Can Theistic Psychology Exist in Science

by Leticia Valle

www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/theistic-psychology.htm

 

1. Preface

 

This, psychology 459, course examines the relationship between rationality and mystical spirituality, based on the revelations of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).  Emanuel Swedenborg is a well-respected scientist and engineer who was given the opportunity, by God, to observe and record interviews with spirits in the spiritual world.  This course examines crediting God scientifically in the creation of the human mind.

 

I feel very privileged in being part of Generation 20.  I have been given the opportunity to become familiar with theistic psychology.  Generation 20 investigates the “scientific revelations” revealed to Emanuel Swedenborg by God concerning the human mind, life after death, and the spiritual world.  We will discover the rationality of using God in a scientific method to help explain the theory of psychology.  It is an advantage to be part of generation 20 because I have the opportunity to refer to many previous reports and gain insight on driving issues.  There is a disadvantage to being the first class exposed to Theistic Psychology because we have no previous insight on this topic besides what we are taught in class.

 

Students generally like and appreciated the opportunity to refer back to previous generations for insight on driving issues.

 

I believe this topic should concern future generations interested in psychology and I truly look forward to continuing the generational reports with my work.  I hope that the 20th generation reports are very helpful to the upcoming classes that will also have the opportunity to focus on Theistic Psychology.

 

Topics from the previous generations included many issues on driving; Aggression on the road, impatience ness, and traffic psychology.

 

Listed below are previous generations’ who wrote about relevant topics to Theistic Psychology:

 

Road rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Driving.  Heather Piper is also part of Generation 20 and I specifically looked up her article to read because I feel that she knows what she is talking about and I appreciate her insight.  In this article she writes about the emotional state of drivers that include mental feelings of violence when concerning road rage.  Heather’s report includes different states that can be reached while driving; they can very from extremely violent to calm and patient.  Being conscious of our emotions and practicing patience and control can control these different stages.  I hadn’t really thought about driving oh highways as a form of self-expression before reading this article but it makes good sense, and I have made it a point to observe my attitudes when driving and observing the attitudes of other driving around me.  This article is relevant to theistic psychology because controlling our behavior while driving is a way of preparing ourselves for the spiritual world because we are in the natural world to help improve the bad loves that we have.  Driving is a big part of my life and I agree that we should be conscious of our emotions when we drive.

 

God Cannot Not Exist.  A previous student of Dr. James wrote this article.  He/She begins their report by addressing the issue of what is the meaning of existence on earth.  This student proceeds to describe his beliefs and concludes that it was so easy to understand that there was a God because if there wasn’t then after death we would simply disappear and that is not a rational thought, and he/she realized that the purpose for life somehow lead to life after death.  I believe this article is relevant because it helps understand the purpose for our existence.  I completely agree that there is a God and there is life after death.

 

What Students Say About Personality and the Afterlife.  This student, the author of this article, states that he/she doesn’t understand and the body and the mind as equal.  This student states that they believe in life after death and that personality continues to exist with that person in the afterlife because personality makes up the uniqueness in everyone.  I do believe that our personality follows us after physical death because we are sent to different levels of the spiritual world depending on our loves and our loves reflect our personality.  This topic is relevant to that of theistic psychology because our personality, our loves, help determine what part of the spiritual world we will inhabit for eternity.

 

2. Introduction

 

The topic of this course is focused on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), where we examine and explore his writings in an attempt of using God in a scientific manner to understand the human mind, life after death, and the spiritual world.  More specifically we will use God to help understand psychology.

 

I am directly involved in this topic, not only because I am a psychology major, but because I am concerned with life after death and what I need to do to prepare for the eternity I am building for myself here on earth. 

 

I believe that this topic was meaningful to me before it was introduced to me.  I wish I could have had this opportunity many years ago.  Now that I have been given the opportunity to explore this topic I feel that it is very important for me to understand it.

 

3. Overview

 

In this report I expect to help myself more fully understand theistic psychology while hopefully providing insight on anyone who might read this report. 

 

In this report I will be covering previous generation topics relevant to theistic psychology, I will explain the context of this course, to my understanding, I will describe my conceptual history of God from childhood to now, and the same for science, I will cover topics that I researched relevant to theistic psychology.  In this report I will also share my opinion on theistic psychology and how those have improved.  And lastly I hope to provide encouragement for following generations that will cover this topic.

