Rational Scientific Theories from Theism

Methods of Theistic Science


The aim of Theistic Science is to begin finding scientific theories that are compatible with the three fundamental premises listed below. We search for theories that connect these principles with what we take as a 'core' of current scientific knowledge. We will accept almost all current science's descriptions of effects, but will want to think again about the causes of these effects. Furthermore, we want to find the intentional context that may have lead to such events. For example, we will want to know all about neurology, cerebral localisation, function and malfunction, but we will not adhere to materialist presuppositions that many psychologists and neurologists (appear to) follow. Rather, we will consider multilevel processes that involve spirit and mind that may have generated the various physical effects.

The Three Fundamental Premises of Theistic Science

  1. The universe was created and is run by God through spiritual laws of order.
  2. These laws cannot be discovered but are transmitted through scientific revelations.
  3. Scientific revelations are rational in structure and serve as the guiding theory for all scientific research.

  4. from Leon James' article Theistic Science, (local copy). 

A tension between Theism and Empirical Science

It is immediately clear that the method of theistic science is not the same as that of empirical research! 
This conflict is resolved by seeing Theistic Science as a branch of each theoretical science, to derive general theoretical principles from the laws transmitted through scientific revelations from God. 

Theistic Science will therefore propose theories of mind and nature, and will initiate a process which (we hope) will ground these theories empirically. It will, however, use theories about God which are more readily grounded from revelation than from experiment. From the empirical-scientific point of view, the Theistic part of theistic science is a 'theoretical superstructure', to be accepted to a greater or lesser extent. 

Where to begin?

The starting point of Theistic Science is obviously 
  • theism: the theory that God not only created the universe of mind and nature, but also continually sustains its operation. 
Theism is in contrast to: 
  • atheism  (no  God, or: 'God' is our name for the 'finest substance(s) in nature'); 
  • pantheism (God equals the universe, so 'God' and 'universe' refer to the same being, which then has always both divine and material attributes); 
  • panentheism (the universe is a 'small' part of God, so the finite universe is in an infinite God, but is of the same kind of substance); and 
  • deism (God created an independent universe, and then lets it function independently like a clockmaker. God then has only a moral, not a causal, connection with the physical world). 
We take as the starting point the theism of the main western religions, that: 
  • God is One; 
  • God is Infinite; 
  • God created and sustains the universe; 
  • God is the Source and the object of all Love and Wisdom.
The necessary  postulates of theism will be later presented in detail.  The important difference in theism is that God is separate from the world, but causally interrelated with it; in particular causal, cognitive and spiritual inputs from God into the world must be expected. Theistic Science depends critically for its starting point on the cognitive input from revelations, as otherwise, from our own observations and thinking, we could have no reliable idea of the details of mental and spiritual processes that are almost all beyond our observation.We have speculated endlessly about the underlying principles of mind and spirit, based on our own observations and imaginations, but without specific ideas from God we are still essentially feeling our way in a darkened room, unaware of the overall perspective.

I work in a 'Universal Christian' framework, in which Jesus Christ is  identified as the Human form of the Divine, and is therefore God for the  whole universe. You may work differently :-), but for now I will not be discussing possible Incarnations of the Deity. We may compare our views eventually! 

Many religions, mystics and philosophers have described operations of the spirit, mind and nature, but the most accurate and comprehensive descriptions I have found come through Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). These will be used as a starting point for the current Theistic Science. 


Many readers might find it hard to accept the validity of any purported revelations from God. There are so many revelations, you say, that they cannot all be true

Agreed. But that does not mean that none of them are true!  In fact, we might think that if there is a God, he would not have left us completely in the dark, but would have revealed 'truth as he sees it' to at least someone. That led me to search for who that someone might be. On reading Swedenborg, I found a person who appears to speak religious truth in an unequivocal fashion, and moreover truth that appears to be consistent with science. 

Emanuel Swedenborg claims that what he writes is (essentially) revealed from the Lord God. Each of us may accept this claim as true, or not. I accept it, but that can never be required that of any reader: that is for you to decide, freely and rationally, when you make up your own mind. 

In any case, if revelations purport to be received, for example from Swedenborg, then we should at least consider them because: 

  1. If actually from God, they will (if properly understood) contain true statements,
  2. They might help us solve problems that are otherwise apparently insoluble, such as the "Hard Problem" concerning how minds could be related to brains, or the nature of purported "miracles", or the validity of "near-death experiences",
  3. They might help us understand previous revelations that turned out to be not properly understood, and 
  4. They might link together hitherto-disparate systems of beliefs.

Are you feeling quite happy with all this?

Or: are you feeling a strange gnawing in your stomach, or feeling the ground falling away from under your feet, since these ideas appear to be 'the end of science as we know it', and now we might have to admit all sorts of strange and distasteful beliefs? 

