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MicroscopeEmanuel Swedenborg (2012)

I often find my research being guided by the comments of others who suggest books or authors for me to read and analyze. Recently, someone mentioned the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and so I have taken a brief look at his concepts, focusing primarily upon the summary Inner Light, written by Brian Kingslake, which can be read online here. I will take the liberty of quoting from this book, and any quotes which are not followed by a reference are from this book. I also quote from Heaven and Its Wonders and Hell - From Things Heard and Seen, which I will refer to as HH. Finally, I should emphasize that this is my first exposure to Swedenborg. I had heard about him before but had no idea what he taught. Thus, none of my ideas came from reading Swedenborg.

Swedenborg talks a lot about life after death. Obviously, one cannot demand scientific evidence when discussing something which is by definition non-physical. In fact, the person who insists that only physical reality exists will find this entire discussion absurd. However, if the end of physical life is personal annihilation, then one can make the argument that human existence itself is absurd. What is the point of looking for solid facts if one is convinced that the most basic fact-the fact of one's personal existence-is not solid? Thus, I suggest that it makes more sense to follow the possible absurdity of considering the possibility of non-physical existence rather than the certain absurdity of denying the possibility of non-physical existence.

In God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, I suggest that one can defer questions such as the existence of God and focus instead upon how the mind forms an image of God. In that book, I present the theory of mental symmetry as a general paradigm of human cognition which can be used to make sense of both religious and scientific thought, as well as a number of other topics. I also suggest that if one begins with the theory of mental symmetry and asks how one can program the mind so that all cognitive modules function in harmony, then one comes up with a process of mental programming which is consistent with Christian doctrine.

Therefore, this essay will use the theory of mental symmetry to analyze the views of Swedenborg. We will also compare these views with standard Christian theology. If there is a discrepancy, then we will attempt to find a cognitive reason for this discrepancy. We will not attempt to prove either the existence of God or the existence of the afterlife, but rather we will look for consistency from a cognitive perspective.

Obviously, one cannot claim to be an expert on Swedenborg after reading merely an introduction to his works. However, two major conclusions became obvious when reading through Inner Light, and we will focus upon these two topics in this essay. The first involves Swedenborg's discussion of personal existence after death, which forms a major part of his writings. In this area, Swedenborg comes to conclusions which are remarkably consistent with mental symmetry. The second is the discrepancy between what Swedenborg says and the doctrines of orthodox Christian doctrine. From a theological viewpoint, the statements of Swedenborg are highly unorthodox and have been dismissed by theologians as heresy. However, if one examines the cognitive reasoning behind Swedenborg's heretical statements, one concludes that they all appear to stem from a single cognitive misconception, which is itself the mental by-product of an inadequate approach. If one corrects this one misconception, then most, if not all, of Swedenborg's heresies correct themselves as well. It is interesting to note that the field of the cognitive science of religion also makes this same cognitive error.

Mental symmetry says that it is natural for the mind to believe that human existence will continue after physical death. But, we also know that the physical body will eventually die and fall apart. Combining these two points leads us to the conclusion that a person will naturally believe that he will continue to exist after death as a disembodied mind.

Swedenborg starts with the same premise, using the term spiritual body to refer to the disembodied mind: "When a person is said to 'die,' it is only the physical body that dies. He is drawn out of it, and it rots away, since the spiritual body is no longer vitalizing it. It has served its purpose. He no longer needs it, just as an ocean diver no longer needs his diving suit when his work at the bottom of the sea is completed. The dead person's consciousness slips over into his or her spiritual body, which indeed he or she had always possessed, but without being conscious of it previously."

In order to understand how a disembodied mind would function, one obviously needs to comprehend how the mind functions. Mental symmetry suggests that the mind is driven by mental networks. These are discussed in some detail in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, and so will only be described briefly here.

Mental Networks

A mental network is simply a collection of similar emotional memories which have combined to form a network and which function as a unit. Individual memories within Mercy and Teacher thought have emotional labels. For instance, chocolate may be associated with a positive emotion, while walking down a dark alley at night may have a negative emotional label. However, if a number of similar emotional memories become connected, they will form a mental network. This network of emotional memories will then begin to generate an additional set of emotions related to the state of that network, which I refer to as hyper-emotions. If a person is reminded of one of the memories within a mental network, then that mental network will become activated. If a mental network is activated and the situation which activates the mental network is compatible with the structure of that mental network, then a feeling of hyper-pleasure will be produced. In contrast, if a mental network is activated and the situation is incompatible with the structure of the mental network, then the emotional result will be hyper-pain. If the situation continues to be inconsistent with the mental network that has been activated, then that mental network will eventually start to fall apart and it will generate the hyper-pain of impending fragmentation. If a mental network does fall apart, then it will stop functioning as a mental network and turn back into a set of unrelated emotional memories.

The most obvious example of a mental network is a habit. Suppose that I double-check the door to see if it is locked whenever I leave the house. At first, I will have to choose to check the door and I will not feel bad if I do not check the door. However, if I check the door enough times, or if some traumatic experience adds emotional intensity to the act of checking the door, then a habit will form, indicating the formation of a mental network. When I leave the house, then this mental network will be triggered, and I will find myself automatically checking the door. If I close the door and do not check it then I will feel uneasy, because the habit has been triggered but the behavior of 'not checking the door' is inconsistent with the mental structure of 'door checking'.

If I continue to avoid checking the door, then this sense of unease will grow because the mental network of 'door checking' will start to fall apart. If I respond to this unease by checking the door, then this will allow the mental network to express itself and the sense of unease will go away. On the other hand, if I continue to avoid checking the door, then the urge to check the door will grow stronger because the threat upon the mental network will become stronger. However, if the habit is suppressed for long enough, then the mental network will eventually fall apart and I will no longer feel an urge to check the door.

Mental symmetry suggests that all mental content is organized around a collection of mental networks, ranging all the way from minor mental networks which drive simple habits such as checking doors to the fundamental mental networks which define core mental areas such as personal identity, culture, worldview, paradigms, and concepts of God. If a mental network falls apart, then this will trigger the hyper-pain of fragmentation. However, if a core mental network falls apart, then a person will feel the even deeper hyper-pain of angst.

It appears that free will is only strong enough to resist minor mental networks. In addition, free will can usually choose which emotional memories will combine together to form mental networks. However, if the emotions of a situation are too traumatic, or if emotional memories form a sufficiently potent mental network, then, as Tourette syndrome illustrates, free will only be able to defer the expression of a mental network. In this case, free will will only be restored if the mind contains competing networks, because it then becomes possible to use free will to choose between one major mental network and another.

Emotional experiences from the physical body provide the raw material for the first mental networks that form within the mind of the child. Similarly, the structure of the physical body and the physical surroundings of home give stability to childish mental networks and help to hold them together. In addition, a person can acquire new mental networks by placing himself within a different physical environment.

