Rational Scientific Theories from Theism

Series and Correspondences

Discrete Degrees of End, Cause and Effect

We saw in the previous section that the spiritual, mental and physical worlds are successive products of the Divine Life, and are related to each other as cause and effect. More accurately, the three levels are end, cause and effect . The spiritual world relates to ends, the mental world relates to causes, and the physical world relates to effects, and they all participate in some way in every event that happens. Swedenborg has a very simple way of showing this (The Divine Wisdom, § 130):
That there is an end, a cause, and an effect in each and all things can be tested by anything whatever. as, for instance, when a man is doing something, he will either say to himself or to someone else, or some one else will say to him,
1. Why are you doing that? that is, what is your "end" (or "purpose"),
2. How do you do that? that is, by what "cause" (or "means"), and
3. What are you doing? that is, what is the "effect".

Thus when a person talking to you, for example, his end is to convey information, his means are the thoughts and ideas of sentences, and his effect is to produce vibrations in air. A love of conveying information causes him to think how to talk, and this causes his mouth to move and the air to vibrate.


Between ends and causes, and between causes and effects we have what Swedenborg calls correspondences. It is these which connect all successive stages, so these are something we ought to know about.

The successive levels are limited products of the Divine Life, and Swedenborg describes how they therefore operate in a way that corresponds to the characteristic operation of Divine Love. Correspondences mean 'As above, so below' with respect to structure and function.

For example: Love is like a physical potentiality or energy or vibration, but is not identical to anything physical. Instead, love corresponds to potentialities and energy, as they behave in the same manner and have the same relative functions in their own separate levels.

Thus our loves cannot be determined just by looking ourselves, but may be determined by seeing how we react in all possible situations (including all unusual situations, even tempting ones). In this respect, they correspond to physical causal powers: they are both 'invisible'. Similarly, when we look at physical objects, we see only their spatial shapes, not their powers. This corresponds to when we 'look' into our own minds: we 'see' only our thoughts, and not our loves. The only way to know powers and loves is by their results, that is by their fruits.

Another example is that given earlier, of a friend's feelings and his facial expressions. Unless he is masking his feelings, then there will be a good correspondence between the feelings and what appears on his face. Because of the correspondence, we can infer his feelings from looking at his face, and we can also imagine how his face would look if we heard of his feelings.

We have many metaphors and analogies (see below ) between the spiritual and the physical, that arise from the fact of correspondences. In fact, this whole symposium is about correspondences. We will discuss later about what corresponds spiritually with the human body.

Note that correspondences are not merely metaphors or analogies. The true correspondent of any natural object is, strictly, that, spiritual entity by means of which God created and sustains the object in the physical plane.

Ultimate Effects

The ultimate effects have a very important role to play in the whole scheme They are the 'bottom fine' in the whole arrangement as they provide something permanent and fixed- by means of which all the other levels become permanent and fixed. They provide a 'law of karma' that relates future, loves and affections to what has actually been done in the past. This is like the way a river deepens its own course depending on the way it has chosen to go in the past. The options for future flow will be limited according to where it digs its channel now. It is because physical effects an important in this way that we have to live on earth.
As we actually do things in the physical world, we are building up and making permanent the loves which lead to these actions.

How Correspondences Work

From the previous section on discrete degrees , we have the following universal principles:
  1. Love, anticipating delights of Use, entertains purposes of producing these Uses. Love, having adopted a specific purpose or end, takes the form of Wisdom.
  2. Wisdom, being Love with a particular purpose, entertains the means for achieving those ends. Love and Wisdom together decide on a course of action.
  3. Use, being produced by Love acting by means of Wisdom, is the ultimate effect. In this action, Love finds its satisfaction and delight with the results.
  4. This delight returns to Love, and further manifestations of Loves are conditional on the effects already achieved
The last step is most important: from the Divine characteristic that loves are conditional on the effects already achieved, we derive the Law of Correspondence , which is that the created universe receives all its powers and capacities to the exact extent that each created thing in its degree has the same f unctional form as that of the prior degree. For only if the subsequent degree follows a certain sequence of events is the prior degree able to continually sustain its influx, as only then is the prior degree able to continually have 'satisfaction' in achieving its purpose and use. That is the the prior and subsequent degrees are functionally isomorphic.

The sequence of processes within the prior degree depends on those degrees still more prior, so the result of correspondences is that the subsequent degrees have a simultaneous aggregation of structures that reflects the successive sequence of prior degrees. We must not of course confuse the simultaneous microscopic structures in an organism with its prior degrees, but the microscopic structures portray the causal degrees in a kind of image (one of the postulates of theistic science).

Note that the very terminology of causal degrees as 'internal' or 'interior' is based on these kinds of correspondences. They are also responsible for the commonly held view that the mind is the 'systems view' of an organism. Strictly speaking, the systems structure is what corresponds to the prior mental and spiritual degrees. The systemic structure is the image, not the cause.

