Course: Psychology 459, Spring 2007, Generation 26
Instructor: Dr. Leon James
Introduction to Theistic Psychology  at  www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/theistic/ch1.htm
My Home Page:  www.soc.hawaii.edu/leon/459s2007/major/major-home.htm
Class Home Page:  www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy26/classhome-g26.htm
Instructions for this Report:  www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy26/459-g26-weekly.htm

 

My Introduction to Theistic Psychology

by Mariann Major

Report 5 for Section 1.5.1 to 1.7

 

Answers to Questions 11.2, 11.5, 11.8, 11.9

And

Answers to Questions 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.9

 

 

Question 11.2

(a)   Section 1.5.1.2 "The Negative Bias in Science" presents an extensive quote by a negative bias mode psychologist (Bering). Analyze what he says.

(b)   Make a conclusion in the light of what you already know from the positive bias perspective in theistic psychology.

(c)    How would your other professors this semester relate to the idea presented in this class that non-theistic psychology assumes the negative bias in science? Would you predict that they agree that it is a bias or not?

Answer 11.2

The Negative Bias in Science

(a)  Section 1.5.1.2 "The Negative Bias in Science" presents an extensive quote by a negative bias mode psychologist (Bering). Analyze what he says.

 (a)  The negative bias mode psychologist, Bering, said that we have a cognitive bias towards thinking about the idea of a soul and we insist on differentiating between our physical selves (which can be observed), and our mental selves (which cannot be observed).  Bering said that spirituality takes an important role in the human life.  However, he thinks that spiritual beliefs are pure illusions that have been created in response to social pressure.  These illusory beliefs include psychological immortality and intelligent design of the self.

Bering says that there have been experiments that show that pro-social behavior is increased when people are primed for the spiritual.  He says that it could be possible that these beliefs are passed from generation to generation through culture, much like a virus, but there is evidence that suggests otherwise.  He thinks that this is because of the belief that our current behavior will have an effect in our afterlife.

 

Bering says that if God doesn’t exist, then where does that leave intelligent design?  If there is no designer, we must only assume that people are the end product of mechanisms brought on by genetic and environmental recombination, hence evolution.  Also, if there is no intelligent design, then there is no teleological function that people are “designed” to fulfill.

Bering finishes by saying that there is limited evidence and grounds to argue that natural selection may have set to work on specific human cognitive errors.  These errors encompass simulation constraints leading to Type I errors in reasoning about the afterlife, and that natural events were supposedly caused by a supernatural agent.

The Positive Bias

(b)  Make a conclusion in the light of what you already know from the positive bias perspective in theistic psychology.

 (b)  Since I am still in the negative bias, but accepting that a positive bias in science could be possible, I am mostly in agreeance with Bering.  However, since I have been studying the positive bias, it is obvious that Bering isn’t leaving any room for the possibility that God could exist.  If he had left the possibility open, he could have seen everything that theistic psychology has taught us about Good and Truth.  Because he does not open his mind to it, he will not know God until the afterlife.  Hopefully he has been living through the guidance of his conscience, or his mental afterlife will be hellish indeed.  I think that if he opened his mind to the positive bias, and thought rationally about the topic, he would see that in the positive bias, everything falls into place.  The sacred scriptures are irrefutable physical evidence of it.

What other people have to say                     

(c)  How would your other professors this semester relate to the idea presented in this class that non-theistic psychology assumes the negative bias in science?  Would you predict that they agree that it is a bias or not?

(c)  I think that my professors would agree that there is a negative and positive bias in science, and that we are most definitely taught in the negative bias at school.  God is a tricky issue to discuss without overstepping the boundaries of mixing religion with education or government.  I think that my religious science teachers would indeed agree that it is a bias.  I’m sure it is hard for them to believe in one thing and then teach something that argues against their beliefs.  I wonder if it is hard for them to maintain their religion when everything that they preach screams that God does not exist.

 

Question 11.5

 

(a)    Summarize what is said in section 1.6 “Spiritual Psychobiology.”

