brain function and religious experience since before the brain-mapping project began. And he has been able to evoke experiences of religious content similar to and possibly identical with what has heretofore been accepted as genuine spiritual experiences, all by means of strictly electro/mechanical manipulation of the brains of his experimental subjects. Other scientists are now following in his footsteps.
In spite of all this, there is nothing for real religionists to fear in this new and exciting research, because first of all, The URANTIA Book teaches that "facts never quarrel with real spiritual faith" (2078 B), and that "no matter how valid (real) religious experience is, it must be willing to subject itself to intelligent criticism" (69 D). And secondly, by a process of elimination similar to that espoused by Sir Author Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes ("When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,") it is also true that those experiences which can never be explained or duplicated by science must be genuinely supernal in origin. In other words, as the brain-mapping study progresses, scientists will be taking certain religious experiences out of the "probably" and even the "for sure" boxes and putting them in the "unlikely" box, those which the scientific method indicates belong to the Brain "God". Identifying the activities of the Brain "God" can in no manner "explain away" God! Rather it is like clearing a forest of brush and deadwood, to allow the living trees to grow better.
The URANTIA Book confirms this idea, when it says that, "all science has done [and by implication can ever do] is to destroy the childlike illusions of the misinterpretations of life" (2076 D). For, it affirms, science "being material and wholly intellectual ... is utterly useless in the evaluation of spiritual realities and religious experiences" (2078 C), and that "this profound experience of the reality of the divine indwelling forever transcends the crude materialistic technique of the physical sciences" (2095 A). That is, it cannot evaluate genuine "spiritual realities and religious experiences", but illusionary ones are in its admitted area of competency:
"The steady progress of science add[s] greatly to the mortality of false gods; and even though these casualties of man-made deities may momentarily befog the spiritual vision, they essentially destroy that ignorance and superstition which so long obscured the living God of eternal love" (1124 C)
When those materially originated experiences have been discarded, -- with the help of science -- that which remains ... the spiritual ... will shine forth with much more brilliance.
The URANTIA Book Confirms the Findings of Science
The fact is that according to the book's teachings: "the projections of the human intellect may indeed originate false gods -- god's in man's image" (2095 D), and also, that a false "god", a material Brain "God", actually resides within the human mind as a part of its evolutionary endowment. This false "god" is similar to the "fictitious alter ego" imagined and conversed with by children (996 D). And:
"As it is conceived by generations of praying mortals, the alter ego evolves up through ghosts, fetishes, and spirits to polytheistic gods and eventually to the One God, a divine being embodying the highest and loftiest aspirations of the praying ego" (997 A).
There is, apparently, a reality shift in this evolutionary product of the human imagination where it comes in contact with the actual indwelling fragment of God, the Thought Adjuster. At that point, we are told, "conversations with the fictitious symbol of the alter ego ... become exalted to the level of communication with the spirit of the infinite and to that of bona fide consciousness of the reality of the eternal God and Paradise Father of all intelligent creatures" (997 B). So, while in our minds everything above this line or level is spiritual, everything below it, which is a part of the "dead level of consciousness" (1207 B), is material and amenable to scientific investigation.
The URANTIA Book confirms that much, if not most of what ordinarily passes for genuine religious experience is in actuality the emanations of our material minds coordinated somehow with our lingering notional experiences with our inner false god. Don't forget that the Brain "God" is made from our "highest and loftiest" desires. It also explains that "the element of human error present in human religious experience is directly proportional to the content of materialism which contaminates the spiritual concept of the Universal Father (1123 C). And these contaminated experiences not only persist far beyond the end of our mortal, and even morontial lives: "Man's prespirit progression in the universe consists in the experience of divesting himself of these erroneous ideas of the nature of God and of the reality of pure and true spirit" (1123 C); but they cover the whole normal/abnormal spectrum of mental functioning, as well.
When we pray, meditate, or otherwise seek to contact deity within us, we may direct our awareness towards the actual, supermaterial thought Adjuster or to the false god of the material mind, which we may even envision as being our "Thought Adjuster", since it embodies our "highest and loftiest aspiration". According to The URANTIA Book: "Even at the present time, in the day to day experience of the average mortal, prayer is very much a phenomenon of man's intercourse with his own subconscious" (996 C). But this is not necessarily bad, because: "prayer induces the human ego to look both ways for help: for material aid to the subconscious reservoir of mortal experience, for inspiration and guidance to the superconscious borders of the contact of the material with the spiritual, with the Mystery Monitor [Thought Adjuster]"(997 C). However we are warned of a "great danger" attendant upon prayer-life which amounts to little other than "religious day-dreaming", as well as being told that "under no circumstances" should we cultivate religious, "trancelike" meditation employing a comparatively passive, narrowly focused consciousness. This latter directs the mind "toward the subconscious rather than in the direction of the zone of spiritual contact, the superconscious." The "superconscious" is described as being a "realm of ascending intellectual activity" (1099 C) The problem is one of attitude and discernment. The danger is that the product of the Brain "God" "may be regarded as divine communications to the human mind" (1099 C). The question is, are we relating to the alter-ego embodiment of our own conscious and subconscious ideas of divinity or to divinity itself?
