Talk:The Urantia Book

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This fact needs a better citation[edit]

removed from article:

  • "In the mid 70's, after Jimi Hendrix had died, his Pan Am flight bag was found in the lost baggage department. Inside was a battered copy of The Urantia Book"[1]

Jane, from Seattle, posted this as a random comment on the webpage cited. Maybe it's true, maybe not...I'm leaving it here until someone can find a better source. Xaxafrad (talk) 06:29, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

References[edit]

I have done some formatting on the references. Refs cited only once have been move from biblio into footnotes. Some of the sfn names were incomplete or not indicative of source. I have added full citation needed to several refs. I added the more footnotes tag to the biblio section, several refs listed are not cited and if not used should be moved to a further reading section. I have set up auto archiving for this talk page. - - MrBill3 (talk) 22:25, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Adventism[edit]

The article states that, "For instance, two basic Adventist beliefs that distinguish it from mainline Christianity are the doctrines of soul sleeping and the denial of hell, both of which The Urantia Book also supports." It isn't strictly correct, however, to say that "denial of hell" is an Adventist doctrine. The Adventist position, I believe, is that hell is reserved for the devil and his angels. They don't deny the existence of hell as such. The article needs correction. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 22:56, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

I agree, the article needs correction. But it may be impossible because the base of this article is Martin Gardner book "Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery" which most editors regard as trustworthy. Martin Gardner book contains enormous amount of mistakes, the incorrect description of Adventists doctrine is possibly one of them. More about Martin Gardner book here and here. Jaworski (talk) 19:55, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Copy-pasting from a current Adventist article: They reject the traditional doctrine of hell as a state of everlasting conscious torment, believing instead that the wicked will be permanently destroyed after the millennium. The theological term for this teaching is Annihilationism.
And from Seventh-day Adventist eschatology#The destruction of sinners and new earth: Adventists disagree with the traditional doctrine of hell as a place of conscious eternal punishment.
Actually, annihilitionism is in line with the statements in the Urantia Book. Xaxafrad (talk) 07:03, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, they may disagree with the way Hell has traditionally been understood in Christianity, but they still don't deny its existence outright. The article still contains the inaccuracy I pointed out months ago; I regret that it has not been fixed. Simply because a reliable source - such as a book by Martin Gardner - makes a misleading claim, that doesn't mean that Wikipedia has to repeat it. We can use our judgment as editors, and leave it out. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 07:50, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Gardner is questionable source WP:QS. There exists in his book large amount of untrue information about the text of The Urantia Book. He relies heavily on unsubstantiated gossip, rumors and personal opinion. More information here Jaworski (talk) 10:29, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

And that url represents your original research, right? It doesn't meet WP:QS. Basically you are asking us to take your word for it. Dougweller (talk) 12:18, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
And to remind others who may not know the history, you are also basically a single purpose editor with who worked for the foundation as a translator. It's fine to source any mistakes Gardner made from other sources that meet our criteria, but not your web page Dougweller (talk) 12:27, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

Is it not necessary to use my personal history to answer my message. I am not the only editor who started from single purpose account. A few years ago I worked as translator for Foundation but this fact doesn't change my stance in any Wikipedia discussion. You wrote "Basically you are asking us to take your word for it." What group you represent by saying "us"?

You've missed the point. Wikipedia guidelines don't say that editors should use reliable source to determine which source is reliable. Editors decide about the reliability of sources according to Wikipedia guidelines. WP:RS My website is only the extension of my opinion that Gardner is questionable source. I couldn't insert here over 10 pages of text so I inserted only a link. What kind of source it is, if Gardner distorted the text of the book, which is the main subject of his work, in over 40 instances and added plenty of gossip rumors and personal opinions? My article represents my personal opinion but there are quotations from Gardner work and from UB, with appropriate pages, to allow everybody to check my conclusions. Editors decide about reliability of sources, but there are also reliable, published sources that support my opinion:

Sandra Collins, SLIS, Univ. of Pittsburg, wrote in Library Journal Book Reviews April 15, 1995: "Given the lack of scholary distance from the subject, the patronizing tone and the gross editorializing, it would be difficult to recommend this book to any library".

Sarah Lewis, of the Univ. of Wales, stated: “Martin Gardner is one of the few people outside the Urantia Foundation who has undertaken research into the movement. His research is worth noting, although his position as a great skeptic does not allow his conclusions much academic credibility” (The Invention of Sacred Tradition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-86479-8)

Jaworski (talk) 23:08, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

It seems this section is straying off-topic....Do you suggest we correct Gardner's comparison of the UB and Adventist doctrine's regarding hell? Or rather, that the UB shouldn't be compared to Adventism in the article? Xaxafrad (talk) 01:51, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
To Jaworski: No, it isn't the case that Collins supports your opinion. You've wanted this article to advertise the UB as having "prophetic science", and you've brought up this fragment of a Collins quote about 4 or 5 times in the past, including inserting it into the "Science criticisms" section of the article a number of times as being a "severe critic" of Gardner, as if this librarian's review somehow then negated the science criticisms Gardner documented. But you know what? I looked it up and this is what I found she actually wrote:
"He rationally debunks much of the science of the Urantian Book, but gives little in the way of historic-critical analysis, systematic theology, or basic religious history, focusing more on denigrating quirky personalities. In addition, the author assumes a thorough understanding of Seventh-Day Adventism. Given the lack of scholarly distance from the subject, the patronizing tone, and the gross editorializing, it would be difficult to recommend this book to any library." -- Sandra Collins, SLIS, Univ. of Pittsburgh
In reality, Collins didn't have a problem with Gardner's science criticisms. Collins -- from the more complete look at her review -- is found instead to be yet further independent confirmation that Gardner gave a rational WP:RS critique of the science in the Urantia Book, the opposite of your view.
On the topic of the "denial of hell" phrase, I fixed it to state "annhilationism". Wazronk (talk) 04:34, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Recent citations not matching sources[edit]

The following was recently added to the lead of the article:

Critics claim the Urantia Book is fanciful fiction[5] with little scientific or Biblical basis.[6] Scientific analysis reveals flaws and inaccuracies not consistent with science.[7] The Urantia Book is not embraced by any mainstream religion.[8] An examination of the Urantia text shows that material from over 150 other documents was plagiarized.[9]

I've reviewed it against the sources that were cited and found that the citations don't support the statements. Three of the citations (5, 6, 8) seem to have been picked randomly from elsewhere in the article and don't have any relation to the statements they were attached to. One source (7) could as easily be used to make a claim opposite to what was put in the lead, and the other source (9) had its number erroneously inflated ("125" -> "150") and then was used to make a significantly more definitive claim ("150 documents were plagiarized") than what the source says. Not even Gardner, a staunch critic, believed everything Block found was an instance of plagiarism, and that was only from the more limited number of possible source materials that Gardner evaluated, rather than the 125 that Block claimed to have found but didn't fully disclose to Gooch or Gardner.

Obviously, as can be seen from the rest of the wikipedia article, the spirit of what was added to the lead-in isn't drastically at odds with what could be gathered as documented criticisms from sources. But not only were the specific citations inaccurate, the language used was more absolute than is in the sources. Also, for topics with multiple POV angles such as criticisms, it would be necessary for WP:NPOV that these be presented more fully from the major perspectives. It doesn't seem to me like the lead of the article is the place for it.

Further details from my evaluation of the sources that were cited:

  • [5] - House pg 254 -- This page is the second page of House's chapter on Urantia. It is a continuation of an introduction that summarizes basic information about the book and the small religious movement around it. There is nothing assessing it as "fiction" or "fanciful fiction".
  • [6] - Gooch pgs 21-22 -- There isn't any discussion on these pages saying there is "little scientific or Biblical basis". If anything is of note along these lines it's probably the opposite, a Gardner quote on pg 22 about how he found that parts of the Urantia Book seemed to agreeably reflect the liberal Protestantism of Harry Emerson Fosdick.
  • [7] - McMenamin -- McMenamin PhD, a professor of geology, was added to this article originally because of his remarks that the Urantia Book was "precocious" and surprising in how it includes material that anticipated some scientific geological discoveries that came after it was published. He does also say there is scientifically untenable material in the book as well (which is also in the article already). To use him as just a one-sided source however that "scientific analysis reveals flaws and inaccuracies not consistent with science" isn't an accurate or NPOV use of this source.
  • [8] - Gardner pg 168 -- This page from Gardner's book is from the middle of his chapter comparing the Urantia Book to the obscure Oahspe book and has no statements or discussions at all about "mainstream religion". On this page mainly Gardner compares points about Oahspe cosmology versus Urantia Book cosmology.
  • [9] - Gooch pg 48 -- Gooch on this page of his book writes that Matthew Block claims to have found over 125 source texts. This is described later in the wikipedia article correctly. The recently added lead-in statement above said: "An examination of the Urantia text shows that material from over 150 other documents was plagiarized." First, the number "150" is incorrect. Secondly, the actual 125 number was in Gooch's book only as an unconfirmed claim Block made to him. Block wanted to write his own book and so didn't share the details about everything he thought he'd found (he hasn't published this book however from what I've found). The "125" claim in Gooch's book wasn't fully evaluated by either Gooch or Gardner, who are the two real WP:RS evaluators on this topic for purposes of the wikipedia article. (Brad Gooch a PhD English professor and Martin Gardner a professional writer, their books published WP:RS, while Block on the other hand doesn't have credentials and only self-publishes.) While some notable examples of Block's finds were independently assessed by Gardner and Gooch and found by them to be clear examples of the UB taking from other published sources, other of Block's finds were considered a lot more tenuous and not clear plagiarisms to them. The "125" number from Block can't be said to be a definitive WP:RS encyclopedic fact as to the number of "plagiarized" sources like was added to the article lead. It isn't supported by either the Gooch citation that was attached to it or by Gardner's assessments. Wazronk (talk) 04:48, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

