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.”
“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.