by Philip Calabrese, Ph.D.
Scientific Symposium I 1988
About three years ago I had the good fortune to see a well-documented article entitled, "Seraphic Velocities" by Merritt Horn, writing as academic officer of the Boulder School for Students of The Urantia Book. It appeared in the January 1984 issue of the Planetary Prints, published by the Rocky Mountain Urantia Society of Denver.
More recently I received from Berkeley Elliott of the Oklahoma Society a copy of Dan Massey's 1980 letter in response to an inquiry from Jean Royer concerning this same issue. As Dan succinctly puts it:
The book says some mortals are "repersonalized on the third day after natural death." (*569) This repersonalization requires the presence of the seraphim entrusted with the morontia soul. (*1235) The seraphim can travel at three times the speed of light. (*260) Therefore, Mansonia number one is at most nine days away from Urantia for a being traveling at the speed of light.
In other words, if resurrection on Mansonia World #1 on the third day after natural death is possible, then Mansonia #1 is at most 9 light days from Urantia.
But this conclusion is hardly consistent with current evolutionary scientific estimates of cosmic distances. Alpha Centauri, the nearest star from our sun, is 4.3 light years away by current distance measurements. In other words, light requires 4.3 years to leave our solar system and travel to the nearest star. So how, in a time span of 9 days, can a seraphim travel even to the next star, let alone travel from our world, Urantia, on the outskirts of our star system, to a satellite of Jerusem, near the center of this system of approximately 2000 stars and worlds?
Nevertheless, another passage seems to strongly corroborate this incongruity. We are told by Solonia, the seraphic "voice in the garden" that Adam and Eve were formally installed on their first day upon Urantia and that six days after this event a messenger seraphim arrived "bearing the Jerusem acknowledgement of the installation of the world's rulers." (*832) This suggests that the transit time from Jerusem to Urantia by a seraphim is at most 6 days.
Mainly from these two references Merrit Horn concludes that it must be possible to travel from Jerusem to Urantia in six Urantia days at a velocity of three times the speed of light (3C). He offers a velocity-expanding (and so time-shortening) formula for faster-than-light travel that gets the seraphim from place to place at an "observed" velocity of 2754.8 times the speed of light (C) while somehow simultaneously traveling at an "instantaneous" velocity of three times the speed of light. The idea here is to retain the belief in a 72-hour seraphic transit time between Urantia and Jerusem when traveling at maximum speed (3C) as implied by resurrection "on the third day after natural death" while also believing that the stars are still years apart when traveling at one-third of 3C.
In a similar vein Dan Massey in his letter finally suggests some of the strange properties implied by present-day relativity theory as a possible explanation of the anomaly. But Dan is clearly unsatisfied with this answer. Nor, in my opinion, should we allow the early dabblings of relativity theory to make credible such a routine warping of time at faster-than-light speeds. Time is the measure of space and there is no compelling reason to believe that time is anything but uniform in its progress. The planets all swing around the sun in relatively constant periods. Time comes by virtue of motion and periodic motion is apparently regular.
In The Urantia Book 3C is described as about 558 thousand of our miles per second of our time. (*260) By this standard a seraphim goes three times the distance that light would travel in the same time period. A seraphim uses three superimposed space energies (two of which are still unrecognized on Urantia) to achieve "triple velocity." If it takes three days for a being to travel through a given space at a speed of 3C, then that space must be nine light days away. Therefore, if I accept the "three-day transit hypothesis" then I must accept that the stars are really nine light days apart.
Since current cosmic distances are suspect, embracing many factors of error (*134), I considered the possibility that the stars are really much closer than we suppose! Light travels almost 16.1 billion miles per day and so about six trillion miles per year. Could so many inhabited worlds really be within, say nine light days (145 billion miles) from Urantia? By contrast, 4.3 light years is 174 times further away at almost 26 trillion miles just to reach the next star! It seemed just barely conceivable--if you have a very good imagination.
This mystery immediately pricked my interest. I began to think about it at odd moments as I am wont to doing with one idea or another. Although I had analyzed The Urantia Book's cosmology, somehow this problem had escaped my notice. Now I could not help but notice it!