Swedenborg says the same thing, which we will illustrate by quoting from Inner Light:

1) The mind is driven by a collection of interconnected mental networks: "The affections or loves that constitute our spiritual mind are arranged like a little kingdom, and each new affection we develop takes its place in relation to the others, and works together with them. Anything which is not in harmony gets pushed to the outside."

2) The mind is organized around fundamental mental networks, which Swedenborg refers to as 'ruling loves': "There must be a ruling love inside each one of us, which organizes our other affections, promoting some to positions of importance, and demoting others. This ruling love is not seen in the hurly-burly of our everyday lives. Rather it has to do with our motivation: why we do the things we do, why we are living in the way we are. It has to do with ultimate values, and therefore it is essentially religious."

3) Free will cannot overrule fundamental mental networks, but it can choose between competing mental networks: "Ruling love largely controls our thoughts and affections, motivates our choices, and plans our actions from within. Normally we obey its dictates without question. But in every kingdom there can be a revolution! A king can be deposed by a coup, and another ruler enthroned in his place. So, it is always possible, while we are living in the equilibrium of this earth-life, to change our ruling love."

The Disembodied Mind

Now suppose that a person dies. Obviously, his physical body is gone and all that remains is a disembodied mind. As I have mentioned, mental symmetry suggests that it is natural for a person to believe that his mind will survive the death of his body and brain. Let us assume that this is true and that the mind does survive the demise of the body and that whatever survives physical death is some sort of disembodied mind.

It is clear from Piaget's work on childhood development and from Damasio's work on personal identity that the mind acquires its initial content from the physical body. In the language of mental symmetry, emotional experiences from the physical body form the first fundamental mental networks within the mind. As the mind continues to develop, further mental networks will develop that do not depend directly upon the physical body. However, as long as a person lives within a physical body, he does not have to develop an integrated set of mental networks, because the structure of his body and his brain will hold his fundamental mental networks together and these will provide the basis for other mental networks.

For an extreme example of a mind in which fundamental mental networks are held together only by the physical body and brain, think of the person with multiple personalities. His fundamental mental networks personal identity are literally divided into disconnected fragments, and experiences from the external world that trigger a new set of mental networks will cause a different personality to emerge.

Now think what would happen to a disembodied mind. All that would remain is a collection of mental networks clustered around a set of fundamental mental networks. In such a situation, fundamental mental networks would 'rule the roost' because they would have the emotional power to overrule any lesser mental networks. Any mental network that was inconsistent with a fundamental network would fragment while any mental network that was not connected to a fundamental network would fall away. Saying this in simpler form, the true nature of a person would inevitably emerge and a person's character would become consistent with his true nature.

Swedenborg describes this process: "After a short or longer period in the World of Spirits, a person's ruling love begins to reveal itself, and he no longer cares whether it is seen or not. All the thoughts, affections and beliefs which he brought with him but which are not in harmony with his ruling love, begin to fall away; they are not really his own, and so he discards them, becoming completely integrated-'himself.' He can no longer play a role or 'put on an act' or pretend to be what he isn't."

That brings us to the question of the nature of the environment within which a disembodied mind would find itself. When one talks about a mind living within a physical body and occupying a physical brain, one is really talking about a physical environment that exists and functions independently of mental content and structure. Putting this another way, when a physical tree falls within a physical forest and there is no physical person around to hear it fall, it still makes a physical noise. In contrast, living as a disembodied mind could be interpreted as inhabiting a realm in which external structure was dependent upon mental content. One could refer to inherently shapeless 'stuff' whose structure reflected mental content as spirit. Spirit would have the ability to acquire its structure from some mental source, and it would also have some sort of 'memory' that permitted it to retain-for a while-the content which it acquired from a mental source.

If one examines the question of human consciousness, then I suggest that something like 'spirit' is required to complete the picture. Antonio Damasio has written a book (The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness) in which he attempts to analyze consciousness. He bases his model upon extensive data from neurology and his description appears to be consistent with the theory of mental symmetry. His goal is to come up with a model of human consciousness that is entirely naturalistic and which does not require the presence of any non-physical mind or spirit.

In my opinion, his explanation is incomplete. He works out in detail how the content of consciousness is decoded by the physical brain, but he points out that even at the highest level of brain processing, consciousness remains fragmented across several brain regions. But, human consciousness is not fragmented. As humans, we perceive our environment from an integrated perspective. Thus, we are left with the problem of how the mind can jump from the fragments of brain-generated consciousness to an integrated sense of the world. Damasio suggests that the fragments of consciousness become integrated when different brain regions are activated at the same time. This may explain why we mentally connect one fragment of thought with another but I suggest that it still does not explain how these fragments become stitched together to form an integrated whole.

Thus, it seems to me that the only alternative is to postulate the existence of a human spirit that has no inherent form but acquires its structure from the content of the brain. Such a spirit would have the ability of taking the content provided by the brain and tying it together to form an integrated whole.

One might argue that I am proposing the existence of a homunculus or 'little man' who lies behind the functioning of the brain, however what I am proposing is subtly different. Unlike a homunculus, a spirit would have no inherent form but rather would acquire its form from the physical brain. Thus, whatever the spirit would be made of, its function would be consistent with brain functioning.

Science abhors non-physical explanations and Damasio makes it very clear that he rejects any concept of a non-physical mind/spirit. But, why does the scientist reject non-physical explanations? In God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, I suggest that living in a physical world governed by natural law leads to the development of a mental network of common sense that is based upon natural law, and in the mind of the scientist, this mental network of common sense is carefully developed and it becomes a fundamental mental network that holds together the mind of the scientist. Thus, in the words of Thomas Kuhn, a scientist who has acquired a paradigm cannot conceive of existing without a paradigm and will only let go of his existing paradigm if he is presented with an alternative paradigm. The end result is that the scientist is mentally driven by hyper-emotion to insist that only physical reality exists-whether this is the case or not. So, if the structure of the mind causes it to believe that the mind can continue existing after physical death, while the mental network of common sense causes the mind to believe that only physical reality exists, then which of these beliefs is more fundamental? I suggest that structure is deeper than mental networks, for the same reason that mental hardware is deeper than mental software.[1]

If we look past mental networks to mental structure, then I suggest that what the human mind really needs is consistency. In God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, I present the case that it is possible to come up with a consistent model of the human mind that can explain both scientific thought and religious thought, as well as many other expressions of human thought. Such a model would also, by definition, be able to explain any 'spiritual realm' whose structure was dependent upon mental content-even if the laws of nature did not apply to such a realm.

In order to live within these various realms while maintaining an integrated mind, we conclude that a person would have to build his mind around a fundamental mental network that was based upon the function of the mind. Curiously, if one works out what this means, one ends up deriving the doctrines of Christianity. In other words, following the path of Christianity makes it possible for a human mind to live sanely within a 'spiritual world' in which external 'reality' reflects mental content. Thus, we conclude that if a Christian heaven exists, then it is probably a realm in which the external expresses the mental, because a Christian-trained mind would not find pleasure in other forms of reality-and heaven is, by definition, a realm of pleasure.

