Finding & Framing Truth

Twenty eight years ago Carl Sagan’s TV series “Cosmos” was first shown. The content is now dated, and easily forgotten, but who could forget his sincerity, and the enthusiasm with which he presented what at the time were revelations to the public about the cosmic context of mankind? The unveiled joy and unfeigned awe with which he presented these things provoked many a cynical and ‘scientifically literate’ interviewer to ask, “So is all this the handiwork of God? Do you believe in a Creator?” To whom he would issue the rhetorical challenge: “Whatever your mathematics or your gods, they will have to explain… this!” as he dialled up yet another astrophysical wonder on the view-screen of his virtual starship.

Together with the interviewer, we would catch his benign virus, suspend our disbelief and gaze at the marvels he revealed. Gently he taunted both materialists and religionists, pointing to the insufficiencies in their “frames-for-thought”. He provoked both camps to reach beyond their box, not to settle for another’s assumptions, not to bind themselves about with prejudice and preconception, to untangle themselves from old assumptions about truth, of both the mystical and materialist kind.

But while dismissing outworn and untenable beliefs, he fostered the idea that humans exist at the edge of something wonderful; that we are able—and free—to glimpse something numinous hinted at by truth; to feel it made manifest in the beauty and power of the cosmos. He left hanging the questions of if, and by what means, we might interact with ‘the numinous’, this indefinable foundation and font of reality. He allowed skeptics the freedom to reflect, without the pressure of having to argue or agree.

This fresh approach to exploring reality struck a chord, especially within those who had out-grown traditional systems of belief, yet who knew first-hand the response that comes from intimacy with the divine. Such souls could no longer subscribe to spurious beliefs conjured by sacred texts, but their hunger, and passion for seeking truth, was as strong as ever. After his death, Carl’s collaborator and third wife Ann Druyan wrote:

“Why do we separate the scientific, which is just a way of searching for truth, from what we hold sacred, which are those truths that inspire love and awe? Science is nothing more than a never-ending search for truth. What could be more profoundly sacred than that?”

There is never conflict between true knowledge and truth. There may be conflict between knowledge and human beliefs, … [The Urantia Book, page1459:4]

The relationship between faith and belief, between understanding and fact and truth, continues to tease those with time to reflect. The materialist creed includes the idea that if something is not proven, one ought not assume it to be true; that mankind’s reservoir of truth should be filled only with the essence of that which we can prove. But there is a problem with this modern materialist ideal, of planetary man carving his own path, of accumulating knowledge and wisdom via incremental evolutionary discovery: progress can be haphazard, and facts can be glimpsed out of context. Like quantum mechanics: we discovered the flickering, oscillatory nature of matter before learning about that which flickers. This led scientists into a frame-for-thought (cage?) built upon indeterminism and chance. Knowledge of the ultimaton might have shunted science around this conceptual bottleneck; and to think the ultimaton was revealed at that very moment when scientists most needed this crucial clue.

But truth can never become man’s possession without the exercise of faith. This is true because man’s thoughts, wisdom, ethics, and ideals will never rise higher than his faith, his sublime hope. [The Urantia Book, page1459:5]

For the generation that grew up with the Beatles and “Star Trek”, Carl was a catalyst helping to blend science and the mathematical with the personal and the numinous. He urged us to feel out the way towards truth, then to stride beyond our childhood frames and find it!

Man must think in a mortal universe frame, but that does not mean that he cannot envision other and higher frames within which thought can take place. [The Urantia Book, page 1260:3]

Sagan’s exploration of truth continued in his novel “Contact”. In the 1996 film adaptation, he weaves together the lives of a scientist and a religionist, two characters that epitomize respectively a rational and a faith-based approach to life. Both the scientist Ellie Arroway and the religionist Palmer Joss are on the hunt for truth, of the deepest and widest kind. But their love for each other is grated upon by what seems to be the incompatibility of their views about how truth is best discovered. The movie reaches a climax when the scientist (Ellie), in the middle of a relativistic ride to the center of the galaxy, is forced by tears of joy to halt her methodical report. Her voice and breath taken away by [the truth in] what she sees, she can only mutter: “too beautiful… they should have sent a poet.”

Sagan ends the story when these characters glimpse that, having started from opposite sides of a conceptual divide, their relentless and uncompromising journeys have brought them to what seems be the same place. But when asked by their fellows to prove, or even to describe, their personal discoveries, both realize that such description lies beyond where reason can go—beyond the “full philosophic limit”; and that interaction with truth by mortals is mediated by faith.

As readers of the Urantia Papers, we can see that such authors and characters seem ready to engage a frame for thought unimaginable by humanity until now. But many such modern mortals have learned to seek proof rather than to apply (what they believe to be) a discredited mediaeval faith. How could such souls ever be expected to accept “a revelation” such as the Urantia Papers? Likewise, is it realistic to hope that any of the great religious traditions might evolve themselves through the eye a needle into an enlarged fifth epochal frame? For both camps, this is likely a leap too far.

How to bridge the gaps between the present cultures of our world and the frame-for-thought set up by the Urantia Papers? How to accelerate the cultures evolved within the “4th epochal frame” so that they might strike step with the 5th?

Transfer between two states implies an interface that touches, and is compatible with, both. Is this not what we are? As contemporary humans that have endured a reading of the Urantia Papers, have we not become a living bridge between human states old and new? Are we not primed to serve as evolutionary links, helping to inch our world towards Michael’s (Jesus’) better Way, into His sweeter, deeper, and larger truth?

Epochal revelation is a technique for adjusting and expanding the frame for thought used by an influential culture of the day. Melchizedek used Abraham to inject the belief in one all-powerful God, in whom we need only have faith. Jesus used his apostles and his Spirit of Truth to lay a new foundation of truth—that Melchizedek’s all-powerful God is the personal Father of us all. This key support of his frame for thought makes true the fact of the brotherhood of all mankind. And now, the fifth revelation of epochal significance extends our frame again. The Urantia Papers illuminate this truth, and recast this fact in a much expanded frame; and then they dare to go on, to reveal how he is our Father, and imply a glimpse of why.

Man—a moment of opportunity

So how is God our Father, and why? Well, it seems that we are that moment where He aligns two fragments of himself, then waits upon our will. We are that moment of opportunity to zip together these two absolute gifts. We are that moment when Eternity opens and welcomes a new child, or the angels mourn the death of that child whom only we could be.

This is the phenomenon of man: that we launch a Paradise Finaliter, or we murder ourselves. In the Father’s frame He either sees us surf His waves of love into His absolute domain, or He endures the pain of losing that child… whom only we could be.