The Spiritual Teachings of The Urantia Book: Synopsis, Part 4
Religion—Causes and Consequences
Religious desire is the hunger quest for divine reality. Religious experience is the realization of the consciousness of having found God. Religious insights, spiritual motivations, lead directly to religious actions, unselfish acts of social service and altruistic benevolence.
If God were not a personality, he could not become a living part of the religious experience of a human personality.
Revealed religion is the unifying element of human existence. Revelation unifies history, co-ordinates geology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, sociology, and psychology. Spiritual experience is the real soul of mankind's cosmos.
Religion is to morality as love is to duty, as sonship is to servitude, as essence is to substance. Morality discloses a mighty Controller, a Deity to be served; religion discloses an all-loving Father, a God to be worshiped and loved. And again, this is because the spiritual potentiality of religion is dominant over the duty actuality of the morality of evolution.
To isolate part of life and call it religion is to disintegrate life and distort religion. And this is just why the God of worship claims all allegiance or none.
The gods of primitive men are, mostly, mere shadows of themselves; whereas the living God is the divine light whose interruptions constitute the creation shadows of all space.
Faith and Reason
Convictions about God may be arrived at through reason, but the individual becomes God-knowing only by faith.
Though reason can always question faith, faith can always supplement both reason and logic. Reason creates the possibility that faith can transform experience into a moral certainty, even a spiritual experience.
God is the first truth and the last fact; therefore does all truth take origin in him, while all facts exist relative to him. God is absolute truth.
One may know God as truth, but to understand, to explain God, one must explore the fact of the universe.
The vast gap between the experience of the truth of God, and ignorance as to the fact of God, can only be bridged by living faith. Reason alone cannot achieve harmony between infinite truth and universal fact.
Meeting with Divinity
True religious practitioners should seek to live and carry on as if already in the presence of the Eternal.
The gospel of Jesus tremendously enhances and supernally exalts every mortal. Mortal existence must be visualized as the meeting of the human up-reach with the divine down reach.
The Universal Father, being self-existent, is also self-explanatory. He actually lives in every rational mortal, wherein his purpose is to be self-revealing. But you cannot be sure about God unless you know him. Our relationship as a child of God is the only experience that makes God's Fatherhood certain.
God is the one and only self-caused fact in the universe. The universe and God are not identical; one is cause, the other effect. The cause is absolute, infinite, eternal, and changeless; the effect both finite or transcendental, but ever changing and ever growing.
Those who would invent a religion without God are like those who would gather fruit without trees, have children without parents. The fact of religious experience implies God, and such a God of personal experience must also be personal.
Of God, the most inescapable of all presences, the most real of all facts, the most living of all truths, the most loving of all friends, the most divine of all values, we have the right to be the most certain of all universe experiences.
While personal religion precedes the evolution of human morals, institutional religion invariably lags behind. But being a matter of inner or personal experience, religion can never develop very far in advance of the intellectual evolution of mankind.
Religion is ever and always rooted in personal experience. And your highest religion, the life of Jesus, was just such a personal experience-man, mortal man, seeking God and finding him to the fullness during one short life in the flesh, while in that same human experience, there appeared God seeking man and finding him. And that is religion, even the highest yet revealed in the universe-the earth life of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Privilege of Choosing
If a moral being chooses to be unselfish when confronted by the urge to be selfish, that is a primitive religious experience. No animal can make such a choice; such a decision is both human and religious.
Unselfishness in the face of selfish choice exhibits the impulse towards social service and embraces the reality of God-consciousness.
Mankind tends to identify selfish urges with the ego-the self; and to identify the will to be altruistic with some outside influence-God. Such a judgment is correct for all such unselfish desires do have their origin in the leading of the indwelling Spirit of the Father.
Regardless of the influence of all primitive contributions to the early religion of mankind, the fact remains that all true religious impulses originate from genuine spirit presences activating the will to be unselfish.
Jesus swept away all of the ceremonials of sacrifice and atonement. He destroyed the basis of fictitious guilt and the sense of isolation in the universe by declaring that we are children of God, that God is our loving Father, and all ceremonials not a legitimate part of such an intimate family relationship are forever abrogated.
God, the Father, deals with his earthly children, not on the basis of actual virtue or worthiness but in recognition of motivation-the creature purpose and intent. The relationship is one of parent-child association and is actuated by divine love.
Jesus enlarged the neighbor scope to embrace the whole of humanity, even that we should love our enemies. And there is something inside of every normal human being that tells him this teaching is moral-right.
All men recognize the morality of the universal human urge to be unselfish and altruistic. The humanist ascribes its origin to the natural outworking of the mind; the religionist more correctly recognizes that all of the truly unselfish drive of the mortal mind is in response to the inner spirit leading of our indwelling God- Spirit.
The pursuit of the ideal-the striving to be God-like-is a continuous effort before death and after. Life after death is no different in its essentials from our mortal existence. Everything we do that is good contributes to the enhancement of the after life. Every mortal gain enriches the immortal survival experience.
It lifts us out from ourselves when once we recognize that there lives and strives within us something that is eternal and divine-the indwelling spirit of the Father.
Man is most truly the architect of his own destiny.
Bridging the Gulf
Revelation is the only hope and the only way than we can bridge the gulf between the material and the spiritual. Unaided, faith and reason cannot conceive or construct a logical universe.
Faith, human religious insight, can be surely instructed only by revelation, can be surely elevated only by personal experience with the indwelling presence of the God who is spirit.
The progression of science is not limited to the terrestrial life of mankind; our universe ascension experience will, to no small degree, be the study of energy transmutation and material metamorphosis.
Logic can never succeed in harmonizing the findings of science and the insights of religion unless both the scientific and religious aspects of a personality are truth dominated, sincerely desirous of following the truth wherever it may lead regardless of the conclusions that may be reached.
What both developing science and religion need is more searching and fearless self-criticism, a greater awareness of incompleteness of evolutionary status.
The truth-an understanding of cosmic relationships, universe facts, and spiritual values-can best be had through ministry of the Spirit of Truth and can best be criticized by revelation. But revelation originates neither a science or a religion; its function is to co-ordinate both with the truth of reality.
In the mortal state nothing can be absolutely proved, both science and religion are predicated on assumptions.
There is a real "proof" of "spiritual reality" in the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God-but the validity of the "proof" is not demonstrable to the external world, but only to the one who thus experiences the indwelling of God.