It is self-evident that time is periodic and that nature consists of cycles. The universe would be incoherent and unknowable if it were otherwise.
Science and religion can, therefore, both agree on the dynamical principle underlying the phrase “from ashes to ashes.” All things return to their beginnings. This process can be called the Circle of Life.
But this law of process also rules the non-physical realm of the human mind and spirit and God’s ultimate plan of eternal life for each of us. Salvation also takes part in this circular scheme. Allow me to explain.
It is self-evident that we are born into this physical world in a state of complete innocence. The purpose of religion is to provide us with a map or guide by which we can return to innocence.
As we grow older, become educated, and come under the various allurements of the world, innocence easily becomes lost along the way.
Because our Creator knows the idiosyncrasies of the human psyche, God also knows that acting civilly around others or going to church every Sunday does not ensure a return to innocence. This requires wisdom and absolute sincerity.
Because we can feign goodness and pretend we are angels. It all depends on our inner motives. We can easily do good things for others and still ONLY have regard for ourselves—such as for self-gain, increased reputation, material wealth, power, and even celebrity. Such inner drives and personal motives, while they can be hidden from the eyes of the world, make even outwardly good actions illegitimate and destroy our spiritual innocence.
The purpose of religion is to provide us the wisdom not only to know the difference between right and wrong, but the sincerity to observe and remove harmful or selfish intentions that we may be harboring from within. This is called having an affection and love for real truth, which can only come from the heart’s desire to purge itself from negative traits.
So, we are born in innocence and return to innocence through God’s wisdom. According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, “true innocence is wisdom itself.” Eternal happiness cannot be obtained while holding on to the things we hide from the world. They simply remain in our spirit where they are unleashed after the death of the physical body.
That is a scary thought! But our Lord God offers us a chance to unleash innocence into the next world. What else could heaven be?