(b)    How does this relate to what you already know about the field of psychology?

 

Answer 11.5

 

Spiritual Psychobiology

 

(a)  Summarize what is said in section 1.6 “Spiritual Psychobiology.”

 

(a)  Today’s psychological theories share a lot of what Swedenborg’s writings had to say on theistic science.  The spiritual psychobiology section of the writings says that the writings are in fact, precursory for contemporary psychology.  The basis of psychology, no matter which school of thought you are from, say that actions have both a cognitive and affective part.  Swedenborg proposed this in his book Rational Psychology.

 

The operations of the cognitive and affective organs are spiritual and are completely separate from the physical brain and body.  They just have corresponding physical organs (the cardiovascular and respiratory systems).  Swedenborg describes the organs as the affective organ (or the will), the cognitive organ (or the understanding), and the sensorimotor organ (or the organ that controls our action after utilizing the information from the cognitive and affective organs).  These organs are created out of spiritual material, which is what the entire mental world is constructed from.  The operations of the organs occur within the organs in our mental bodies, but they each have corresponding physical counterparts.  Each part of our physical bodies is shaped the way it is and works the way it does because of the shape and function of the corresponding part of the spiritual body.  The physical brain has different parts for different functions, as does the mind. 

 

The mental world is also shaped like a person, and different groups of people with similar mind-states and thinking patterns make up different parts of the body of the mental world.  It is said that our mental world is located on the “skin” of the body of eternity because of our ability to communicate with others.  In this way the world is orderly and there are two halves of everything, one half in the physical world, the other half in the mental world, much like an equal equation.  This is a major part of Swedenborg’s rational psychology.

 

Spiritual vs. Natural Psychology

 

(b)  How does this relate to what you already know about the field of psychology?

 

(b)  This is a lot different from what I have learned in my psychology classes at school because those classes accept the negative bias of science in that there are no corresponding organs outside of our bodies and all of our thoughts and emotions occur inside our physical bodies as the result of electrochemical signals coursing throughout our systems.  This is the only class that I’ve had that even talks about spiritual anything, so it’s a little hard for me to grasp.  I’m not sure how this would really affect the helping process because I’m sure that the way helpers have been counseling people has worked for years.  My only concern is about medication for the mind.  Some people take medication because they have personality issues, but if the issue is really in their mental world, then how is medication going to help anything except just putting more chemicals in someone’s body so their liver can fail later?  There is no connection between the physical and mental so the medication would not be doing any good.

 

 

 

Question 11.8

 

(a)    Discuss the "transmissive model" (or "transmission theory") of the mind by William James in Section 2.3. He was familiar with Swedenborg's Writings from his father, who wrote a book about Swedenborg's Writings.

(b)    Do you see a connection between substantive dualism and the model of William James?

 

Answer 11.8

 

Transmission Model

 

(a)  Discuss the "transmissive model" (or "transmission theory") of the mind by William James in Section 2.3. He was familiar with Swedenborg's Writings from his father, who wrote a book about Swedenborg's Writings.

 

(a)  William James said that there were two perspectives in respect to the brain and mind.  The first perspective is the transmission model.  In this perspective, the brain is just a transmitter and does not create the thoughts or feelings of the mind at all.  In this model, the brain is created of physical matter and the mind and conscience are just transmitted through it.

 

The other perspective is called the productive model.  In this model, the physical brain creates thoughts and what people experience as the mind.  In this perspective, when the person dies, or the physical body dies, then the thoughts and mind die too because they were products of the physical brain.  William James thought both of these models were equally logical and valid.  However, this second perspective is what most scientists, psychologists, and people tend to accept.

 

There is an example that I have read about that compares the transmission model to a radio.  If there is no transmission then the radio won’t work.  It is just a piece of machinery.  However, radio transmissions don’t stop, even if the radio is turned off or if it’s broken.