 

4. Autobiographical (Part I)

 

My relationship with God began many years before I was born.  My parents’ parents and their parents were brought up as strict Catholics and it is tradition to pass it on to upcoming generations, so it was expected that any children that my parents would have would be baptized as Catholics. 

 

I was baptized as a Catholic at the age of one.  In Catholic religion Baptism is an initiation ritual that occurs shortly after birth. It removes original sin so that one-day we will be accepted into heaven.

 

I grew up with very strict Catholic beliefs but I didn’t begin to understand Catholic practices and beliefs until around the age of eight when I began to prepare for my first communion.  A lady taught me from our church every Thursday for about three months.  I learned about the creation of the earth and man, and of the life teachings and death of Jesus Christ. I was taught that Adam and Eve were the first couple created by God and they were allowed to live in God’s kingdom if they were obedient and followed God’s rules.  They were later kicked out of God’s kingdom because they were disobedient.  They were given the punishment of living a life of suffering and hard work. 

 

I took this first story as the underlying meaning to the Catholic religion; If one learned to love God, was good and followed God’s rules then they would be granted heaven in the afterlife, if one was bad and didn’t follow the rules then they would descend into hell.  My life began with a baptism that allowed me to have the possibility to one day enter the heavens. I am convinced that my purpose in life is to try and do the right things so I can be accepted into heaven. 

 

I was taught that God was our only God and that he was omnipotent, omnipresent, immanent, almighty, loving, forgiving, and that he was our father.  He loves us so much that he sent his son, Jesus, down to earth to die for our sins so we could be saved.

 

I grew up being told that I needed to follow strict catholic beliefs and traditions.  I hardly followed these beliefs and traditions by the letter of the law.  That is that I don’t follow the rules of the Bible word for word.  Instead I try to keep the spirit of the word, the underlying meaning.  I do this because I feel that I can be happy with my relationship with God if I simply respect others and myself.  I try to have an honest happy life, to love my neighbor, to help others, make something good of myself, and to be thankful and appreciate everything that God has provided for me. 

 

Not until recently I used to try to follow the letter of the Bible, or what I was taught at mass because I was afraid of punishment and of hell in the afterlife, but now I realize that I don’t need to follow what my priest preaches because I believe that many times there is a bias by the person interpreting the Bible.  I know that I have a conscience and listening to it will help me make the right decision to help stand closer to God.

 

Even though I might not be the perfect Catholic I still strongly consider myself a Catholic and I pray to God ever morning, and night, before I fall asleep, also any other time I feel might be necessary.  I thank God for all of the beautiful things he has put on this earth for all of mankind to enjoy and appreciate and I feel that a lot of the bad things that happen daily, that make us claim that “life is not fair,” are sent from God to test our faith and to observe our reactions to these unhappy things. 

 

I believe in a heaven and a hell and I hope that I am given the strength by God to do what is right and try to be a good example to the people around me.

 

 

5. Autobiographical (Part II)

 

The main topic of science that contradicts religion, and the teachings from the Bible, is the theory of evolution.

I was exposed to the Catholic religion, and its teachings, before being introduced to the theory of evolution.  I believe that that had a great influence on the reaction I had to science.

 

In school I was taught that man and earth were created from the “Big Bang” which occurred many years ago and that throughout time and with the help of evolution man slowly evolved from ape to that state that we are in now, human.  I specifically remember that we were not allowed to mention God at school.  I remember being punished in third grade for using the phrase, “Oh my God!” at a moment of excitement.

 

I went along through school putting aside my religious beliefs for the sake of obtaining a good grade, but I never accepted the theory of evolution completely.  I believed the idea that animals can evolve and adapt to their surroundings but I felt that God had to be present in any and all mutations that occurred over time.  I denied the possibility that we evolved directly from apes and that there is no God responsible for all living things.

 

6. Topical Research

 

My personal understanding of the topic “science and religion” was like that of comparing black to white.  I mostly thought this because I grew up being taught about religion and God at home and about evolution and science at school.  I used to believe science and religion two completely different ways of understanding the creation of the universe and its inhabitants.

