To Deepen Our Spiritual Cosmology
The problem of reality is the central concern of philosophy... and
the culminating quest for meaning in human experience. Human beings react in
harmony with their perceptual and conceptual field of reference. What we
believe to be causative and irreducible, our concept of reality, determines the
basic character of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our philosophy is a
synthesis of our cultural heritage, personal experience, scientific knowledge,
and rational-creative thinking.
The synthesis of human knowledge and experience is always a
contemporary task that is never finished or complete. The understanding of life
is cumulative. Periodically a new and enlarged synthesis takes place.
Historically, there have been many major enlargements of Western philosophy.
The Greek synthesis attempted to integrate the discipline of logical reasoning
with the values of antiquity. Thomas Aquinas combined the insights of Aristotelian
philosophy with the basic values of Christianity. Rene Descartes postulated a
matter-mind dualism which opened the door for the development of the physical
sciences. Immanuel Kant worked out a philosophic synthesis which harmonized the
rational approach of traditional philosophy, the empiricism of the emerging
physical sciences, and Christian values. Pragmatism endeavored to accommodate
the rich contributions of the biological sciences. Existentialism evolved
largely as an attempt to actualize the human potentials opened up by the
developing social sciences.
A new major synthesis is needed, such as may be found in The
Urantia Book. Traditional terms and boundaries are inadequate. References
to the "natural" and the "supernatural" are prescientific
frames of reference that have little meaning in our contemporary understanding
of the nature of things. We are beginning to recognize that idealism and
naturalism are authentic aspects of a larger concept of reality. A new unity is
emerging amid diversity and complexity.
Our experience is pluralistic. Psychologically we perceive three basic forms of
reality: matter (energy), mind (consciousness), and spirit (value). These are
our basic sources of knowledge. From our human perceptual point of view, matter
is the basic substance of the universe. There are many forms of matter—light,
heat, electricity, magnetism, chemism, and energy are essentially the same
thing. The electromagnetic scale represents various levels of energy phenomena.
The immediate control of matter is largely governed by empirical cause and
effect mechanisms. From a short range view matter appears to demonstrate random
and mechanistic behavior; a longer range view shows lawful, intelligent, and
Mind is the controlling function of reality in the material
universe. The most elemental form of control systems are found in atomic
structure, chemical reactions, and biological codes. The largest empirical
forms demonstrating mind over-control of matter are found in planetary and universe
evolutionary dynamics. Mind appears to operate on differential levels from
simple organic matter through lower organisms to highly complex organisms like
human beings. Mind (control functions) as it operates on the material level is
usually classified as a form of physical energy, but these control aspects of
matter are the result of indigenous mind qualities associated with matter. Mind
is a form of energy that is not only capable of association with different
configurations of matter but also with different aspects of spiritual reality.
Spirit is the highest and most determinative form of reality.
Spirit eventually governs mind, which, in turn, dominates matter. From a human
point of view, the foundations of the universe are material which are controlled
by mind that is ultimately directed by personality the essence of which is
spirit. Human awareness of spiritual reality is largely limited to our truth,
beauty, and goodness perception that eventually evolves a God-consciousness. In
addition to our mindal capacity for value perception, there is a reality aspect
of the human mind known variously as the Superconscious, the Inner Light, the
Indwelling Spirit, or the Thought Adjuster which is a spiritual source of
guidance slowly transforming human beings in the direction of the "Image
of God." Spirit is the highest form of universe energy—the basic nature of
Characteristics of Reality Experience
Described in The Urantia Book
Matter, mind, and spirit are inter-associated in differential
levels of complexity. The electromagnetic scale (electrical waves, radio waves,
heat waves,white light, ultra violet rays, gamma rays, and cosmic rays)
illustrates the various forms of physical energy which inter-associate with
each other and with mind and spirit phenomena in innumerable combinations. We
know very little about mind phenomena but recognize differential activities of
the subconscious, the conscious, and the superconscious aspects of mind.
Psychiatrists such as Dr. Richard Bucke see evidence of an
evolving quality of mind which he called "cosmic consciousness."
Laboratory experiments in extra sensory perception suggest that we may some day
discover what might be called "mind circuits." These and undiscovered
aspects of mind inter-associating and combining with forms of physical and
spiritual energy result in exceedingly complex manifestations of experiential
All of these experiential aspects of reality are integrated in our
experience through the unique capacity of personality. Through personality
experience mind intervenes between matter and spirit bringing about an
organization, understanding, and unity to our experience. Without this mindal
integrating capacity between matter and spirit, we would be confronted with a
schizophrenic reality experience.
There is a basic integrative unity of reality in the universe. Our
contemporary understanding of matter, mind, and spirit is approaching a common
semantic description: energy. For the first time in our planetary history the
physicist, the psychologist, and the theologian are speaking of the same broad
descriptive reality. We are beginning to realize that the traditional areas of
investigation and study are artificially separated. In nature and life we have
holistic situations in which many influences are operative. Even formal study
programs reflect this kind of thinking in courses like biochemistry,
astrophysics, physiological psychology, cultural anthropology, etc.
