Physicists seek to discover first principles of the manifest universe. Why? These principles, if identified, would reflect the fundamental nature of reality and represent the origins of natural law and process.
Relativity theory takes us to an essential singularity where matter is crushed into a point of infinite curvature and gravity—which produced the Big Bang.
Quantum theory takes us to a state where the universe exists as a non-local foamy cloud of mere “tendencies to exist.”
String theory takes us back to a multidimensional state where nothing exists but energetic strings, membranes and blobs (of something or other).
Religion teaches that fundamental reality takes us to an Infinite God.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg supported the latter, but applied scientific reasoning to his theistic position. Like some of today’s cutting edge thinkers he anticipated that the concept of causality could have its basis in a reality freed-up from involvement with time and locality. Swedenborg’s model of reality embraced a dynamical nexus between Divine (God’s) order and temporal order. In this model, various states of God’s love flow into (descend) into boundary conditions with increased constraints until finally finding expression in the spatio-temporal arena.
This means that the physical universe and its laws must be expressions or analogs of spiritual laws and God’s essential character. Swedenborg called these causal links between God and physical nature the science of correspondences.
To give you a simple example of this top-down causal relationship between spiritual (non-local) and physical terms, we can look at our mundane everyday expressions and language. The word “seeing” has its mental analog in the word “understanding” which in turn has its Divine analog in God’s Infinite “foresight” and “providence.” In each case the expression is self-similar (corresponds) but becomes less local and physical and more universal as it moves up the hierarchical ladder. This self-similarity allows linkage for God to act in the world. In a top-down causal scheme of reality, all God’s qualities represent first principles—and that which is responsible for the patterning principles and dynamics of the whole multi-tiered system that follows.
Heaven’s angels live in a non-physical realm and are cognitive of the first principles that are contained within all human expression. Every idea or concept that comes to an angelic being’s perception is immediately transformed into its “higher” equivalent or corresponding mental and spiritual quality.
The significance of this is that angels (and specially enlightened humans) perceive deeper levels of meaning within the narratives of Holy Scripture. According to Swedenborg, not only were angels able to apply new degrees of freedom to language but from this loftier viewpoint they could also identify patterns of lawful process and order within the sacred scaffolding and architecture of Scripture. In other words, God’s Holy Word could be studied as a multidimensional and scientific document with the potential of leading physicists to formulate a causal theory from a non-physical (pre-geometric but holy) matrix.
This is a game-changer!
In order to explain these ideas in greater detail, I have just completed a book entitled Proving God. It is now available on Amazon.
The authority and inerrancy of the Holy Bible has come under a new kind of challenge in the post-modern world. This challenge comes not just from atheists but also from a new crop of Christian theologians who no longer identify themselves as possessing an absolute deposit of inerrant sacred writings, or, of inheriting an infallible interpretation (exegesis) of the Bible’s message. Instead, this new theological movement is concerning itself with the core belief that Christianity proclaims a universal saving and transformational event. Everything else in religion is now seen to lead to a set of beliefs that are oppressive and destructive and needs correction.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg would agree with this new Christian emphasis on God’s transforming love rather than on a mere “book” religion. But he also added an unexpected twist that challenges the relativistic character of modernity in its shift away from embracing the Bible as an absolute and closed deposit of truth (from above). He offered a new and deeper look at Scripture that both broke down the rigid walls of religious orthodoxy yet provided rational evidence of the authority, sacredness and inerrancy of the Holy Word!
He claimed that this authority, sacredness and inerrancy of Scripture was not to be found in its literal or historical accounts, but in its layered architecture, which contain deeper levels of meaning!
On one deeper level, Scripture embraces profound psychology. For instance, the biblical story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis offers a profound study of the growth of mind and the evolution of proper human behavior—according to the laws of God’s divine order.
Jacob symbolizes the human intellect while Esau represents the human heart, will, and volition. Psychologically, the growth of the human intellect involves the exploration of knowledge that can lead us to truth. This operation takes the lead. Then an inversion takes place. The intellectual path to finding truth leads us to the heart and that which most represents goodness in our value-system (all knowledge is evaluated according to its serviceability—its goodness). This goodness then begins to command the intellect and generates further knowledge. This mental process of inversion is symbolized by Jacob inheriting Esau’s birthright—the intellect gains command first. But as the biblical story unfolds, Jacob eventually returns to his older twin brother and becomes his servant‑the intellect now begins to serve the heart. Speaking psychologically, Jacob represents analytical thought while Esau represents a new synthesis. These cognitive functions are psychical brothers!
Deeper still (according to Swedenborg) the Bible stories relate directly to Christ’s universal work of transforming love—even the Old Testament! The same Genesis story of Jacob and Esau also symbolize the process of the Lord’s glorification when He lived in the world. This sacred process involved the Lord perfectly uniting His human essence to His divine heavenly essence. This unifying process is how the Word was made flesh and how the Lord became the Alpha and Omega. This also explains how the “Word” and the “Son” are synonymous (which would not be the case if the Old Testament did not refer to the Lord alone on some deeper level).
