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How I Found the Urantia Book—CLAUDIA AYERS (1973) 

RELIGION was not a big part of my life when I was a child because my parents were not churchgoers and did not seem to have religious beliefs. As a sixth-grader, I was captivated by the lunch-time arguments that took place between the religionists and the atheists. I soon found myself siding with the atheists. In 1961, the atheists were vastly outnumbered by the Protestants in my community.

During many a starry night when my friends and I gathered for camp-outs or sleepovers, discussions of cosmology were inevitable. I rather enjoyed poking holes in biblical versions of reality. I’m sad to say that I may actually have contributed to the eventual “undoing” of faith for a small number of people. I had learned enough about other religions on this planet to conclude that they were remarkably similar. They all seemed to have the same take on the goodness and oneness of God. But I felt they were all a crutch for people who couldn’t face the fact that evolution accounts for life. I admire those few friends and acquaintances who could hold up their faith even in the face of contradictions and confusion.

By the time I was a sophomore in college, however, it seemed as if every thinking person I knew was a non-religious humanist. A close friend and classmate, whom I respected tremendously for the wholeness of his personality, ventured that there may actually be something to the theory of God. He wasn’t like other engineers I knew; he had read widely in non-conventional religious books. But I was shocked at his suggestion. I figured a few evenings of my pointing out the inconsistent arguments of the various theologies would help to educate this otherwise brilliant and sensitive person. Unfortunately, he was electrocuted before such discussions could occur. It was hard for me to face his demise, even as the stoic I felt myself to be.

When I was 23, in the first months of 1973, I was reading Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian at my parents’ place in Sonoma, California, while recovering from having my wisdom teeth extracted. I was well into Russell’s anti-Christian arguments when my brother happened by for a visit. I hadn’t seen him for almost a year because he’d been spending time in a variety of hippie communes in California, Hawaii, and British Columbia.

My high school drop-out brother, also named Russell, joined me on the sun deck with a big blue book and was soon quite immersed in it. I had never known him to read books by choice, so this was an unusual thing to behold. In no time I was hearing another Russell’s arguments, this time for religion. Instead of “God,” he referred to “our Father” and “the First Source and Center.” It all sounded so hippie to me. I figured he’d smoked one “doobie” too many and had “wigged out” in some fundamentalist commune. I thumbed through his book and found it completely “bogus.”

It was as much a surprise to my mother as it was to me to see Russell so devoted to reading. She figured she had nothing more important to do than try to understand him, so she took a more serious look at his book. A few months later she suggested that I also take another look, for she had never seen anything like the philosophic writing it contained. Of course, I felt challenged to prove it wrong. Over several months, I tried to find a lie or some lack of continuity in this remarkable book. Suddenly, one day, a dramatic realization literally shook me: The book was true!

I once was blind, but now I see. It has been an eventful quarter century!

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Claudia in her kitchen circa 2004