Reading through my newest edition of Theology And Science, I came upon an article by F. Leron Shults who used a term that I had not heard of before—semiosphere. After reading the article I became further convinced that academia is moving closer to the ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg.
According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the answer to the question posed above is “yes.” The term semiotic refers to a general theory of symbolic signs and language.
The challenge of such a claim to the scientific mindset is whether something symbolic—like a fire-breathing dragon—is ontologically real and can be objectively observed. Symbols and signs can definitely produce real effects in the physical actions of men and women. But do symbolic representations occupy a real (but more rarefied) causal realm of existence? Or must the physical world of facts and the mental realm of values remain as disparate dualities?
Higher mathematics seems to point to the existence of more abstract realities. And all mathematical equation embraces both ratio and analog (symbolic language).
The universe also has both order and orientation and is therefore profoundly unified. The interconnectedness, interrelatedness and interdependence of the earth’s biosphere show an objectively observable similarity with one of humankind’s most potent symbols—the heart and love.
Is nature itself symbolic?
Swedenborg claimed to have discovered from powerful visionary insights that universal nature was a theater representative of the Lord God’s heavenly kingdom. All created things have reference to the Lord and the spiritual word.
Symbols have their origins from God. If the universe and humankind was created in God’s image then all things in nature, regardless of complexity, are physical expressions of God’s kingdom of mutual love and utility. In other words, we would find a creation based on cooperation and sharing. The biosphere could not operate or maintain itself otherwise. The biosphere is therefore representative (physical analog) of a theological semiosphere. Swedenborg called the causal nexus between these two realms the science of correspondences. This offers us a new twist on the topic of duality—one in which both realms are actually mirror images of each other and homogenous.
Swedenborg stated that after the death of the physical body, a person would enter a semiosphere whereby all the topographical features of this inner realm would be reflections of the inner qualities and values of one’s heart and mind—the true abode and landscape of a person’s spirit—projected around him or her like a karmic hologram!
According to Swedenborg, God’s Holy Word contained both a biosphere (with reference to physical mountains, streams, deserts, animals, trees, countries and people) and a semiosphere (with levels of higher, symbolic meaning that were contained within the literal sense of its narratives).
Unknown to most scientists and theologians, God’s Holy Word contains the patterning principles, within its sacred and layered architecture, for all top-down causal process in the universe and biosphere!
I explore these paradigm-changing ideas in my new book, Proving God.