Episode:Evolutionary Religion—Sin and Atonement (Part 1)

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April 10, 2018 [Paper 89:0.1-2.2, p. 974]

Primitive man regarded himself as being in debt to the spirits, as standing in need of redemption. As time passed, this concept developed into the doctrine of sin and salvation. The soul was looked upon as coming into the world under forfeit—original sin. And the whole subsequent sacrificial system grew up around myriad ideas of sins of commission, later supplemented with sundry sins of omission.

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Keywords: Urantia, Religion, Sin, Taboo, Self-Control



Summary by Kermit

Commentary on the Review

We recognize that much of modern day religion consists of more sophisticated and complex variations on practices and concepts of the ancients. Prayer is mentioned by the revelators as indispensable to the progress and preservation of religious civilization. Primitive prayer was a natural designed response of man to the challenges and uncertainties of evolutionary life. Genuine prayer is a personal superimposition of spirit upon mind to alter what mind naturally does. The critical difference between the natural prayer of early man (and present-day man as well), and true prayer is that true prayer is purely spiritual, separate from material considerations. Natural prayer is beneficial in that it helps reduce fear, contributes to self-restraint, and looks beyond the self for superhuman help.

The revelators point out the stark situation that at the time of their writing the peoples of the world were equally divided between those grasping for the light of truth and the facts of scientific discovery and others languishing in the arms of ancient superstition and thinly disguised magic.

Go to the archive of this broadcast for more details of the elemental workings of body, mind, spirit and personality with respect to the natural and unnatural modes of prayer. Of particular interest is the process of using the personal faith grasp on spirit to transmute animal fear into focus. Listen also to the archive where righteousness and self-righteousness are explored in terms of positive and negative unnatural human activities.


Paper 89: Sin, Sacrifice, and Atonement

Avoid the purely historical approach to this material and note the references to primitive man can be viewed as referring to that which the ancients as well as moderns do naturally. Primitive man’s sense of indebtedness to the spirits, and thus standing in need of redemption is foundational to those concepts and practices which characterize evolutionary religion e.g., original sin. The naturalness of this idea can be seen in our animal ancestors. We are told that the dawn mammals possessed a sense of self-abasement bordering on shame and remorse. Further, they were described as being very affectionate and touchingly loyal to their mates. To many these qualities would be praiseworthy human behaviors. Surely, we material mortals can aspire to greater heights.


89:1. The Taboo

Observance of taboos was man’s effort to dodge bad luck by avoiding something. Nonreligious to begin with, they were early sanctioned by ghosts and spirits, eventually became foundational to human laws and institutions. Parallels today can be found in terms like “politically incorrect.” The importance of the taboo in establishing ceremonial standards, leading to primitive self-control is hard to overemphasize, as it still functions as a basic unit of social regulation. Routinely perceived as of divine origin, in reality taboos are man-made and imposed by society.

Taboos were upheld by fear and reinforced by the occasional fright induced demise of transgressors. As man’s capacity for abstraction increased and the religious element in taboo grew, things unclean evolved to things unholy. And with the religious element came the eternalization of the taboo. With time the list of taboos grew to encompass virtually every facet of primitive man’s life. Consolidation of the myriad of “thou shalt nots” oppressing the ancients into the commandments of Dalamatia and Eden represented real liberation for mankind as well as promising enhanced prosperity (yet not necessarily salvation) for obedience. As effective as taboos were in social regulation, they were likewise burdensome. Notwithstanding the cost of vast treasure, effort, and sacrifice the self-control thus acquired were the real rungs on which man climbed civilization’s ascending ladder.


89:2. The Concept of Sin

The fear foundation of primitive religion and its evolution through spirits and fetishes gave rise to the pervasive prohibitions of manifold taboos. With the evolution of dual spiritism and the religious sanction of taboo the concept of sin was born. Note all of this evolutionary development occurred before the advent of revelatory religion on our world. Sin was the transgression of taboo and the wages of sin was death. By such logic was the phenomenon of natural death explained. It is only now with the 5th ER that we can begin to understand the new definition of sin, still all but unknown, as the deliberate disloyalty to Deity.


Notes by Brad

  • Don't let prayer be a synonym for magic. This is challenging when confronted with an ill child or family member.
    • "It's complicated." Prayer serves an early and very natural function in civilization. We're designed to pray.
    • But what if you want to advance, and being using your personality to begin to not behave naturally?
    • It can seem easy to become analytical about prayer in this transition. "Adolescence" is another name for this transition, and we all know it's a challenging time for individuals.
    • We can at least know something of what we're striving for in this reformation of prayer: it looks very different than natural prayer.
    • Can your prayer have not one shred of material issue in it? Doesn't that seem impossible? In a way, sure, but that's the challenge.
    • You'll never progress beyond the natural state of prayer if you're wholly satisfied with how it's serving you.
    • And remember: this beginning effort is doing something useful. It helps you reach out beyond yourself and ask for help. It might lead you to be humble.


  • The emergency: civilization is becoming more and more natural, and thus less and less real.
    • Here we are defining natural as what the body and mind do naturally by virtue of their energy system properties.
    • Only with spirit can unnatural things be engaged. The upper domain of mind in the hourglass analogy.
      • we are given Spirit ministry from the mother: the Holy Spirit
      • we are given Spirit ministry from the Father: Personality
    • Only spirit can show a positive response to a negative stimulus.
      • Of course you need a quality definition of positive and negative.
      • The natural condition: a positive thing done to the body elicits a positive sensation in the mind. And same with negative
      • The unnatural condition: even with a negative thing done to the body, can you transcend the negativity in the mind and have a positive response.
      • But transcend, don't repress. That's what makes it difficult. Why it requires spirit, and true growth.
    • Example: can your animal fear transcend into focus?
    • Can you be humble enough to not proclaim your apparent maturity and unnaturalness from the street corner with a megaphone? If you cannot, then your apparent maturity is an illusion.


  • Think of the first paragraph of Paper 89. To get beyond the apparent historical facts, and to the truth:
    • Consider that "primitive man" is you. Today! "The child of God" regards himself as in debt. Children always do this. Can you do better?
    • How natural is this? Look at the species just before the first humans (dawn mammal). "Self abasement bordering on shame and remorse"


  • Being in debt to the gods is natural; feels like an old glove that just fits. It seems wholly reasonable to children of God.


  • Our most recent euphemism for the taboo? Political incorrectness.
    • But it isn't just a secular or ethical energy. It's taken on a religious air. It's a sin against whatever you've replaced God with (government? the mob? Twitter?).


  • At least the evolution from clean/unclean to holy/unholy is increased abstraction. Abstraction is a human quality.
    • An as odd as shellfish being a taboo, that's nothing compared to all the primitive taboos that were never written down.
    • And what happens if you follow all the old taboos? Prosperity. Easy. So goes the ancient thinking.


  • Why use the word "viand" instead of "food?" What an odd, archaic word, yes? Nah, it's making a fetish out of food.
  • But don't turn your spiritual conscious into an error and evil detector. Respect evolution. Trust the evolutionary process. Perfecting, not perfect. Patience.


  • Download the real God, don't upload the god cult. Primitive religion was invented, yes, but by grace the sincere essence of those primitive beliefs is taken as true.
  • The natural definition of sin is "the wages of sin is death." Transgression of taboo. Especially sex-related ones.
    • Again, though, sin represents an evolution toward more abstract thought.