Selection from Theistic Psychology: The Science of Immortality
In history of psychology textbooks, dualism is always discussed in relation to the "body-mind issue," which has been debated by every generation of philosophers and psychologists since Aristotle and Plato. Ordinarily it is Descartes who is identified with the body-mind dualism, since he argued that mental phenomena are not physical and belonging to the brain, but spiritual belonging to the soul which was immortal, unlike the body which was temporary. This outlook was traditional for European philosophers who were almost always of Christian upbringing and schooling (including Newton, Darwin, Locke, Hume, Wundt, Emerson, William James, Herbert Mead, Jung, Carl Rogers, etc.). Although they were all dualists by culture and education, in their scientific writings they were very careful not to admit dualism, but to keep it away from their science. This is why an atheistic science and an atheistic psychology literature has developed. Since we teach from this literature there has been a strong and unified tradition in every generation to exclude dualism from courses, journals, books, and grant proposals. The effort has been very intense to eradicate the concepts of God and the afterlife from science.
What I'm doing in this book is therefore pertinent as an entry in the history of psychology records since I am a normal scientist teaching at a public state university in a psychology department that is behaviorally oriented. Of course I'm not claiming that my colleagues would agree with me, but I think this is because they are not in a position to examine all the evidence, namely the 30 volumes called the Writings of Swedenborg. But even if they examined just one volume in full, I would predict that it would be sufficient to realize that theistic psychology is a serious scientific proposal. On the surface it sounds outlandish in the science of psychology to speak about God, heaven, hell, the spiritual world, the science of correspondences in the Bible, Divine scientific revelations, and so on. But this surface impression is only because psychology has become thoroughly atheistic and materialistic. There is no proof for atheism, or for materialism, hence this dedication to atheism and monism is a traditional prejudice that resists the future growth of psychology into the highly beneficial knowledge of regeneration and rational spirituality.
Theism in psychology is an approach that has valid rational proof in the Writings of Swedenborg. My purpose in this book is to examine some of this evidence with a view to showing their validity and breadth of understanding. It would be extremely beneficial for public schools to teach theistic psychology throughout the school grades in all countries of the educated world where science is understood. One of the applied theistic psychology research projects I look forward to is to create theistic science concepts for children all grade levels. For instance, the concept of "God" has to be introduced differently at each grade level so that students can think of the next step in their rational consciousness of God. The more children grow in rationality the better they can understand the infinitely complex idea of God. The more we understand the idea of God the more we can love Him and the more we can receive from Him--the ability to change character, immortality, unlimited conjugial happiness, all the virtues, unlimited intelligence and knowledge.
Any scientist or educated person can read the Writings of Swedenborg and look at this evidence since it is presented rationally by a superb scientist. To reject this offhand, without examining it, is a negative bias that is transmitted by atheistic science taught in schools and normalized in a secular press. Hence many college students react to the idea of bringing God into science, as being a bad idea or an impossible one. The majority of students believe in the actual real existence of God running people's lives and the world. But they have been exposed to atheistic science since kindergarten where teachers are reluctant to mention God given the legal issue of separation of Church and State. It is not uncommon for teachers to interpret this official separation to mean that they are not allowed to mention God in class. And of course the textbooks they use do not mention God either. But this is a profound misunderstanding that teachers carry from their own education and upbringing. The fact is that theistic science is not Church or religion. God is neither religion nor church. To connect them is only from this misunderstanding propagated by atheistic science.
I've had students tell me that importing God into science is a bad idea because they have been abused by a priest as children. Others have said that they refuse to believe in God since religion is so corrupt. Others have said that you are not allowed to bring God into education. All these types of objections are based on the common misunderstanding that religion and God are the same. This idea has been promoted by atheistic science. But in theistic psychology it is clearly seen that God and religion are different concepts that must be distinguished. Religion cannot be scientific, but God is. Sacred Scripture in the literal historical sense is religion, but the underlying correspondential sense is universal science (see answer to prior Question). Theistic psychology gives people the freedom and knowledge to separate their problematic religious experiences from the scientific concept of God.
