Who Wrote The Urantia Book?
Various skeptics have put forward the names of a number of single authors whom they think may have been responsible for writing The Urantia Book. Among these suggestions are Dr W. Sadler, Wilfred Kellogg, Carl Jung, H.G. Wells, and Robert Millikin. I first read the book in response to a request to give an opinion on the claims by its authors for its revelatory status. My initial attitude was highly skeptical and my first reaction was that it must have been written by a group of well-meaning academics on a save-the-world mission.
As I became more familiar with its contents, I was impressed by the consistency of its content. I had previously participated in the writing of two text books on science subjects in which a number of authors contributed chapters relevant to their particular specialties. Thus I had become aware of the extra difficulties involved in maintaining consistency when multiple authors contribute to the same work. This would have been particularly so for a 2000-page work, such as The Urantia Book, written at a time before computers, data bases, and search-and-find computer programs became available. The problem would have been infinitely greater if such a work was a product of the imagination rather than a collation of facts.
However, at this early stage of my interest in The Urantia Book, I was not prepared to suggest that this book was other than the work of human beings. Part 4, the Life of Jesus, impressed me as being a remarkable exposition. For the remainder, I had noticed a number of statements, mainly on matters of science, that were incredibly prophetic if made in the mid-1930's. Some of these would even have been remarkable at the time of first publication of the book in 1955. So to my inquirers, I recommended that they take what they found valuable from its content and keep an open mind about its revelatory status.
About 15 years later I came upon a book entitled "The Computation of Style" by Anthony Kenny that discussed various ways of checking on works in which authorship is in doubt--for example, the various epistles attributed to Paul in the New Testament. Some methods depended on the rate of occurrence of unusual words or phrases, others on statistical analysis of the length of sentences, or other characteristics that gave 'style' to a particular author. The favored method, where it could be applied, was one used by Mosteller and Wallace that depended, not on unusual words and phrases, but on the way authors use common words to commence sentences or to join clauses and phrases. Such words were classed as 'marker' and 'function' words and included also, an, by, but, the, and, when, etc.
While reading about the work of Mosteller and Wallace, I realized that the tools were already available to shed light on multiple authorship for The Urantia Book. These tools were a FolioViews data base for the book plus the means of transferring the text of the book to a word processor equipped to give word counts for individual papers. With these tools, it is relatively easy to obtain statistics on the number of sentences that commence with marker words (the, but, however, and, if, etc.) and to quantify these in terms of word count.
The first investigation had the limited goal of deciding whether a single or multiple authors wrote the book. The results were printed in the Australian newsletter Six-O-Six, Vol. 13 (2), 1992 and indicated that there may have been in excess of nine authors. Later, my son, Paul, who has a Ph.D. in maths and statistics, suggested that a more rigorous investigation could be done for those authors to whom multiple papers were attributed. Such an analysis permitted the inclusion of estimates of variance both within and between authors. Six sets of papers were chosen in which there was reasonable certainty that each set was attributable to the same author. The results for this investigation were printed in Six-O-Six, Vol 14 (3), 1993, and clearly distinguished between each of the six authors.
For the first investigation, in addition to attempting to demonstrate multiple authorship, an effort was made to throw light on whether Dr. Sadler may have been the single author postulated by others. The only work of Dr. Sadler available to me was a short essay entitled, "Evolution of the Soul," in which about half of the text was direct quotation from The Urantia Book. The essay was too short to use the Mosteller and Wallace methods. However, after separating The Urantia Book text from the remainder, the two sections were subjected to a computerized style analysis program that provided scores on the basis of sentence length, sentence structure, and the Flesch Reading Ease Index. Each of these characteristics differentiated two distinct writing styles at statistically significant levels, thus indicating that Dr. Sadler was not the author of The Urantia Book quotations from that essay.
The investigation on the involvement of Dr Sadler in authorship of The Urantia Papers has come under some criticism on the basis of the small sample size of the essay, "Evolution of the Soul." Recently, courtesy of Dr Matt Neibaur, I have been provided with "The Mind at Mischief," a book published by Dr Sadler in 1929 that has permitted a more extensive investigation. I scanned a little more than fifty pages of this book, almost 20,000 words, into my computer, with which to test Dr Sadler's writing style against the data already accumulated for the Mosteller and Wallace type of investigation on authorship. The Sadler text material was converted into a FolioViews database, then tested against the data for those six Urantia Book authors accredited with multiple papers. Ten of the twelve sets of results scored significant differences at the P = 0.001 level. Of the other two, one was significant at the 0.005 level and the other at 0.05, thus indicating that Dr Sadler was not the author of any of the 24 papers investigated. [Note: In this instance, a probability level of P = 0.001 indicates there is only one chance in a thousand of the two samples of text being from