So the Holy Word is indeed God’s revealed wisdom—not merely the work of different human authors, written from various points of view by individuals who were influenced by the cultural, political, economic or personal circumstances of the times that they found themselves in. Simply put, human authors cannot write in the divine style of the Bible’s three-tiered narrative.
Why would God communicate in this multi-tiered way?
The reason is that God’s Holy Word needs to service both terrestrial humans and spiritual angels. God’s Holy Word has to be adapted to both kinds of brain systems. Angels easily grasp the deeper spiritual and divine meanings contained in Scripture but humans have to learn to think above their worldly ideas (materialistic ideology).
The Lord God is betting that this is possible for humanity. The big secret concerning the Lord’s Second Coming and Revelation is that it represents His “reappearance” within our minds and hearts via a new understanding of Scripture. I have just scratched the surface of what the future of religion will unfold.
Because Holy Scripture describes ancient battles and warfare, chariots are often mentioned. But according to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the driver, the horses and the chariot all refer to—and symbolize—qualities of the human mind and spirit!
Swedenborg claimed that Holy Scripture contained deeper levels of meaning. These deeper levels addressed the spiritual story of human salvation and God’s secret steps for securing human salvation. Symbolically speaking, a chariot represents one’s body of knowledge, worldview and faith-system (or doctrine of life). In other words, it represents the exterior “housing” (memory-data) which carries our beliefs and preferences.
The horses represent an individual’s emotional world, affection and love. Swedenborg stated that horses represent the love of learning—which carries one’s worldview to new “places.”
The rider or driver represents the intelligence and the wisdom of a person to maneuver their emotions and knowledge in the most advantageous and strategic way. The archer in the chariot represents the wisdom and intelligence by which an individual defends his or her worldview and attempts to convince. The archer’s arrows are “arguments” forged to make a sharp point in order to penetrate opposing views.
So the chariot, horses and riders symbolize various and distinct cognitive functions of the human psyche. But what about the connections between these mental functions that allow them to be subordinated, coordinated, and act in a unified manner? What do the connections correspond to?
Some people have asked me why I would mix the teachings of George Gurdjieff with those of Emanuel Swedenborg. Well, they both agreed that ancient civilizations employed this symbolism and allegory into their style of writing. But for me, Gurdjieff brought something new to the table. He said that the connections between the various cognitive functions were the flow of blood. Furthermore, Gurdjieff insisted that humans consisted of three distinct (discrete) species of blood!
This further insight can be applied to the symbolism of the chariot. The shaft that connected the chariot to the horse was the red blood. The reins that connected the driver to the horses was a “purer” blood, which modern science would describe as the electro-colloidal fluid/energy that courses through the nerve fibers. Finally, God was connected to the driver and archer through the “purest” blood or external blood of the soul.
Those who have read Swedenborg’s scientific and anatomical work know that he also classified blood into three similar and distinct species. And if one reads this material more closely it can be verified that these bloods do indeed connect the human body, mind and soul together.
I am sharing this unique information with you because my current book project Proving God seeks to unify science and religion. Most people know that religion offers us with ways to purify the heart. But there is also a scientific angle to salvation. When we apply God’s spiritual tenets to our lives, it affects the quality of our blood. Living a heaven-bound life actually cleanses and purifies the red blood and the purer blood (which Swedenborg called the animal spirit). Evil intentions and behavior particularly corrupts the purer blood (Arcana Coelestia, n. 4227).
If humans could see that God’s life flows into us and affects our hearts to do good, they would vigorously rebel. So God is very careful to allow the human race to believe and sense that life and goodness of heart issues forth from themselves.
This divine deception preserves our free will, which is essential to spiritual salvation. However, this state, in and of itself, is a form of trance since individuals are unable to perceive reality as it truly is.
Ever since the “Fall of man,” which began with God putting Adam into a deep sleep, the human race has been allowed to gain a strong sense of selfhood and ontological autonomy. So, the very concept that all life and goodness comes only from God is viewed as anti-intuitive. Again, the Lord God has permitted this outcome so that humankind would retain the free will necessary to make better life-choices and to prefer God’s tenets (as opposed to self-rule) later in life.
God allowed this condition to occur in order to allow humans the chance to eventually rise above our biological selves. I have been mocked for my suggestion that God hypnotized the human race in order to later de-hypnotize them. But the term hypnosis fits well with the higher or spiritual meaning behind the Genesis story of Adam being put into a deep sleep (“hypno” means sleep). This “deep sleep” was a diminished state of human cognitive function. Let me quote theologian Emanuel Swedenborg concerning this important topic:
He who is being regenerated believes at first that the good which he thinks and does is from himself, and that he also merits something, for he does not yet know, and if he knows he does not comprehend, that good can flow in from some other source, nor that it can be otherwise than that he should be recompensed, because he does it from himself.
