Thursday, January 23, 2014

Swedenborg on the Divine Order of Human Evolution

I always like to hear other people's viewpoints, and recently a group of Jehovah's Witnesses wanted to have a "Bible Study" with me. I knew their intent, but nevertheless invited them over.  The conversation was not what they were expecting.  The topic kept getting sidetracked into different spiritual and philosophical discussions, and was never ending. I could see one of them was getting frustrated that we kept deviating from the "agenda." One topic was about absolute truth. Like an orange is an orange. BUT, if one is color blind, an orange is no longer orange. This kind of analogy is perfect: our bias, or the doctrines we have been taught from childhood, can powerfully blind us to certain matters of truth, even when it is explicitly states in scripture - or supported by facts of science. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses, like Seventh Day Adventists and other Christian denominations, deny that there is an afterlife after one dies - despite specific statements to the contrary by none other than Jesus Christ. Swedenborg is quite detailed in the description of the afterlife, but, for newcomers, I think it is wiser to discuss scripture first, because in any case that is the final authority. We jumped to another topic, but then one of them mentioned that their son left school because their teacher was an atheist. I wondered why as they are not allowed to talk about religion in public schools, and then he said because he was teaching evolution. I was very surprised. I then told them I believed in evolution, to which I think they were surprised as well. There is a lot of evidence to support that (e.g., see the article on Human vestigiality for these odd "left overs" in our body from evolution).

I then told them that the Bible does not really state how man was created, but the issue here is that they are quite literal when reading the Bible. Genesis chapters 1 to 11 - where it mentions the seven days of creation, the creation of man, Adam & Eve in the garden, the flood and the tower of Babel (Swedenborg explains the symbolism behind these stories in his massive work, Heavenly Arcana.) In this blog I have discussed in several blog posts how the seven days of creation are highly symbolic, and portray the seven states of order in all of creation. It is a theory originally proposed by Arthur M. Young and there needs to be more thought poured into it. All creation is a progressive succession towards increasing order - for this look up the label "Universal Order of Design" in this blog, which in the end shows that there is a lot of Divine inspiration in the story of the seven days of creation. Those who state that there is a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 are completely missing the point by taking it literally.

Also, long before science advanced to the state of knowledge where it is now, it was revealed to Swedenborg that these first 11 chapters were only semi-historical, and written in a highly symbolic mythical fashion.  He also wrote that in ancient times they tended to write this way - and this was about 100 YEARS BEFORE archaeologists uncovered ancient tablets uncovering Sumerian myths that are also reflected in the first 11 chapters of Genesis.

EMANUEL SWEDENBORG ON HUMAN EVOLUTION

There are lots of unsolved problems with human evolution, but the main mystery in my mind is why is life progressing to increasing orders of complexity? This order is not random - the human form shares 50% of its genetic code with a simple banana. Its as if life itself is not "happy" to be just a single cell in a muddy pool, it wants to progress to something more complex. Its as if there is this "universal template" of the human form, and life is striving toward that goal of satisfying the "plan" of the "universal template" of the human form.  And what is more mysterious - from some very odd but reliable testimony I have seen from U.S. military insiders - is that all of life across the universe seems to have this tendency to evolve towards the human form. According to current theories of evolution, evolution should be "random." Something is missing here: I suspect that even in the most basic simplest life form, somewhere there is this "universal template" of the human form. And this template does not seem to be in DNA. So where is it?

On the creation of man, scripture says this:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Many theologians and philosophers think that we as humans have a tendency to "anthropomorphize" God - that we imagine that he has a human form.  The surprising revelation in the visions of Swedenborg is that God does have a human form, whom he calls the Divine God Man, but outside all of time and space. The human form is the ultimate image or form whereby we can concentrate our thoughts on God. If our concept of God is "amorphous", our thoughts can not be focused on something that has no image or form. That ultimately God is Man, is the very reason He could incarnate in human form as Jesus Christ. Swedenborg makes is clear that there is an invisible God outside of time and space beyond all human comprehension, but the ultimate idea or form of Him in our mind - or in this material universe - is that of a person, in human form. Is this the possible origin of the "universal human template" that somehow flows into all of life?

Swedenborg answers this as well. God is life. All of life flows into our soul. The human soul, is the recipient of God's life, and this very life is love. Without love we cannot live.  And despite having no knowledge of the theory of evolution, which was developed by Darwin and others about a hundred years later, Swedenborg then says this:
Love or volition is constantly striving toward the human form and toward everything the human form comprises. This we can see from the way the heart corresponds to volition, since we know how everything in the body is formed in the womb. We know that everything is formed there by fibers from the brain and by blood vessels from the heart and the fabric of all our organs and viscera are made from these two materials. This enables us to see that everything within us comes into being from the life of our volition, which is love, from beginnings in our brains, through these fibers, with everything in our bodies coming from the heart through its arteries and veins.
Clearly then, life (which is love and its consequent volition) is constantly striving toward the human form; and since the human form comprises everything that is within us, it follows that love or volition is engaged in a constant effort to form all these things. The reason this effort is toward the human form is that God is a Person and divine love and wisdom is the life of that Person. This is the source of every trace of life.
Everyone can see that if the life that is the essential person were not activating something that intrinsically is not life, nothing that is within us could be formed the way it is. There are thousands upon thousands of things within us that are acting in unison, totally united in their effort toward an image of the life that is their source so that we can become his vessel and dwelling.
We can see from this that love--and from love, our volition, and from volition, our hearts--is constantly striving toward the human form. (Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Love and Wisdom, n. 400)
This is the overall revelation explaining why we have human evolution. Swedenborg gives the answer before he even had knowledge of evolutionary theory. How did he arrive at this conclusion?  Basically his mind was opened to receive heavenly visions of the spiritual world, and in heaven he saw everything originated from a bright light - the Sun of heaven - and in that Sun was God, in human form, the Divine God-Man, from whom all things flowed. And this is why we see all of life evolving towards the human form. As to how that happens, science is still searching for that answer, but we do not have to wait for the ultimate answer, we already have it.


To the horror of some, I will now post this video:

Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children



Curiously, Bill Nye the Science Guy also posted this video:

How to Talk to an Alien



Because if all of life is evolving towards the human form, we have quite a few surprises out there. Bill Nye says "it would be great to know we are not alone." He worked for Boeing, and always wanted to be a NASA astronaut. So, how would we talk to an alien? Think good, friendly thoughts.

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