Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg provides the best rational evidence that love (human affection) and human thought are real substances and forms. However, these substances and forms are not bound by space and time. In fact, Swedenborg called love and thought (ideas) spiritual substances.
Even modern science understands that without a real substance as a subject, there cannot be any mode, or any modification, or any quality that can actively manifest itself. Thoughts and feelings must be real substances because they can take on modes, be modified, have trajectories and even produce real effects in the world.
Natural science, which is based on a materialistic ideology, believes that “thought” is an outcome or by-product (epiphenomenon) of events taking place on the micro-level of matter or subatomic world. Swedenborg believed the human mind operated first (a priori) and flowed into the material or physical forms of the brain (called top-down causality).
But how would we determine that psychical “stuff” (intelligent substance) operates beyond the constraints of physical time and space? One clue is that the ideas of our mind are not under the same physical laws that rule and govern matter. For instance, if you cut an apple pie in half and share it with a friend you retain half of the pie. But if you share half of your knowledge with a friend you still get to keep all your knowledge! Also, when we see a physical event happening we can retain the memory of that event long after its duration in time. So the mental images of our ideas are not under the same laws of physical time or physical space.
It is true that when we manifest strong feelings or rationally think things through, precise areas of the physical brain are activated, but according to Swedenborg, this actually represents the operation of spirit (intelligent substance) flowing into a more restricted boundary condition.
Thoughts and feelings are under a different metric (standard of measurement) than physical quantities. A person’s physical stature is determined and measured by feet or centimeters, but a person’s inner spiritual qualities are measured by wisdom and goodness. Each of these metrics is distinctly different and represents measurement in distinct realms of reality—but each realm consists of its own ratios and proportions.
Swedenborg discovered that while these two metrics were distinct, they could find relationship through principles of harmony. That is, the ratios, proportions and equations represented by modifications of thought could correspond to, and correlate with, the ratios, proportions and equations produced by the modes and modifications of physical forms in the brain.
The significance of this is that non-physical and physical processes can be unified, thus offering a possible nexus for ultimately unifying science and religion!
These promising concepts have unfortunately not been pursued, because Swedenborg’s importance has been almost completely overlooked when it comes to the history of human ideas. It is the hope of my upcoming book Proving God to renew interest in both his amazing scientific and theological works.