 

The physical body is temporary and cannot function without the mind.  The mind is the spiritual body.  When the brain and body die, the mind still works because they weren’t part of the body, they were located in the mental world.  The mind just made the body work.  In the example above, the radio is the body, and the transmissions are the mind.  Using this model, the concept of immortality could potentially be scientific.

 

Substantive Dualism

 

(b)  Do you see a connection between substantive dualism and the model of William James?

 

Substantive Dualism is the subject that confused Bering.  This talks about why people have a mind that is perceived as being immortal and separate from the physical body.  Since everyone experiences this and it is a basis of the perception of self, it is easier to think that the mind and body are separate instead of saying that it is just an illusion or cognitive error.  It is called dualism because the mind is located in the mental or spiritual world but the body is located in the physical world.  This is what we have been taught since the very first lecture in Theistic Psychology.  James’s transmission model agrees with Swedenborg’s writings about Substantive Dualism.  This could probably be because William James was familiar with some of Swedenborg’s work because his father wrote a book on Swedenborg’s writings.

 

I think that it is a little impossible for James to have believed equally in both models because they are complete opposites of each other and the productive model is the antithesis of rational thinking.  I think James should have picked a side instead of finding explanations for the positive and negative bias.  However, by explaining both sides of the biases and the way the mind and brain work, James left himself free of criticism from opponents on each side of the bias.  Perhaps James was smarter than we know?

 

Question 11.9

 

(a)    Discuss your perceptions of how other students in this class (G26) are adjusting intellectually to the positive bias perspective.

(b)    Read some of their reports.  Do the reports show the same thing as the class discussions?

(c)     How do you stand relative to others?

 

Answer 11.9

 

Getting used to it all

 

(a)  Discuss your perceptions of how other students in this class (G26) are adjusting intellectually to the positive bias perspective.

 

(a)  I think that the students in the class are generally beginning to accept the positive bias.  It is really obvious that this is happening because at first there was a lot of discussion about whether or not the things that we were learning were possible in the first place, but now there is more discussion about the ideas and theories, and clarification about some of the stuff that we’re reading about.  I think that the members of the class are consciously trying to live their lives in a more heavenly way, and are finding theistic psychology a little more acceptable as we realize that it is not a new religion, it is just a new way of thinking about religion.

 

Talk the talk, Walk the walk

 

(b)  Read some of their reports.  Do the reports show the same thing as the class discussions?

 

(b)  I think that there is a lot more discussion and information to be found in the reports because a lot of us are more comfortable talking to our computer than talking in front of others.  Some people are afraid that they are asking stupid questions or questions that have been asked previously, and no one would admit that they haven’t been studying or reading the lecture notes as closely as possible.  It is a little difficult to compare the reports to the class discussions because the people who are presenting basically answer the question in its entirety, and then we have to make up questions about what they’re talking about.  However, if we have been doing the readings, then we shouldn’t have any questions to be discussed, and we are simply testing the discussers to see if THEY have been doing the readings.  I’m not sure how heavenly that behavior is.

 

Where do I stand?

 

(c)  How do you stand relative to others?

 

(c)  I have recently started to understand more and more about theistic psychology and the things that it teaches.  I understand a lot of the basics; it’s just comparing those basics with my own life that I have problems with.  I know that there are people in the class who have a greater understanding of the information and probably read the notes at a greater extent than me, but I’m not completely hopeless when it comes to Theistic Psychology.  I am of the mindset that as long as I have a basic understanding of the important parts, and live my life in a positive and heavenly way, then I am going to be aptly prepared for the mental world after my death.  Even though I am not religious, I don’t think that living your life morally is anything unreasonable to do.  I understand that there are sacred scriptures that contain correspondential information in them but I know now that with my conscience, reading the sacred scripture isn’t something I would necessarily have to do to have an enjoyable heaven after I die on the physical plane.  I could accept the scripture later after resuscitation.  I have begun to look at my actions and thoughts more critically than ever before, to see which would be translated into hellish or heavenly traits.  I have noticed that in myself I have cut down a lot on my malicious thoughts or tendencies and have begun to care a little bit more about others.

