God is not just a "First Source" or "Spirit" or "the Universe" or "the Creator" or "Light." God is all of those and so much more, including a “Trinity,” a “Father,” a “Mother,” and a “Son.” However, in this writing I will focus on the “Father” aspect of God.
In the Fifth Epochal Revelation (The URANTIA Book) the first five papers are focused on explaining God, and Paper 1 is titled "The Universal Father," establishing immediately the primal nature of God as a Person and a Parent. It is stated in that paper:
The eternal God is infinitely more than reality idealized or the universe personalized. God is not simply the supreme desire of man, the mortal quest objectified. Neither is God merely a concept, the power-potential of righteousness. The Universal Father is not a synonym for nature, neither is he natural law personified. God is a transcendent reality, not merely man's traditional concept of supreme values. God is not a psychological focalization of spiritual meanings, neither is he “the noblest work of man.” God may be any or all of these concepts in the minds of men [and women], but he is more. He is a saving person and a loving Father to all who enjoy spiritual peace on earth, and who crave to experience personality survival in death. (The URANTIA Book, Paper 1, Section 2, Paragraph 2)
Though we can see an aspect of God, a faint reflection of His beauty in nature, we cannot find Him completely in the physical world of nature. God is found in all levels of universe reality—the physical, the mindal, and the spiritual—and He is expressed in personality.
In the evolution of understanding spiritual realities within individual persons and groups, religion starts out as a worship of nature and gradually evolves into a realization that God is not nature, rather nature is a creation of God. In Paper 4 titled "God's Relation to the Universe," within a section called “God and Nature,” it is stated:
Nature is a time-space resultant of two cosmic factors: first, the immutability, perfection, and rectitude of Paradise Deity, and second, the experimental plans, executive blunders, insurrectionary errors, incompleteness of development, and imperfection of wisdom of the extra-Paradise creatures, from the highest to the lowest. Nature therefore carries a uniform, unchanging, majestic, and marvelous thread of perfection from the circle of eternity; but in each universe, on each planet, and in each individual life, this nature is modified, qualified, and perchance marred by the acts, the mistakes, and the disloyalties of the creatures of the evolutionary systems and universes; and therefore must nature ever be of a changing mood, whimsical withal, though stable underneath, and varied in accordance with the operating procedures of a local universe. (The URANTIA Book, Paper 4, Section 2, Paragraph 3)
Most naturalists and environmentalists realize the beauty and pattern in nature, but nature’s harshness and unpredictability are also observed. According to The URANTIA Book and The Cosmic Family volumes, many of the earth changes and “global weirding,”—a term coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute—that we are currently experiencing are results of the behavior of humans, who have been out of divine pattern for the last 200,000 years, since the Lucifer Rebellion.
So, in these times of worldwide adjudication and purification, many of us recognize the underlying order of divine pattern in nature but also see the chaos of evil manifesting in the natural world as humans continue to act in ways that are ungodly, unlike the ways of the Universal Father, the Creator.
The apparent defects of the natural world are not indicative of any such corresponding defects in the character of God. . . . The material manifestations of divinity appear defective to the evolutionary mind of man only because mortal man persists in viewing the phenomena of nature through natural eyes . . . .
And nature is marred, her beautiful face is scarred, her features are seared, by the rebellion, the misconduct, the misthinking of the myriads of creatures who are a part of nature, but who have contributed to her disfigurement in time. No, nature is not God. Nature is not an object of worship. (The URANTIA Book, Paper 4, Section 2, Paragraphs 7 and 8)
Though God is not personally present in nature, the beauty of His physical pattern is. However, God, in a way, is personally present within us humans, and so we can make choices that enhance and protect the divine pattern that is within the natural world rather than continuing to mar and distort it. In a paper titled "God's Relation to the Individual," from a section called “The Presence of God,” we are told:
The divine presence cannot, however, be discovered anywhere in nature or even in the lives of God-knowing mortals so fully and so certainly as in your attempted communion with the indwelling Thought Adjuster [spirit fragment of God in each of us]. What a mistake to dream of God far off in the skies when the spirit of the Universal Father lives within your own mind! (The URANTIA Book, Paper 5, Section 2, Paragraph 3)
In a paper titled "The Real Nature of Religion," it is stated:
The contemplation of nature can only reveal a God of nature, a God of motion. Nature exhibits only matter, motion, and animation—life. . . . Nature does not afford ground for logical belief in human-personality survival. The religious person who finds God in nature has already and first found this same personal God in his or her own soul.
Faith reveals God in the soul. Revelation . . . enables a person to see the same God in nature that faith exhibits in his or her soul. Thus does revelation successfully bridge the gulf between the material and the spiritual, even between the creature and the Creator, between man and God. (The URANTIA Book, Paper 101, Section 2, Paragraphs 9 and 10)
Mathematicians and scientists appreciate the order and beauty of a physical pattern that they observe in the dances of the stars in the skies, in the inter-relatedness and harmony in diverse eco-systems on earth, and in the complex particle patterns seen through a microscope. But many do not see intelligence behind that order, and out of those who do, many do not acknowledge a personal God, a Universal Father Creator as the source of the beauty. As a result, most mathematicians and scientists are not environmentalists with what I would consider a spiritized, more cosmic understanding of reality.