Swedenborg claimed that humans originally had access to a higher mind and cognitive level by which they had direct experience of God’s love and spiritual energy flowing into and maintaining their very lives. However, human self-love and self-judgment became so attractive over time that God was forced to disconnect them from higher mind so that they could delude themselves from their misguided “bliss.” Without such a divine strategy humans would have lost their free will and the chance for eventually turning things around. Back to Swedenborg and the rest of his challenging quote:
Unless at first he believed this, he would never do any good. But by this means he is initiated not only into the affection of doing what is good, but also into knowledges concerning good and also concerning merit; and when in this manner he has been led into the affection of doing what is good, he then begins to think differently, namely that good flows in from the Lord . . . (Arcana Coelestia, Vol. V, n. 4145)
The idea that an individual begins to think differently represents enlightenment, or augmentation of one’s cognitive function. Since trance involves a diminished cognitive state, the process of spiritual evolution necessitates people “snapping out of it” and “waking up.”
The world needs a bold new church that is willing to greet its parishioners with a slap on the face from a cold wet rag! Unfortunately, most people go to church to feel good about themselves and find validation from others. We are all accomplished hypnotists.
What is spiritual astronomy? It involves looking at the discoveries of astronomy in a novel and more personal way that can lead us to making similar spiritual discoveries about ourselves.
For instance, Galileo made the claim that the sun was the center of the planetary system rather than the earth. This was proven to be true. We can also make a similar spiritual discovery that the world does not revolve around us. When the Lord was in the world he challenged people to make exactly this same important discovery—by teaching that “Loving God and loving the neighbor” were the greatest commandments.
(By the way, it wasn’t Galileo’s science that got him in trouble with the church, it was his challenge to a literal interpretation of Holy Scripture. He believed that true science would not contradict Scripture if properly understood.)
Since Galileo’s time, astronomy has made additional discoveries that our sun is one of billions of suns in the Milky Way galaxy, which is just one of billions and billions of galaxies far out in space. Thus, when we measure ourselves against this vast universe we become less than a speck. So there is no premise by which we can rationally support and embrace self-conceit and self-importance. Again, the Lord taught humility, and to serve others.
Are your worldly hopes and wishes merely insignificant specks of dust in God’s Infinitely wise eyes? Or are your hopes and dreams worthy of divine notice? When you sincerely love others, God can find an abode in your heart and mind. You can then provide residence for something infinitely more vast and important than the entire physical universe!
The Star Wars saga is one of the most celebrated film series in cinematic history. Beginning with the original film, A New Hope, and moving into the most recent films, The ForceAwakens and Rogue One, we enter a living mythology that contains deeper lessons right beneath its manifest content. Creator George Lucas has taken a symbolic approach to understanding the Star Wars story. Lucas was inspired by his study of comparative religion, mythology, and the writings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell, of Bill Moyers’s The Power of Myth fame, introduced to a wide audience the idea of studying mythology in the context of psychology and spirituality. It is no secret that George Lucas and Joseph Campbell had an appreciation for each other’s work, as most of The Power of Myth was shot at Lucas’s ranch.
Campbell was influenced by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung’s approach to human psychology is rooted in a blended study of psychiatry, world religions, and mythology. During his time at university, Jung studied five major works by Christian mystic and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg places fundamental importance on understanding biblical texts from the point of view of psychological and spiritual symbolism. Instead of reading on a literal level the creation story in Genesis or the apocalyptic episodes of The Book of Revelation, for example, Swedenborg uses the language of correspondences to unpack the rich narratives into practical meanings that support transformative living.
This approach to understanding symbolism, as found in the writings of Swedenborg, Jung, and Campbell, can be applied to Rogue One. Though the entire Star Wars series is ripe for symbolic interpretation, Rogue One occupies a unique place in the full saga in that it can be approached as a stand-alone story (the action occurs outside the regular “episodes,” supplying background to A New Hope and concentrating on new characters both in the Empire and among the Rebel Alliance).
From the very start of Rogue One, Orson Krennic, Director of the Advanced Weapons Research Division, embraces the mission and ideology of the Empire. He believes that the Empire’s goal is to bring order and peace to the galaxy by creating the Death Star, a space station with the capacity to destroy entire planets. The selfish conquering and domination of others is what fuels the spirit of the Empire. Krennic is always willing to use others, even former friends, in his pursuit of personal power and gain. He believes that only he should have command over the Death Star and that his high Imperial rank should grant him an audience with the Emperor. In his meeting with Darth Vader on the hellish planet of Mustafar, Krennic is admonished by the Sith Lord “not to choke on [his] aspirations”—advice reinforced by an actual choke using the Force. Krennic can be seen smiling, even though he has been punished by Lord Vader.
Krennic’s behavior can be explored as a spiritual example of what Swedenborg would describe as a hellish life. Hell, for Swedenborg, is a state of mind and spirit that begins while a person is alive on earth. Chief characteristics of the populace of hell feature a denial of the Divine (or a supreme good); a selfish, ego-driven life; and even tendencies toward masochism (e.g., Krennic’s smiling after enduring physical pain). The “ruling loves” of such spirits fasten on dominating others and controlling resources. Any sense of community is superficial, because only for their own personal gain do such spirits work with others; they are not so much communities working to serve both themselves and the members of other communities but are gangs and organizations doing violence to others and in turn to themselves. As a member of the Empire, Krennic symbolizes this spiritual mindset spectacularly.