Theistic psychology is science--universal, empirical, rational, objective, applied. Religion and Church on the other hand, are historical-cultural-institutional entities, and therefore political. But theistic psychology is not political but rational and panhuman. By rational definition there can be only one God, since God is infinite, and to talk of two infinites is illogical. Hence there can be only one infinite God. God's relationship and interaction is with each individual, not with a cultural form of this or that religion. Further, God's relationship and interaction with atheists is not less than the interaction with people of religion and faith. Hence the way God manages and influences each person's thoughts and feelings is universal, not religious or cultural. This is what makes science theistic. To deny God in science is a disservice to humankind and a belittling of the usefulness of science. To deny religion in science is an appropriate thing to do, just as we deny politics in science (e.g. facts by Democrats vs. facts by Republicans--there is only one kind of fact recognized in science).
Perhaps there ought to be a relaxing of the veto power against the use of God in psychology. Instead of being dead set against it, why not see where it leads? Especially since the proposal is made by a regular professional scientist like myself, along with dozens of others like myself who are active scientists (see Reading List).
The concept of "substantive dualism" is far more advanced than the dualism of Descartes which was hardly different from St. Augustine's theology centuries earlier, who had based his idea on the scientific revelations contained in the New Testament. The scientific revelations on dualism contained in the Writings of Swedenborg are completely objective and empirical. Swedenborg was given the special and unique ability of "dual citizenship," which means he was able to be conscious in both the physical body and the spiritual body. For 27 years on a daily basis he kept notes of his extraordinary observations in the spiritual world. No one in the history of science has had such a direct access to the spiritual world and its inhabitants.
Swedenborg kept track of his interviews with thousands of people who arrived into the spiritual world within 30 hours after the death of the physical body (see "resuscitation" section in Chapter 1). He carried out many experiments with the help of those there who had the power and knowledge to assist him. And much other evidence besides this on hundreds of topics and areas of human behavior--the anatomy of the mind, ethnic differences, psychotherapy, education, marriage, child development, religion, resuscitation of the dead, physics, chemistry, physiology, anatomy, synergy, love, truth, conscience, consciousness, meaning, language, and much more.
You can see from these considerations that Swedenborg's substantive dualism is far more advanced than that of Descartes or anyone else before or since. It makes sense since no scientist of reputation has had direct observational access to the spiritual world and the process of the resuscitation of the dead. Descartes and others may have had the idea that God exists, that God created the soul, and the soul is immortal. But since they had no access to the spiritual world they wrongly assumed that our immortal life will take place in this world after its destruction and re-creation by God. Upon that re-creation, all the souls that have been deprived of a body will then be re-embodied into new physical bodies that will last forever. But all this is a fantasy. They had no empirical evidence no observation platform. But with Swedenborg's special introduction into dual citizenship it became immediately evident by observation that everyone whose physical body dies is immediately resuscitated and reappears in a spiritual body in the spiritual world.
So the essence and basis of substantive dualism is the direct evidence from Swedenborg that there is a spiritual world and that our mind or spiritual body is born there and stays there. The physical body and the spiritual body, or mind, develop together and mature together. But whereas the physical body gets old and deteriorates to death, the spiritual body remains as a young adult, and forever so. When the physical body is dead, the conscious mind switches during resuscitation into the spiritual body and from then on our sensory input is solely from the events in our spiritual (or mental) environment. This life then continues to eternity outside time and place.
You can see therefore that theistic science, theistic psychology, and substantive dualism are all connected and based in the Writings of Swedenborg. Remove these scientific revelations and we fall back into Cartesian dualism or some of its modern versions in neuroscience. This is purely speculative since the brain contains no clues about the mind, but only about its own electrical and chemical firings, which belong to the brain, not the mind. The mind is a spiritual organ containing parts and sub-parts, just like the brain and body. In the Writings of Swedenborg we find a complete anatomy and spiritual physiology of this organ.
Further definitions and descriptions of substantive dualism are given in the Reading List, including theistic science, spiritual geography, spiritual psychobiology, spiritual psychology, spiritual psycholinguistics, and others.
As well, consult the Reading List
As well, consult the Reading List