A Specimen in Our Midst
Now officially live-blogging. At the end of a fascinating panel at the AAR on the use of science by new religious movements, I was approached by a man named Halbert. He handed me a brochure about “History and Science in The Urantia Book: A Unique Case of Credibility,” then summarized its contents to me earnestly. I learned that this angelically-authored Urantia Book, first published in 1955, explains loads of things that are—as we speak—being confirmed by science. Among them: Adam and Eve lived (evolved) a million years ago and Eden was a sunken peninsula near Cyprus. He directed me to UBtheNews, “an independent project by Urantia Book enthusiasts,” to learn more.
I was floored. This guy had just sat though two and half hours of scholars critically assessing how certain new religious movements manipulate science to support their claims, and he thought this would be fertile ground (of all the panels he could have gone to) for doing just that. Maybe I am missing something here, a flabbergasting sign of how the same words can ring utterly differently in different ears. Or about how this specimen has made specimens of the scholars. But the Christian Science practitioner in the room had the perceptiveness to take issue with the condescending language of “legitimation” applied to her tradition.
Anyway, Halbert’s brochure will make a nice addition to my pamphlet collection.
tags: new religious movements, religion & science, stories, tourism