The source that powers the Death Star offers another symbolic parallel between Rogue One and Swedenborgian theology. The material used to power the laser beam that can destroy entire planets is called the kyber, or kyber crystals. These crystals also power the Jedi and Sith lightsabers, which are the weapons carried by those who use the Force. The Empire has been plundering Jedi temples to obtain large numbers of kyber crystals, which would swell the destructive power of the Death Star. The Force— the Divine energy that powers and sustains the galaxy and manifests itself in both positive and negative ways—has a special relationship to these crystals as well as to those orders that wield lightsabers.
Swedenborg’s primary thesis in Divine Love and Wisdom is that nothing but love and wisdom—which make up the force that rules and controls known reality—comes from the Divine. This energy from the Divine does not create evil, but it does flow into hell, where love and wisdom have been perverted into selfishness and ignorance. Similarly, the Death Star is powered by a perversion of the kyber crystals, the energy and purpose of which in the case of the Death Star have been corrupted to a level of destructiveness that can lay waste to entire planets. And such destruction can only be stopped by the Rebel Alliance, whose intentions are selfless and incorruptible.
The Crew of Rogue One
While the Empire (an immoral dictatorship and primary antagonist) and its evil Director Krennic are the central focus of the film, many spiritual lessons are to be gleaned by analyzing the Rebel Alliance (a heroic resistance movement striving to restore a Republic Force) and the crew of Rogue One. The mission of the crew is to steal the Death Star plans in order to destroy the evil space station. For the crew to succeed in their mission, they need to work together as a community. The same holds true for the Rebel Alliance. The struggle to stay together in the face of atrocities committed by the Empire is a foremost theme in the film. For the Rebel Alliance to overcome the Empire, they cannot stand on their own; instead, they must find a way to comprise a powerful alliance with each other to engage in the selfless act of saving the entire galaxy.
Swedenborg’s theological view on the nature of heaven and how one might lead a heavenly life is well illustrated by the behavior of the Rebel Alliance. While each of them struggles individually in the civil war gripping the galaxy, they come together as a crew to work toward their common goal. This is true of heavenly communities both in this life and in the next, according to Swedenborg. In heaven, each individual has a job that contributes to the well-being of his or her respective community, and the community as a whole finds profound bonding in caring about the supreme good of living in usefulness for others. Leading a heavenly life is focused, courageous, selfless, and loving. Everyone transcends egocentric behaviors by embracing the ways of the Divine.
The spiritual lessons taught in Rogue One speak to those of us seeking to be on the path of regeneration. We cannot hope to lead a life of positive spirituality and regeneration on our own. We need a community that supports us on this path and in which we can support others. It may be an old story, yet it is ever new: in the face of overwhelming temptations toward living a negative lifestyle, the Divine is with us, always. As the character Chirrut repeats throughout the film, “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”
Colin Amato, MS, is a marriage and family therapist intern and also a Swedenborgian seminarian at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.
What makes the title of this post even stranger is that it is taken from the New Testament (Matthew 10:34-36 and Luke 12:53). Passages like this are why religion often gets a bad rap from those who point out these biblical absurdities and consider themselves more “enlightened.”
Why would a God of love instruct us to hate our closest relatives? Isn’t this a contradiction to the spirit of “loving the neighbor”—one of the two prime commandments upon which all the laws of the prophets hang?
The reason for the apparent contradiction comes from the fact that the true wisdom of this “odd” biblical passage lies much deeper than the literal meaning of its message. The path to becoming more spiritual includes the challenge of reading Scripture not just with one’s worldly eyes, but interpreting its passages with the eyes of one’s inner spirit.
When we switch from one set of “eyes” to another, an amazing transformation can take place in our understanding of the Lord God’s revealed wisdom. As an experiment, let’s see how this applies to the biblical passage of “making everyone in your household an enemy.” How can we see this biblical phrase through the eyes of our spirit?
The trick is to take any worldly term or physical object and find its psycho-spiritual equivalence (correspondence). God has created the physical world in such a way that all things in it represent some spiritual idea.
For instance, we entertain certain thoughts and feelings in the same way we invite special friends and guests into our home. Even more intimate to us are the ideas that make us feel the most at home. One’s belief system or worldview, and all its related values, constitutes one’s spiritual household. Our ideas and personal beliefs are the habitation of our soul.
This inner abode is where each of us really lives. We are what we think and love. And that is exactly where God takes aim when He wants to bring about spiritual change in out lives.
When the Lord came into the world, His ministry involved changing people’s value systems. He challenged us to make the many selfish and worldly ideas that we entertain in our hearts and minds, our real enemy. This requires us to make an inner inventory and a follow-up housecleaning. So we must kick these bad influences out of our house (spiritual abode).
Scientists and non-believers have often ridiculed religion because having a strong faith meant putting all the power of belief in ignorance alone. But true faith leads one out of ignorance. The Lord’s Holy Word is designed to lead us out of ignorance because its lessons are inexhaustible and contain layers of meaning.
I hope my example of “making one’s household an enemy” shows how the Holy Word can be easily misinterpreted by a culture which no longer is sensitized to these higher meanings and teachings.