Real God or Brain "God"?
It can be seen that the difficulty arises when it comes time to distinguish between the outputs of these separate but NOT equal sources of spiritual-seeming content. And we are very much hampered in this discernment by the following fact: "You are quite incapable of distinguishing the product of your own material intellect from that of the conjoint activities of your soul and your [Thought] Adjuster" (1207 B). That is, we are in the position of having to distinguish between two things which subjectively appear to be identical in every way! Also, we are informed that:
"The human mind may perform in response to so-called inspiration when it is sensitive either to the uprisings of the subconscious or to the stimulus of the superconscious. In either case it appears to the individual that such augmentations of the content of consciousness are more or less foreign" (1000 C).
"Often, in beings of your order, that which you accept as the Adjuster's voice is in reality the emanation of your own intellect. (1208 D).
"Certain abrupt presentations of thoughts, conclusions, and other pictures of mind are sometimes the direct or indirect work of the [Thought] Adjuster; but far more often they are the sudden emergences into consciousness of ideas which have been grouping themselves together in the submerged mental levels, natural everyday occurrences of normal and ordinary psychic function inherent in the circuits of the animal mind" (1207 B).
"Altogether too much of the uprush of the memories of the unconscious levels of the human mind has been mistaken for divine revelations and spirit leadings" (1099 B).
"Many mystics have carried their mental dissociation to the level of abnormal mental manifestations" (1100 A).
"Altogether too frequently that which the overwrought mystic evaluates as divine inspiration is the uprisings of his own deep mind" (1000 B).
Finding the Real God
We are told that "Jesus had no subconscious delusions or superconscious illusions" (1100 B). In other words, the Brain "God" played no part in his inner life.
"He lived ... a life of prayerful consecration to the doing of his Father's will... . The secret of his unparalleled religious life was [his] consciousness of the presence of God; and he attained it by intelligent prayer and sincere worship -- unbroken communion with God -- and not by leadings, voices, visions, or extraordinary religious practices" (2086 B).
We are also told that:
"The great challenge to modern man is to achieve better communication with the divine Monitor [Thought Adjuster] that dwells within the human mind. Man's greatest adventure in the flesh consists in the sane and well-balanced effort to advance the borders of self-consciousness out through the dim realms of embryonic soul-consciousness in a wholehearted effort to reach the borderland of spirit-consciousness -- contact with the divine presence" (2097 A).
From the forgoing it can be seen that great emphasis is to be placed on the words "sane and well-balanced". But it can hardly be considered sane to hold against all logic and reason (as well against as the admittedly incomplete findings of science) the illusion that an experience which has been unconsciously self-generated is actually of divine origin. That is nothing more than a form of megalomania.
And although genuine contact may indeed be made with Thought Adjusters, even then the dangers do not cease. We are told that:
"when they do find it possible to flash a gleam of new truth to the evolving mortal soul, this spiritual revelation often so blinds the creature as to precipitate a convulsion of fanaticism or to initiate some other intellectual upheaval which results disastrously" (1207 D).
That is part of the reason why the supernal revelators advise us that "a human being would do better to err in rejecting an Adjuster's expression through believing it to be a purely human experience than to blunder into exalting a reaction of the mortal mind to the sphere of divine dignity." (1208 C). That is, it is safer -- even when we are wrong -- to assume that any unusual, spiritual-seeming experiences are the work of the Brain "God". However, unfortunately, it seems that few people -- even readers of The URANTIA Book -- heed this advice. They treat it and the other cautions just as smokers do the warning label printed on the side of cigarette packs. Like teenagers who take needless risks, they seem to believe that disaster only happens to others, NOT to themselves!
Insofar as such spiritual discernment goes, we are told: "This is dangerous ground, and every human being must settle these problems for himself in accordance with his natural human wisdom and superhuman insight" (1208 D). As to the superhuman insight of others I cannot presume to speak. However the information given on page 2095 C, through 2096, paragraph 7, should be studied by everyone wishing to understand these matters.
But surely human wisdom requires that one take into consideration applicable findings of science (of what The URANTIA Book calls "the fiery furnace of genuine science" (1006 D)). The URANTIA Book says:
"Science is the source of facts, and mind cannot operate without facts. They are the building blocks in the construction of wisdom which are cemented together by life experience" (1222 C).
It also says that "only those who face facts and adjust them to ideals can achieve wisdom. Wisdom embraces both the fact and the ideal and therefore saves its devotees from both of those barren extremes of philosophy -- the man [or woman] whose idealism excludes facts and the materialist who is devoid of spiritual outlook" (1779 D)
Science, along with revelation, is to refine and ennoble man's religion. And this goes hand-in- hand with the adjuration that "in scrutinizing mental situations, safety lies only in the prompt recognition of each and every thought and experience for just what it actually and fundamentally is, disregarding entirely what it might have been" (1199 C). Because the findings of scientists like Persinger and others engaged in the brain-mapping project can go a long way in helping us recognize which of our religious thoughts and experiences are merely "figments of the imagination, illusions of the mortal mind, distortions of false-logic, and the self-deceptive idols of those who create them"(1781 D): and when these have been disregarded that which remains is more likely to be genuine contact.