Being someone who has just written a book that attempts to unify science and religion you would think I would be happy whenever religion embraces a scientific theory. No!
For instance, religion has no basic theological problems with the Big Bang theory. It allows the clergy and scientists to agree that the universe had an instantaneous beginning—the creation event. However, I believe the Big Bang theory of creation is flawed. I have come to this conclusion from my lengthy study of the ideas of scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg.
Unfortunately for me, many researchers who embrace Swedenborg’s theology feel more comfortable with today’s scientific accomplishments and the new physics. So they look at science solely through the prism of his truly dynamic religious doctrine. This requires forcing their advanced spiritual concepts onto theories based on a purely materialistic ideology and hoping the resulting marriage will give them a truly theistic science.
I believe Swedenborgian scholars who embrace the Big Bang theory of modern cosmology are contributing to bad science. I think they have fallen into this trap because they can readily produce a spiritual metaphor for such an explanation of the creation event. For those unfamiliar with Swedenborg’s ideas let me try to put it into a nutshell as best as I can.
Emanuel Swedenborg stated that everything in the physical world, including all its processes, represents some quality and action in the non-physical realm of the spiritual world. In other words, everything natural is nothing other than a physical analog of spiritual realities—by which all physical creation comes forth and subsists. Swedenborg called these relationships and similarities between physical and spiritual entities CORRESPONDENCES.
Therefore, a Swedenborgian minister or theologian only has to recognize that the physical explosion or distribution of energy, mass and momentum in the Big Bang beginning can be easily translated into an equivalent psychical process whereby God’s teaching can create a similar explosion of consciousness within the human heart and mind for the case to be closed. Job done.
However, finding such an analogy between the Big Bang creation of the physical world and the creation of a new spirit within one’s inner world neither complements Swedenborg’s theology nor his science. (Since many who embrace Swedenborg’s theology feel that modern science trumps Swedenborg’s science, it will be more productive if I stick to his unique theology.)
If we contemplate the Big Bang beginning, we find ourselves going back in time to a situation where the entire universe is “squeezed” into a unit with an increasingly shrinking radius until we have infinite spacetime curvature, infinite gravity and infinite mass. This extreme non-dimensional state of the pre-natal universe is called a singularity.
Scientists admit they have no real grasp of what this means because all the laws of physics break down in a singularity. One thing is clear in a singularity—it consists of all the physical things of the universe! But Swedenborg scholars cannot accept such a premise (their theology maintains that God created the world from spiritual substance). You can’t squeeze infinite physical matter and mass into a tiny dot and get spiritual substance (which Swedenborg describes as God’s pure love and intelligence seeking form in utility).
In other words, when you squeeze matter and mass into a tiny dot you get something increasingly physical rather than something spiritual (with motives). But this leaves Swedenborgian thinkers with a real can of worms. No one wants to jeopardize their academic credentials, so it is much easier to simply embrace the current findings of today’s scientists and sidestep professional ridicule from well-entrenched institutions. Besides, the analogy between the Big Bang and our spiritual awakening works just fine for their purposes. (Swedenborg would call this an “intermediate” or an “appearance of truth.”) Why complicate matters?
So, I have volunteered to stick my own neck out by writing a new book on how Swedenborg would actually challenge current scientific assumptions and even offer superior solutions to such contemporary problems as quantum gravity. The book is titled Proving God and will be available April 30th.