Examples of Correspondences

Examples of correspondences already used on this web site:
  1. Between minds and quantum processes : energy, propensity fields and actual events are functionally isomorphic with love, mental ideas and actions. (Hence the widespread identification of spiritual substance as (a kind of) energy). See also the similarities discussed earlier.
  2. Between the ennead of physical processes and a doubly-nested triad of love/wisdom/use acting in the natural degrees, as explained in the pages on discrete degrees.
  3. Between the ennead of psychological processes & layered cognitive nets and a doubly-nested triad of love/wisdom/use, as explained in the pages on discrete degrees.
  4. Between a sun and the Lord as the Source, and between the 'reception' of life according to actual form and the consumption of food and drink by living organisms.
The result of correspondences is that very many features of the living world and of our psychological life are not random, but are the results of spiritual loves and intentions. Of course, they are not merely the results of those intentions (we do not make our world arbitrarily, even God does not do that), because of historical constraints of what is already actual.

The fundamental correspondences are therefore those which constitute the essential operations of human beings, both internally and in relation to their ecological environments. I now list the most important of the basic correspondences, before discussing the detailed reasons. (It is important to remember that loves/affections and wisdom/thoughts can be received independently, though they always act together).

There are correspondences between:
Natural and Spiritual Correspondences
Correspondence of .. & ..
Function in the Natural
Function in the Spiritual
Animals & forms of affections in the will. Animals are warm-blooded. Affections in the will provide spiritual energy.
Plants & forms of thoughts in the understanding. Plant life is a partial image of Man. Fixed 'tree' structures in the understanding receive illumination by Wisdom, which is part of the Divine Life.
Energy in food & reception of love from the divine source. Animals consume food. The will appropriates loves, as retained spiritual energy to be stored and reused as desired.
Light from the sun & Wisdom from God Light is reflected from all objects to the eye. Wisdom is the 'clear light' by means of which we perceive 'external' ideas by reflections into the understanding.
Oxygen released into the air & reception of truth Oxygen in produced in plants from light by photosynthesis, and enters the local atmosphere. Rational truth is produced in the understanding from Divine Wisdom, and gives a local 'spiritual context'
Metabolism & the conjunction of love and wisdom in use Metabolism unites for use oxygen and digested food. The conjunction of appropriated love and rational wisdom is the source of action in use.
Lungs/throat & our own understanding Our lungs receive oxygen from the air into the blood. Our individual understanding receives rational truth from the 'spiritual atmosphere' into affections for action.
The heart & our own will. Heart receives food in the blood and distributes it as useful. Our will receives spiritual energy in the affections for action and distributes it as useful.
The mouth & the initial reception of good The mouth receives food initially. Retained loves when initially received are tasted for their quality (good or otherwise)
The eyes & the explicit perception of truth. The eyes see all things, by means of light, in their relations. The understanding perceives all things, by means of 'clear' wisdom, in their relations.
The nose & the implicit perception of truth. The nose discriminates immediate properties of the air. We discriminate immediate properties about the rationality of the ideas we receive.
The ears & obedience to love and conscience. We respond more immediately to spoken words, compared to written words seen by the eye. We respond more immediately in the will to modulations of rational truth than to variations of truth received in the understanding.
The stomach & the assimilation of spiritual food. Stomach and intestines digest the food and assimilate it into the blood. Received ideas and affections are analysed and assimilated into affections for action.
Spoken words & thoughts. Spoken words are vibratory forms in the air, generated by the lungs and throat. Thoughts are local modulations in the atmosphere of rational truth, caused by variations in the local (re)articulation..
Feet & natural power. We rest on our feet, and they are the means of changing place. We depend on our physical effects, as they determine our spiritual place.
Skin & outer natural degree. The skin holds everything together from the outside. The natural physical degree holds everything together by its ultimate effects.
Hair & outermost natural effects. The hair is produced via the skin, and is dead. The utmost actual events are produced via the physical, and are inert.
Bones & general principles. The skeleton holds everything together from the inside. Our general principles hold everything together by their fundamental premises.
Hands/arms & power of action. We do most of our work with our hands and arms. Coordinated spiritual actions are performed by outreach.
Kidneys & spiritual purification. Kidneys purify the blood. 'Spiritual kidneys' purify the affections (especially during sleep).
Brains & reception of loves. We are governed by our brains, the general first source of all actions. We are governed by our loves received in first principles, the general source of all actions.
Nervous system & derivative affections and thoughts. The nervous system extends the influence of the brains. The spiritual body extends the influence of the primary loves.
and many, many more.

In fact, theistic science claims that everything in the human body, and in nature, exists, and only exists, because it corresponds to some prior spiritual cause. More description of some of these correspondences are given later , but there is clearly an enormous amount of work to be done to elucidate ('see with light'!) the individual details in each case. There are  already discussions about photosynthesis etc at the HigherMeaning.org website.

Moreover, all the above correspondences point to functional structures in the spiritual degree which are isomorphic to the human form as we know it. This isomorphic internal form in the spiritual in fact is the essential human form; the material body is the outer containant for the 'internal human', corresponding to our own skin.

Furthermore, this internal spiritual human form (that set of interrelated spiritual functions) is itself an image or likeness of the Divine. That is, the Divine Source has itself isomorphic functional forms. For that reason he is a Man, whom we call the Lord. It is one of the central postulates of theism that these particular arguments from analogy are grounded in reality.


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