 

Science and religion many times collide because religion is based on the scriptures of the Bible and on faith on the other hand science is based on experiments where theories can be tested and is rational.  Science is focused on improving physical aspects of life and religion is focused on developing and/or improving moral ethics of the human race.  I feel it is safe to say that science disregards moral issues and that religion doesn’t feel the need to know why and how everything works in order to be happy and prepare for the heavens.  This mystical content that religion holds on to so tightly is the biggest conflict between science and religion.

 

I believe the issue of separation of church and state is much greater here in the United States of America since it was founded in pursuing the escape of religious prosecution.  The United States of America was the first nation in history to ever separate church from the state.  This religious escape was taken to the extreme so that God is never mentioned in the U.S. constitution. 

 

Scientists discredit the idea of God because it cannot be proved that he exists and that he created the universe.  But it is also true that we cannot prove that God does not exist therefore the possibility still remains that the contents of the Bible are in actuality true.

 

I believe that soon enough science will need to accept God in order to answer all unanswered questions, to help tie up all the lose ends in science.  In the same way religion will come together and accept science to make the scripture from God rational and evidence in the creation of the universe and the mind.  I believe that when this truth is revealed there will not be the need for separation of church and state and also the separation among churches.

 

Links:

www.condor.stcloudstate.edu/~lesikar/einstein/irrec2.html

www.org/quiz.html

www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/atkins_18_2.html

www.shire.net/mormon/science.html

 

 

7. Theistic Psychology

 

Theistic psychology is describes by Dr. Leon James as understanding the human mind with the revelations presented by God.  Emanuel Swedenborg, a well-respected scientist, documented these revelations when appointed by God to roam the spiritual world. 

 

After thoroughly examining these writings Dr. Leon James concluded that the documentations that Swedenborg obtained while roaming the spiritual world never contradict each other and are completely logical.

 

Emanuel Swedenborg is not well known for the revelations of the spiritual world because it contradicted with mainstream atheism psychology.  The writings of Swedenborg describe God as omnipotent and omnipresent.  God is present everywhere and a part of everything.   God is included in understanding human behavior and the scientific laws that makeup the universe.  It is extremely important to understand human behavior because we are put on this earth for the sole reason to prepare ourselves for the spiritual world.  Our physical bodies are temporary and they help shape the way we will live our eternal lives in the spiritual world.  In order to prepare ourselves for the heavens we need to examine and understand the “Devine Truths” revealed to us by God through Swedenborg.

 

Theistic psychology is not a religion because Emanuel does not wish to be believed but yet to be understood just as a scientific proof would be understood rationally.

 

Dr. James provides a theoretical model for Theistic Psychology. This model is divided into four levels of rationality, their four main characteristics, and an explanation for each of the four characteristics. The chart is read from bottom to top starting with a zero level of rationality to level three of rationality.

Level zero of rationality included denial of God.  This belief system completely refutes God as being any part of our thoughts and life.  Examples of these types of people are atheists or materialists.  Without God, the spiritual world is also rejected and therefore there is no true meaning for existence besides obtaining material goods and outliving your neighbors.   The idea of not having a true meaning in life, or something to work for simply does not make sense to me; it ruins all hope of one day reaching true happiness.  This level is the furthest from reaching the third level of rationality.

Natural Science is the main characteristic of level one.  At this level science is credited with the composition of the natural world, God simply created it so that it would evolve on its own.  Scientists at this level include, Einstein and Newton, and none of their explanations include God.  Religion can be maintained among people at this level but they believe there is no connection between science and God.

The second level, characterized as Mystical Religion, is simply blind faith in God and the revelations in the scriptures of the Bible.  I grew up at this level and it doesn’t include any scientific explanation to how the universe was created.  This system refers to the Bible for guidance in being loving, obedient sons of God.  If we are obedient to the word of God then we will live in heaven for eternity and if we are disobedient we are damned to hell for the rest of eternity.  The community will usually attend sermons of prophets to help them understand the word of God. 

Theistic Science is the main characteristic of the third level of rationality; it is the top level of the model.  This level is revealed in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, where God is revealed as the foundation of the universe and the human mind.  Swedenborg documented this because he was allowed by God to have consciousness of the spiritual world while living in the natural world.  Swedenborg was allowed to conduct experiments and observe the spirits in the spiritual world for 27 years.  Through these scientific revelations we are able to understand the anatomy of the human mind, which leads us to understand human behavior.  In his observations he was able to observe the correlation between the natural and the spiritual worlds.  Rational laws of correspondence join these two worlds.  We can think of physical parts of the body as part of the natural world and emotions as the spiritual world.  Natural science by itself cannot explain emotions and thinking of the mind and religion cannot explain the scientific physical laws that make up the physical body.  Theistic science understands both science and God as mutual because God created all.

