Urtext Passages Suggesting God Created the World

by Robert Perry

By my count, there are five passages in the Urtext (the original typescript of the Course) in which the Course talks about the world in a seemingly different sense than the later Course. It talks about the world as created by God. Four of these five passages have been edited for the standard Course so as to be more in line with the later Course teaching, which clearly teaches that God did not create the world.

What do we make of this discrepancy? There are three alternatives that I see:

1. These early passages are right and the later Course is either wrong or must be reinterpreted in light of these early passages. This is based on the idea that here we have Jesus' first, most plainspoken assertions about the nature of the world. We therefore should give them primacy and either discount the later comments or read them in light of the first comments.

2. These early passages are in error, or contain elements of error, and the later Course is right. This is based on the notion that Jesus himself told Helen (twice) that her hearing was improving, and that she was able to hear more accurately and to receive a higher level of thought. These early passages about God creating the world come before those comments. Those passages, therefore, should be considered suspect. Because of their appearance early in the Course and their small number (5), they should be considered "junior," while the later and far more numerous references to God not creating the world should be considered "senior." There is also good reason to think that Helen may have been influenced by the Edgar Cayce readings, which she was reading at the time and which espouse an extremely similar philosophy to those expressed in these five passages (in Heaven, there was a "warring in spirit," causing the Sons of God to fall into a state of separation without realizing it; the Creative Forces responded by creating the physical universe, as a place where the Sons of God could see their thoughts reflected in concrete form, and so realize they had separated and strive to get out of this condition).

3. The early passages and the later Course are somehow in harmony. They are saying the same thing, even though they don't seem to be.

Let's look closely at those five passages, along with their current form in the standard Course:

URTEXT VERSION

PUBLISHED COURSE

COMPARISON/CONTRAST

Each day should be devoted to miracles.

(God created time so that man could

use it creatively,

and convince himself of his own ability to create.

Time is a teaching device,

and a means to an end.

It will cease when it is no longer useful for facilitating learning.)

Each day should be devoted to miracles.

The purpose of time is to enable you to learn how to

use time constructively.

It is thus a teaching device

and a means to an end.

Time will cease when it is no longer useful in facilitating learning. (T-1.I. 15:1-4)

Urtext: God created time so that man could use it creatively, as a teaching device to facilitate learning.

Published Course: time should be used constructively, as a teaching device to facilitate learning.

Ultimately, of course, space is

as meaningless as time.

The concept is really one of space-time BELIEF.

The physical world exists only because man can use it to correct his UNBELIEF,

which placed him in it originally.

As long as man KNEW he did not need anything, the whole device was unnecessary.

Ultimately, space is

as meaningless as time.

Both are merely beliefs.

The real purpose of this world is to use it to correct your unbelief. (T-1.VI. 3:5-4:1)

Urtext: The realm of space-time is meaningless because it is merely belief. The whole reason space-time exists is so man can use it to correct his unbelief. This unbelief placed him in it by making it necessary as a corrective device.

Published Course: The realm of space-time is meaningless because it is merely belief. The realm of space-time should be used to correct unbelief.

The Atonement was built into the space-time belief in order to set a limit on the need for the belief, and ultimately to make learning complete.

The Atonement IS the final lesson.

Learning, itself, like the classrooms in which it occurs, is temporary.

The Atonement was built into the space-time belief to set a limit on the need for the belief itself, and ultimately to make learning complete.

The Atonement is the final lesson.

Learning itself, like the classrooms in which it occurs, is temporary. (T-2.II. 5:1-3)

No change.

Both: The Atonement was actually built into "the space-time belief" so that through learning we would ultimately undo the space-time belief.

The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time.

In fact, both TIME and MATTER were created for this purpose.

This appears to contradict free will,

because of the inevitability of this decision.

If you review the idea carefully, you will realize that

this is not true.

The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time.

This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision,

but this is not so. (T-2.III. 3:1-2)

Urtext: Time and matter were created so that everyone would eventually accept the Atonement.

Published Course: Everyone will ultimately accept the Atonement.

