The mad Swedenborgian scientists

Sometime in the future, on the planet earth, a particular church had grown in size so that it could fund a research center where scientists would perform special experiments to find physical evidence that would ultimately support the theological ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Since Swedenborg’s core insight was that the physical world of nature was a symbolic theater and analog of God’s heavenly kingdom, the church felt that all the branches of science, when properly understood, could verify its advanced spiritual doctrines.  This would go a long way to helping their ongoing evangelical efforts.

On this particular day a scientist named Steve was conducting experiments on the human mind and brain. He had a volunteer wired up to various sensitive electronic probes that measured and located the changing areas of his brain activity as well as tracking the circulation of his blood. It soon became clear to Steve that each state of mind in the volunteer contained a corresponding blood circulation.

Not only by changing the volunteer’s thoughts and feelings could Steve re-direct his blood flow, he could also do the opposite. That is, by changing the way the blood filled certain blood vessels he could re-create a particular state of mind. As he turned the dials of his equipment to affect how his volunteer’s blood entered the heart and lungs, something unusual happened. As he kept turning the dials back and forth he noticed that his volunteer responded in a way that displayed a real duality of consciousness.

Excited by this, he ran to his assistant Al, who was collecting data in the adjacent room.

“Al,” shouted Steve. “Come see this!”

Steve brought Al into his experimental chamber and turned the dials of his apparatus in one direction. “Ask the volunteer a question,” said Steve.

Al turned to the volunteer and asked “what interests you most in life?”

The volunteer answered, “I am most interested in studying subtle philosophical questions.”

Then Steve turned his dials in the opposite direction. “Now ask him the same question.”

So again Al asked the volunteer “What interests you most in life?”

The volunteer responded, ”I like my warm blankie and to be fussed over and cuddled.”

Al turned to Steve in confusion, saying, “Our volunteer is now talking like a little kid.”

Steve turned the dials back in the other direction, took the electrodes off of the volunteer and said, “You may leave now.”

Once the volunteer had left the room, Steve continued his conversation with Al. “I never completely understood Swedenborg’s concept that people have two natural minds—the external natural mind and the interior natural mind. Well, I believe I have not only just proven their existence, I have discovered how independent they really are.”

“What practical application can this evidence offer the church?” returned Al.

“Swedenborg claimed that the Lord God stores heavenly feelings and knowledge in the interior natural mind of a child—to be used later in life when the process of spiritual re-birth is activated,” said Steve excitedly.

“You are talking about Swedenborg’s ‘doctrine of remains,’ ” said Al.

“Yes. Yes. Our volunteer’s childlike response came from his subconscious mind where God stores thoughts and feelings of innocence,” said Steve with a joyful expression on his face.

“But why did nothing of the volunteer’s advanced education or church teachings reach his subconscious mind and allow his remains to grow, mature and unify both outer and inner levels of consciousness?” asked Al with a concerned expression.

“I don’t know,” responded Steve. “I was careful to pick a volunteer who attends church services every Sunday and volunteers much of his time to help create a loving and charitable community.” Steve pondered this some more. “Gee, I wonder whether the church’s emphasis on love, hope and building a strong sense of community has caused them to neglect a painful but most important step in spiritual growth and salvation.”

“What’dya mean?”

“Well,” said Steve, “maybe since being nice makes people feel good, a congregation will naturally feel more spiritual and at ease by showing care for each other rather than doing the nasty groundwork of digging up their individual flaws. However, Swedenborg makes it clear that such a personal inventory is necessary to produce the inner conflict and spiritual temptations necessary to fuse both inner and outer minds.”

“I think we’d better warn the ministers of our church that we have scientific evidence that giving constant comfort and hope to their congregational members can have some unintended consequences,” said Al.

“I don’t think so,” replied Steve shaking his head. “When ministers say anything to make their worshippers feel uncomfortable, they soon find themselves out on the street.”

Steve and Al stared at each other over this insidious dilemma.


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
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2 Responses to The mad Swedenborgian scientists

  1. Adri says:

    Hi Ed,
    Is it not already so that science can see a difference in certain parts of the brain of people with different lifestyles or dispositions? I thought something like that has come up maybe a few months ago. Someone in the church followed this also and seemed to agree with the program that our brains make us different. It seems to me that it is US that make our brains different.
    Combined with your last post it seems the devil has already succeeded to make science believe that we are our body (and brain) and nothing else. Now all we need to do is find out which pills to take to make us a better person. We already know what to take to fight depression.

  2. thegodguy says:

    Hi Adri,

    Thanks for the comment!

    This is a bit of a different topic. I am addressing the difference in ONE PERSON’S brain/mind! Humans have a split consciousness in their natural mind – called the “external” natural and the “internal” natural minds. The internal natural mind (known today as the subconscious) is where the Lord stores our “remains.” The external natural mind is artificial and corporeal – but it is where most people function in the world. Therefore, reading Scripture or hearing a great sermon has no real effect if it cannot penetrate deeper than the external natural mind. The Lord uses temptations, sorrows and various misfortunes to break the “hypnotic” hold of this outer and false consciousness. This is an area of great misunderstanding!

    Spiritually yours,

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