boomshuka wrote:Evidence, man there is so much someone should really make a good website for all the scientific evidence Ubthenews is just the tip of the ice-berg there is so much evidence.
If we're going to be serious about evidence, then we have to make every effort to look at all
the evidence, both for and against the superhuman authorship of the UB. That means not changing the standard of evidence as we go. In particular, it means not relaxing standards in cases where the UB seems to get things right, then raising the standard where the UB seems to get things wrong. Unfortunately, I find way too much of this standard-shifting in just about all discussions of the scientific evidence.
For example This Essay by Phil Calabrese
is an insightful look at the evidence. I consider Phil a friend, and the last time I spoke with him in person was just before he presented this paper. I like the way he categorizes things, "Pitfall avoided", "Unpopular Positions and Predictions", etc. There is, however, always the temptation to "retro-fit" new discoveries to fit the language of the UB, making its statements look like predictions. It's similar to the case of Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled by Jesus, i.e., it's not always independently clear that the OT passages were
For example, Phil quotes the UB saying "When a living cell is injured, it possesses the
ability to elaborate certain chemical substances which are empowered so to stimulate and
activate the neighboring normal cells that they immediately begin the secretion of certain
substances which facilitate healing processes in the wound; and at the same time these
normal and uninjured cells begin to proliferate-- they actually start to work creating new
cells to replace any fellow cells which may have been destroyed by the accident". Note the vagueness of "certain substances", which occurs twice. Phil takes this to be a prediction of recent discoveries about regeneration of hepatocytes. The vagueness of the text prevents us from having a high degree of confidence in any interpretation.
Phil counts the UB's mention of "dark islands of space" as a prediction of the "dark matter" posited by astrophysicists to provide enough gravitational braking power to hold the universe together. Dark matter, however, was first proposed by Zwicky in 1934.
Phil claims that neutrinos weren't actually observed until 1959, but according to Wikipedia this occurred in 1942, in work for which the Nobel Prize was finally awarded in 1995. Since we know that the text of the UB was still being modified in 1942, this cannot count as a prediction.
Instead of a section on "errors", however, Phil has "Instruction in Science and Cosmology Still to be Received by Urantia Scientists". That is, he interprets apparent errors as predictions yet to be fulfilled. For example, the UB does not support the Big Bang theory. Although there are a few dissenters in the scientific community, it has to be conceded that the overwhelming weight of opinion among the best-qualified scientists is in support of the Big Bang. We have to grant, of course, that all scientific claims are open to revision, but this doesn't imply that all are equally dubious. If we are trying to be fair, then, we should say that according to our best current knowledge, the UB is wrong on this point.
Similarly, according to best current knowledge, life on this planet is older than 550 million years; and the mass of the planet 2 billion years ago was not a tenth of its current mass. And the liquidity of water actually is
predicted by its known micro-properties, if you include the properties of hydrogen bonds, discovered in 1931 but not widely known until Pauling wrote about them in 1939.
And this is precisely where we always seem to run into trouble. UB readers willingly give the UB every benefit of the doubt if it looks like it's making a successful prediction, but where it appears to be wrong, there is a tendency to emphasize the tentativeness and fallibility of science, so the apparent errors "don't count." This, to my mind, is cultic thinking, and in the end it does not and cannot support the UB. On the contrary, I think it damages the image of the UB.
The Fellowship site has this essay by Dan Massey
that some will find disturbing. I only recently found this essay. I met Dan, about ten years before he wrote this. I also knew him from his writings on Urantial, an early UB-related discussion list. I found him to be one of the most brilliant people I knew in the UB movement, and that's saying something, because there are a lot of very bright people in it, including Phil Calabrese and many others. Even in the 1990s, Dan had a mixed reaction to the science content, and thought there were very few passages that could be interpreted as true fulfilled predictions. And he was well aware of the way in which the confirmation bias inclines us to tune out information that undermines our convictions. Between then and 2003, it appears that his confidence was further eroded. As far as I can tell, from searching online, Dan is no longer involved with the UB. He's just one person, of course, but I want to emphasize that he was as familiar with the science material as anyone, and had dedicated much time and energy to the UB.
So, my point is that a fair and objective analysis needs to deal with more than just the predictive successes. For one thing, there is the necessity of confirming that certain things weren't known or at least widely conjectured back when the UB was still being put together. This involves actually consulting the sources of that period. And fairness requires acknowledging when science calls the UB wrong, and not trying to whitewash it.