Perhaps there are stars and worlds out there that are not visible in our optical or radio spectrum but could be seen at higher frequencies or lower frequencies.
Perhaps the parallax distance measurements of contemporary science are in error due to the mistaken notion that certain stars are in outer space when in fact they are traveling along with us.
About this time, as I tried out this idea of the stars being light days apart, my good friend Dr. Richard Prince began to inquire as to whether I was also hearing voices.
A careful reading of the above listed Urantia Book references (many supplied by Merritt Horn's article) did not seem to allow any way out of the dilemma.
Nor do any other Urantia Book standard days fit. Even the Orvonton day (90 Urantia days) would not be time enough for a seraphim to travel one light year, less than of the way to the nearest star. Only the Paradise day (1000 Urantia years) is more than enough time. Actually it is too much time.
A Divine Counselor from Uversa informs us (*261) that there are "no transit or messenger personalities who function between the instantaneous velocities of the gravity traversers and the comparatively slow speeds of the seraphim, except the Solitary Messengers." At 841,621,642,000 of our miles per one of our seconds, a Solitary Messenger goes almost one million times as fast as a seraphim. This Divine Counselor says that "the seraphim and others can traverse space at triple velocity, about 558,840 Urantia miles per second" and that "an enseraphimed being cannot possibly exceed the velocity of 558,840 Urantia miles in one second of your time." Although the dead mortal is not enseraphimed at death, the guardian angel of that mortal must travel to Jerusem with the surviving morontial soul before resurrection can occur. And that angel can travel no faster than 3C.
A more thorough search of The Urantia Book via Clyde Bedell's Concordex turned up several relevant references concerning relative cosmic distances. Perhaps the most absorbing and definitive of these is the "orange analogy":
"These suns have an average diameter of about one million miles. They have just as much comparative elbow room in space as one dozen oranges would have if they were circulating about throughout the interior of Urantia, and were the planet a hollow globe." (*458)
After several false starts (that the good mathematician never displays) this proportion can easily be stated algebraically: Let D be a diameter in space whose corresponding sphere would, on average, enclose 12 stars. Then D is to the earth's diameter as the sun's diameter (1 million miles) is to an orange's diameter (about 4 inches).
D/(7920 miles) = 1,000,000 miles/(4 inches)
Since 4 inches is (4/12) x (1/5280) miles,
D = 7920 x 1000000 x 3 x 5280 miles
D = 125 x 1012 miles
Thus D is about 125 trillion miles, which is about 21 light years. Thus a ball of space of radius 10.5 light years (3.3 parsecs) contains about 12 stars. (A parsec is about 3.26 light years.) This amounts to a star density of 0.082 stars per cubic parsec, which fits in well with contemporary evolutionary scientific measurements.
For instance, Paul R. Weissman of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in his paper "The Oort Cloud and the Galaxy: Dynamical Interactions" says that "At the sun's distance from the galactic centerthe mean spacing between stars is about 1 parsec. (Ref. The Galaxy and the Solar System, R. Smoluchowski, J.N. Bahcall and M.S. Matthews, eds., University of Arizona Press, 1986, p. 204.) Weissman also reports an estimate (0.08 stars per cubic parsec) by C. Allen, which is actually the same number as given by the orange analogy. Similarly, in their paper "Stars Within 25 Parsecs of the Sun" (p. 18 of the above book) Wilhelm Gliese and Hartmut Jahreiss (of the Atronomisches Rechen-Institut, Heidelberg and Arthus R. Upgren of the Van Vleck Observatory) state that the star density in the immediate vicinity of the sun (within 5 parsecs) is no less than 0.116 stars per cubic parsec based upon actual observations.
These three density estimates differ by at most a factor of 1.4. By contrast, if the local system of about 2000 stars has a radius of 9 light days, then its star density is about 13 billion stars per cubic parsec. This is a factor of 100 billion times greater star density than that implied by the orange analogy and reported by Urantia astronomers. This amounts to shrinking linear distance by a factor of 4600.
So the stars must really be light years away after all. If so, where then is the offending proposition? This brings us back to that embarrassing expression, "on the third day after natural death." What does "on the third day" really mean?