Diversity is a surface phenomenon. When we look underneath and
within, we see a universal unity. The main structure of the DNA is the same in
a mollusk, as rose, or a human being. The millions of species of plant and
animal life share the same chemical elements of matter. To penetrate the
surface diversity of experience and understand the basic lawfulness and unity
of all things is the essential goal of science, the arts, philosophy, and
religion. Intellectually, this unitary reality has been given various names:
The Absolute, The Great I Am, Ultimate Reality, etc. The religious designation
for this unitary reality has also been given many names: God, Allah, Jehovah,
Ahura Mazda, etc. The universe is a vast integrated creation which is
controlled by a unified, infinite mind.
the Fundamental Dynamic of the Universe
Human knowledge is relative, partial, and progressive. This is
demonstrated in our maturation and socialization experience, in our general
scientific knowledge, and our historical knowledge. Our relative knowledge,
however, is generally dependable. Knowledge must always be evaluated from the
level of our experience. To a small child fire and poisonous drugs must be a
real danger; for a knowledgeable adult these same objects may be a safe means
of sustaining life. A person driving a car must regard a brick wall as a solid
obstruction; as a physicist this person may regard it largely as empty space.
Our knowledge and experience must always be correlated with our
evolutionary development. Premature knowledge (not prepared by experience) can
be disastrous. Attempting to live by regressive knowledge leads to stagnation
and destruction. As we make decisions and take action on the basis of our
highest experiential evolutionary knowledge we are eventually led to wisdom.
The wisdom and experience of each level of development prepares us to the
knowledge and experience of the next stage of development. This process appears
to be endless.
There is, therefore, a constant need in each generation for the
reinterpretation and relevant application of the basic truths of experience.
Although the basic principles of evolving a healthy individual and sound
society are relatively constant, the form and emphasis which they take are
constantly changing. Whenever this process of growth does not take place in a
civilization such a society will decay. The eternal command is "Be you
perfect, even as I am perfect," but what that means must be discovered by
the individual and society at each stage of development.
From a Urantia Book perspective there are various developmental
purposes involved in the evolutionary process:
- 1. There is movement from the physical through the mental-cultural
to the spiritual. Primitive people emphasize physical regulations and
pleasures. Civilized people stress the discipline and development of the mind.
The sages and saints of society cultivate the spiritual achievements of finding
truth, establishing brotherhood, and knowing God.
- 2. There is development from randomness, lawlessness, and arbitrariness
to lawfulness, justice, order, and design. Early human beings saw life as
determined by whim and caprice and made rules to fit their personal advantage.
Civilized society sees the universe as governed by law and recognizes justice
even when it is against their personal welfare.
- 3. There is progression from egocentricity and selfishness to love
and ecumenical relationships, from self-expression to self-mastery, from
negative fear reaction to positive self-actualization motivation. Maslow points
out that the evolution of human needs takes the following order of priority:
physiological needs, safety needs, love needs, self-esteem needs, and
- 4. There is a transfer from external control to internal control,
from group rights to individual rights, from force and coercion to freedom and
creativity. Primitive peoples need strict rules and control; an advanced
society promotes good and wise behavior through individual volition. Augustine
was referring to the spiritually mature person when he said, "Love God and
do as you like."
- 5. There is an over-all direction in the evolutionary process
toward spiritual perfection. But even the meaning of perfection is mediated to
each person through his or her progressive experiences. Knowledge is always a
function of being. And we are evolving beings.
We Need a New
Contemporary discoveries in astronomy have replaced the old
"three story" universe with a concentric universe. Vast spiral
galaxies populate the universe. The Swedish astronomer C. V. L. Charlier also
believes we may live in a hierarchical universe. We live in an enormous,
expanding universe which is virtually limitless. Our traditional circumscribed
universe with the earth at its center has turned out to be a myopic illusion.
The astronomical universe appears to function like a vast organism with
innumerable families of suns passing through tremendous but predictable cycles
from birth to death. Most astronomers hypothesize that the universe is
populated with myriads of inhabited planets in all stages of evolution. Man's
egocentric position in the universe we must now recognize is an untenable view.
Our traditional spiritual cosmology based on the three-story
universe is hopelessly outdated. Any relevant spiritual cosmology must be built
on current astronomical frames of reference. If a spiritual universe is to be
taken seriously, it must also be projected on a vast, concentric, hierarchical
scale with the traditional "Paradise" at the center of this enormous
Thomas Dick, a progressive religious philosopher of a century ago,
saw the implications of our growing knowledge of the universe when he said,
"It is now considered by astronomers, as highly probable, if not
certain—from late observations, from the nature of gravitation, and other
circumstances—that all the systems of the universe revolve around one common
center and that this center may bear as great a proportion, in point of
magnitude, to the universal assemblage of systems as the sun does to his
surrounding planets. And since our sun is five hundred times larger than the
earth and all the other planets and satellites taken together—on the same
scale, such a central body would be five hundred times larger than all the
systems and worlds in the universe. Here, then, may be a vast universe itself,
an example of material creation, exceeding all the rest in magnitude and
splendor and in which are blended the glories of every other system." (If
A Man Die - Harry C. Mark, p. 84)
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship