Episode:Evolutionary Religion—Fetishes and Magic (Part 4)

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April 3, 2018 [Paper 88:6, p. 972]

Ancient magic was the cocoon of modern science, indispensable in its time but now no longer useful. White and black smiths were feared as practitioners of white and black magic, a belief fostered by the dual spiritism of religion. But as religion evolved, prayer gradually displaced magic as the associate of sacrifice. Today, Urantia is in the twilight zone of this intellectual evolution.

Listen to the broadcast

Keywords: Urantia, Religion, Magic, Superstition, Prayer

Note: This was James Woodward's last episode as a regular co-host.



Summary by Kermit

Commentary on the Review

We pursued the distinction between information and knowledge. Knowledge is attained through an objective discrimination between appearance and reality. Data (information) whether obtained from observation or instrumentation yields only appearance. Realty is beyond direct observation or measurement. From an objective assessment of appearances, you proceed through philosophic reflection to the reality behind the appearance through the application of logic with the assistance of revelation. The process is the same whether you pursue the realities of matter-energy or the nature of God. Interestingly, mankind recognized the difference between appearance and reality some 2,600 years ago. The pursuit of reality becomes an effort to connect with eternity where truth engages fact.


88:6. The Practice of Magic

More women than men were numbered among the practitioners of magic. Wands, “medicine” ritual, and incantations were employed, with the practitioner working unclothed. The preponderance of women might be explained by the air of mystery in which they were beheld by men. Of note is that these practitioners did not undertake to treat themselves. They sought the assistance and advice of other practitioners.

Magic was applied publically for the good of the tribe by the medicine man, shaman, or priest. Privately, witches, sorcerers, and wizards attempted to coerce the unseen spirits to bring evil upon one’s enemies. As the idea of dual spiritism evolved, religion became separated from magic and allowed magic to progress toward science. In the religious realm magic was replaced by prayer. Magic gradually was ascribed to the spirit operation outside one’s cult. The prayer practices of many religionists today amount to thinly veiled magic.

The authors provide examples of some of the pursuits of magic which ultimately led to scientific disciplines e.g., astrology leading to astronomy, belief in a philosopher’s stone led to the science of metallurgy, and magic numbers yielded the science of mathematics.

As with so many evolutionary steps along the way, progress in one area often had unfortunate consequences in another. Charms and magic took the place of personal ambition and initiative. Special talent or abilities were frequently looked upon with suspicion. Displaying these qualities could result in being killed.

Science is gradually removing the gambling element from life. However, should modern methods of education fail, mankind would speedily revert to primitive beliefs in magic. The human race still harbors superstitious notions and beliefs in magic as betrayed by words still in use today e.g., spellbound, ill-starred, possessions, etc. As our author points out magic was the cocoon of modern science, indispensable in its time but now no longer useful. And yet today our world is in a twilight zone of intellectual evolution with half grasping eagerly for the light of truth and the facts of scientific discovery, with the remaining half languishing in the arms of ancient superstition and thinly disguised magic.


James Woodward’s Commentary

One of our original co-hosts, James Woodward announced his departure from the role of SoS co-host. Several long time listeners and supporters of this broadcast called in to express their appreciation for his many cross reference citations as well as his role as unofficial master of ceremonies.

James’ concluded with some final remarks encouraging students of the revelation to gather regularly in study groups to share insights and friendship on a personal level, face to face. He touted the great value of using search engines to drill deeper into the revelators’ use of language. Word and phrase searches provide eye opening insights into the various nuanced meanings of commonly used words.

And finally, he entreated us all to cultivate our inner life in our quest for the divine communion of true worship. True religion is found in the inner life of personal spiritual experience

We eagerly look for James to return to SoS from time to time as caller and guest co-host.


Brad's Notes on James' Closing Thoughts

I've had three main themes over the years:

  • Form study groups.
    • Relationships, we learn from the 5th ER, are inherently valuable. And there's no substitute for in person, personal contact.
    • Beyond just study, this is about friendship.
    • Remember that Jesus walked many miles to share the good news.
    • Help teach someone. Learn something for someone.
    • Support study groups. Form one if you can or if it's needed.


  • Word and phrase searches
    • Studying how and where a word is used in the 5th ER can reveal meaning.
    • There are compendiums of this material, and study tools.


  • Seek true religion
    • Prayer has been over-emphasized these days. Don't seek true religion in prayer.
    • Personal spiritual experience is in the inner life. We go inside to go to God.
    • Inside is the conductor of our communion (worship) with the divine--the Thought Adjuster.


Is this all theoretical to you? Don't let it be. Take off your lab coat, reflect, and experience it directly!


Notes by Brad

  • Knowledge is much harder to obtain than is popularly thought these days.
    • Many scientists use the word data and information interchangeably.
    • Also need to think about appearance and reality. But don't think simplistically about these terms. They both are high concepts. Neither has to do with our fuzzy subjectivity.
    • All science can ever have access to is the appearance.
    • Reality cannot be observed. Reality cannot be measured! Stay humble, folks.
    • A scientist's job is to get an excellent assessment of appearances.
      • Then, next, undertake philosophic efforts. Use insight to penetrate beneath the appearance.
    • Here's a flatly false statement: "what the instrument measures is a description of reality"
    • Say this, and you've short circuited the ability to gain knowledge--to penetrate beyond appearance.
    • Revelation can help us get beyond appearances.
    • The Encyclopedia Britannica is just information. Only a human can penetrate to knowledge, and certainly on a human can seek truth.


  • Also, remember there is only truth of eternity, no truth of time (not in any direct sense).


  • There are many many ways in which magic appears to be real.
  • The shaman can be a medicine man or priest. The sorcerer can be a witch or a wizard.
  • Accusing those outside of your tribe of practicing inferior magic, so as to set you own tribe off as superior to them? Well, that's at least evolving some vertical-ness. And we call that... prayer.
  • Is your prayer magic? Try substituting the word magic for it and see if it holds. Hmm.


  • We've heard that astrology begat astronomy, sure. But have you, as in Section 6 here, thought of that fact in the wider context of religion and its relation to evolution? That's the potential revelation here.


  • Why is this sad to record? Because we have so much of what we need to be more than primitive humans these days. But many are willing themselves into ignorance.


  • Natural is not evil. It's fine to reflect on food, for example, and want to avoid some horrendous chemicals. Didn't Adam and Eve eat natural food?
    • Just be careful: if you open this door, many other more pernicious, magical thoughts can sneak in. That's the point the 5th ER is trying to make.
  • And watch out for being "anti-" something.
    • Spirit is not anti-matter
    • If you're anti-materialist, all you're doing is pouring gasoline on the materialist fire
    • Because you must in some manner become what you hate in order to be anti- toward it.