 

Part Two, Section 1.6.3 to 1.7

 

Question 13.1

 

(a)    List between 3 and 5 criteria that theistic psychology should have if it is going to make it as a science in the future.

(b)    Briefly explain each.

(c)     Then give your assessment as to how theistic psychology as you know it stacks up against these criteria.

 

Answer 13.1

 

What does it take?

 

(a)  List between 3 and 5 criteria that theistic psychology should have if it is going to make it as a science in the future.

 

(a)  Organicity, Objective Reality, Operational Definition, Empiricism, Usefulness

 

What does it mean?

 

(b)  Briefly explain each.

 

(b)  Organicity means that the theory must be biologically grounded.  There can be no function without structure, medium, or substance.  Objective Reality means that the facts of the system must come from objective observation and must be verifiable by others.  Operational definition means that the proposed theory must offer concrete measurement procedures for assessing the magnitude of effects indexed by dependent measures under various known independent conditions.  Empiricism means that every step of the explanation or theory must be capable of being understood and verified by the person’s own experience or self-witnessing observations.  Usefulness means that the theory must be applicable to all people and beneficial to society and individuals.

 

How does theistic psychology measure up?

 

(c)  Then give your assessment as to how theistic psychology as you know it stacks up against these criteria.

 

(c)  If you’re looking at theistic psychology from the negative bias, there is no Organicity because it all seems like theory based on whether or not God exists or not.  However, if you look at it with the positive bias, you could say that the mind and the spiritual world is the substance.  Swedenborg diagrammed and made very precise charts as to how correspondences worked between the mental world and the physical world so there is a structure to the proposed theory. 

 

Theistic Psychology becomes an empirical science when we look at the data that Swedenborg had collected over the years.  This was data that he had self-witnessed and experienced himself.  Theistic psychology has a mental anatomy and mental physiology that show a spiritual psychobiology.  The information goes so far as to say that the patters of neuronal firings are governed by the laws of correspondences.  This means that brain activity in the physical world just reflects what is going on in the mental world.

 

Objective reality means that more than one person has to have seen the process or gotten the same results to verify the actual theory.  So far, only Swedenborg has had the privilege of being able to report results before death.  The lecture notes tell us that after death, other scientists will be able to verify the results also.  However, that doesn’t help the scientific situation now; it will remain an unproven theory in the physical world.

 

Operational definition means that there must be concrete measurement procedures for measuring the magnitude of the effects.  Swedenborg sort of has operational definition in the bag because he documented numerous occasions of resuscitation and other events between death in the physical plane and finally entering the mental world.  Also, Swedenborg also describes the laws of correspondence as operational definition, where A is the natural element and B is the spiritual, mental, or psychological element, and “A represents B.”

 

I think that theistic psychology is very useful in terms of being applicable to all people and beneficial to society and individuals.  If you look at it in terms of the positive bias, you can see that theistic psychology is something everyone is a part of, since everyone is a product of God, and everyone will eventually die and go to the mental world.  I think that theistic psychology is very beneficial to society because it encourages people to live a moral and heavenly life.  This is something that would create world peace if everyone lived their lives this way.

 

I think that if Theistic Psychology could be observed by more than just one person, then theistic psychology could indeed become a verifiable science.

 

Question 13.2

 

(a)    What is the method of psychobiological correspondence?

(b)    How can it be applied in theistic psychology?

 

Answer 13.2

 

Psychobiological Correspondence

 

(a)  What is the method of psychobiological correspondence?

 

(a)  This correspondence lets many arcane relating to will, understanding, and also to love (or affect) and wisdom (or cognition) are understood.  Not many people understand what will or love is, especially because we cannot control it.  What we do understand is that will and understanding are conjoined, and love and wisdom are conjoined.  To look at it from the physical standpoint, the conjunction of the heart and the lungs are greatly related to the blood from the heart and into the lungs, and also from the lungs into the heart, which therefore travels the rest of the body through veins and arteries.  If we look at the biological correspondences, our affective organ is connected to our heart and cardiovascular system, and our cognitive organ is connected to our lungs and respirator system.  This means that our thoughts and our feelings are interconnected in both the mental and physical world.

