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Science, Anthropology and Archaeology
in The Urantia Book

Part 5
Contentious Materials
There are some much discussed statements in The Urantia Book
that have achieved notoriety over a long period.
A few of these are presented in this Part.

One Hundred Stable Elements
Chromosome Numbers
Mercury and the Moon

One Hundred Stable Elements

"Not every world will show one hundred recognizable elements at the surface, but they are somewhere present, have been present, or are in process of evolution. Conditions surrounding the origin and subsequent evolution of a planet determine how many of the one hundred atomic types will be observable. The heavier atoms are not found on the surface of many worlds. Even on Urantia the known heavier elements manifest a tendency to fly to pieces, as is illustrated by radium behavior." (541) "In Orvonton it has never been possible naturally to assemble over one hundred orbital electrons in one atomic system. When one hundred and one have been artificially introduced into the orbital field, the result has always been the instantaneous disruption of the central proton with the wild dispersion of the electrons and other liberated energies." (478) (The quoted text is from the first edition printing. The second and subsequent printings state, "well-nigh instantaneous")

For proton in the second quotation, read nucleus. The neutron was not discovered until 1932 and the original for this paper possibly existed well before that time. Electrons and protons had been known from much earlier times. Perhaps the original said "central protons" meaning the central body or nucleus of the atom, and was overlooked when updated after 1932. There are two other bothersome words in the second paragraph, the first being naturally, the second, instantaneous. Element 100 is fermium. It was first detected in the debris of a hydrogen bomb explosion in 1952. Its most stable isotope has a half life of 80 days. It would be expected to occur "naturally" at some stage during the life time of many stars—and perhaps on planets as a result of activity of fissionable materials.

Element 101 is mendelevium. Mendelevium 256 was first produced in 1955 by bombarding an isotope of element 99, einsteinium 253, with alpha particles accelerated in a cyclotron. It had a half life of 1.3 hours. Mendelevium 258 has since been synthesized and has a half-life of 54 days. Whether either is produced by a "natural" process in a star is a matter for debate, but whether they would ever occur on a world (planet) via a natural process appears to be unlikely.

What is considered to be an "artificial" process on Orvonton for introducing one hundred and one electrons into an atomic nucleus is unknown to us. If such a process only produces the more unstable isotopes, then "instantaneous" may be a suitable word to describe their disruption. If mendelevium 256 with a half life of 1.3 hours is produced, then the use of that word is either inaccurate or had a different meaning to what it has now acquired in the latter part of the twentieth century. No material physical process can be timeless. Whereas a hundredth of a second may have passed for instantaneous a few years ago, technology has now shifted its meaning by many orders of magnitude. However for a "sleeping" survivor awaiting a planetary dispensation, on awakening, even two thousand years is but an instant. Certainly the unstable radioactive elements commence to disrupt "instantaneously" once produced but, in this case, the use of a word such as rapid would appear to have been more appropriate. Perhaps it is worth noting that the word "instant" gets a dictionary definition (Collins) of "urgent; pressing; immediate; belonging to the current month."

Many elements of atomic number greater than 101 have now been produced. All demonstrate a "tendency to fly to pieces." All have very short half lives.

Chromosome Numbers

"The life circuits caused the chromosomes of the specialized Urantia pattern to reorganize..."(857)

"On Urantia there are forty eight units of pattern control in the sex cells of human reproduction." (397)

Until 1954, it was believed that the human chromosome count was forty eight. In that year, Hintjio and Levan showed that the correct count is forty six. Hence, many have argued that the forty eight units of pattern control mentioned in The Urantia Book is a mistake. However, since the mandate proscribed the supply of unearned knowledge, others believe that the revelators simply gave us the best available information at the time of receipt of the Papers. Some argue that the mention of sex cells has some significance, that double-stranded DNA carries genes on both strands and, including two strands each from the sex chromosomes (X and Y), there actually are 48 units of pattern control.

Why is it that the revelators use the word "chromosome" on page 857 but refer to forty eight units of "pattern control" on page 397? Obviously the term "chromosome" was known to them.

Assume we have two vehicles, both of them four wheel drive jeeps. Neither has enough power to move a particular log, so we link them together to accomplish the task. Did we use two vehicles or one?

Quoting from The Language of the Genes by S. Jones (1993), "Humans share many genes with the ape family. About a thousand distinct stained bands can be seen in the human chromosome set. Every one is also found in the chimpanzees. The main difference is not the amount of chromosomal material but in its order. Many of the bands have been reshuffled and, in humans, two of the chromosomes have been fused together in the line leading to humans. Thus we have forty six chromosomes in each cell, while the chimps and the gorillas have forty eight."

Personally I have no problem in looking upon the forty six chromosomes of the human race as the same thing as the forty eight units of pattern control of the ape family. After all, humans and chimps share 98.4 percent of their DNA.

In our article "The Origin of Life on Urantia," the significance of the homeobox genes is discussed. These are units of control that direct embryonic development of animals and insects. In mammals, 32 homeoboxes have currently been recognized. Could there be 48? Are these the units of pattern control? Perhaps—but it would be quite a coincidence that there are also forty eight chromosomes in the ape family. It must be kept in mind also, that any serious attempt at an explanation for the 48 units of pattern control must also include an explanation for the series, 12, 24, 48, 96, 192, 384, 768 based upon the primeval 12 inheritance carriers mentioned in The Urantia Book. (397)

S. Jones (1993). The Language of the Genes. (HarperCollins Publishers, Great Britain)

Mercury and the Moon

"The planets nearest the sun were the first to have their revolutions slowed down by tidal friction. Such gravitational influences also contribute to the stabilization of planetary orbits while acting as a brake on the rate of planetary-axial revolution, causing a planet to revolve ever slower until axial revolution ceases, leaving one hemisphere of the planet always turned toward the sun or larger body, as is illustrated by the planet Mercury and by the moon, which always turns the same face toward Urantia". (657) Ever since it was discovered that the planet Mercury is still slowly rotating (period of axial revolution is 58.7 days), readers of the Urantia Papers have entered into a polemic about whether the statement on page 657 is, or is not, an error. An answer to that is that the statement may be ambiguous, capable of being taken in several different ways. One way is "...causing a planet to revolve ever slower {as is the case with the planet Mercury}, until axial revolution ceases leaving one hemisphere always turned towards the larger body as is illustrated by the moon which always turns the same face towards Urantia." Without further evidence, there is no way to reach a conclusion that would be satisfatory to everyone. Hence it must be left to individual readers to draw their own conclusion.

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