Questionable source[edit]

Xaxafrad is right. We can't talk about questionable source in section "Adventism". I have created a new section.

To Jaworski: No, it isn't the case that Collins supports your opinion. You've wanted this article to advertise the UB as having "prophetic science", and you've brought up this fragment of a Collins quote about 4 or 5 times in the past, including inserting it into the "Science criticisms" section of the article a number of times as being a "severe critic" of Gardner, as if this librarian's review somehow then negated the science criticisms Gardner documented. But you know what? I looked it up and this is what I found she actually wrote:

"He rationally debunks much of the science of the Urantian Book, but gives little in the way of historic-critical analysis, systematic theology, or basic religious history, focusing more on denigrating quirky personalities. In addition, the author assumes a thorough understanding of Seventh-Day Adventism. Given the lack of scholarly distance from the subject, the patronizing tone, and the gross editorializing, it would be difficult to recommend this book to any library." -- Sandra Collins, SLIS, Univ. of Pittsburgh

In reality, Collins didn't have a problem with Gardner's science criticisms. Collins -- from the more complete look at her review -- is found instead to be yet further independent confirmation that Gardner gave a rational WP:RS critique of the science in the Urantia Book, the opposite of your view

Thank you for inserting here the whole quotation. Actually it even better supports my opinion that Gardner is questionable source. We don't discuss UB science here. If we add to this Sarah Lewis opinion, which you didn't comment: "His research is worth noting, although his position as a great skeptic does not allow his conclusions much academic credibility" the picture is complete.

Now let's see the Wikipedia guideline about questionable sources WP:QS


Questionable sources are those that have a poor reputation for checking the facts, lack meaningful editorial oversight, or have an apparent conflict of interest.[8] Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional, or that rely heavily on unsubstantiated gossip, rumor or personal opinion. Questionable sources should only be used as sources of material on themselves, especially in articles about themselves; see below. They are not suitable sources for contentious claims about others.


I did my own "homework" comparing Gardner statements with the text of UB and I found so many nonsense in Gardner work that I can't believe he read the whole UB, not only specific fragments. Such comparison requires very good knowledge of both books. But in the final analysis editors decide about the reliability of source according to Wikipedia guideline, and I will be happy to hear more opinions here. My proposition is to create article without any promotion of prophetic science and without Gardner controversial criticism. The draft is here. I believe such text can satisfy most of editors and finish the dispute which continues nearly from the beginning of this article. Jaworski (talk) 01:42, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

