The teachings in The Urantia Book about eugenics and race have been very much misunderstood and unfairly criticized. Some Urantia Book students appreciate these teachings, while others embrace the teachings about spirituality but reject the teachings about eugenics and race. The teachings on eugenics and race have become a focal point for rejecting the authenticity of The Urantia Book as a revelation, for disparaging the book and its adherents, and for suggesting that Dr. Sadler was the author of The Urantia Book or that he corrupted the revelatory process by interjecting his own ideas. This page presents the efforts people have made in their attempts to explain or reject the teachings on eugenics and race.
Your editor (Halbert Katzen) is probably the person best known in the Urantia community for championing the teachings about eugenics and race . . .
Halbert Katzen, J.D.
“Eugenics, Race, and The Urantia Book” was published in 2011 (revised 2012, 2014) as an outgrowth of the UBtheNEWS project. Because the most popular UBtheNEWS reports (Adam and Eve, Gobekli Tepe) were leading visitors directly to passages in The Urantia Book on race and genetics, “Eugenics, Race, and The Urantia Book” was undertaken to help people more directly and comprehensively understand The Urantia Book‘s teachings on this subject. This 115-page review of the topic demonstrates that the teachings are altogether consistent with the best of contemporary moral standards. It explains what The Urantia Book teaches and gives special attention to the most controversial passages. Personal opinions, as well as perspectives on history and current events, are not part of this review.
See also the UBtheNEWS Adam and Eve Report.
See also the UBtheNEWS Gobekli Tepe Report.
See also the UBtheNEWS Double Dual Origins of Modern Man and pre-Modern Man Research page.
Sioux Oliva, Ph.D.
The Oliva-Lear Connection
“Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book” was published in December 2014, two months after Norman Lear published a memoir, Even This I get to Experience. In 2016, PBS released the documentary about Norman Lear, Just Another Version of You, as part of their American Masters series and contemporaneously with a resurgence of his career. There are a number indicators suggesting that the timing of her book in relationship to Norman Lear’s book is not coincidental.
I am of the opinion that, because of a longstanding personal connection with Norman Lear’s wife, Sioux Oliva wanted to publish a book that would characterize The Urantia Book‘s teachings on eugenics and race as inclusions by Dr. Sadler, reflective of well-intentioned but misguided, “racist” thinking that was predominant during the relevant period. I suspect she had reached this conclusion before doing research on the subject.
In a general way, certain aspects of Sioux Oliva’s book in relationship to its timing invite suspicion regarding her motivations. For instance, the amount and types of typographical errors present in the book, along with not including an index, suggest that the book was rushed to print. For a book that is so richly detailed with historical information not readily found in other writings, she did not make it easy for people to use it as a reference text.
I have no opinion about whether Norman and/or Lyn Lear helped finance Sioux Oliva’s book to some degree. I have no opinion about what influence the Lear’s might have had on the formation of Sioux Oliva’s own views. I am of the opinion that Norman Lear does not like and does not agree with Urantia Book teachings on eugenics and race, and I suspect he has some concerns for his reputation around this issue because of his wife’s beliefs about The Urantia Book and her desire to be involved with it publicly to some degree. We are, after all, living in the days of Internet, and search engines make it very easy for people to do research.
Notwithstanding that Norman Lear is still making career moves these days, he is over 90 years old and his wife is 25 years younger. It stands to reason that a person with so much wealth and positive public reputation would have some concerns for his reputation after he passes and that these concerns might be significant regarding his wife’s future involvement with The Urantia Book. See the TheoQuest page, which identifies Lyn Lear, Norman’s wife, as being on the team of a Urantia Book-based project with Sioux (Harvey) Oliva. This project dates back to 2000 and the website has an outreach document with this quote: “If you are still looking for what could fill that spiritual/God-leaning gap in your life, The Urantia Book might just bring a profound change to your life .” ~Norman Lear, Writer-Producer.
In the Acknowledgements section of “Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book” (p. 207), Lyn Lear is listed at the beginning of a long list of Urantia Book readers who, in various ways, helped her develop the book. Sioux Oliva’s bio on p. 209 states, “Her first project was managing a non-profit website to introduce the teachings of The Urantia Book to a wider audience sponsored by Lyn and Norman Lear.”
On the back cover of “Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book,” it says, “Her [Oliva’s] career has consisted of completing historical research projects for individuals and families including, Lyn and Normal Lear . . .” And there is the following testimonial: “A doctor, William Sadler, and his wife, Lena, assert that for decades they heard Celestial Voices speaking to them each evening, instructing them as to how they and the world they knew began and evolved. Sixty years later another doctor and accredited historian, Sioux Oliva, determined to seek the truth behind the Sadlers’ assertions. She did –- and the full story of that investigation is well researched and elegantly rendered here. Do I believe Celestial Voices shared the secrets of the Universe with this couple for decades? If I can accept the miracle of the thumb I am holding up as I write this, I am capable of accepting anything.” ~Norman Lear
From the 2008 publication of Urantia: The Great Cult Mystery by Martin Gardner (p. 405):
“Lyn Davis Lear, the wife of television mogul Norman Lear, is an active member of the Fifth Epochal Fellowship. She serves on its Council with a term lasting until the year 2000. A few years ago when Norman asked her what she most wanted for her birthday (or maybe it was for a wedding anniversary), she is rumored to have said the best present he could give her would be to read the UB. I do not know if Norman has since done this. If so, I cannot imagine him taking the UB as an authentic revelation from celestials.”