If we look at the development of the mind, we find that it does not develop fundamental mental networks that are based upon the function of the mind. Instead, the human mind naturally develops fundamental mental networks that are based upon the function of the body and the function of the natural world, which cannot conceive of functioning apart from the physical body and the natural world.

Let us look now at what Swedenborg says about life after death. Whether his comments are valid or not, they describe a realm peopled by disembodied minds in which external 'reality' reflects mental structure: "Since the spiritual world is non-material, everything there springs from and reflects the spiritual nature of the local inhabitants. This includes nearness and distance in relation one to another; also the character of their surroundings, which corresponds exactly to their states of mind."

According to Swedenborg, communication in heaven occurs telepathically, from one mind to another: "There is only one language in the spiritual world, the language of thought. When you want to express yourself, your thoughts come out of your mouth as sound, and other people, hearing the sound, know at once what you are thinking."

More specifically, Swedenborg describes heaven as a place in which 'reality' is governed by mental networks:

1) A disembodied mind will find itself drawn to an environment that is consistent with its core mental networks: "Eventually, everyone in the intermediate region begins to feel the 'pull' of their ruling love. They cannot resist it; they must move in the direction it draws them, like water finding its own level. The evil go first. They are repeatedly warned that they are heading for Hell, but what do they care? It seems a pretty good place to them, the best they have ever been in! All the other inhabitants there are like themselves: they quarrel and lust and spit invectives at one another to their hearts' content. Who sent them to Hell? Nobody but themselves. There is no inquiry as to their faith or former church affiliations, or whether they were baptized, or even what kind of life they lived on earth. They migrate toward a hellish state because they are drawn to its way of life, and for no other reason."

2) A disembodied mind can only continue to exist in an environment that resonates with core mental networks: "In our material world, a person can settle down and live almost anywhere; but in the spiritual world there is only one place where any individual can feel at home, and this is determined by his or her deep-down attitude towards God and the neighbor. Those are near together who are alike in character. Love attracts, and hate repels. 'Birds of a feather flock together.' It is possible, of course, to leave one's home for short periods at a time; but, if one does so, there is always a feeling of strain and anxiety, a 'home sickness' until one returns."

3) Mental development is possible for a disembodied mind but not reprogramming of core mental networks: "Theoretically it might be possible to change one's ruling love at any time, even after death; but in practice nobody ever wants to do so because, especially after settling down in Heaven or Hell, one is totally committed either to good or to evil. Spirits can change in a hundred different ways in the course of their development to eternity, but it is always within the framework of their ruling love."

4) Physical reality has a form and structure that is independent of thought. In contrast, disembodied minds 'live' in an environment which is an expression of mental structure: "All objects and surroundings in the spiritual world are a projection of the states of the people in the vicinity. The whole landscape is like a mirror reflecting their thoughts and affections by a system of symbolism."

5) Groups of similar minds gather together and create an environment that is compatible with their core mental networks: "Heaven is a paradise of beautiful flower-gardens and orchards, wide pastures with flocks and herds, and pleasant streams of water-a perfect reflection of the beauty of character of the inhabitants. On the other hand, the scenery of Hell is, to the angels, threatening and repulsive. The inhabitants of these regions do not dislike the kind of country and climate in which they live. It agrees with them, because it is in harmony with their own inner nature. They would find Heaven intolerable!"

6) Physical 'travel' occurs by bringing to mind the mental network associated with one's desired destination: "It is quite easy to travel within one's particular Heaven or Hell, though not so easy beyond its borders. If you want to visit somebody at a distance, all you have to do is to bring yourself temporarily into harmony with their state, and you find yourself traveling towards them."

7) Communication is also triggered by bringing to mind the appropriate mental network: "It is easier still to speak to someone at a distance. For this you do not have to bring yourself into harmony with their state; you simply focus your thoughts on them, and they appear in front of you, and you can converse with them. When the conversation is ended, you cease to think of them, and they disappear like a video chat."

The Heresies of Swedenborg

So far, what Swedenborg says is consistent with what the theory of mental symmetry would predict, and, as far as I can tell, there are no incompatibilities between these conclusions and the doctrines of Christianity. We will now turn to the areas of thought where the statements of Swedenborg are inconsistent with Christian theology, and these are both extensive and fundamental. Swedenborg's teachings are sufficiently different from mainstream Christianity to be regarded not as a denomination or sect, but rather as a cult—a religious system that alters core Christian beliefs.

Why does consistency with Christian doctrine concern us? Because, as I show in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, for some reason, if one uses the theory of mental symmetry to analyze the process of developing the mind fully, one ends up deriving Christian doctrine. In addition, the striking similarities between Swedenborg's view of the afterlife and the predictions of mental symmetry mean that the average reader might equate mental symmetry with the teachings of Swedenborg. But, many of the teachings of Swedenborg fall into the category of Christian heresy. Therefore, it is important to analyze the precise difference between the teachings of Swedenborg and the theory of mental symmetry.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, it appears that most, if not all, of the Christian heresies of Swedenborg are the result of a single cognitive error. In simple terms, Swedenborg does not distinguish between Teacher thought and Mercy thought. We will now take a few pages to look at a number of Swedenborg's Christian heresies, explain how they are the result of equating Teacher thought with Mercy thought, and then show how making a distinction between Mercy thought and Teacher thought leads to conclusions that are consistent with orthodox Christian theology.

We will begin by reviewing the difference between Mercy thought and Teacher thought and comparing Mercy mental networks with Teacher mental networks. Mercy thought deals with experiences and applies an emotional label to each experience. Because the physical body fills the mind with experiential sensations of pain and pleasure, living in a physical body leads naturally to the development of Mercy mental networks composed of emotional experiences.

Teacher thought, in contrast, works with words and theories. Teacher emotion comes from order-within-complexity. When individual items fit together, then this leads to positive Teacher emotion. When items do not fit together or when there is an exception to the general rule, then Teacher thought feels bad. Teacher emotion is not acquired naturally, but rather emerges as a person encounters order and structure and builds general theories. If a person continues to use a general theory, then it will eventually turn into a mental network. A person will then feel emotionally driven to use this theory to explain any situation that falls within its domain. This explains the difference between the mind of the scientist and the mind of the layman. The lay mind appreciates a general Teacher theory but does not require one. The scientist, in contrast demands a paradigm and cannot exist without one.

Summarizing these two paragraphs, note that Mercy thought in the human mind will naturally be oriented around the emotional experiences that result from living in a specific physical body. Teacher thought, in contrast, will build general theories that explain many different situations and are not limited merely to the physical body.

