To the New Church scientist and philosopher, a consideration of Swedenborg’s doctrine of the atmospheres, and of the ether in particular, presents a number of problems that can best, perhaps, be considered under the following headings: 1) Our belief or faith in the Divine authority of the Writings and its relation to the doctrine of the atmospheres. 2) The nature and analysis of Swedenborg’s doctrine of the ether, and the conception of the ether as commonly accepted during the 19th century. 3) The facts of science that led to the rejection of the ether. 4) The ether as discreted substance.
Swedberg wrote a brief explanation of “A New System of ReckoningWhich Turns at 8” to present to King Charles XII of Sweden. The king had apparently encouraged him in pursuing the matter, having himself experimented with a system based on 64. The king’s death prevented delivery of the manuscript, but it was preserved and is now in the Royal Library at Stockholm. In 1941 it was translated from the Swedish by Dr. Alfred Acton and published by the Swedenborg Scientific Association. Dr. C. E. Doering reviewed it in the October, 1941, issue of the New Philosophy.This little work still serves as a valuable illustration of the natureof tradition and its influence upon human thought. The readersees that the system using eight remains unused in spite of its advantages.But, more important, he witnesses his own reactions to its novelty and gains an insight into how many of his own mental processes are little more than traditional rituals, established by practice more than by reason.
Theories concerning the origin of the earth can be divided into two groups—those of the cataclysmic or catastrophic class, and those of the uniformitarian class. Cataclysmists ascribe the present state of the universe to sudden and abrupt events, stupendous and violent dislocations. Those of the uniformitarian school believe that the present is a key to the past—that the world came to its present form by a series of events, by processes which are still going on incessantly.
There are four aspects that will be discussed as follows:I) History of science has shown that certain ideas are recurrent atdifferent times. In between times these same ideas are held to befalse. II) The present ideas in modern physics, while dependingupon experimentation, have their philosophical basis largely inmathematics— especially in the solution of differential equations.III) Some ideas on the practical difficulties of understanding thephilosophic problems that result from scientific progress. IV) Some judgments called “ boasts” in the history of science that seemto indicate a belief from time to time that final truth—or at least theboundary of knowledge—has been arrived at.