Treatment of Eugenics and Race Issues
Interestingly enough, while much of Chapter 4 recounts details about the involvement of William and Lena Sadler in the eugenics movement of their day, the description of Part III does not even acknowledge The Urantia Book‘s depiction of the colored races in terms of primary and secondary (p. 147):
“Colored Races—The Urantia Book describes the evolutionary races of Earth in terms that reflect the thinking of the early twentieth century. It describes many people who lived on Earth until the six Sangik races emerged in one family five hundred thousand years ago. The races are named: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and indigo. The story describes migration of these racial groups migrated [unintended word?] and their characteristics. Although The Urantia Book makes it clear that all people are equal spiritually, it does point out many negatives about the defective and degenerate natures in all the races.”
The following paragraph about Adam and Eve as biologic uplifters makes no connection between their genetics and the white races. At no point is The Urantia Book‘s assertion that “the historic facts . . . will stand on the records of the ages to come mentioned. At no point is there mention of the UBtheNEWS project or similar efforts that demonstrate new discoveries and scientific advances offer post publication support for Urantia Book history. And, of course, no where in her book does Sioux Oliva ever inform her readers about “Eugenics, Race, and The Urantia Book.”
Ironically, Sioux Oliva is dismissive about the information on race and eugenics in The Urantia Book as racist, but denies her readers any meaningful opportunity to understand the more controversial statements made in the text. Instead, she chooses to obscure such information in the passages dedicated to summarizing it.
From Sioux Oliva’s blog March 2015:
“Lastly and briefly, there is the issue of race not being a reality at all. Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan report in Race and Genetic Revolution, that in June 2000 during a Rose Garden ceremony, President Bill Clinton, flanked by genome sequencers Francis Collins and Craig Venter, announced the completion of a draft sequence of the human genome, the complete sequence of human DNA. Collins, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and Venter, then President of Celera Genomics, emphasized that their work confirmed that human genetic diversity cannot be captured by the concept of race, and also showed that all humans have genome sequences that are 99.9% identical. At the White House celebration Venter said “the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.” A year later, Collins wrote “those who wish to draw precise racial boundaries around certain groups will not be able to use science as a legitimate justification.””
In a day and age where first world people regularly talk in terms of there being “a gene for” this or “a gene for” that, one has to wonder why it is that trained professionals in the field are so willing to use such obviously faulty reasoning. Getting significant differences in genetic expression is the type of percentage game implied above. These days, one does not need a graduate degree in medicine or even to be particularly bright to appreciate this fact. This makes about as much sense as saying a programmer needs to change a significant percentage of the code in order for a program to work differently in a significant way.
The next paragraph from Sioux Oliva’s blog March 2015 reads:
“Dr. Michael Yudell, researcher in the Molecular Laboratories at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where his work focused on genome policy and also a Health Policy Analyst at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, has spent his life studying how biologists and geneticists shaped the concept of race in the 20th century. His conclusion: “It must be stated that the genetic claims of racial difference advocated by eugenicists—from differences in intelligence to disease rates to musicality—have all been shown to be false.””
Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the issue of reliability and validity for IQ tests:
“Psychometricians generally regard IQ tests as having high statistical reliability. A high reliability implies that – although test-takers may have varying scores when taking the same test on differing occasions, and although they may have varying scores when taking different IQ tests at the same age – the scores generally agree with one another and across time. Like all statistical quantities, any particular estimate of IQ has an associated standard error that measures uncertainty about the estimate. For modern tests, the standard error of measurement is about three points. Clinical psychologists generally regard IQ scores as having sufficient statistical validity for many clinical purposes. In a survey of 661 randomly sampled psychologists and educational researchers, published in 1988, Mark Snyderman and Stanley Rothman reported a general consensus supporting the validity of IQ testing. “On the whole, scholars with any expertise in the area of intelligence and intelligence testing (defined very broadly) share a common view of the most important components of intelligence, and are convinced that it can be measured with some degree of accuracy.” Almost all respondents picked out abstract reasoning, ability to solve problems and ability to acquire knowledge as the most important elements.“
Here are the opening paragraphs from the Heritability of IQ on Wikipedia:
“Research on heritability of IQ infers, from the similarity of IQ in closely related persons, the proportion of variance of IQ among individuals in a study population that is associated with genetic variation within that population. This provides a maximum estimate of genetic versus environmental influence for phenotypic variation in IQ in that population. “Heritability“, in this sense, “refers to the genetic contribution to variance within a population and in a specific environment”. In other words, heritability is a mathematical estimate that indicates how much of a trait’s variation can be attributed to genes. There has been significant controversy in the academic community about the heritability of IQ since research on the issue began in the late nineteenth century. Intelligence in the normal range is a polygenic trait, meaning that it is influenced by more than one gene.