Mental symmetry notes that the influence which the physical body has upon the mind is asymmetrical: Mercy mental networks emerge naturally from physical experiences of pain and pleasure, but Teacher mental networks have to be developed. If one postulates a human mind 'living' within a 'physical body' which naturally teaches Teacher emotion and not Mercy emotion, then I suggest that this provides a rational explanation for what we call angels, UFOs, and aliens. Saying this in other ways, a human has a body while an angel has a name; a human lives in objects composed of physical matter while an angel lives within 'sequences' composed of energy; personal identity in a human is defined by a Mercy mental network; personal identity in an angel is defined by a Teacher mental network.[2]

With this in mind, let us return to Swedenborg:

1) Swedenborg says that all angels began existence as humans and that all humans turn into angels: "It is not God's will that any of his children should perish or cease to exist. Their physical bodies will die in due course, but their souls will go on living to eternity. The good ones will become 'angels,' and where they are will be Heaven. The bad ones will become 'satans,' or 'devils,' or just 'evil spirits,' and where they are will be Hell. We are all potential angels. Life on earth is provided for the development of the angel-nature within us. The whole purpose of the world and everything in it, the whole purpose of Creation itself, is: To form a heaven of angels from the human race."

In contrast, mental symmetry hypothesizes that humans and angels may have the same mental structure, but humans begin existence in Mercy-based bodies while angels start their existence in Teacher-based names. Thus, angels and humans have the same 'minds' but totally different 'bodies'. But because mental development begins with emotional input from the 'body' forming fundamental mental networks, the mind of the childish human would find the mind of the 'childish' angel threatening, and vice versa. In order to handle personal contact, each would have to build personal identity around mental networks that reflected mental structure and not just the 'body' or 'external reality'. However, Swedenborg does appear to be accurate in the sense that good humans seem to live with good angels after death while evil humans live with evil angels.

By saying that all angels began as humans and that humans turn into angels, Swedenborg demonstrates that he is equating Teacher-based existence and Teacher mental networks with Mercy-based existence and Mercy mental networks. Putting this another way, he is interpreting both human and 'angel' existence in terms of human physical bodies.

2) Swedenborg equates the Trinity with Jesus Christ: "The old, false idea of God was that he was, is, and ever has been, a trinity of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all existing side by side since before the creation of the universe. The theory is that at a certain point in time, one of these three persons, the Son, came into the world as a baby, grew up here to adult status, was crucified, was buried, and then ascended back to Heaven, to rejoin the Father and the Holy Ghost; after which everything was as it had been. The main error here is the supposition that the Son of God existed as a second person of the Holy Trinity since the beginning."

Swedenborg suggests that everything in the non-physical realm is ultimately an expression of thought. If all mental networks are formed of the same mental material, then this means that all of the non-physical realm is formed of the same basic 'stuff'. In theological language, this is known as monism-everything is reducible to one substance or reality. If God is a universal being, and if there is only one substance, then the idea of a Trinitarian three-in-one God does not make sense.

However, if Teacher thought is different than Mercy thought, then we automatically have three different kinds of 'stuff': Teacher thought, Mercy thought, and the glue that ties these two together, leading us to the concept of a Trinitarian God: Using Christian terminology, Teacher universality leads to the concept of God the Father, Mercy universality to the idea of God the Holy Spirit, while the 'glue' that ties these together is God the Son.

Mental symmetry suggests that a concept of God emerges when a general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. This is what happens in the human mind. That is because living in a specific physical body causes a mental network of finite personal identity to emerge within Mercy thought while living in a physical world of natural law causes a mental network of universal law to emerge within Teacher thought. Therefore, the human mind will naturally associate the universal being of God with Teacher thought. In contrast, Mercy thought will naturally become fragmented into many unrelated mental networks representing different individual people and specific situations. However, it is possible for Contributor thought to use a general Teacher theory to build connections between specific Mercy experiences and specific Mercy mental networks. In theological language, by coming from God the Father, God the Son could introduce humans to God the Holy Spirit.

Thus, separating between Mercy thought and Teacher thought allows us to come up with a mentally consistent explanation for the Trinity, while adding the fact that humans are finite beings with Mercy-based identities allows us to explain the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity.

3) Swedenborg also says that Jesus is not eternal but that God turned into Jesus Christ: "The main error here is the supposition that the Son of God existed as a second person of the Holy Trinity since the beginning." Because Swedenborg equates Teacher thought with Mercy thought, he does not know how Jesus could be both eternal God and born as a human.

However, if one understand the relationship between Teacher thought and Mercy thought, then one can explain how this works. Contributor thought in the mind builds the connections that tie Mercy thought and Teacher thought together. (This is described in detail in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules.) Thus a universal being could exist in which God the Son eternally connected the universal words of Teacher thought with the universal experiences of Mercy thought.

But Contributor thought can also act as an incarnation that ties together universal theories in Teacher thought with specific experiences in Mercy thought. That is the main way in which how Contributor thought functions in the human mind, because the human mind naturally develops mental networks representing specific personal identities in Mercy thought and mental networks describing universal theories in Teacher thought. But in order to connect universal Teacher with specific Mercy, a universal Trinitarian God would have to express himself as a finite human person within the human world. Thus, the distinction between Teacher thought and Mercy thought would make it possible for an incarnation to become finite in Mercy thought while remaining universal in Teacher thought.

4) Swedenborg says that God exists in human form: "No angel in the heavens ever perceives the Divine as being in any other than a human form; and what is remarkable, those in the higher heavens are unable to think of the Divine in any other way." [HH79] Swedenborg also states that God is not an invisible being: "The angels have no perception of an invisible Divine, which they call a Divine devoid of form, but perceive only a visible Divine in human form." In the human mind, a mental concept of personal identity forms within Mercy thought, while universal theories are constructed in Teacher thought. When Swedenborg states that God has human form he is equating the external shape of personal identity with a universal theory—another example of equating Teacher thought with Mercy thought. Saying this another way, Swedenborg is taking the concept of the universal being of God and forcing this Teacher -based concept to fit within the Mercy confines of a specific physical human body.

We looked earlier at Swedenborg's concept that heaven is an external expression of the mind, a concept that is consistent with mental symmetry. In the words of Swedenborg: "But notwithstanding that all things of man's body correspond to all things of heaven, it is not in respect to his external form that man is an image of heaven, but in respect to his internal form; for man's interiors are what receive heaven, while his exteriors receive the world." [HH99] But Swedenborg does not follow his own advice because he equates the external form of man with both heaven and God.

However, if one begins with the human mind and works out the process of programming this mind, one ends up both with a concept of an invisible Christian Trinity as well as all major Christian doctrines. This approach is taken in God, Theology & Cognitive Modules. Thus, Swedenborg's suggestion that both God and heaven are consistent with the 'internal form' of man appears to be correct.

5) Swedenborg says that people judge themselves after death and that God does not judge them: "This stripping of one's self bare, even to one's most secret thoughts and intentions, is the judgment. 'There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, nor hid that shall not be known.' (Matthew 10:26.) No need for a great white throne and a recording angel; one's innocence or guilt is there for all to see!" I suggest that this assertion is also a result of confusing Mercy thought with Teacher thought.