Dan Massey's letter initially points out that "the term `day' may not be meant to refer to a well-defined time period." In support of this solution Dan quotes a Solitary Messenger of Orvonton on page 1232:
"If the human individual survives without delay, the Adjusterpasses into the 'realization of identity transition,' being summoned therefrom on the third period and on the mansion world in the actual personality form made readyby the guardian of destiny."
The guardian of destiny is of course the guardian seraphim who has traveled to the mansion world. Dan points out that "third period" is a most indefinite reference. He gives some other somewhat anticlimactic support for this explanation but ends up dissatisfied and seeks another solution.
But consider that it was a Melchizedek of the Jerusem School of Planetary Administration who on page 569 first said:
these evolving creatures are repersonalized on the first mansion world on the third day after natural death.
I believe that the expression "the third day after natural death" was specifically meant here to be taken as intentionally vague. However the phrase certainly hasn't been taken that way. Nevertheless, according to my edition of Webster's New World Dictionary, the term "day" itself is sometimes quite indefinite. Among the definitions are "a period of time; number of years: as, the best writer of his day."
Perhaps this unnamed contributor to The Urantia Book was instructed not to reveal the exact distance to Jerusem from Urantia. In this case, this Melchizedek would have had to resort to some indefinite phrase for the time of seraphic travel. Being a member of an order of personality not wholly unacquainted with errors in judgment in minor matters he may have used the expression "the third day" because it is a recognizably indefinite phrase. However, the phrase is now archaic and has instead tended to be taken literally.
Note that later in The Urantia Book it is a Solitary Messenger (an order of personalities much higher than the Melchizedeks) who uses the quite unmistakably indefinite expression "the third period" to describe this very same span of time. In my opinion this later passage was meant to clarify the earlier passage.
The resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus on the fourth day after death and the resurrection of Jesus himself one and a half days after the crucifixion have no doubt contributed greatly to the tendency to literally interpret the "third day after natural death" phrase. But such times must be taken as minimum time periods. These exceptional resurrections occurred on the world whereon the deaths took place--not on some other world as is the issue here.
Note also that since each world has its own day (period of axis rotation) and its own distance to Jerusem, there must be a large range of numbers of days for a guardian seraphim to reach Jerusem from different worlds of evolutionary humans even assuming it could be done in days! Thus the phrase "on the third day" is clearly shown to be overly precise (or possibly to refer to some longer, unspecified period.)
Were this phrase to be understood as purposely indefinite, then our best estimates of the minimum time between death and seraphic arrival on Mansonia One is some number of Urantia years. Merritt Horn estimates the distance at 50 light years, plus or minus 20, which is about 17 years travel time plus or minus 6 years, at speeds a little less than 3C.
But what about "the arrival of the seraphic messenger bearing the Jerusem acknowledgement of the installation." of Adam and Eve? This event took place only six days after the installation.
While this passage might be taken as implying that the seraphim left Jerusem at most six days before her arrival on Urantia, the actual words leave room for other interpretations. One plausible explanation is that this messenger was dispatched from Jerusem six days after the departure of Adam and Eve perhaps on routine transit or in anticipation of the installation. The Jerusem authorities then contacted the messenger in transit and communicated the announcement. One cannot deduce necessarily from this passage that Jerusem is light days from Urantia, although one can certainly jump to that conclusion.
Other passages can be construed to imply that the transit time can be no more than a fraction of a Urantia year. For instance, well before Cain was born (and so less than one year since the default of Adam and Eve) "the Edenic caravan was halted on the third day out of the Garden by the arrival of the seraphic transports from Jerusem." But here again, regular seraphic transports are always traveling between Jerusem and Urantia. The arrival of the seraphic transports with orders concerning the default does not necessarily imply that these transports made the whole trip in less than one year.
So my answer to the anomaly is that it really takes at least 11 years and more likely 20, 50 or more years to resurrect "on the third period" without significant delay. Circumstances must be ripe. Many people who died in years past must be asleep in transit right now. Twenty years is less than a half hour in a Paradise day!
By the way, a Solitary Messenger can easily travel from Urantia to Jerusem within 15 minutes of our time.
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