To have that level of understanding, an environmentalist must first experience God as a personal loving Father and himself or herself as His child before any long-reaching, wise action in accordance with divine mind and pattern can be taken. (The religious fundamentalist view of seeing nature as something separate from humans and something to manipulate and exploit and use up is not coming from a truly spiritized mind, for they do not understand the true nature of God, which does not destroy His creation.)
When you experience such a transformation of faith, you are no longer a slavish part of the mathematical cosmos but rather a liberated volitional son or daughter of the Universal Father. No longer is such a liberated son or daughter fighting alone against the inexorable doom of the termination of temporal existence; no longer does he or she combat all nature, with the odds hopelessly against him [or her]. . . .
. . . At last all creatures become conscious of the fact that God and all the divine hosts of a well-nigh limitless universe are on their side in the supernal struggle to attain eternity of life and divinity of status. Such faith-liberated sons and daughters [humans] have certainly enlisted in the struggles of time on the side of the supreme forces and divine personalities of eternity; even the stars in their courses are now doing battle for them; at last they gaze upon the universe from within, from God's viewpoint, and all is transformed from the uncertainties of material isolation to the sureties of eternal spiritual progression. Even time itself becomes but the shadow of eternity cast by Paradise realities upon the moving panoply of space. (The URANTIA Book, Paper 101, Section 10, Paragraphs 8 and 9)
We environmentalists ideally should see the world and all of life through the eyes of the Creator. We must become cosmic in our world view, thus making it a universe view, in order to make decisions from a much broader and forward-looking perspective. We do need to take into consideration the impacts that decisions have seven generations into the future.
So how do we discover the nature of God? How do we know how to live within a spiritized mind, seeing reality more from God’s viewpoint? In Paper 2 on the nature of God, we are told that:
. . . The nature of God can best be understood by the revelation of the Father which Michael of Nebadon [as Jesus] unfolded in his manifold teachings and in his superb mortal life in the flesh. The divine nature can also be better understood by persons if they regard themselves as children of God and look up to the Paradise Creator as a true spiritual father.
The nature of God can be studied in a revelation of supreme ideas, the divine character can be envisaged as a portrayal of supernal ideals, but the most enlightening and spiritually edifying of all revelations of the divine nature is to be found in the comprehension of the religious life of Jesus of Nazareth, both before and after his attainment of full consciousness of divinity. . . . (The URANTIA Book, Paper 2, Introductory Paragraphs 1 and 2)
In the fourth part of The URANTIA Book, "The Life and Teachings of Jesus," we see how Jesus—as a human being with a human mind that is spiritized and in harmony with the divine mind of the Universe Mother Spirit—was a true environmentalist within the existing higher principles of his day. From childhood on he was a naturalist, studying and appreciating nature. As a child he spent much time alone or with his siblings and friends walking in the hills. In fact when, at the age of fourteen he became the father/elder brother of his home as a result of his father's death, he took his brothers and sisters for nature strolls every Sunday afternoon. He was a great storyteller and told them stories about nature and animals, and as a young man in his twenties taught his spiritual apprentice, Ganid, a seventeen year-old youth from India, about nature and her various moods.
From childhood on, Jesus abhorred the use of animals in religious sacrifice because he realized the incongruity of a loving Universal Father requiring sacrifices in order to be appeased, and he was sickened by the slaughter of innocent animals. In his public ministry, he often used nature in parables to teach higher spiritual truths. He taught his apostles to pray amidst the quiet surrounding of nature and often used the solitude of the hills and shores to teach and preach. He himself spent days, even weeks or months, by himself in the wilderness to commune with the Universal Father and reflect upon his life here on Urantia (earth).
Never did Jesus go against the natural laws that he had set up as Creator Son of this universe. Living as a human being on this world for thirty-six years, no law of nature was modified, abrogated, or even transcended. In any seeming miracle, the only abrogation was of time in association with the celestial personalities who aided. He did not try to conquer nature or deplete it. He treaded lightly wherever he walked, and he lived simply, never consuming more than his simple physical needs.
Jesus’ lifestyle should inspire us all to, as Mahatma Gandhi said, "Live simply so that others may simply live." That brief and simple statement reflects a lifestyle of stewardship for all of life, human and nonhuman. It reflects mindful living, making choices moment-to-moment from our higher minds and hearts as children of the Universal Father, taking personal responsibility for our own decisions and actions. It requires that we are not only scientists and artists but compassionate, caring human beings who are true religionists with a cosmic perspective.
-Niánn Emerson Chase