I once had a strange encounter with a man who lived a scandalous life. As a young fellow going out into the world to seek his fortune he happened to fall in love with his uncle’s younger daughter. I have to admit she had a great body and was quite beautiful to look at.
His uncle, rather than being appalled by this, turned the situation to his own benefit. He convinced his nephew to do chores for him for seven years before he would allow such a marriage. Then, at the end of the seven years this despicable uncle managed to trick his nephew into sleeping with his not-so-beautiful older daughter.
The story gets worse. The uncle then makes a deal for the young man to finally let him have his younger daughter as well. The young man, while having being tricked, makes the most of it and marries both cousins. He also has hanky-panky with both cousins, but only succeeds in impregnating the older of the two sisters, who gives birth to six male children and one girl.
Then the unimaginable happens. Both sisters fight for the young man’s attention. Since these sisters came from a well-to-do family (owning lots of livestock) they each go out of their way to offer their female maidservants as additional sexual partners for him.
What is a young man to do? Well, he had sex with all of them! More babies resulted. In fact, he finally managed to impregnate the more beautiful younger sister and she bore him a son. What a mess!
I looked at this man’s life and began to make a character judgment about him. He knew what I was thinking then made an unexpected defense for all his actions. He communicated to me that if I wanted to become more spiritual and grow closer to God I had better follow his exact same steps in life!
He was so convincing that I am now trying to follow in his footsteps and emulate his lifestyle.
His name was Jacob. I encountered him and his unique life-story in the pages of the Old Testament. However, Jacob’s story was anything but scandalous when I encountered him again and he was able to convince me of his honorable intentions within the pages of Emanuel Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia (Secrets of Heaven). This is where I was able to view Jacob’s life and actions on a whole new and more profound level. His story is actually my story and your story!
All the characters of this biblical narrative actually represented different qualities of a person’s heart and mind who begins the process of spiritual salvation. In other words, Jacob’s life is a story of how the human mind and spirit advances through stages of spiritual development. Each of Jacob’s encounters with women represented a new advance of the heart and mind. Each advance gave birth to new children, which signified bringing a new quality of spiritual activity into the world (the offspring of spiritual development).
This is why Jacob was so intimate with his relatives—they all related to qualities and the pedigree of his spiritually evolving heart and mind. They represented the progressive changes (genealogy) taking place within his inner being and all things serviceable to it. So Holy Scripture is relevant and timely, even to modern human life and society—if we know how to distill higher meaning from its stories. And there is much more spiritual detail to be distilled from the biblical narratives.
Emanuel Swedenborg offers us intellectual access to these higher meanings, without which many of the stories of God’s Holy Word offer only wacky scenarios and offer us no real guidance. God is not wasteful or trivial when it comes to the salvation of the human race. God’s message goes deep and challenges us to go beyond our habitual and everyday minds.
Once upon a time the Apostle John found himself on the island of Patmos. Geographically, this island could be said to be located in the middle of two great civilizations—east and west.
But John also found himself in an unusual but similar mental place as well. He was meditating equally with both hemispheres of his brain. He needed all his brainpower to make sense out of the things he had personally witnessed and was told by his Lord Jesus Christ.
He was aware that as one of the Lord’s twelve disciples and closest followers he had received special teachings, teachings that were not given to the multitudes. Because of this intimate relationship, He was given deeper insights into the Lord’s parables. He had witnessed the Lord’s transfiguration at the top of a mountain. He saw the Lord perform miracles. He had personally witnessed the empty tomb. He also traveled with the Lord on the four-hour journey to Emmaus—after the crucifixion.
But even these amazing things were not the full reason for his amazement.
In each case the Lord had taken his brain to places where human feet could not go. It was as though the Lord was concerned with opening the minds of his disciples to new revelations. These revelations challenged the worldly belief that the Scriptures referred to mere physical events. John had experienced rarified moments where his mind caught glimpses of the Lord as the Word Incarnate, and not simply as a combative Messiah sent to squash Roman oppression. The stories contained in the books of Moses and the Prophets miraculously conveyed special details of the Lord’s life and His more important divine combat over the spiritual oppression that was taking place within the souls of men and women.
At these special meditative times, John no longer felt that he was in his physical body. He experienced this wonderful elevation of his mind when he walked up the steps to the second floor of the room in which the Lord had His Last Supper. It was as though the Lord was cleverly using the physical world to convey symbolic and spiritual meaning! He marveled that humankind was not ready for such a deep and unexpected teaching. And he himself, like the other disciples, did not fully grasp the full significance of all this. Many of the Lord’s teachings about the Holy Word and the heavenly kingdom were still obscure and remote to his normal way of thinking.
John now turned his attention and meditative power to the Lord’s words that some of his disciples would see the Kingdom of Heaven before their deaths. John wondered about this. Suddenly he felt his mind elevated from the physical world and was now in his spirit. In this state of heart and mind the obscure ideas he had about Holy Scripture became like clouds forming above his spirit. These were the same clouds that appeared to him after he, Peter and James saw Jesus transfigured atop a mountain.