Swedenborg states that after death, the disembodied mind is held together by 'ruling loves', an idea which is consistent with the concept of mental networks. By definition, when a person is 'being judged', then his personal identity is being subjected to some imposed system of law and order. Personal identity is represented within the mind by a Mercy mental network, while the mind represents a system of law and order as a general theory within Teacher thought. But an image of God emerges when a general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity in Mercy thought. Therefore, if a disembodied mind becomes integrated around its fundamental mental networks, then the Teacher mental network that has the greatest effect upon personal identity will be the general Teacher theory that applies to personal identity. But, a 'general Teacher theory that applies to personal identity' defines a concept of God, therefore a person is being judged by his concept of God.

Thus, if we distinguish between Mercy thought and Teacher thought, then we conclude that Swedenborg's concept of 'judgment by ruling loves' leads us to the conclusion that each person will be personally judged by his own concept of God—he will be forced to live with the concept of God that he has mentally created. Obviously, the mental results will be unpleasant if a person has been attempting to avoid or destroy his mental concept of God, because his mind will lack any general structure within Teacher thought that can give either emotional comfort or mental stability to personal identity.

However, I suggest that we can go one step further. What is behind this system of 'self-judgment'. Why is a person being judged by his mental concept of God? Because, his mind is constructed in such a way that this will naturally occur. But which concept of God is consistent with mental wholeness? The Christian concept of a Trinitarian God. Thus, I suggest that what is really, really judging the disembodied mind is a Christian God—whether he exists or not. That is because a disembodied mind will only function in a healthy, wholesome manner to the extent that it has organized itself around the mental concept of a Christian Trinitarian God. Any lesser concept of God will be associated with a system of mental networks that encourages only part of the mind to function.

Swedenborg actually says something similar, because he talks about 'Love of the Lord' as the primary heavenly love: "If the newly-awakened spirit is good at heart, then he rejoices to find he is free from the restrictions and bad habits that perhaps drove him to sin while in the world. He can now express his love to the Lord and the neighbor much more freely than before, and he finds an increasing happiness in doing so. His face and expression become more relaxed and attractive." But Swedenborg's interpretation of this general principle is inadequate because he does not distinguish between Teacher thought and Mercy thought.

6) Swedenborg says that all religions can lead equally to God and heaven: "It used to be fashionable for Christians to condemn all non-Christians to Hell. But in the New Church we know that it is the ruling love that makes a person an angel or a devil, and the ruling love of a Hindu or Islamist or so-called heathen savage is just as likely to be good as that of a 'civilized' Christian." He also questions the need for missionary activity: "This raises a very interesting question. If the heathen or gentiles have just as good a chance of getting to Heaven as Christians, why try to convert them to Christianity? Why have missions? This is a deep matter, which cannot be dealt with briefly."

I suggest that Swedenborg himself illustrates why missionary activity is needed and why all religions do not lead equally to God. Swedenborg repeatedly makes the cognitive error of equating Mercy thought with Teacher thought. But an image of God emerges as a Teacher theory applies to Mercy identity. Thus, as we have seen, Swedenborg has an inadequate mental concept of God, illustrating that all religious systems do not lead equally to God.

How does one program Teacher thought so that it functions independently of personal identity within Mercy thought? By using words—the basic building block for Teacher thought—from a source that is different than personal identity. In religious terms, people need to hear about a universal God who is not human, and they need to be told that God functions differently than personal identity. In other words, missionaries need to tell people about God.

I suggest that Kant, a contemporary of Swedenborg, did distinguish between Teacher thought and Mercy thought, because he equates God with the categorical imperative of universal moral laws and childish personal identity with the radical evil that naturally rebels from universal law.

7) Swedenborg denies the doctrine of atonement: "Some people think that Jesus came on earth and died on the cross 'to save us from our sins.' But, if that was what he came to do, he did not succeed very well, as our sins are still with us!"

In the previous point, I suggested that personal identity is based in a Mercy mental network, whereas an image of God is rooted in a Teacher mental network. A general Teacher theory wants its rules to be applied universally without exception. In contrast, childish personal identity wants to have pleasant experiences, even at the cost of violating some general rule. This leads to the conflict between radical evil and the categorical imperative which Kant describes. Thus, we are dealing with two basic mental networks which are fundamentally incompatible with one another. As a result, one or the other must fall apart and 'die'.

It is possible for a person to survive the Mercy hyper-pain of 'dying to self' if this Mercy agony is balanced by Teacher pleasure. But, Teacher emotion comes from generality, and Teacher thought deals with processes and not states. Therefore, Teacher thought will only give emotional comfort to the process of personally falling apart and coming back together again if this process of personal rebirth is stated as a general Teacher theory. But, if personal rebirth is a general theory that applies to personal identity then this means that God went through personal death and resurrection in order to bring personal salvation to man, because an image of God emerges whenever a general Teacher theory applies to personal identity. This leads us to the Christian doctrine of atonement, which makes sense if one distinguishes between Teacher thought and Mercy thought and if one understands how these two forms of thought function.

8) Swedenborg says that marriage exists in heaven: "In Heaven, all the angels are married pairs (except in the case of new arrivals who are still awaiting their partners). They are so completely one in heart and mind, that often, when together, they are mistaken for one person. Swedenborg would see what looked like a single angel approaching him; but when closer he would discover that it was in fact a husband and wife."

If one looks at that the structure of the mind, one discovers that it is divided into 'male' and 'female' thought and that the mind only becomes complete when these two forms of thought are integrated. One sees this illustrated by what I call the three stages of learning: Female thinking emphasizes the two emotional modes of Mercy thought and Teacher thought; the result is intuition which jumps to conclusions guided by emotions; the beginner uses untrained intuition to generate crude Mercy results and overgeneralized Teacher theories. Male thinking, in contrast, focuses on the two 'confidence' modes of Perceiver thought and Server thought; this leads to the technician, who acquires Perceiver facts and gains Server skills in a controlled manner while downplaying emotions. Finally, the expert combines these two modes of thought and is able to move between intuition and technical thought. His intuition is guided by the content that was acquired by technical thought, while his technical thinking functions in an open manner, willing to lose control temporarily to intuition. Saying this another way, the male and female sides of his mind have become 'married'.

Thus, when Swedenborg talks about marriage in heaven, I suggest that he is stating an important mental principle, but he is interpreting this mental principle in terms of physical human bodies. Instead, if heaven is an external reflection of the mind, then what really matters is the mental 'marriage' between male and female thought within the mind of each individual, and not any physical marriage between the body of a male person and the body of a female person.

9) Swedenborg says that there is a detailed correspondence between heaven and earth: "The many volumes of the Arcana Coelestia touch on the spiritual meaning of every verse of Genesis and Exodus, with thousands of cross-references to other parts of the Word. Apocalypse Revealed gives the spiritual meaning of the book of Revelation. The 'correspondence' of almost every word is stated, as well as the 'representative meaning' of many of the Biblical characters and nations."

