Episode:Evolutionary Religion—Sin and Atonement (Part 2)

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April 17, 2018 [Paper 89:2.3-3.7, p. 975]

The idea of confession and forgiveness early appeared in primitive religion. Then followed all the meaningless schemes of ritualistic purification. Renunciation came as the next step in religious evolution, penance being the negative form of this ofttimes foolish ritual. But all this taught the savage self-control, and that was a worth-while advancement in social evolution.

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Keywords: Urantia, Religion, Self-Denial, Fasting, Celibacy



Summary by Kermit

Commentary on the Review

The post review commentary followed up on the issue of taboos showing up in present day society dressed in contemporary terminology e.g., “political correctness.” As society’s grasp on religion declines, nonreligious taboos take the space previously occupied by the religious taboo at the same time manifesting a religious flavor, taking on an existential imperative. Mankind’s confusion noted in the opening statements of the 5th ER is an inner life malady, amenable through personal cultivation of a genuine inner life. Environmental modifications will not bring about the changes needed to meet the emergency situation on our world. The stresses and challenges of evolutionary life—the apparently negative aspects of life—are designed to provide opportunities for advancing mankind, as individuals to respond positively in accordance with the inner leading of spiritual insight and practical teachings delivered through epochal revelation.

While the absence on our planet of visible, authoritative planetary administrators and helpers may appear to put us at a disadvantage in dealing with our emergency conditions, their work is not to actualize our future, but to potentialize our future ensuring that our destiny of light and life remains within reach. It is the free will choices and decisions of individuals that are necessary to move mankind onward and upward toward light and life.


89:2.3 The Concept of Sin

Initially sin was an act not a thought. The lingering traditions of Dilmun and later traditions of the Garden of Eden led to the idea of a onetime “golden age.” This further reinforced the ideas of the special creation of man and his beginnings in perfection, with the transgression of taboos, i.e., sin being the cause of man’s fall from grace. Transgression of taboo is still the standard definition of sin.

We pursued a side bar discussion concerning the role of epochal revelation noting that dispensational revelations like the Planetary Prince and Adam and Eve, and Jesus which are intended to be universalized planetwide. Whereas the emergency revelations of Melchizedek and The Urantia Book, while fostering the truths of previous revelations are intended to foster the growth of individuals who can be lights shinning in the darkness, now!

This issue led to further discussion of the importance of students of the 5th ER maintaining an attitude of humility and avoiding self-righteousness in living and sharing advanced truths in association with their fellows. This becomes more difficult for heralds of a revelation when its emergency nature is recognized. The resulting urgency can play into a sense of self-importance for saving the world, which can be antidoted by following Jesus’ directive to seek first the kingdom of heaven, which he goes on to declare is within you!

Taboo violations became bound up with vice, crime and sin depending on whether viewed from the secular or religious perspective. The association of prosperity with righteousness led to the inventions of hell or hells to deal with the wealthy wicked. The early appearance of the ideas of confession and forgiveness in primitive religion gave rise to all manner of ritualistic schemes of purification. As is so often the case with evolutionary dynamics unrecognized benefits can accrue from meaningless ceremonies. Many apparently hygienic customs of early tribes were largely ceremonial. And of course, seeking forgiveness from the real God, who is love is still greatly misunderstood.


89:3 Renunciation and Humiliation

Renunciation was the next step in religious evolution. Fasting and various forms of abstinence, particularly of a sexual nature appeared. Many forms of renunciation still exist. Putting revelation into these old wineskins serves as an obstacle to their proper interpretation. Renunciation led to a view that property is a spiritual handicap, hence matter is bad and spirit is good, and idea still widely held.

In another illustration of how evolution salvages value from apparently meaningless ceremonies, renunciation had the positive effect on the savage of promoting self-control. So it is that mankind through evolutionary means backs into truth in spite of himself.

Extreme forms of renunciation and humiliation embraced all manner of privation and torture. Vows of self-denial and self-torture took the form of contracts with the gods and represented evolutionary progress in that the gods were supposed to do something definite in return for these self-inflicted trials.

We hastened somewhat through the last two paragraphs of our section and will return thereto for further consideration.


Notes by Brad

  • "That's so wrong it's hard to know where to begin," he says of some thought out there in the world today.
    • Yes. Spirit ministry is having that problem these days, too. Until there is a favorable condition, there's not much it can do with us.
  • The ills of mankind originate within. We aren't helpless victims. Fix yourself.
    • And recognize that a positive response to a negative environmental stimulus is a human response.


  • The value is in the potentiality, not the actuality.
    • Revelation doesn't impose an actuality on it, it ensures there is potentiality. It's up to us to make the choice.
    • Dispensational revelations (1st, 2nd, and 4th) are for everyone on the planet (eventually).
    • Emergency revelations (3rd and 5th) are not meant for everyone. They help maintain the threads from previous revelations, and foster a small set of individual who can be lights shining in the darkness.
      • But that shining light is from the inner life, genuine spiritualized mind. Stay humble. "It's up to me to do something about the emergency!" No, the world will get to light and life without me.


  • Advancing civilization is unnatural--the imposition of human free will.


  • Why is the 5th ER here? To ensure the potential for us to take hold of it is fully in place. No potentials thwarted.
    • But watch out for old wineskins. If you interpret the word prayer in this book as "magic," that's an old wineskin.
    • The most immediate audience for it is the person who can do better than mere natural prayer. We need more unnatural prayer.


  • Dilmun here refers to a city established after Dalamatia was submerged.


  • Imaginary worlds are never straightforward. Reality isn't "wheels within wheels." But we can rationalize anything.
  • If you assume you're born into sin (and never question that assumption) the need for forgiveness rationally follows from that.
    • The real God cannot take offense! Would you need forgiveness from that God?
  • Is the Pope sincere? Earnest? You bet, far more than most. But still confused, by confusing material issues with spiritual issues.


  • What's the point of the material-comfort era?
    • To finally convince us that looking for the spiritual among matter is incorrect. That's nonsense.
  • We need its disillusionment. "Is there something above matter I can predicate my life on?"
  • No matter how sincere your feelings about your outer life, it still isn't the inner life.


  • Evolution helps us to progress in spite of ourselves.
  • An early spiritual consciousness will manifest as an error and evil detector. This writer reports that in his late teens for sure. "Adam and Eve! What jerks they were for doing this to me!"


  • Religious fanaticism is even beyond zeal. And it knows no limits (e.g., voluntary castration)
    • Fanaticism is abuse of spirit energy--of our 3rd cosmic intuition. It's not just natural zeal, which every 20-year old has.


  • Don't despise the material self. That's just a milder form of mortification in the name of spirit (a false concept).