Swedenborg Scientific Association

Publishers of The New Philosophy Journal

Article Type: paper

The True and False Theory of Evolution

The interest which Evolution has awakened in the minds of the most acute and profound thinkers in the scientific and religious world, shows its intimate connection with the growing tendency to regard all things as connected and related, and moving on in the paths of an immutable order. It is the effect of this intelligent, scientific spirit brooding over the chaotic theories of creation, causing a deeper penetration into its mysteries, and a more determined effort to solve the enigmas of the universe. That great good must result from this more extensive and accurate knowledge of the material world, and its relations to man and all the forms of life which exist in it, is evident to every one who is acquainted with the history of human progress in the knowledge of nature and man.

Read More »

Notes on The True and False Theory of Evolution (1887) by Rev. Chauncey Giles

What is remarkable about this book, and the man who wrote it, is the maturity of understanding it brings to the argument, of an exceedingly subtle scientific theory then only twenty-eight years old. His grasp of the biological principles is sound, which is beyond remarkable for a man with his basic education. His “area” as we would call it today (while dismissing him out of hand) was New Church theology, and certainly not the field of population biology. And yet there it is.

Read More »

Swedenborg Among the Slavs

Translated by G.F. Dole from Chapter 17 of Aus Zwei Welten Beitrage zur Geschichte der Slavisch-westlichen Literarischen Beziehungen. There can be no doubt that the Swedish spirit-seer attracted the attention of some particular Slavic circles even during his lifetime. Interest in his theology on the one hand and his visions on the other hand has certainly not diminished. There have been Slavic Swedenborgians even in the twentieth century, and there still are. Right up to the present time, though, little attention has been paid to Swedenborg’s influence by Slavists, for various reasons.

Read More »

Images and Dreams from an Invisible World: Swedenborg and Yeats

At the beginning of the twentieth century, William Butler Yeats was among those writers whose work was influenced by Swedenborg, and one can notice this ‘influence’ in his poetry and in essays alike. In 1914 Yeats composed Swedenborg, Mediums and the Desolate Places (published a few years later, in 1920), where he defined Swedenborg as a “forerunner” of the Romantic movement, despite a style and spirit far removed from being Romantic. For Yeats, Swedenborg gave expression to the deepest manifestations of his soul, his mental state, and his spirituality by means of powerful images, that can be considered very close to those of a Romantic. The evocative power of Swedenborg’s representations of heaven and hell lies in the fact that he drew on an infinite variety of images of the natural world, meticulously collected during his life as a natural philosopher and mineralogist. These images gave a visible and tangible form to manifestations of an inner unconscious for the soul or, in other words, to an invisible “world of spirits,” to which, according to Swedenborg, the souls of all human beings belong. For these reasons his imagination was similar to that of poets and artists; he believed that he could establish a bridge between the outside (sight, sensitive perception) and the inside (the movements of the soul, spiritual activity, moral values) and provide the latter, in its complexity and with its many nuances, a concrete existence.

Read More »

The Deep Structure of the Question

The parameters of human expression are quite fully delineated between the concepts of “declaration” and “interrogation.” From his very soul, man experiences the urges both to “tell” and to “ask.” Perhaps the more fundamental of the two is to “ask,” as this is inherent in the infant’s first utterance, the cry, and in the perpetual whining of children for the objects of their wants. How did primitive man learn to ask questions?

Read More »

Sight, the Visual Process, and Doctrine

Part IIIn a previous paper we discussed the right way to approach the Word. After these prerequisites have been fulfilled, and we “as-of-self” approach the Word, light is brought to a focus on the retina. The effort to understand brings it to focus on the most sensitive layer of the retina, the macula. This area, we suggest, represents the Writings; and, inmostly, the fovea the Doctrine of the Lord. Here, by means of the Writings, natural light is converted into spiritual light, and we view the Word as to its letter from the Lord. Man is then able to confess that the Writings are in essence spiritual, and that they constitute the interior life of the letter of the Word. This is the only way that there can be a progression of the church in conjugial partners, and in mankind as a whole.

Read More »

The Three Traditions in Science and the Writings of Swedenborg

The growth of science, according to Hugh Kearney in his book Science and Change, 1500-17002, can be seen in terms of three traditions which he calls the organic, magical, and mechanical. First I shall briefly describe them and trace their paths through history, then show how they relate to one another, and finally examine them in relation to the view of the universe expressed in the theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

Read More »

The Natural Basis of Spiritual Existence

All Christians, and many others believe the world was created by God. The idea that creation is a continuing process is less widely held, but many people are familiar with the view that the world we see and touch is but the outer garment of a more real world of spirit. Some who believe and feel that it is so do not have any definite and detailed theory as to how this garment is worn or as to how the inner reality expresses itself in the external things which impinge upon our senses. Others have adopted clear ideas and it has been said that the world of the spirit re-presents itself in nature and it does so in a consistent and orderly way. This means that the properties of one may be realistically illustrated by those of the other.

Read More »