Further Evolution of Religion

Religion can never become a scientific fact. Philosophy may, indeed, rest on a scientific basis, but religion will ever remain either evolutionary or revelatory, or a possible combination of both, as it is in the world today.

New religions cannot be invented; they are either evolved, or else they are suddenly revealed. All new evolutionary religions are merely advancing expressions of the old beliefs, new adaptations and adjustments. The old does not cease to exist; it is merged with the new, even as Sikhism budded and blossomed out of the soil and forms of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and other contemporary cults. Primitive religion was very democratic; the savage was quick to borrow or lend. Only with revealed religion did autocratic and intolerant theologic egotism appear.

The many religions of Urantia are all good to the extent that they bring man to God and bring the realization of the Father to man. It is a fallacy for any group of religionists to conceive of their creed as The Truth; such attitudes bespeak more of theological arrogance than of certainty of faith. There is not a Urantia religion that could not profitably study and assimilate the best of the truths contained in every other faith, for all contain truth. Religionists would do better to borrow the best in their neighbors’ living spiritual faith rather than to denounce the worst in their lingering superstitions and outworn rituals.

All these religions have arisen as a result of man’s variable intellectual response to his identical spiritual leading. They can never hope to attain a uniformity of creeds, dogmas, and rituals — these are intellectual; but they can, and some day will, realize a unity in true worship of the Father of all, for this is spiritual, and it is forever true, in the spirit all men are equal.

Primitive religion was largely a material-value consciousness, but civilization elevates religious values, for true religion is the devotion of the self to the service of meaningful and supreme values. As religion evolves, ethics becomes the philosophy of morals, and morality becomes the discipline of self by the standards of highest meanings and supreme values — divine and spiritual ideals. And thus religion becomes a spontaneous and exquisite devotion, the living experience of the loyalty of love.

The quality of a religion is indicated by:

1. Level of values — loyalties.*

2. Depth of meanings — the sensitization of the individual to the idealistic appreciation of these highest values.

3. Consecration intensity — the degree of devotion to these divine values.

4. The unfettered progress of the personality in this cosmic path of idealistic spiritual living, realization of sonship with God and never-ending progressive citizenship in the universe.

Religious meanings progress in self-consciousness when the child transfers his ideas of omnipotence from his parents to God. And the entire religious experience of such a child is largely dependent on whether fear or love has dominated the parent-child relationship. Slaves have always experienced great difficulty in transferring their master-fear into concepts of God-love. Civilization, science, and advanced religions must deliver mankind from those fears born of the dread of natural phenomena. And so should greater enlightenment deliver educated mortals from all dependence on intermediaries in communion with Deity.

These intermediate stages of idolatrous hesitation in the transfer of veneration from the human and the visible to the divine and invisible are inevitable, but they should be shortened by the consciousness of the facilitating ministry of the indwelling divine spirit. Nevertheless, man has been profoundly influenced, not only by his concepts of Deity, but also by the character of the heroes whom he has chosen to honor. It is most unfortunate that those who have come to venerate the divine and risen Christ should have overlooked the man — the valiant and courageous hero — Joshua ben Joseph.

Modern man is adequately self-conscious of religion, but his worshipful customs are confused and discredited by his accelerated social metamorphosis and unprecedented scientific developments. Thinking men and women want religion redefined, and this demand will compel religion to re-evaluate itself.

Modern man is confronted with the task of making more readjustments of human values in one generation than have been made in two thousand years. And this all influences the social attitude toward religion, for religion is a way of living as well as a technique of thinking.

True religion must ever be, at one and the same time, the eternal foundation and the guiding star of all enduring civilizations.

Reference

Urantia Book. (1955). Further Evolution of Religion. Chicago, IL: Urantia Foundation.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matt 7:20).

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