Suddenly, with the eyes of his spirit, John saw Jesus appearing out of the clouds of his mental obscurity. He had witnessed the first coming of the Lord with his physical eyes. Now he was witnessing the Lord’s Second Coming with his spiritual eyes. The Lord now was about to give John an inside look at the deepest heavenly secrets contained within Scripture. This deeper look was the real revelation behind what John had witnessed and was told to write on a scroll.
Now let us fast-forward two thousand years.
Today, Jesus is also returning to clear up the clouds of mental obscurity for all those individuals who are willing, like John, to be taught new things. But such an earth shaking (paradigm changing) “event” will require humility, sincerity and an openness of the human spirit to learn from and experience the truly miraculous.
Most definitely yes! There is way too much divisiveness in the world to allow the human race to adequately solve its many profound conflicts and problems. Anything that would bring minds together would certainly represent a move in the right direction.
Science currently seeks to describe everything in the universe from physical models, while religion addresses reality from a metaphysical principle (God). I have even heard a scientist state that if the world was somehow actually governed by a metaphysical principle it could not be a part of true science. This suggests that science is more interested in creating physical models of reality rather than finding truth.
Therefore, how could science ever be married to spiritual faith? Perhaps I should rephrase the question: Should Science Be Unified with Goodness?
While science embraces data and religion embraces values, a scientist is inwardly driven to discover something useful to society. In fact, the “greatness” of a particular scientific discovery is measured according to its helpfulness and serviceability to humanity.
What goes unnoticed is that serviceability is a derivative of love. Religion teaches us to love the neighbor as ourselves.
Therefore, the pursuit of knowledge must also be the pursuit of goodness. Knowledge that does not lead to goodness has a destructive and poisonous element lurking within it.
According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, Holy Scripture actually addresses the issue of unifying worldly knowledge with theological knowledge. He states that the biblical themes of Moses setting a serpent of brass on a staff, the birth of Leah’s two sons, Reuben and Simeon, and the Lord’s miracles of turning water into wine and walking on water symbolize the advancement of worldly knowledge to the more interior realm of the human heart.
The “Fall” of man in Genesis was actually the story of how humankind favored its own pursuit of reality rather than basing it on instruction from God. The “talking serpent” in the Garden of Eden represented the desire to learn things entirely from the world of the senses at the expense of goodness. This cognitive predicament is symbolized by the serpent being forced to crawl on the ground and therefore fully occupied from head to tail in worldly and empirical data. This is why Moses put the serpent of brass up on a staff—to get it off its belly and oriented upwards towards God’s heaven.
Essentially, true religion and spiritual growth deals with the reorganization of our worldly knowledge to be oriented upwards to heaven—toward greater goodness. Such a heavenly orientation protects us from the poisonous bite of worldly knowledge (empiricism) that is removed from goodness of the heart. This is the deeper spiritual lesson embedded and enfolded within the story of Moses protecting his people from snakebites in the desert!
My upcoming book Proving God offers more details about unifying science and religion. In fact, I address Bible interpretation, the dynamics of salvation and eternal life from a scientifically plausible model.
The Lord’s life on earth represented the ultimate Valentine’s Day message and gift. He came into the world and assumed a human body because he loved us all.
However, the need for God to take on a human body for the sake of salvation is not clearly understood. Theologically, the current central Christian belief is that God the Father sent to earth and sacrificed His beloved Son. While the Father was touched by this sacrifice there were still contingencies—Jehovah God would only save those individuals whom Jesus gave the nod to (called the “elect”).
This means that only one of the Gods of the Holy Trinity loves us while another has serious misgivings—or at least, whose love is conditional. There is something anti-intuitive about any Divine quality of love being conditional and therefore, not embracing Infinite Mercy.
Emanuel Swedenborg had another idea about all this. He boldly claimed that Jesus was Jehovah in the flesh! Before your head explodes consider this—even in the current elaboration of Trinitarian doctrine, Jesus is considered equally a God with Jehovah. If this is true why does Jesus show signs of human fearfulness towards His impending crucifixion at Gethsemane?
The Lord knew ahead of time not only of the crucifixion but also of the triumphant outcome and glorification. Why would someone who was equally a God in the Trinitarian scheme be frightened or lack any confidence from a sure thing? An easy answer might be that because the Lord had a physical body he was susceptible to pain and human fear.
I can buy into that.
However, at Gethsemane, when Jesus was sweating blood because of the intensity of his impending crucifixion, why would the Lord need to pray for the Father’s help? And why would the Lord need an angel to give Him confidence to move forward? Could Jesus not tap into His own divine powers?
Swedenborg says He did! Since Jesus and Jehovah were actually one and the same Deity, the Lord praying among the olive trees was simply a communication between His imperfect human nature (the flesh) and His perfect Divine Nature (Jehovah). Jehovah represented the Lord’s Divine Soul but having taken on a physical body, Divine and Holy things were mixed into the human gene pool (from Mary). This was the means by which the Lord could take on humanity’s sins and conquer them. Jesus made His flesh comply perfectly to the dictates of the Father’s will (the Lord’s Divine Soul) through a life of victories over human temptations and compulsions. The word “Gethsemane” means “olive press.” Which is a fitting term for someone who was being “squeezed” and feeling the cosmic “pressure” to succeed.
