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Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery Paperback – Aug 1 2008

2.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (Aug. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026229
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026228
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.6 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #669,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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The media has temporarily turned its large but constantly blinking eye away from cult-of-the-day reportage after the Waco conflagration, but such organizations continue to collect adherents. Martin Gardner, best known as mathematical-games-meister for Scientific American, turns his refreshingly unblinking gaze on the origin and continuing growth of the Urantian cult. It is a marvellous study of the ways in which ideas can be propagated through society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

First published in 1955, the Urantia Book, a 2097-page tome hailed by its advocates as the channeled wisdom of celestial beings, posits one infinite God, the great I AM, and billions of lesser gods. It contains pronouncements on evolution, cosmology, physics and quantum mechanics, which Gardner (The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher) finds deeply flawed, and it includes a biography of Jesus that asserts he toured Rome and Greece at ages 28 and 29, becoming an adept of Greek philosophy, mathematics and art. The Urantia cult was founded by two former Seventh-day Adventists?Chicago psychiatrist William Sadler (1875-1969) and his brother-in-law, Wilfred Kellogg (1876-1956), a businessman. In this intriguing expose, Gardner, former Scientific American mathematics columnist, makes a strong case that the Urantia Book is filled with plagiarized passages from other cult books. He also charts bitter schisms among the Urantians and looks at other Adventist splinter groups, notably David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult consumed by flames near Waco, Tex.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Even though Gardner's book is fairly formidable (445 pages; 1.7 pounds), do yourself a favor and read it before you buy and read the Urantia Book (2,097 pages; 4.3 pounds, per Gardner). By doing so, you will hopefully save the cost of buying, the time spent reading, and, most importantly, avoid a possible commitment to the Urantia Book.
I first ran across the Urantia Book (UB) in 1973, bought it and spent months of careful reading before finishing it in early 1974. At that time I got rid of the UB because I felt that, although unconventional, it was essentially Christian and capable of only producing yet another Christian sect, and was therefore limited in perspective and usefulness. The racial and religious prejudices, spread throughout the book but concentrated especially in the Jesus papers, were obvious, and likely not the product of those with a comprehensive view of the world, as assumed by the UB's purported cosmic authors. Because of the UB's complexity and obviously Christian focus, I concluded at the time that the source must be, say, a very cynical Christian mathematician.
Although I have not paid much attention to the UB for the last 30 years, I was very interested to recently run across Gardner's book in the library and to find that my initial reaction to the UB had some elements of truth. From Gardner's book, I learned that the authors of the UB, or at least its editors/compilers, were from a strong Christian (Seventh Day Adventist) background. Also, to date, approximately 50% of the UB has been shown to be directly copied or summarized from a variety of early 20th century religious, scientific, sociological, and historical publications that were available to UB authors prior to its publication in 1955.
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Format: Hardcover
Martin Gardner's book entitled URANTIA: The Great Cult Mystery is a skeptic's critique of The URANTIA Book (UB), a 2097-page compilation of several papers allegedly authored by several 'divine revelators,' each one claiming to be a representative of God's vast celestial hierarchy. These 'authors' were commissioned by their heavenly 'supervisors' to enlighten the inhabitants of this planet (which they call Urantia) as to how mankind has been supposedly misled throughout human history by the errors of religious thinking. The primary target for which the UB 'authors' claim is in need of 'correction' in the arena of religion is the Bible, with all its misconceptions regarding the nature of God, who Jesus was, etc. Mr. Gardner, although not a Bible-believer himself, finds it difficult to accept the truth-claims that these alleged celestial authors present, in light of several factors. To begin with, Gardner takes exception to the many scientific errors to be discovered within the pages of the UB. He devotes two full chapters of his book to illustrate portions of the UB's vast science content which have been rendered outdated because of discoveries made since its publication in 1955. In some cases, the science content became outdated even before the UB was published, and in still others, the purported scientific 'facts' were already incongruent with the science of the time, which can only be attributed as outright errors on the part of these alleged higher minds! Why would these divine revelators allow the publishing of such self-damning evidence?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Given that Martin Gardner is a skeptic, and that the Urantia book is a so-called "revealed" Bible-like text which mixes Christianity, philosophy, history, and many strange, wild, and often nutty ideas, Gardner's book is primarily worth reading for the history and background of the Urantia Book and movement based upon it. Gardner's opinions are condescending and nasty at times, but one expects that from so harsh a critic of spirituality as he. I am a liberal Christian and an open-minded skeptic, not a "Urantian", yet I have read much of the Urantia Book and know many Urantians, good people all of them. While I am generally skeptical of any claims of spiritual revelation, I have found the Urantia movement peaceful and positive in nature, not worthy of being labeled "cult" and lumped in with Waco, Heaven's Gate, etc. I do not buy most of what the Urantia Book claims as reality, but that does not mean I do not respect much of what the readers stand for. I do believe Martin Gardner has done us all a service in tracking the cloudy history of the Urantia movement and how "the book" came to be, and I believe as he that the U Book is simply a creation of human minds. Educated human minds, but human minds, nonetheless. Yet that does not lessen my appreciation for the merits of the U Book, it's devoted readers, and the message it tries to get across. I would recommend this book with very few reservations, to all Urantia readers and believers, and anyone interested in the real history of the movement. It not only enhanced my understanding of the U Book, it filled in most of the blanks on the creation of that mammoth text. To Urantians afraid of reading this book or critical of Gardner, I believe you do yourselves and your movement a disservice. I would invite you to open the windows a bit. Start with this book.
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