Jacob, Esau and non-physical bio-complexity

Cover art from The Secret of the Non Diet ©Kachmann Media, LLCMy new book Proving God is the result of a seven-year effort (including two years of attending seminary) to unify science and theology. My two main strategies are to show that love is the ultimate science and that Holy Scripture is a multidimensional scientific document.

The biblical story in Genesis of the relationship between Jacob and his twin brother Esau can serve as a micro-illustration of both of my strategies. Those who are familiar with this biblical story know that Jacob tricked his older brother out of his birthright (as firstborn) and inheritance of their father Isaac. Later in the narrative, Jacob returns to his brother Esau in the land of Canaan with all his belongings and begins to serve him as his lord.

According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, this turn of events between the twin brothers transcends mere historical data and represents heavy-duty psychological growth and the patterning principles behind mental development. Holy Scripture, because it is a unique deposit of God’s Infinite Wisdom, by necessity, must contain ever-deeper levels of meaning. On one level of exposition, Swedenborg claimed that the stories of the Bible contained the science of mind and its proper heaven-bound development according to the Lord God’s divine scheme and order.

Symbolically speaking, the two human cognitive functions of will (volition) and discernment (intellect) are like twin brothers. When human babies first come into the world they are pure volition and must glean knowledge from the world over time. Volition is desire and affection (derivatives of love). Therefore, in the human psyche love is firstborn.  However, as the mind learns new things the intellect becomes primary and gains the upper hand. This is why Jacob, who represents the human intellect, gains the upper hand on his older brother Esau.

As the intellect develops and accumulates more possessions (wives, handmaids, children and flocks) it realizes that everything must be returned for the sake of putting love and goodness back in the primary position. First we seek knowledge then we seek wisdom and that which ultimately promotes goodness of the heart. This is why Jacob eventually seeks out his older brother, symbolically representing the human intellect submitting itself before the human heart. Jacob’s organizing his family members and possessions into a particular order before submitting them to Esau represents the emergence of new cognitive structure according to their importance, that is, the arrangement of general and particular concepts within the disposition of the love represented by Esau.

Love is the ultimate science because it disposes all form into coherent and orderly structure according to utility and serviceability (whether mental or physical structure).

I have just scratched the surface of this multidimensional exegesis and left many, many details out. That God’s Holy Word contains such incredible depth and wisdom shows just how much darkness humankind lives in. In fact, Genesis begins on page one by describing this void and darkness! In other words, on a deeper level, the Bible reveals our own intimate story and changing relationship with the Lord God!

These deeper insights are now being made available to men and women who have a sincere desire to learn more.


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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2 Responses to Jacob, Esau and non-physical bio-complexity

  1. Roger says:

    I recently bought Candace Frazee’s book and I was disappointed in one (just one) area.

    Candace says that miscarried and aborted babies simply disappear and their souls just vanish into the soul of the Homo Maximus. She then quotes two General Church of the New Jerusalem pastors to support her.

    I submit that this interpretation does not directly follow from the Writings.

    I am aware of Swedenborg’s usage of the terms “soul” and “spirit” and I will stick to this usage. As you mentioned, our understanding is limited to the spirit/spiritual body. Only God knows about our souls (our essences) – not even the celestial angels do. The soul gets a “spirit/mind” when the baby comes out of the womb and breathes its first breath. Until then the soul is not conscious. All of this is standard Swedenborgian teaching.

    Now I submit that our unconscious souls are pre-existent i.e. they have always existed as potential essences in God’s field of view (something similar to the Jewish concept of Guf – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guf). This not the same as pre-existence of the spirit – in Swedenborgian theology, there is no pre-existence of the spirit. Also, souls do not re-incarnate since that would imply shedding one spirit and getting another. The souls of miscarried/aborted fetuses do not become angels since they have not become/acquired ‘a spirit’ yet since that happens with the first breath. All this is fine.

    It does not contradict the Writings to assert that the association of a pre-nascent soul and a potential human body is loose and tentative. If a fetus is aborted, there is no difficulty in postulating that the soul, which continues in the ‘repository of pre-conscious unborn souls’ will definitely be associated in the future with another potential vehicle for a human life – another body – whose DNA matches God’s purpose for that soul. This is not the same as reincarnation since the association of a pre-nascent human soul with a fetal body is tentative.

    God has a place in heaven for all of us and we won’t lose it unless we do something egregious and insist on persevering in wickedness. Since the Writings allow for my interpretation above, I find it more logical and consistent with Divine wisdom/love than asserting that the souls of the unborn dead simply die off.

    I haven’t written to Candace Frazee about my disagreement with her on this point, but I will.


  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Roger,

    I have not read Candace Frazee’s book. (We only recently became friends on Facebook.) Your challenge to her statement about the fate of aborted or miscarried babies has political, moral as well as theological implications.

    While Swedenborg makes it clear that children go to heaven, only God really knows what happens to souls that do not complete the construction of a physical body to “full term.” Everything else is speculation (and preference).

    However, once there is conception (sperm entering the egg) the soul has started to create a person. Speaking scientifically, at conception the soul has gained a certain degree of “fixedness” and “distinctiveness” within time and space (and within a real living physical bio-structure. That may be enough to form a cutaneous covering which Swedenborg calls the “Limbus” for God and heaven’s angels to work with in the formation of a new spiritual human being.

    The reproductive organs of men and women get influx (subsistence) from angels of the highest order and who love children. In other words, there is much going on here that remains beyond our cognitive abilities. Let me know how your conversation with Candace goes – I might have more to say as your dialog unfolds.

    Spiritually yours,

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