This is why there was an empty tomb—the Lord made His flesh equally holy with His Divine Essence (Jehovah). This process of glorification allowed the Lord to gain power over heaven and earth.
When we approach the Lord to guide our lives, we gain access to this holy power in overcoming our own temptations and compulsions. I like Swedenborg’s theology because it shows that Jehovah God has an eternal and endless love for the human race. He came into the world to make His Truth visible to the world of men and women. Divine Truth is the only begotten Son of Divine Love. Truth puts Love on display, just as Jesus’ life on earth put His Father’s (His divine spirit’s) infinite love and mercy on display.
The true message of our Lord’s life on earth is the world’s greatest Valentine’s Day message in history!
Recent scientific research seems to validate the amazing discoveries of the 18th Century scientist/theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg claimed that there was a causal link between physical and spiritual realities. He called this link correspondences. The essential idea of correspondences is that the natural world is a physical analog (metaphor) of the spiritual world. Since an individual’s heart and mind is a man or woman’s spiritual reality, the physical body is lawfully designed to respond to one’s feelings, thoughts and mental abstractions (higher order realities) in a corresponding (embodied) way.
Apparently, this topic is part of a growing and highly popular field in Psychological Science called embodied cognition. I will share several examples from the article.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen discovered that when participants were asked to contemplate future or past events, their bodies had measurable and corresponding reactions. Those who thought of the future leaned slightly forward while those thinking of the past leaned slightly backward. In other words, an abstract concept such as time found its physical equivalent in body posture.
At Yale, a test was conducted where participants were each given a packet of information concerning an imaginary person. Group A was given a warm cup of coffee with this packet and Group B received iced coffee with the packet. You guessed it. Group A had warmer feelings towards the imagined individual while Group B’s impression was frosty. Furthermore, at the University of Toronto, participants who were asked to recall memories of times when they felt socially snubbed seemed on average to believe that the room they were in was five degrees cooler than those who were asked to recall times of feeling social acceptance.
Swedenborg claimed, two centuries earlier, that psychological love corresponded to physical heat. We even use this similitude in our language—such as experiencing a “warming of the heart” or feeling the “heat of passion.”
This psycho-physical parallelism even extends into issues of morality. Another study showed that participants who dwelled on personal bad behavior such as adultery were more likely to ask for an antiseptic cloth afterwards (to cleanse themselves) than those who dwelled on their good deeds.
Swedenborg took the idea of embodied cognition (correspondences) into theology and biblical interpretation (exegesis). He claimed that the sacred rite of Baptism was a symbolic language for depicting a cleansing of one’s negative inner qualities. In fact, the entire Holy Word had this symbolic language of correspondences incorporated into the structured scaffolding of its narratives.
In another experiment researchers determined that the sensation of “weightiness” influenced the importance participants placed on certain issues. Those holding heavier objects placed more importance to the issues that their minds were being associated with. It is a common lexicon that things we perceive as important carry more “weight.” Weight and importance correspond. Powerful ideas affect the human spirit just as natural objects—with lots of mass—can affect the physical body.
Similarly we can feel miles apart from people who are physically close and very near to those who are miles away. What this means is that the body and mind are aware of another reality that makes use of an entirely different kind of metrics (standard of measurement). Swedenborg boldly stated that the spiritual world contained these non-physical metrics—measurements, boundaries and parameters that represent the quality of one’s love and its derivative thoughts (non-material trajectories).
My first book Sermon From The Compost Pile shows the reader how to employ this symbolic language of embodied cognition or correspondence to all things in the physical world of nature so that one can find spiritual wisdom right in their own garden or backyard.
My second book Proving God offers further insights to where this new science of embodied cognition can take us. It is the lawful and rational means by which science and theology will be ultimately unified!
The Lord spoke to the multitudes one way and to His disciples another. What was the difference in the two forms of teaching?
Obviously Jesus gave the disciples more details. But what did these details relate to? The answer is that the Lord spent additional time with the disciples to explain the deeper meaning of His parables and how all the stories of Scripture contained deeper truths.
This is highlighted by the Lord’s taking several disciples to a mountaintop, where they briefly saw Him transfigured and conversing with Moses and Elias, and also by the special conversation the Lord had with His disciples along the journey to Emmaus.
When the His disciples asked the Lord why He spoke in parables, His reply was “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven . . .” (Matt. 13:11)
In other words, the Lord attempted to teach His disciples about the symbolism and inner depth of Scripture. Concerning this deeper knowledge of faith, the Lord told them, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matt. 13:17)
There are also references in Scripture indicating that even the disciples did not understand everything they were being told. These things included such paradoxes as the conflicting statements about the Lord’s return “And then shall they see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27) compared with “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20).
In fact, to add even greater confusion concerning the details of Lord’s return He also told His disciples that “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)
What could the human mind not bear – especially if it concerns the good news of the Lord returning to reprove the world of sin? The answer can be summed up best by Walt Kelly’s comic strip character Pogo, who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
The big revelation within Revelation is that Armageddon, which takes place at the time of the Second Coming, symbolizes the denial and resistance that WE each put up to keep the Lord and His commandments out of our lives. The Great Red Dragon is not an over-sized reptile. It is a belief-system that falsifies God’s truth – such as the monstrous doctrine of salvation by faith alone!