God IS lonely without His Souls,

and THEY are lonely without Him.

Remember the "spiritual" (a very good term) which begins with "And God stepped down from Heaven and said: I'M lonely—I'll make ME a World."

The world WAS a way of healing the Separation, and

the Atonement is the GUARANTEE that the device will ultimately do so.

God is lonely without His Sons,

and they are lonely without Him.

They must learn to look upon the world as a means of healing the separation.

The Atonement is the guarantee that they will ultimately succeed. (T-2.III. 5:11-13)

Urtext: Because God was lonely without His sons, He made a world, which was a device for healing the separation. The Atonement was placed within this device, to guarantee it would work.

Published Course: God is lonely without His Sons. They should see the world as a means of healing the separation. The Atonement is the guarantee they will succeed in healing the separation.

Discussion

If we assemble all these Urtext passages together, we get something like this:

In Heaven, the separation happened; we somehow fell into a sense of separation from God. This made God lonely; He wanted us back at one with Him. So He created/made (I say "created/made" because the special use of the word "create" has not come into play yet at this point in the Course dictation) the world of time, space, and matter as a teaching device that would facilitate our learning. This learning would ultimately heal the separation and return us to God. God placed in time/space/matter the Atonement, which seems to be the active ingredient in the teaching device (of the world). The Atonement, in fact, is the lesson itself—it is what we are meant to learn while in this world. When we learn it fully, the device is no longer needed and the world ends.

The world, though created/made by God, is not real. It is "meaningless." It is merely a belief of our own—a "space-time belief"—that will ultimately be undone, when our learning is complete. This leaves a question that is not resolved in this material: If God made the world and if the world is merely a space-time belief, does that mean that God made this space-time belief? This seems inescapable. We can lay it out in a syllogism:

God made the world.

The world is a space-time belief.

God made the space-time belief.

How do we make sense of this?

I would speculate the following: We started out (according to this Urtext material) with a simple belief in separation—no belief in time and space as yet. God (or the Holy Spirit) then went into this separation belief and shaped and molded it, making it more specific. He shaped it into a space-time belief—space being a fleshed-out version of the idea of separation, time being a fleshed-out version of the idea of change (and change being inherent in the idea of separation, since it was a change from the unified state). The universe we see is simply the outer picture of this space-time belief.

This universe, though, by itself, it seems, wouldn't have led us to the end of the separation. Another factor was needed: He then built the Atonement into this space-time belief. Because the Atonement is built into the space-time belief, and the space-time belief is the real substance of the universe, the Atonement is somehow literally built into the universe. It therefore is always operating. "It works all the time and in all the dimensions of time" (T-1.I.25:2). As it works, it teaches us its lesson, which is itself. And as we learn the lesson of the Atonement, the need for the teaching device (the world) is gone, and the Atonement, along with the space-time belief, disappears. We are back home, and Heaven is all there is.

Now that I explore this, I don't find it all that different from what the rest of the Course says—if my speculation above is correct. Both this material and the later Course speak of the world as

  • somehow resulting from the separation
  • a learning device so that we can return to Heaven
  • a learning device that the Divine can use
  • a meaningless illusion
  • just a belief
  • destined to end when learning is complete

Where they diverge is when it comes to the immediate source of the world.

URTEXT (early chapters)

PUBLISHED COURSE (later chapters)

The world is directly the manifestation of God, as a learning device to get out of the separation.

The world is directly the manifestation of the separation. The Holy Spirit uses it as a learning device.

What if these two things are not actually so different? Maybe they are not different at all. Here is a possible version that encompasses both:

In Heaven, we fell into the belief in separation. The physical universe manifested from this belief once the Holy Spirit had shaped this belief into "the space-time belief"—a more specific, fleshed-out version of the separation belief. He then built into the space-time belief the Atonement. As a result, the Atonement is operating all the time in the space-time world. This operation of the Atonement is what actually teaches us. This is what guides us home. The events of the physical world without the Atonement would not be conducive to learning, but would merely reinforce the belief in separation.