In response, I say: "Don't Panic!" I know how you feel: once I was that way myself! 

So: we will proceed carefully, considering rational foundations, so we will always have somewhere to stand. And we will consider consequences carefully, to avoid swallowing more than we can digest. 


In developing Theistic Science, the perpetual tasks are discriminating truth from errors, and to use sources of ideas that tend to be true. There are several sources that will be used in the current Theistic Science, 
and these are 
  1. current science observations and experiments,
  2. current scientific theories, reinterpreted if necessary,
  3. the Bible and other 'sacred scriptures', provided parables are interpreted correctly,
  4. the writings of Swedenborg.
In all these cases, we bring some initial 'theoretical prejudices' to our interpretations, and these will colour or even nullify our understanding of the truths in these sources. Fortunately, our theoretical prejudices are themselves modified as a result of trying to understand all these things, so iterative improvements are gradually possible. (Do not expect blinding revelations!) 

There are other sources or assumptions that will be not used in the current Theistic Science, namely 

  1. methodological assumptions in various specific sciences,
  2. various 'minimalist programmes' in some sciences,
  3. assumptions of materialism, physicalism or positivistic behaviourism,
  4. mechanical metaphors for psychological processes,
  5. monistic theories that fail to distinguish mind and nature (of course, still closely interwoven!),
  6. reliance on the complete mathematical presentation of any theory,
  7. literal readings of the Bible and other sacred scriptures.
and later, as a result of Theistic Sciences, this second set of sources will be critically re-examined. 

Does 'Anything Go'? Discriminating truth from error

It is sometimes believed that a 'supernaturalism' such as theistic science "allows everything and anything to be possible, so all beliefs about things are therefore permissible and thus all actions that follow from those beliefs are permissible and morally defensible", and that "Without naturalism, anything is permitted" (S.D. Schafersman, " Naturalism is an essential part of science and critical inquiry" ). 

The answer is that theistic science, like other sciences, progresses by forming ideas and explanations such that the negation of these ideas can be shown by rational argument to be false. If our theism really were to 'allow anything', then we would have understood nothing!

It may initially appear that theism allows God to act arbitrarily in the world, and make a nonsense of laws of order, but this stems from poor (and false) theistic premises.  We know now from revelations that the universe was created and is run by God through spiritual laws of order, and that these laws cannot be discovered but are transmitted through scientific revelations.  Therefore, we rely on specific guidance (see above) to determine our theistic starting point, and these proper initial premises will be presented in the section on Basic Principles.

There are two stages (at least) in the progression to truth in Theistic Science: 

  • In the first stage we rely on being able to 'see' the proposed statement 'in the light of heaven', and to thereby determine whether it 'looks' or 'smells' right. This intuitive understanding or perception of truth is fundamental in human reformation and regeneration.
  • A more explicit rational awarenenss of truth in Theistic Science occurs when, from the nature of God and from knowledge of the free decisions typically made by people, we can derive propositions that explain the phenomena of interest, and when the negation of these propositions can not be derived (preferably by being shown to be impossible given our premises). 
This second rational process relies not only on the perception of individual true ideas, but on seeing the overall connections between multiple truths. It is this overall rational insight which Theistic Science relies on, and hopes to widely encourage. 

Philosophy of Theistic Science

Theistic science is above culture, above social conflict. Theistic science scientists belong to various religions. Individuals from all religions study and practice the same theistic science. Theistic science does not proceed by pitting one theory against another and testing out which one wins out by predicting and organizing data in a superior way -- as it is done in materialistic science. Instead, theistic science proceeds only by harmonious insights that cumulate in a grand rational architecture. Like an unpleasant screech of a broken string in the middle of a soft orchestral movement -- that's how it would feel to reject someone's insights in theistic science where there are no competing theories. A scientist's insights would be purely rational, resonating within the mind that which was given outside the mind in the written revelations. 

By reading the written text, studying it, loving it, organizing it, and living it theistic scientists set their mind in rational order into which the truths of the revelations enter and form themselves into a principle or doctrine. This discovery or insight is then established through selections from the written text, thereby showing in sufficient explanations that there is agreement and confirmation. Other scientists must be able to replicate the insights and confirmations before the principle or doctrine becomes official or accepted. 

This effort at reaching consensus among theistic scientists on the accepted principles constitutes the research effort. This effort may be somewhat polemic and may contain some errors but the process is guided by the Laws of Divine Providence and truth will prevail as long as theistic scientists live the truths they understand for the sake of their mental and eternal health. 
  (from Leon James' article   Theistic  Science, copied locally ). 

www.TheisticScience.org Author: Ian J. Thompson, Email: IanT at TheisticScience.org