One of the big purposes of my blog (besides unifying science and theology) is to find ways of demonstrating the reality of deeper meanings within the narratives of the Holy Word.
Are you a parable-pooper?
If so, why?
Why would you think a God of Infinite Wisdom is incapable of such a thing? How can the Word be God (John 1:1-3) if it is anything less than God’s Infinite Wisdom? The only way a finite book can contain Infinite Wisdom is if its words and stories contain multi-layered meanings. Having access to some of these levels would indeed show us the true glory of God!
Traditional science has worked under the assumption that reality can be reduced to smaller and simpler elementary parts. This is called reductionism.
However, some pioneering thinkers have taken the view that nature is complex even on its most fundamental levels. Physicist David Bohm believed that quantum entities contained subtle and complex inner structure.
Theologically speaking, if the universe was created by an Infinite God, then it must have had its beginning in unfathomable complexity.
This raises an interesting question. If the Word, which existed before creation was God, and all things in the created world came from the Word (John 1:1-3), does Scripture contain a pre-space and non-physical substrate that is infinitely complex?
Like science, traditional theology believes that the biblical stories are reducible to the simple meaning of its words. But, if the Holy Word was communicated to the human race from God in heaven, shouldn’t its stories contain deeper and more complex ideas?
This is exactly what scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg actually discovered. The Holy Word, like the physical world it generated, contained a similar patterning principle and template, whereby the deeper one probes, the more wonderful the spiritual message becomes – gaining new powers of abstraction until its message finally transcends the comprehension of mortal men and women.
Angels can grasp these more intricately beautiful teachings woven into Scripture, but its deeper levels of God’s truth and divine wisdom ultimately transcend angelic comprehension as well. Angels call the Holy Word “the great deep.”
Swedenborg suggested, that because all earthly men and women are interiorly spiritual beings, they too possess the higher levels of mind that angels enjoy. But these higher cognitive functions only represent latent powers, which need to be opened up through a willingness to learn deeper spiritual truths and a commitment to spend some effort on training the mind to think in new ways.
Swedenborg labored nearly thirty years of his life to help people acquire this deeper knowledge through extraordinary books that challenge and exercise the mind to distill higher meaning from mundane language. If this interests you I recommend that you contact the Swedenborg Foundation and order Vol.1 of Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia (Secrets of Heaven).
It is a wonderful opportunity to make your life more valuable to the Lord God in heaven and to humanity on earth.
Those who have a faith-based worldview believe that God created the manifest universe. In fact, John 1:1-3 informs us that everything in the created world has its origins in the Holy Word.
If we contemplate John’s words rationally, rather than simply as a faith requirement, Scripture seems to be implying that the structure of the universe is patterned after the structure of God’s revealed wisdom.
Many physicists now believe that we live in a multi-dimensional or multi-leveled universe. As you move up this hierarchical ontological ladder, things are not only becoming more fundamental, they are becoming more abstract, expanded, non-local and non-physical.
In my upcoming book, Proving God, I argue that God’s Holy Word—which existed from eternity, was sent down from heaven, where its message found embodiment in the terrestrial words of human language. This divine order was the template for the multi-dimensional structure of the universe. Scientists call this order top-down causality.
Few theologians have considered the fact that if God’s Word came down from heaven, its original dynamics could not have been worldly, terrestrial, or physical. In other words, Scripture, on its most fundamental level, could not have described spatial qualities or physical events.
Heaven is certainly a non-spatial and non-physical realm. Therefore, for the Holy Word to exist in such a rarefied pre-space realm, before creation, it must have contained more abstract, expanded narratives with non-physical meanings. In fact, these higher meanings could ONLY treat of things referring to God’s holy qualities and the holy qualities of the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.
In the same way that energy and process can transition downwards into forms of stabilized matter, God’s Holy Word is a multi-dimensional document by which its primal sacred meaning descends into the constraints of time, space and matter, and its message takes on the appearance of a book containing literal history.
Reversing this top-down divine process through the human mind’s ability of symbolic abstraction while reading Scripture is what leads to spiritual enlightenment.
In other words, in the same way that matter and energy become more dynamic as the constraints of physical law are removed in higher levels of activity, the meanings of the stories in Scripture also become more dynamic when the constraints of the literal meanings of its words are removed.
That God intended for us to distill higher levels of meaning from the Holy Word is evidenced by the fact that Jesus spoke in parables only!
The Book of Revelation informs us that we will see the Lord in all His glory when He returns in the midst of clouds. If we remove the constraints of the literal meaning of the words “coming with the clouds” to its higher, psycho-spiritual equivalent, we will understand something deeper. Clouds symbolize mental obscurity. God’s “return” will involve His breaking through our mental obscurity and doctrinal fog by revealing these higher levels of meaning to the human race.
The process of revealing these higher meanings is happening right now in the world. These higher meanings will shake things up for both scientists and theologians. The Second Coming is going to be an earth-shaking paradigm change.