So which of the three options I listed at the outset am I opting for? I think my position is a combination of #2 and #3. Upon close inspection, I now think that these Urtext passages are not as different from the later teaching of the Course. Seen in the way I'm suggesting, they are completely consistent (this is option #3). However, I think as Helen's hearing improved, and the thought that was able to come through her ascended, she was able to hear this view in a form that more fully captured its real essence (shades of option #2). For to say, as the early passages do, that God created the world can easily imply that we are bound by the world. And the whole message of the Course is that we are not. That is the basis of forgiveness; that is why we can overlook the world's attacks. Therefore, I think the later way of expressing the message reflects its real essence more fully, but the early way is still accurate, if properly understood.

So, what is the relationship between God and the making of the world? I don't know the details, but I suspect that the big picture is something like this: In Heaven, we fell into the belief in separation. This belief started out very general and unformed, but being a belief in specificity (separation = specificity), it naturally became more specific. And as it did, the Holy Spirit had a hand in shaping its specific form. He shaped this belief into "the space-time belief," an ideal classroom in which we could ultimately learn to get out of the separation. Thus was born the world of time and space, which is simply the outpicturing of our space-time belief. This world is a very dark place, full of suffering, but that is not because of the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is because the dream is ultimately a manifestation of our belief in separation, and that belief is one of darkness and death. The Holy Spirit, however, was able to inject a spark of light into this dark dream; He was able build the Atonement into our space-time belief. The Atonement operates constantly to teach us its lesson of release from space and time. In every situation it places a doorway out of the pain, even though this doorway is often invisible to us. Thus, the substance of the world is largely composed of our dark belief in separation. But within that substance there is a spark of light—the Atonement. And both sides, the darkness and the light, are manifest in the events of this world. The darkness is constantly trying to reinforce and confirm our belief in separation, while the light is trying to lead us out of that belief.

5 Comments

  1. Jeff
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Beautiful and logical, as always. Half way through reading your article I was almost going to accuse you of failing to mention the Holy Spirit's involvement, when I realized that you were summarizing the early urtext statements and as Gene pointed out, the concept of Holy Spirit was not yet fully developed.
    I find no conflict between the earlier and later sections because I believe that, essentially, God re-made the world, at its very beginning by virtue of injecting Holy Spirit, thus giving not only the potential for perfecting or correcting the Son's ego-mind, but its guarantee, the Atonement. Even Physics and all scientific principles and laws were started as a mirroring of a higher truth, but a guarantee that the world would obey the higher law, that of its return.
    I also agree that some of the earlier imperfections on this subject were the result of Helen's filtering. This weakness needed to be fixed in order for the Course to come into being and I then realized that the subsequent use of iambic meter was introduced as an automatic control check. I had earlier thought of it as a quaint filtering preferred by the receiver, but I now realize that it begins with the sender, introduced it, in part, as an error-correction device, and in part because He loved pleasing Helen and her preference for its beauty and intellectual proof, especially after her issues with deliberately distorting grammar. Nothing ever happens for one sole reason, but is the product of our collaborative mind.
    Jeff

  2. Lodewijk
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Through a revelatory experiences it was made clear to me that the "tiny mad idea" was the thought that God's love was selfish, and that we could be "better" and more honest than He was by giving up all the joy we had. That way—we thought—we would still love the principle of unselfish love, but without getting the joy for it that we had gotten before, thus insuring that our love was completely disinterested; without any "recompense" or "reward". We believed that this would make us competitors with God, and become the creators of the principle unselfish love —giving it existence—in that sense usurping the creative power from Him.
    Little did we realize that when we made that decision, and made the world in which we would no longer experience our original joy, it was God Who as we made that decision. In that sense we did not make the world alone, and realizing this we also understand that the real purpose of the world is to teach us this: Thank God the idea that there was something selfish about God's love was just a tiny mad idea, now proven to be completely untrue, by God Himself as we. This is the real world. Now we can laugh away the idea that—in order to be unselfish—love demanded sacrifice. God Himself proved that idea untrue, through us, when we did. By not experiencing any longer Who He was, God in that sense "died" for us—and as we—by imagining as His Extension—all of us as His Son—that He was merely a selfish being, resulting in our human form and character.
    With this realization He shares His inheritance with us, which is the certainty that we can safely allow ourselves to have the joy we once had again, because we will indeed only allow God to have it back again, and He has proven His love to be perfectly unselfish, because He knew beforehand that He would make that terrifying decision as we in the spiritual realm, but went ahead in creating us anyway, only to share Himself and His perfect joy and certainty with us. He did not want for us to have less happiness than He had, so He gave Himself to us by taking on our tiny crazy idea, and even our resulting human appearance. That we may know that it is God Who is coming back to Himself again in awareness, when we do. This functional principle is called the Atonement. God indeed does not know us as the ones we seem to be, but He does now our experience, since He is experiencing it as we.
    With love and respect,
    Lodewijk