“The general figure for the heritability of IQ, according to an authoritative American Psychological Association report, is 0.45 for children, and rises to around 0.75 for late teens and adults. In simpler terms, IQ goes from being weakly correlated with genetics, for children, to being strongly correlated with genetics for late teens and adults. The heritability of IQ increases with age and reaches an asymptote at 18–20 years of age and continues at that level well into adulthood. Recent studies suggest that family and parenting characteristics are not significant contributors to variation in IQ scores; however, poor prenatal environment, malnutrition and disease can have deleterious effects.“
The final paragraphs from Sioux Oliva’s blog March 2015 read:
“The problem of race and The Urantia Book can hamper the dissemination of the book if we do not come to understand the larger implications moving forward. We have in The Urantia Book a series of quotes about race that is reflective of the early 20th century thinking of a certain socio-economic class. An ideology that has been proven incorrect. In addition the Sadler’s acceptance of eugenics will be connected to the text of the book through Matthew Block’s source studies and Saskia Raevouri’s compilation of The Sherman Diaries. Their evidence for the sources for The Urantia Book is compelling and demands our attention and study (see Appendix). This may seem a trivial issue or easily explainable, but as Block continues to expand and publish his work it will remain challenging to the book’s future.
“How can we use this meeting to move the conversation about race and The Urantia Book forward? Do we need to harmonize the evolving findings of science and the evolving insights of religion with eternal truth? If so, then we can discuss what that would that look like in relation to this problem. Do the current genomic conceptions of race make the book’s statements appear to be simply outdated ideas from the science of that time?
“If we are to be judged by our fruits wouldn’t it be more powerful to admit that the race arguments in the book are not authoritative—but the artistic triumph of truth of cosmic relationships, universe facts, and spiritual values are transcendent? If we try to argue that what the book states about race is true and it must be seen with spiritual eyes for comprehension, are we resorting to what the book says is “backward thinking philosophy?” Separating facts from cosmic truth allows us to be faith led and accept the possible ambiguity of the text. The fact that the science in The Urantia Book may be updated by current scientific discoveries does not change the spiritual truth it presents. The spiritual value is transcendent as the material facts evolve.”
The “Politically Correct” Foregone Conclusion
From the Introduction of “Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book” (p. 9):
“These chapters are followed by delving into the history of William Sadler as a writer and how he was led to be the channel for The Urantia Book.”
From the concluding paragraphs of “Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book” (p. 190):
“Sadler knew–either consciously or unconsciously from his extensive knowledge of religious history and revelation–not to name himself as author because he knew the kind of scrutiny that would bring. . . . Sadler had an experience, an insight into eternal realities that he could not explain, so he let the story evolve and remain a myth, in order to keep him safe in his work. . . . The book attempts to bring the whole evolution of early twentieth-century Western science, philosophy, and religion together to achieve the goal of expanding cosmic consciousness and enhancing spiritual perceptions. At its best, it weaves numerous texts into a beautiful, coherent, and edifying narrative that is unique in Western literature. At its worst, the science papers reflect racism and bad twentieth-century science. Even taking all this into account, The Urantia Book is a masterpiece. It offers proof that Sadler tapped into the divine panorama of the ages.”
From the Preface of “Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book” (p. vii):
“I decided to research the origins of The Urantia Book when a friend (also a reader of the book), asked me to research its origin. My friend wanted something that he could hand to his friends and family with a “straight face.” There were recent challenges to the veracity of the origin of the book, and readers had a difficult time explaining it to others. I was a good candidate. I am very familiar with the book, have doctorate in American history, and have professional experience using research methodology. . . . Weigh the evidence I present in this biography about William Sadler. Was he connected with the cosmic mind circuit while writing The Urantia Book or was he a genius? Or are the two connected as one and the same?”
The weight of evidence, in my opinion, leans decidedly towards “Dr. Sadler and The Urantia Book” being a politically motivated project for personal reasons that are connected to Sioux Oliva’s relationship to Norman and Lyn Lear.
(It should also be said, the historical information provided on William and Lena Sadler is worthwhile reading. The book is certainly valuable in this regard.)
The Wrightwood Series Seminars Number 2: Perspectives on Race in The Urantia Book contains essays from the 1990’s by numerous Urantia Book readers. The range in length from around 4 to 25 pages long. The list as they appear in the publication: Saskia Raevouri, David Kantor, Kermit Anderson, Earlene Green, Al Lockett, Charles Lawuence Olivea, Eugene Wesley Smith, Mark Kulieke, Mary Daly, Richard Omura, Linda McNelly, Matthew Block, and Saskia Raevouri (again).