 

There are differing ideas on what the spirit is in a man.  Some say that the mind is the spirit, and the body is an external tool that the mind or spirit uses to feel and act in the world.  However, there are some cultures that use the same word for spirit and wind, meaning that your breath is your soul, and your soul cannot be a part of your physical body, as the wind is not a part of your physical body. 

 

Now, we see why the respiration of your lungs represents the spirit of your body and how your heart and blood circulate the oxygen, or spirit, throughout your body.  When your body dies, the body stops respiration and the heart stops pumping, and the spirit leaves the body and continues life in the spiritual world, which is so similar to life in the natural world that one doesn’t know that they’ve died.  In the spiritual world, your spiritual body has a respiration and a pulse also.

 

The correspondence of the heart and will and of the lungs and understanding will explain everything that can be known about the will and understanding or about love and wisdom, and therefore about the soul of man.

 

Psychobiological Correspondence and Theistic Psychology

 

(b)  How can it be applied in theistic psychology?

 

(b)  I think that the psychobiological correspondence sounds as if it is something taught directly by theistic psychology.  It speaks about the affective and cognitive organs, without actually naming them and it also talks about correspondences, which is what theistic psychology is all about.  Swedenborg talks about three organs found in the mental world that correspond with our physical body, especially the affective and cognitive organs.  They happen to be located in the same areas that the psychobiological correspondence theory talks about and they have about the same functions.  I think it makes a lot of sense that the oxygen we breath in, and is distributed by our heart and blood, could possibly be the our spirit or soul being distributed throughout our body.  Also, when people die, there is always talk about a final, dying breath, which could signify the soul or the spirit leaving the body.

 

Question 13.3

 

(a)    What is the organic basis of human thoughts, emotions, and feelings?

(b)    Contrast this with the negative bias psychology which “reduces” thoughts and feelings to electricity and chemistry in the neurons of the brain.

(c)     What is your view on this controversy?

 

Answer 13.3

 

What are they made of?

 

(a)  What is the organic basis of human thoughts, emotions, and feelings?

 

(a)  Many scientists base thoughts, emotions, and feelings as the products of electrochemical signals throughout your brain and body.  However, in the positive bias of science, we are taught that everything is made out of Good and Truth from the spiritual sun.  This is substance that creates everything physical and mental.  According to Swedenborg, the stuff from the spiritual sun is affective and cognitive.  The substances cool down and become dense, and in that state they appear as the heat and light of the natural sun and eventually as chemicals.  So we can conclude that chemicals are just affections and cognitions cooled and slowed down, and solidified.  Therefore the physiology of emotions and feelings are created from when the affective and cognitive reactions in the spiritual body come down and solidify as neurochemical reactions in the physical body.  This is another example of how correspondences work and how things are transduced through the levels of the mental world to finally reach the primitive-like physical world.

 

Positive vs. Negative

 

(b)  Contrast this with the negative bias psychology which “reduces” thoughts and feelings to electricity and chemistry in the neurons of the brain.

 

 

(b)  I prefer the positive bias when it comes to what thoughts and emotions and feelings are made of.  It is really hard for me to believe that everything that I feel and everything that I think are the products of electrochemical signals transversing my brain and making neurons fire in patters to create “learning” or other things.  It is my belief that perhaps scientists could see what was going on, but couldn’t explain how or why, so they just say that it is what it is.  It makes a lot of sense that our feelings and emotions are products of the spiritual sun because in the positive bias, everything is a product of the spiritual sun.  Also, the fact that the spiritual sun emanates good AND truth, which both combine to create our feelings and thoughts.

 

What I think

 

(c)  What is your view on this controversy?