8. Critique of Theistic Psychology

I was very open-minded when I was introduced to the topic of theistic psychology.  For a long time I had felt that there needed to be some type of evidence that God would reveal that wouldn’t result in so many different denominations of many different religions.  I always felt that despite the thousands of religions that are practiced today, there is one underlying meaning.  That underlying meaning is to be good and use your time on this natural earth to try and perfect one’s goodness.  I felt that many religions separated because they tried to practice every detail of God’s scripture, the Bible.  In trying to understand the scriptures revealed by God many people interpreted different values causing the separation of what ought to be one universal understanding. 

When I was introduced to theistic psychology I had a trusting feeling towards the opportunity I was presented with.  It felt right and I decided to approach it with a positive attitude. 

I felt, and still feel, that theistic psychology is backed up by solid, strong evidence because it is based on rationality.  The strengths I see in theistic psychology are that God is used in explaining all scientific concepts.  I had never thought of science and God as one but when I heard it for the first time it made sense, and I feel that that is probably the best way to make people understand that there is a God and he is responsible for everything in the universe.

The only weakness I see in the revelations of Swedenborg is that they were observed and reported by only one person.  Many times it helps to have support from another well-respected person.  It is also hard to get past the idea that God chose Swedenborg and that he was able to roam both the spiritual and the natural worlds at the same time.  This is hard to believe because many people claim to be chosen by God to help reveal the truths from the Holy Scripture, the Bible.

Overall I feel that there are many more strengths to the revelations of Swedenborg than there are weaknesses.  If one can approach this topic with a positive bias and accept that Swedenborg was chosen then we can clearly see that Swedenborg’s revelations are scientific and rational.

9. Bibliography on Theistic Psychology

What is rational Spirituality?    This article addresses the questions we ask ourselves many times, like, "Why am I here?" and "What is my significance on earth?"  The author makes a good comment that we need to explore spirituality in a rational way because that is the only way that human can truly be knowledgeable.  We need to understand spirituality as rational just like scientists understand science as a rational discovery of nature.  This article mentions that atheism is not a rational belief because it is purely negative and doesn’t lead to anything.  The author proposes that humans are “special” or “saved” thus resulting in belief in a higher being or maybe even religion.  I have to agree with the idea that atheism seems so negative and empty.  It is so hard to believe that there is no higher meaning to our existence than simply living.  I believe this article is relevant to theistic psychology because it supports the idea that God and science are linked and it claims that atheism is just simply not a good explanation to the question of “Why am I here?”

“Do the Writings contain Scientific Revelations?”   Dr. Leon James wrote this article and I first learned of it when Josh Cooper presented it in class.  I found it to be extremely helpful in my understanding of Theistic psychology as a science and how science cannot be complete without God. The article explains that the writings from Swedenborg are coherent, logical, rational, and understandable.  The writings never contradict themselves and are easy to understand.  It goes on to explain that the mind is what causes behaviors and that they are processed by the physical brain, but because the brain is a physical substance it cannot be responsible for our actions.  This is relevant because it helps understand the mind as a spiritual substance that is the reason for our feelings, actions, behaviors, and thinking.  After listening to Josh presented his oral presentation I couldn’t help but agree that the writings contain scientific revelation.

God Cannot Not Exist.  A previous student of Dr. James wrote this article.  He/She begins their report by addressing the issue of what is the meaning of existence on earth.  This student proceeds to describe his beliefs and concludes that it was so easy to understand that there was a God because if there wasn’t then after death we would simply disappear and that is not a rational thought, and he/she realized that the purpose for life somehow lead to life after death.  I believe this article is relevant because it helps understand the purpose for our existence.  I completely agree that there is a God and there is life after death.

