The New Philosophy Vol 105 No 3-4, July-December 2002
Discussing questions concerning quantum physics and spirituality together is particularly valuable in order to see the connection between them from a New Church standpoint. An urgent reason for discussing this link is that some people want to identify these things. The feeling is widespread that somehow they are connected, but some “new age” people want to say that quantum physics tells us about spirituality. We know from Swedenborg that the connection is not quite so simple, so we need to understand in more detail what is going on.
The subject of this essay is ancient and modern wisdom, especially concerning the existence and powers of the soul. Specifically, I will show three things. First, in both the theological and pre-theological works Swedenborg holds that the ancients are wiser than the moderns. Second, Swedenborg’s search for the soul led him to reevaluate his definition of philosophy and his conception of wisdom. Third, his revealing of ancient wisdom, especially the science of correspondences, is useful to today’s philosopher in understanding and appreciating ancient philosophical texts.
Pascal’s famous wager reads in brief: “Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is . . . If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.” The reason behind the wager is whether it is worth living your life as if eternal life depended on it: if God exists, there is eternal life and redemption; if He does not, there is just death and oblivion. So if you live well, so that God, if He exists, will redeem you, then “you gain all.” But if He does not exist, and you live well anyhow, then you lose nothing, since your life well lived was worth living in any case. The problem with believing that God exists, however, is that so does evil. That is the “theodicy” problem, a term invented by Leibnitz: If God is good, why is there Evil? How can a good God create a universe in which there is evil? Since the universe was made by God and God is good, and yet evil exists, it follows that God is responsible for evil. And how does that fact feature in eternal life existing or not?