The idea of correspondence is very powerful, which is why I have chosen to call my cognitive model the theory of mental symmetry. Mental symmetry says that an underlying mental correspondence exists because the same cognitive modules and mental circuits are being used in many different expressions of human thought. Obviously, if heaven is an external expression of human thought, then this mental correspondence would result in an extensive external correspondence, both between human thought and heavenly 'reality', and between one external 'situation', 'object', or 'event' and another.

In contrast, even though Swedenborg says that the correspondence between heaven and earth is a mental one, he portrays this correspondence in terms of a physical human body: "As the whole heaven reflects a single man, and is a Divine spiritual man in the largest form, even in figure, so Heaven like a man is arranged into members and parts, and these are similarly named. Moreover, angels know in what member this or that society is. This society, they say, is in a certain part or province of the head, that in a certain part or province of the breast, that in a certain part or province of the loins, and so on. In general, the highest or third heaven forms the head down to the neck; the middle or second heaven forms the breast down to the loins and knees; the lowest or first heaven forms the feet down to the soles, and also the arms down to the fingers. For the arms and hands belong to the lowest parts of man, although at the sides." [HH65]

Swedenborg also misses the most fundamental mental symmetry, which is the symmetry between left hemisphere thought and right hemisphere thought. Instead, he equates Mercy thought with Teacher thought. Thus, even though Swedenborg's concept of correspondence is sound, and even though Swedenborg is correct in focusing upon inner correspondence, his implementation of correspondence is largely worthless, because he lacks a model of the mind which would permit him to apply the concept of correspondence in a rigorous manner.

Celestial and Spiritual

Swedenborg says that heaven and its angels are divided into the two major parts of celestial heaven and spiritual heaven: " In heaven there are two distinct loves, love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor, in the inmost or third heaven love to the Lord, in the second or middle heaven love towards the neighbor. They both go forth from the Lord, and they both make heaven. How these two loves are distinct and how they are conjoined is seen in heaven in clear light, but in the world only obscurely. In heaven loving the Lord does not mean loving Him in respect to His person, but it means loving the good that is from Him; and to love good is to will and do good from love; and to love the neighbor does not mean loving a companion in respect to his person, but loving the truth that is from the Word; and to love truth is to will and do it. This makes clear that these two loves are distinct as good and truth are distinct, and that they are conjoined as good is conjoined with truth." [HH15]

In other words, the celestial kingdom is the highest heaven, it is connected with Mercy love, and the 'ruling love' is Love of God; the spiritual kingdom is the second heaven, it is connected with Perceiver truth, and the 'ruling love' is Love of Neighbor.

Describing the celestial angels in more detail: "The angels in the Lord's celestial kingdom, from their more interior reception of the Divine of the Lord, far excel in wisdom and glory the angels that are in His spiritual kingdom; for they are in love to the Lord, and consequently are nearer and more closely conjoined to Him. These angels are such because they have received and continue to receive Divine truths at once in their life, and not first in memory and thought, as the spiritual angels do. Consequently they have Divine truths written in their hearts, and they perceive them, and as it were see them, in themselves; nor do they ever reason about them whether they are true or not." [HH25]

In the language of mental symmetry, celestial thought describes an attitude of blind faith: Mercy feelings are mesmerizing Perceiver thought into 'knowing' what is 'true'. Perceiver thought is not functioning, because there is no reasoning about 'truth'. According to Swedenborg, acquiring 'truth' through blind faith is a superior method which brings a person closer to God than rational truth.

Blind faith functions instantly, because 'truth' is based in defining emotional experiences: "It has been said that these angels have wisdom and glory above others for the reason that they have received and continue to receive Divine truths at once in their life. For as soon as they hear Divine truths, they will and do them, instead of storing them up in the memory and afterwards considering whether they are true. They know at once by influx from the Lord whether the truth they hear is true." [HH26]

Rational thought, in contrast, takes time to function, because Perceiver thought can only determine which connections are repeated by observing many situations. Swedenborg describes this contrast: "Those who are affected by Divine truths and admit them at once into the life, thus into the will and into action therefrom, are in the inmost or third heaven, and have their place there in accordance with their reception of good from affection for truth. Those who do not admit truths at once into the will but into the memory, and thence into the understanding, and from the understanding will and do them, are in the middle or second heaven." [HH33]

This contrast is illustrated by Swedenborg's description of the church buildings in heaven: "The church edifices in the spiritual kingdom are apparently built of stone, and those in the celestial kingdom of wood; because stone corresponds to truth, and those who are in the spiritual kingdom are in truth, while wood corresponds to good, and those in the celestial kingdom are in good." [HH223] Thus, the celestial uses 'living' wood to represent 'good', whereas the spiritual uses 'solid' stone to represent 'truth'.

The mental relationship between these two kingdoms is described in Swedenborg's paragraph on preaching in heaven: "All the preachers are from the Lord's spiritual kingdom; none are from the celestial kingdom. They are from the spiritual kingdom because the angels there are in truths from good, and all preaching must be from truths. There are no preachers from the celestial kingdom because those who are there are in the good of love, and they see and perceive truths from good, but do not talk about them. But although the angels in the celestial kingdom perceive and see truths there are preachings there, since by means of preachings they are enlightened in the truths that they already know, and are perfected by many truths that they did not know before. As soon as they hear truths they acknowledge them and thus perceive them; and the truths they perceive they love, and by living in accordance with them they make them to be of their life, declaring that living in accordance with truths is loving the Lord." [HH225]

In other words, spiritual knowledge is acquired verbally, using the content of speech; rational abstract thought is being used and Perceiver meanings are being assigned to words. In contrast, 'knowledge' in the celestial is acquired directly through emotions, which tells us that Perceiver thought is being mesmerized by Mercy emotions.

According to Swedenborg, there is no connection between these two heavens: "The heavens are so distinct that there can be no companionship between the angels of one heaven and the angels of another." [HH37]

And the two forms of knowledge that come from these two heavenly kingdoms also cannot interact: "No influx is possible from the lower heavens into the higher, because this is contrary to order; but there is influx from the higher heavens into the lower. Moreover, the wisdom of the angels of a higher heaven surpasses the wisdom of the angels of a lower heaven as a myriad to one; and this is another reason why the angels of a lower heaven cannot converse with those of a higher heaven; and in fact when they look towards them they do not see them, the higher heaven appearing like a cloudy something over their heads. But the angels of a higher heaven can see those in a lower heaven, although if permitted to talk with them they would lose their wisdom, as has been said above."

In other words, rational thought views blind faith as shapeless emotion, and if blind faith comes into contact with rational thought, then blind faith loses its 'knowledge'. In the language of mental symmetry, Perceiver thought cannot operate in the presence of strong Mercy emotions, and when blind faith encounters rational thought, then Perceiver thought 'wakes up' from its attitude of mesmerism and no longer 'knows' what is 'true'.

Summarizing, Swedenborg's division between celestial and spiritual is an accurate portrayal of the type of thinking that occurs when Perceiver thought is divided into blind faith and rational thought. And, the status which Swedenborg gives to 'celestial thought' tells us that he is convinced that blind faith is far superior to rational thought.