What Students Say About Personality and the Afterlife.  This student, the author of this article, states that he/she doesn’t understand and the body and the mind as equal.  This student states that they believe in life after death and that personality continues to exist with that person in the afterlife because personality makes up the uniqueness in everyone.  I do believe that our personality follows us after physical death because we are sent to different levels of the spiritual world depending on our loves and our loves reflect our personality.  This topic is relevant to that of theistic psychology because our personality, our loves, help determine what part of the spiritual world we will inhabit for eternity.

 

Road rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Driving.  Heather Piper is also part of Generation 20 and I specifically looked up her article to read because I feel that she knows what she is talking about and I appreciate her insight.  In this article she writes about the emotional state of drivers that include mental feelings of violence when concerning road rage.  Heather’s report includes different states that can be reached while driving; they can very from extremely violent to calm and patient.  Being conscious of our emotions and practicing patience and control can control these different stages.  I hadn’t really thought about driving oh highways as a form of self-expression before reading this article but it makes good sense, and I have made it a point to observe my attitudes when driving and observing the attitudes of other driving around me.  This article is relevant to theistic psychology because controlling our behavior while driving is a way of preparing ourselves for the spiritual world because we are in the natural world to help improve the bad loves that we have.  Driving is a big part of my life and I agree that we should be conscious of our emotions when we drive.

 

Children in Heaven. This article was written by Chauncey Giles.  He explains that because children are not able to think rationally they automatically are taught the truth about God in life after death and develop a rationality to enter the heavens.  Also any child that is withheld from the truth or taught to love bad things is not punished but given the opportunity to accept the truth in the heavens to then become an angel.  This topic is relevant because it proves that one needs to be rational to enter the heavens and because children haven’t developed the rationality to understand the truth then it is safe to say that they all go to heaven.  I agree with Giles because it is does not contradict with the writings of Swedenborg when he says that we have to reject rationality and truth to enter the hells but how can children reject or accept rational truths if they don’t comprehend rationality.

 

Testimony to the Invisible is a book that we used in class to prepare our oral presentations.  I found it to help me believe the writings of Swedenborg because this book contains many arguments against Swedenborg but the thing is that they contradict themselves so much and they have no evidence of the accusations they make of Swedenborg.  This book helps me realize how hard it is to not contradict one’s self when writing falsities therefore making me realize Swedenborg is truthful in his writings.  I do not agree with many statements made about Swedenborg in this book.

10. Conclusion

This assignment helped me identify the correlation between God and science.  Now I can easily view them as one idea, not two opposite, contradicting ideas. I realize that science needs God to be complete and religion needs scientific understandings in order to be rationally accepted.

It is incredibly useful to me because it helps put together the puzzle that I have been trying to solve ever since I understood about God.  More significantly it helps to rationally use God as an explanation to the development of the human mind and human behaviors.  It is extremely clear to me now that the mind cannot exist in a physical sense, therefore there is a God and a spiritual world and the laws of correspondence join the spiritual and natural worlds.  This seminar and assignment have greatly helped me as a person figure out what it is that I need to do in order to prepare myself for the spiritual world.  It helps me rationally understand what is right and what it was that I believed out of blind faith from growing up in a Catholic family and community.

Theistic psychology will have a great impact on the future development of psychology.  Theistic psychology is what psychology, as a science needs to be accurate.  When dealing with psychology we almost always find exceptions to human behaviors and the mind simply cannot be explained physically therefore theistic psychology will be the answer to uncovering the creation of the human mind and why people behave in the ways that they do.  Theistic psychology will help human look deep inside themselves and find a purpose to their existence.  This way everyone can prepare for eternity in the spiritual world.

11. Future Generations

My insight to future generation is not to take the time and discuss the topic of theistic psychology with your classmates, friends, and family.  At first it might seem like a lot to take in, but I found that taking about it with others and asking for their insight helped me understand the idea of God and science as one.  I also encourage the following generations to ask questions, don’t be afraid, that’s the best way to learn because this topic is so large that it would take too much time to research all of Swedenborg’s writings. 

In order to put this report together I received help from classmates, Thank you Lee Ann, this was my firs experience with web pages and again it was very helpful to ask for help.  There will always be someone willing to hand out their phone number for those times when you feel lost.

I hope that the following generations enjoy this topic as much as am because it really has helped me keep in touch with my emotions and now I know what my purpose in life is, knowing that and knowing what is going to happen to me after my physical death is a great relief.  I feel like I have now discovered the truth to God and science.

Enjoy!

 

 

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