 

(c)  I think that the positive bias gives a better and more plausible explanation for the origin of our thoughts and feelings.  I feel my feelings in my heart area, which is the correspondential area for my affective organ in the mental world.  I do NOT feel my feelings in my brain, which is where the negative bias of science tells us where all of our brainwaves are taking place.  The negative bias doesn’t do much to explain emotion or feelings in the body, especially fear in our stomach, or love in our heart, or jealousy in our chest.  However, the positive bias explains it easily by letting us know that the chest area is the correspondential location of our affective organ which is powered by good and truth from the spiritual sun.  I think that the one thing that still confuses me is that even though I understand why the lungs and respiratory system are the location of the cognitive organ, why it is that I “feel” my thoughts in my brain, or the back of my skull.  All of my thoughts take place there, from reading in my mind, to replaying conversations in my mind, to reliving memories.

 

Question 13.9

 

(a)    Why is it important for God to talk to or communicate with human beings?

(b)    What does God intend to talk to us about?  Why?

(c)     How does God talk to us or communicate with us?

(d)    Is there anything relevant you’d like to say about your relationship to your conscience and to sacred scripture?

 

Answer 13.9

 

Why does God talk to us?

 

(a)  Why is it important for God to talk to or communicate with human beings?

 

(a)  There are many reasons why God should talk with human beings.  The most important reasons are to let humans know that they are loved and to prepare humans for the mental world.

 

But what for?

 

(b)  What does God intend to talk to us about?  Why?

 

(b)  God is trying to tell us about Himself and the mental world.  God wants us to live our lives as heavenly as possible so that once we die on the physical plane, and are resuscitated in the mental world, we can continue to exist in the most heavenly place possible.  However, our mental heavens are a direct reflection of how we have lived our lives on the physical plane, as well as our thoughts, feelings, and emotions on the spiritual plane.  If we have no guidance on how to live our lives, then all of our hellish traits will build up little by little until we are essentially living in the hells of our minds.  Once we are resuscitated in the mental world, we won’t be able to find a unity partner and we will be tortured and in anguish for eternity.  It’s pretty horrible.  I think that communicating with God sounds a bit more pleasant.

 

How does it happen?

 

(c)  How does God talk to us or communicate with us?

 

(c)  God talks to us in the Divine Speech.  However, in the physical plane, our minds are not enlightened enough to understand divine speech whatsoever, because most people have not reached that rational level of thinking yet.  Therefore, God has come up with two different ways to talk to us on the physical plane.  One way is by using Sacred Scripture.  In many of today’s influential sacred scriptures, God has encoded his wishes within the text.  What seems like a historical text about the world’s major religions, is actually a guidebook to living your life in the most heavenly way, and an explanation on who God is and everything about him.  Once you understand the correspondences in Sacred Scripture, you begin to know God and think more rationally.

 

The other way God communicates with us on the physical plane is through our conscience.  The conscience is within our body, so it is a direct link to what the big man wants.  It is powered by the truth and good of the spiritual sun, as is everything, and is a constant reminder to us that our actions and thoughts are good or bad.  If you are doing something wrong, your conscience makes you feel bad, and you should know to stop immediately and not repeat those actions.  The conscience is kind of a back up plan for people who aren’t lucky enough to be exposed to sacred scripture.  They still have a chance to live their lives heavenly so long as they follow their conscience.

 

Where does that leave me?

 

(d)  Is there anything relevant you’d like to say about your relationship to your conscience and to sacred scripture?

 

(d)  I do not have a very good relationship with sacred scripture at all.  I was raised without religion because my parents are conflicting religions.  Therefore, I am unexposed to many of the correspondential information that would be really useful in trying to live my life as heavenly as possible.  However, I have a very good relationship with my conscience.  It works in full force thank-you-very-much.  Every time I think about doing something wrong or actually do something wrong, my conscience lets me know by making me feel guilty and anxious.  Since the feeling is very unpleasant, I try not to do too many hellish things.  I rely primarily on my conscience to live a heavenly life, and hopefully it is good enough so that I have a really nice heaven after I die on the physical plane.