  3. Gary
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    The more direct lesson I derived from my readings of the "urtext" is that the published Course is not always a complete 100% literal transcription of Jesus" words to Helen, but rather an agglomeration of the highest concepts J was capable of imparting into Helen, Bill, and Ken's mind. (I find it very symbolically meaningful that the Course was "created" using a trilogy of minds, don't you?) Thus, the early chapters of the urtext seem to contain certain passages and concepts that conflict with the final Course version, and also the later chapters in the Course.
    A simpler explanation of this is possible—that these early chapters were written down earlier in Helen's experience, and therefore contain more "noise" and more of Helen's beliefs get mixed in with J's words. J knew that the final version would exclude some of these passages, and therefore it was not a problem per se. The fundamental metaphysical concept that God did NOT create the world as we know it, was simply too advanced (ie non-dualistic) to pass through Helen's conscious mind without filtering, at that time—with more experience, she was able to filter less as her understanding grew. That is how I understand passages such as t hose that are listed in this article
    Gary

  4. Gene
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I was much interested in this article, on the same topic as an email dialog I had with Robert some while back. In the course of that, I maintained position #3, compatibilism. Robert is taking a combination of positions 2 and 3 as the most plausible reading; we are therefore not far apart. I like to see this partly because I like to see evidence that careful study of the Course, without preconceptions, leads to closely similar positions. Since that is the basic hermeneutic strategy of COA, it's not surprising that we get a convergence of views among the teachers of COA and between them and other people with the same philosophy. What I find more surprising is that some things I think are clear interpretive errors seem to arise independently.
    Here's a passage I think is relevant to this issue:
    "You have expressed surprise at hearing how VERY different is reality from what YOU see. You do not realize the magnitude of that ONE error. It was so vast and so COMPLETELY incredible, that from it, a world of total unreality HAD to emerge. What else COULD come of it? Its fragmented ASPECTS are fearful enough, as you begin to LOOK at them. But nothing you have seen BEGINS to show you the enormity of the ORIGINAL error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and TO FORCE YOU TO FURTHER SUBSTITUTIONS. That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected, and drawn between you and truth."
    This draws a distinction between an initial fragmented chaos resulting from the separation, and the world which arises as a screen on which this mess was projected. The chaotic mess is too unstructured to be what we mean by the world, I think, which is highly organized and systematic. Physics is not stupid, for example. That is the space-time belief, however, and that we are told has the Atonement built in. Since the fear-driven impulse of error can hardly have done that, and the Father cannot have done that, we seem to be left with the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit had not as yet been introduced into the Course vocabulary when it said "God created time", that it was not mentioned as such should not be a problem. The question remains, where else could this "artifact introduced as a learning aid" have come from?
    —Gene

  5. Brian
    Posted October 9, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I wrote into this form last night via an iPad. I felt the writing served purpose. But the site froze the browser and the text could not be sent or saved.
    Releasing even our best articulation of the nature of the human experience is an opportunity to release one of the points of such experience from identification.
    So perhaps the first voice had to give way for this message shared!
    In love’s blessing
    Brian

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Printer Friendly Version

Free E-Newsletters: A Better Way (Monthly)  Circle News (Weekly)