So in 1734, Swedenborg from being a scientist was becoming a philosopher, by way of his Principia, a theory of the elementary world. The "elementals" are called "finites," "actives of finites" and compounds of finites and actives called "auras" or sometimes "atmospheres" or "elementaries."
Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876) was one of the most outstanding biologists of the European continent—if not the most outstanding one. Although one of the leading contemporary biologists, Stephen J. Gould of Harvard, says about him: "his laws, in refurbished evolutionary dress, are now more widely accepted than ever before...and his descriptions mark the beginning of modem embryology"1 yet, an important encyclopedia for America and England has only a short and somewhat critical article about him. Most articles about him mention at least some of his discoveries and his important publications. Very little is generally written about his profound fundamental ideas and his observations concerning the evolution of life on this planet.
The following paper is in three parts. The first part provides background information on the history of the theory of evolution and in particular looks at the controversy over the issue of whether or not Charles Darwin should be given priority as its author. The role of Alfred Russel Wallace in delineating the function of natural selection is examined, and the possibility that Swedenborg influenced Wallace's later views is considered.The second part looks at the support for the idea of evolution in the Writings, quickly examines the empirical evidence in support of the key idea of natural selection, and provides an overview of various criticisms leveled at the neo-Danvinian, or synthetic theory of evolution.* 1 Because of its weaknesses it is suggested that the present theory of evolution is only part of a larger reality which is as yet unknown.The third part looks at Rupert Sheldrake's hypothesis of formative causation and suggests that his concept of morphogenetic fields may demonstrate a mechanism whereby the Lord created forms of life suited to the environment of this world.2 The implications of this hypothesis for rethinking the theory of evolution from the Writings are considered. And finally, confirmations and illustrations of New Church doctrine, particularly doctrine concerning hereditary good and evil, are looked at as they may connect with the concept of morphogenetic fields.