Blind faith is rooted in personal status with its Mercy emotions. The concept of Mercy status pervades Swedenborg's description of heaven: "All who are in the same society are arranged in like manner in respect to each other; those who are more perfect, that is, who excel in good, thus in love, wisdom, and intelligence, being in the middle; those who are less pre-eminent being round about at a distance in accordance with the decrease of their perfection. The arrangement is like light diminishing from the middle to the circumference, those who are in the middle being in the greatest light, and those towards the circumference in less and less." [HH43] Similar statements of people and places being arranged according to personal status can be found repeatedly in Swedenborg's description.

When Perceiver thought is functioning, then personal status becomes balanced by expertise. The president may be more important than an electrician, but when it comes to wiring the house, then the electrician is in charge, and not the president. Thus, each person is important within his own realm of expertise. While this concept can be found in Swedenborg's descriptions, the idea of personal status is by far the dominant one, telling us that blind faith rules the heaven of Swedenborg.

The Second Coming and the New Church

Swedenborg says that the Second Coming occurred spiritually in 1757, and he claims to have seen many visions of 'spiritual cities' being destroyed. He says that this 'second coming' resulted in a societal transition from blind faith to critical thinking and personal freedom: "There was a startling increase of freedom everywhere, as if a load had been lifted from the human race. This led to revolutions in many parts of the world, the trade union movement, the abolition of slavery, women's rights, and so on. The 'have nots' began to rise against the 'haves,' the underdogs against their masters; and today things have reached the stage where youth is rising against middle age, students are criticizing their teachers and children their parents! There is a critical spirit everywhere; nothing is taken for granted. Accepted beliefs are being challenged, and old customs are ignored. Even the church itself is under attack, because so many of its leaders in the past are suspected of hypocrisy."

And yet, we have just seen that Swedenborg's description of heaven is characterized by blind faith and personal status. If one applies critical thinking to Swedenborg's revelation, one concludes that Swedenborg is giving a rational description of blind faith and not a rational description of rational thought. Saying this another way, I suggest that Swedenborg's theology is in error because his concepts are correct.

Mental symmetry suggests that all education begins with blind faith and that it must make a transition to critical thinking. Thus, I suggest that Swedenborg is describing a societal transition which must occur and which did occur historically. But if we examine Swedenborg's pronouncement from a cognitive perspective, we come to an interesting conclusion. Even though Swedenborg talks about going beyond blind faith to critical thinking, we have seen that Swedenborg's description of heaven illustrates blind faith and not critical thinking.

We have also seen that Swedenborg makes the cognitive error of equating Mercy thought with Teacher thought. When blind faith is being used, then I suggest that this error will naturally occur. As I have mentioned, blind faith uses Mercy emotions to mesmerize Perceiver thought into 'knowing' what is 'true'; these 'facts' are then used to build general Teacher theories. Because the 'bricks' which are used to construct the 'edifice' of a general Teacher theory are infused with Mercy emotions, it is easy to confuse the Mercy emotions of personal status (present in every emotionally defined 'brick') with the Teacher emotions of generality (generated by the 'building' as a whole).

Critical thinking emerges when Perceiver facts become independent of personal status within Mercy thought; facts are no longer believed to be 'true' because they came from some personal source with emotional status, but rather they are regarded as true because they describe connections which can be found repeatedly and reliably. In addition, what holds facts together is no longer the words or writings of some expert with Mercy status, but rather the order-within complexity of a general Teacher theory. The end result is that critical thinking makes a distinction between Teacher thought with its general theories and Mercy thought with its personal emotions and person identity—a distinction which we have seen that Swedenborg does not make.

In terms of the building analogy, the 'bricks' no longer have emotional content. The bricks are used to construct a 'building', which generates Teacher emotions, while people—who have Mercy emotional status—live within the structure of the Teacher theory. Separating the people with their Mercy emotions from the building, with its Teacher order, are the bricks of non-emotional Perceiver facts. People then live within the building by carrying out Server actions, which are also non-emotional.

We have also seen that while Swedenborg says that heaven is an external expression of mental content based upon mental correspondence, in most cases the heaven that he describes is an expression of physical content based upon human physical existence. I suggest that this also is a natural by-product of blind faith. When emotional pressure mesmerizes Perceiver thought into 'knowing' what is 'true', the specific arrangement of a specific physical situation will be accept as universal Perceiver 'truth'.

For instance, if a ferocious dog bites me on the leg, then this emotional experience will mesmerize Perceiver thought into 'knowing' that all dogs always bite—that one specific physical event turns into universal 'truth'. Similarly, the specific arrangement of the human physical body, with its arms, legs, torso, head, and so on, is being taught as universal 'truth' by Swedenborg. It is possible that the human form may have symbolic importance, just as it is possible for dogs to bite humans. But when one thinks about dogs, one does not fixate upon the experience of getting bitten. Similarly, when one examines the concept of correspondence, I suggest that one should not fixate upon the physical human body. Such fixation is a mental symptom of blind faith, because blind faith takes a single defining experience and turns it into universal 'truth', while critical thinking discovers its facts by comparing many different situations.

Going further, I suggest that Swedenborg's description of 'ruling loves' is also indicative of blind faith. That is because blind faith is always accompanied by an attitude of self-denial. As I have mentioned, blind faith uses the Mercy status of some source of 'truth' to mesmerize Perceiver thought into 'knowing' what is 'true'. Perceiver thought will only remain in this mesmerized state if the source of 'truth' is given much greater emotional status than personal identity. In religious language, I will deny myself in order to believe in the word of God.

In contrast, mental wholeness goes beyond self-denial to personal transformation. The mental networks of childish identity are torn apart and rebuilt in a form which is consistent with rational understanding. This leads to enlightened selfishness, in which a person pursues the selfish goal of long-term pleasure guided by universal laws.

We have seen that the mind is driven by its fundamental mental networks. Swedenborg talks about four basic kinds of fundamental mental networks: "Swedenborg defines four classes or categories of ruling love, which cover every possible kind. The first two classes are heavenly, and the last two hellish if they are not in their proper place, in which case they do not serve the first two: 1) Love of the Lord; 2) Love of the Neighbor; 3) Love of the World; 4) Love of Self. All these loves are good and acceptable in their proper place; but only one or other of the first two should be allowed to rule. Nos. 3 and 4 should be subordinate."

I suggest that Swedenborg's hierarchy of 'ruling loves' reflects an attitude of self-denial and not personal transformation. First, he associates self-love only with childish personal identity: "'Love of self' is the opposite of 'Love of the Lord,' and is the worst of the four ruling loves. When we inwardly love ourselves first and foremost, we put ourselves in the place of God; we worship ourselves, and want other people to worship us also. In conversation, such a person always brings the talk round to themselves and their own affairs."