This attitude toward Gardner is nothing new. The fact is he's well-established as WP:RS for this sort of topic. From Gardner's wiki page:
Gardner's uncompromising attitude toward pseudoscience made him one of the foremost anti-pseudoscience polemicists of the 20th century.[2] His book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (1952, revised 1957) is a classic and seminal work of the skeptical movement. It explored myriad dubious outlooks and projects including Fletcherism, creationism, food faddism, Charles Fort, Rudolf Steiner, Scientology, Dianetics, UFOs, dowsing, extra-sensory perception, the Bates method, and psychokinesis. This book and his subsequent efforts (Science: Good, Bad and Bogus, 1981; Order and Surprise, 1983, Gardner's Whys & Wherefores, 1989, etc.) earned him a wealth of detractors and antagonists in the fields of "fringe science" and New Age philosophy, with many of whom he kept up running dialogs (both public and private) for decades.
On August 21, 2010, Gardner was posthumously honored with an award recognizing his contributions in the skeptical field, from the Independent Investigations Group during its 10th Anniversary Gala.[3]
You're just one of a long line of "detractors and antagonists in the fields of fringe science and New Age philosophy" that have disliked Gardner. Him and his publishers have plenty enough of a reputation for fact checking and reliability for wikipedia. Collins herself in her review notes his being a regular contributor to Scientific American. Collins was writing as a librarian advising other librarians on what she felt would be worth including in their collections (her review was published in Library Journal, a trade publication for librarians). She just felt his book didn't cover the topics she would have preferred -- "gives little in the way of historic-critical analysis, systematic theology, or basic religious history, focusing more on denigrating quirky personalities" -- while at the same time specifically noting his science criticisms of the UB were a rational debunking. (Meanwhile, her review didn't even have much impact, there are multiple libraries in my area at least that have Gardner's book. It's how I first read it.) Lewis wrote that "his research is worth noting". It's not like everyone has to universally praise all aspects of a work for all purposes in order for it to be a source for wikipedia. There's no doubt Gardner is WP:RS as used in the article. Wazronk (talk) 19:39, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
You very easy jumped to the conclusion that I am "one of a long line of detractors and antagonists in the fields of fringe science and New Age philosophy". I am talking here about the opinions of two university lecturers regarding Gardner book and it would be rather difficult to sweep these opinions under the carpet. The number of mistakes in Gardner book discredits it as a reliable source. Gardner writes about 9 planets in Solar System to prove his theory that UB statement about 12 planets is wrong. More planets were discovered a few years before the second publication of his book but this fact oddly escaped author attention. He changed the date of neutrino discovery from 1956 to 1953 to show that existence of this particle was proved before the year of first UB publication (1955). Using a simply but dirty trick, calling all angels and other celestial beings "gods" Gardner persistently speaks about UB polytheism. According to Gardner, Jesus toured Far East and the largest pigeons were trained as "passenger birds" to carry humans; Urantians worship angels (angelolatry), these angels which "move rapidly about in nonmaterial Etherean spirit ships". All these information are pure nonsense and they don't exist in UB, and this is only the top of iceberg. I can quote much more. The number of false and misleading information in Gardner’s book is stunning but maybe such depart from the statements of UB is the only way to discredit this book. If any book about the Bible would contain so many misstatement of its text, nobody will regard such book seriously. But the Bible is better or worse known by many people, contrary to The Urantia Book and Gardner used this fact to discredit it to discourage potential readers. You are doing the same job on Wikipedia. For me to approve Gardner book as reliable source is to deny obvious facts. Jaworski (talk) 01:26, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately you're zero out of two with sourcing of criticism you've offered up. Another reason I'm unconvinced by your argumentation is that for Lewis, I looked that one up too and re-read it, and like with Collins, found again you've selectively truncated a quote, left out the context, and on top of that didn't notice that Lewis wasn't even talking about Gardner's book. For the record, this is the fuller Lewis quote:
"Martin Gardner[43] is one of the few people outside the Urantia Foundation who has undertaken research into the movement. His research is worth noting, although his position as a great skeptic does not allow his conclusions much academic credibility. Gardner believes that he has unearthed the identity of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ (he says it was a man called Wilfred Kellogg) and appears to think that this somehow discredits the Revelation. But knowing the identity of the ‘‘sleeping subject’’ does not at all prove that the Revelation was false."
Lewis didn't agree with Gardner's conclusion about the sleeping subject as is clear not only from the quote but all the material around it. That was what she talked about not having "academic credibility" to her. Her information that is contrary to Gardner isn't "swept under the carpet" as you say, it has already been included in the wikipedia article (that statistical analysis shows at least 9 authors etc), as is also Gooch's conclusion about the origin of the UB (that Sadler probably wrote it).
The fact of the matter beyond this is that you're wrong that Lewis was talking about Gardner's book. The citation Lewis made ([43]) to Gardner wasn't to "Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery, it was to "Gardner, On the Wild Side, p. 103." She in fact had no assessment about his detailed science criticisms or any review of his full book which is the actual source used for the wikipedia article. Wazronk (talk) 21:57, 22 June 2014 (UTC)
Concur with Wazronk. I don't see any valid evidence to dispute Gardner's book as RS for the content it supports. - - MrBill3 (talk) 04:53, 23 June 2014 (UTC)