Friends, please enjoy this brief excerpt from a research paper entitled “Soul-Making Dynamics: The Synthesis, Evolution, and Destiny of the Human Soul.” This is an invited paper that I will be presenting next month at the Integral Theory Conference in Sonoma, CA. In the full paper, I compare the UB’s revealed teaching about the soul to well-known evolutionary concepts of the soul both East and West, focusing especially on Ken Wilber’s so-called integral philosophy. The complete paper (18 pages long) can be found here: TheExperientialSoul(Belitsos). The excerpt below offers my own interpretation and explication of the profound passages about the soul in the Urantia Book; it is also informed by later transmissions from celestial teachers on this subject.
Soul-Making Dynamics (an excerpt)
With respect to the domain of spirituality, the UB teaches a cosmic religion of evolutionary experience—or what might be called “cosmic experimentalism.” I derive this conclusion in part from decades of study of the life and teachings of Jesus (provided in Part IV of the text, running over 700 pages, and based on the purported “angelic record”) and from my reflections on papers 100 through 107, which especially inform the following discussion.
In my reading, the evolutionary import of human experience is the crucial factor in Urantia cosmology. We are told that the aim of the divine creators is to grow high-quality souls—not through esoteric initiations, but through the vicissitudes of the moral challenges faced in ordinary lived experience. Indeed, soul evolution through human decisions is revealed to be the secret of the creation of the space-time domains, the very purpose of the evolution of life from the moment of its implantation by celestial beings on a habitable world. In a real sense, the entire expanse of the evolution of planetary life—which under favorable circumstances culminates in progressive human civilization—is a substantive process that contributes to God’s own evolution; for, as each human soul evolves, God evolves right along with it.
But how can God evolve if, by definition, God is perfect, omniscient, universal, eternal, and infinite? As in some phases of Ken Wilber’s integral theory, The Urantia Book poses a powerful dialectic between God as existential and infinite, and God as evolutional and finite. Put simply: In one phase of God’s divine manifestation, a self-limiting and self-distributing aspect of God incarnates into evolving space-time reality by a variety of “involutional”divine agencies, including the creation of an angelic host (a topic that is outside of the scope of this paper). Of concern for us here is that God makes the evolving part of himself subject to human evolution. In a literal sense, God shares Godself with his creatures—even to the extent of gifting them with a spirit-fragment of himself whose will is subordinate to human will. I noted earlier that this spirit-self, a literal fragment of God, is pre-personal but aiming to achieve “personalness”by way of fusion with the person it is indwelling—a fusion of energies, attributes, and wills. The technical term for this indwelling spirit-self is the Thought Adjuster.
But recall that God provides other high gifts according to Urantia cosmology. He also confers upon each person a Unique Self, or what the Urantia Book calls “personality.” Intrinsic to Unique Self personhood are the prerogatives of free will choice and the ability to enact decisions through the vehicle of the human intellect and animal-origin bodily capacities.
When any given decision participates in divine value, the spirit-self “immortalizes”these experiences in and as the individuating human soul. This soul-making transaction begins with (1) a specific free choice for value, moves next to (2) the spiritizing seizure of this impulse (by the spirit-self), and (3) concludes with the deposit of the “divine transcript”of this immortalized “enaction of human will”within the subtle body (i.e., the potentially immortal soul).
These gifts are like two-way mirrors. They ennoble the human recipient with divine attributes, but they also provide God with an intimate relationship to unfolding human experience.
And this is where cosmic evolution enters the scene.
The celestial authors of the Urantia text identify what might be called the evolutionary “face”of God. They call it “God the Supreme”or the “Supreme Being.” This phase of the godhead is also known as “experiential Deity” and is covered in extensive detail in Papers 115 –117 in the Urantia text.
Think of God the Supreme as the up-to-the-moment “summa”of cosmic evolution in all domains of human experience at any one point in time. He slowly grows to perfection in and through the efforts of his evolving creatures; his evolution encompasses and “totalizes”the soul growth of all beings on all space-time worlds, as well as on worlds in higher dimensions. And his growth in divinity attainment is inclusive of all dimensions of the personal, scientific, social, and cultural evolution of his creatures residing across the universe in diverse and far-flung planetary and higher-dimensional cultures. In essence, the Supreme Being completes himself only to the extent that you and I evolve toward perfection as individuals and as the collective brotherhood/sisterhood of humankind on all worlds. Again, it is soul growth through the appropriation of higher values—spurred on through the agency of the indwelling divine spirit and unified by the endowment of Unique Self—that is the hidden purpose of this process.
God is evolutional as a theologic necessity. God’s original infinity is, paradoxically, a limitation; and, in terms of integral post-metaphysics, God’s infinity-status is a limitation on divine perspective. Infinitude can be a limit on infinity! In Urantia Book terms, God must achieve “freewill liberation from the bonds of infinity and the fetters of eternity.”So, to enlarge his perspective, the God as “Father”designs an escape from the fetters of his infinitude: he creates a finite and evolving universe that offers him a window on finitude as experienced through the “eyes”of his myriad human creatures. As these creatures generate an immortal soul and hopefully survive death through their own choice to do so, and as they ascend through higher-dimensional worlds toward the ultimate embrace of the Divine Person, they continue to provide God with a unique and increasingly sophisticated portal on their unique evolutionary experience. The evolutionary experience of “descending”angelic beings—whose mandate is to support this grand project of cosmic evolution—also provide other perspectives for God to indwell.
And so we can say that in doing all of this, God offers himself a finite perspective, a view on things from the standpoint of “other-than-perfect-God.”But we can even say much more. For the Divine Person multiplies this otherness to its mathematical limit, thereby expanding the possibilities of finite perspectives asymptotically toward infinity. He does this by enabling the evolution of untold trillions of perspectives—that is, he makes possible a material universe of evolving personal beings through whom God receives unlimited perspectives on evolutionary experience. Put another way, all of cosmic plenitude is filled with infinitely unique experiential creatures—and for a good and sufficient divine reason. God distributes his possible perspectives beyond measure because each occasion of personhood “is unique, absolutely unique: It is unique in time and space; it is unique in eternity [and] it is unique when bestowed —there are no duplicates; it is unique during every moment of existence . . . ”(See Paper 112.)
This, then, is God’s “clever” plan: He institutes various techniques of experiencing our evolutionary experiences in an incomplete but perfecting universe. This is why creature experience is the most precious commodity in the universe. It is God’s chief purpose for creating space-time and populating it with billions of inhabited planets and untold trillions of humanoid beings. His divine plan, according to Urantian theology, was to set in motion the adventure of being human on the grandest possible scale, both in quantity and quality. In doing so, God had what we might call an ulterior motive: to allow each human adventure to be unique in all universes—and further, to have an exclusive window on each of our unique experiences of the space-time universe. And this technique affords the Divine Person a nearly infinite set of perspectives on cosmic evolution.