Second, he describes Love of Neighbor as loving one's neighbor instead of oneself rather than as oneself: "Those whose ruling love is directed towards the neighbor do everything with the underlying purpose of helping others." When behavior is guided by universal Teacher laws, then everyone is subject to the same rules, and one loves others as oneself. In contrast, self-denial suppresses self-love in order to focus upon others.

Finally, Swedenborg's description of Love of God is characterized by total religious self-denial: "If our ruling love is directed towards the Lord, then a desire to please the Lord is behind everything we think and say and do; it governs all the choices we make." More explicitly: "There is a still further reason, and this is in heaven the primary reason, why the angels are able to receive so great wisdom, namely, that they are without the love of self; for to the extent that any one is without the love of self he can become wise in Divine things. It is that love that closes up the interiors against the Lord and heaven, and opens the exteriors and turns them toward itself; and in consequence all in whom that love rules are in thick darkness in respect to the things of heaven, however much light they may have in worldly matters." [HH272]

Swedenborg's followers claim that Swedenborg's teachings describe the New church: "By the middle of the 18th century, the first Christian church, as inaugurated by Jesus Christ, came to an end, and with it all the religious eras that had existed since the days of Adam. A new church, more purely Christian, was established, and a new revelation was given to the world, through the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, which opened the internal sense of God's holy Word and explained in a rational manner all the spiritual truths people could possibly grasp." And we do find Swedenborg describing a number of concepts that are consistent with a rational understanding of the cognitive principles which lie behind religious thought.

However, Swedenborg's description is pervaded by blind faith, and Swedenborg also makes the fatal cognitive error of confusing Teacher thought with Mercy thought—an error that one naturally makes when practicing blind faith, which one stops making when one practices critical thinking. Thus, Swedenborg may be talking about a new church, but his theology is fundamentally twisted by the thinking of the old church which he claims to have left behind; he says that he 'saw' the Second Coming spiritually, but his theology demonstrates that he himself did not experience the mental benefits of this 'second coming'.

What happens if one truly applies critical thinking to Christian doctrine? In God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, I present the case that one ends up not with new doctrine, but rather with existing doctrine held together by a new paradigm. Swedenborg, in contrast, ends up with new doctrine held together only partially by a Teacher paradigm.

We also conclude that Swedenborg could not have seen the second coming in 1757. According to Inner Light, "In his diaries for 1757 he recounts how he saw city after city in the World of Spirits collapse in ruins, causing thousands of people (spirits) to run hither and thither, and finally leap headlong into great cracks or fissures in the ground caused by an earthquake."

If a 'spiritual world' exists in which thought determines reality, and if Swedenborg could 'see' this world, then he may have sensed some sort of 'spiritual transition' from blind faith to critical thinking. But Swedenborg could not have sensed the second coming because—according to his own definition of the second coming—his theology does not reflect this second coming. Thus—using Swedenborg's own definition of the second coming—we conclude that a more fundamental second coming is yet to occur, and we also conclude that Swedenborg's New Church is not the new church.


I should point out that this essay has referred to two distinct kinds of non-physical existence. Both are compatible with the structure of the human mind, and hypothetically both could exist.

First, there is the realm of names. In this realm, a human-like mind would occupy the finite Teacher structure of some name rather than the finite Teacher object of some body, and the 'physical world' would be composed of Teacher energy and waves rather than Mercy objects and matter. Physics tells us that every particle is also a wave, so such a realm is conceivable. In the same way that a human baby acquires its initial content from the physical body and the physical world, so a 'newborn' mind could acquire its initial content from a wavelike 'body' and 'world'. I suggest elsewhere that this type of Teacher based realm can provide a plausible explanation for beings and phenomena which we refer to as angels and UFO creatures.

Swedenborg, in contrast, is attempting to describe a realm of disembodied minds or spirits. In such a realm, the mind is held together by its mental networks and not by any 'external' name or body. External 'reality' is then an expression of mental thought and structure. Because beings within such a realm require mental structure, a 'newborn mind' could not exist within such a structure without some sort of external 'crutch', either in the form of a name or a body.

Developing the mental content that would be required to live in a spiritual realm is not trivial. Instead, the mind first acquires its content from its external environment through the use of two mental shortcuts, and it then becomes independent of its external environment by escaping from these two shortcuts. God, Theology & Cognitive Modules describes in detail how this process occurs in the human mind. I refer to these two mental shortcuts as the Perceiver shortcut and the Teacher shortcut.

The Perceiver shortcut teaches Perceiver facts by using the emotional status of some external person or event to mesmerize Perceiver thought into 'knowing' facts. This describes blind faith. One escapes blind faith by basing Perceiver truth in connections which are repeated and by replacing the Mercy emotions associated with the expert with the Teacher emotions of a general understanding. This mental transition occurred in the objective during the Scientific Revolution.

The Teacher shortcut uses the words of some physical book to 'reveal truth' to Teacher thought. In essence, this programs Server thought with an external sequence of words. One escapes this shortcut by recognizing that the physical (or mental) world is governed by Server sequences which do not depend upon peoples' words. For instance, the laws of nature are based in an understanding of how nature naturally functions. In addition, one realizes that words can only give the description of a general theory, while a truly general theory emerges when physical objects and events are illustrations of general theory. This mental transition occurred in the objective during the Industrial Revolution.

Only a human (or angel) mind that escapes both mental shortcuts would have the internal structure required to exist within a purely spiritual realm in which all external reality was dependent upon mental content. Instead, a partially developed mind will think that its personal existence does not depend upon external reality while still assuming the continued presence of some aspect of external reality. One sees such a discrepancy illustrated by Swedenborg.

If a major group of individuals managed to escape one of these mental shortcuts, and if a spiritual realm exists in which external reality reflects mental content, then this group transition would trigger some sort of external cataclysmic which might correspond to the visions of Swedenborg.

Summarizing this entire analysis in one paragraph, the spiritual principles that Swedenborg presents are both insightful and consistent with the theory of mental symmetry. However, Swedenborg's application of these principles is warped by an attitude of blind faith, and this attitude of blind faith causes him to preach a theology that is deeply flawed because it equates Mercy thought with Teacher thought and focuses upon physical correspondence rather than mental correspondence.

However, considering that Swedenborg died in 1772, back when no one had any clue about how the mind functions, it is amazing that he got as far as he did with his rational analysis of disembodied mental existence.

[1] I know that my descriptions of mind and spirit are somewhat ambiguous here. Technically speaking, I use the diagram of mental symmetry to define 'the mind'. This cognitive model is sufficiently detailed to explain all major aspects of human behavior, but it is also sufficiently vague to be compatible with some sort of inherently shapeless 'spirit'. Is the mind based upon the intermediate substance of a 'soul' which lies between matter and spirit? I don't know. At this point, I am simply trying to explain Swedenborg's description of life after death, and attempting to address the question of how a scientific trained mind could handle such a concept of life after death without triggering the hyper-pain of angst.

[2] Notice that a concept of God is based in a universal Teacher theory, whereas an angel name is rooted in the Teacher order-within-complexity of a specific skill or profession.