Are the Planets Named Mistakenly?
by Roy Nicholls
TO THE EDITOR:
In your issue of March, 1976, page 94, the Rev. Kurt P. Nemitz writes under the above heading thus:
I understand as a matter of doctrine, that there are inhabitants in or on the moons and planets of our solar system. Now surely matters of doctrine must only be accepted in a state of freedom?
If astronauts had been confronted by moon men, we would be under compulsion to believe that there are men in or on the moon!
I must express my surprise that an ordained minister of the New Church should suggest that possibly Swedenborg's statements-"I was told by the angels," and "it was stated from heaven," etc., could be merely "figures of speech."
Mr. Nemitz quotes: "Some spirits came to me, and it zeras stated from heaven that they were on the earth nearest the sun, which on Earth is called the planet Mercury." (EU 10; cf. AC 6808) Does Mr. Nemitz accept this statement? Apparently not! Continuing, he seeks to discount this and other statements made by angels and spirits, according to Swedenborg, by suggesting that they could or would "therefore be nothing more than merely human conclusions," or possibly figures of speech.
To my mind, this is a most dangerous line of thought!
Mr. Nemitz quotes from the SD, when yet he must appreciate this was "Swedenborg's notebook," as he says. Clearly it was written in the formative years, why doesn't he quote from the AC? I submit four numbers:
In the Divine Love and Wisdom there is what I regard as the most wonderful Divine Revelation on the initiament of man Swedenborg there relates that the actual beginning of man in the womb is as it were a primitive brain with three degrees, and from this brain, the whole complete body is formed. With regard to this revelation Swedenborg states:
This was discovered to me by the angels, to Whom it was revealed by the Lord . . . There was seen as it were, a least image of a brain with a subtle delineation of somewhat of a face in front, with no appendage . . ."
Also, "This gibbous part, which was a type of brain on the least scale, was also divided into two as it were beds. . . and it was told me that the right bed was the receptacle of love, and the left bed the receptacle of wisdom; . . . Moreover, it was shown in the light of heaven, which shone with favoring effulgence, that the campages of this little brain within, as to make and fluxion, was in the order and in the form of heaven, and that it's outer campages was in direct opposition to that order and that form.
After these things were seen and pointed out, the angels said, that the two internal degrees, which were in the order and in the form of heaven, were the receptacles of love and wisdom from the Lord; and that the exterior degree, which was in direct opposition to the order and the form of heaven, was the receptacle of hellish love and insanity; because man by hereditary corruption is born into evils of every kind; and that these evils reside there in the extremes. (DLW 432)
Now, as we know, this was written over 200 years ago. The man in the street of that time, as also of today, would reject this as utter rubbish! Just fancy a man claiming the angels had told him that a primitive brain is first formed in the womb, and from this primitive brain, the complete body with all its organs is formed in nine months. Would our friend Rev. Nemitz have thrown this out as a scientific inaccuracy? He appears to wish to water down, or suggest other ways of understanding the Writings, so they will conform to present scientific ideas.
Since Swedenborg's time, the science of embryology has revealed that the first thing which happens in the womb after conception, is that a collection of cells form themselves into a hollow ball with three divisions-a primitive brain-and from this the whole complete body with all its organs is formed over a period of nine months! We must not act on the principle that acceptance of the Writings must depend upon present-day scientific ideas, held mostly by atheistically-minded men. Strictly scientific knowledge is another matter! Modern scientific knowledge can be used to refute completely the theory of evolution! A few years ago, the general idea of science was that there was no life in any other part of the universe except on this earth, when yet today my newspaper has a column headed: "Proof grows about life on Mars." It reports: "The American space geologist, Professor Leon Silver said yesterday that the evidence for life on Mars is growing." Further down, it says that: Professor Silver is the consultant to the scientists at the jet propulsion laboratory in California controlling the Viking experiments, and that "Professor Silver, who worked on the site selection program for Viking 1 and 2, has high quality photographs which show deep river channels and erosion by liquid."
Now just suppose that some years ago, we had rejected Swedenborg's statement of life on Mars as not conforming to scientific ideas. Where would we be?
I cannot think that future space men will ever be permitted under Divine Providence or Permission, to catch a moon man, or a Mars man. This would compel a belief in what Swedenborg states. But I think it is possible that men of science will be allowed to obtain sufficient knowledge which will allow us rationally and reasonably to think there is life on the planets, etc.
But what is worrying me, is just what part of the Writings is Rev. Nemitz prepared to accept as Divine Revelation, and what not?
For instance, which of the "I was told by the angels," and "it was stated from heaven," and "I was informed," and "With open instruction from heaven as to whence they were," (relating to inhabitants of other earths.) Also, "This was discovered to me by the angels," and "It was told me." Yes, I must ask, which of these will Rev. Nemitz accept as revelation, and which will he reject as possibly being "mere figures of speech."
It is the same with the "Memorabilia." There is a tendency in some quarters to put a discount on these as possibly not being true. Yet we know that Swedenborg has stated to a friend "The Lord has commanded me to publish them."
As a New Church man of over fifty years standing, I accept what Swedenborg has stated as a Divine Revelation, and this without reservations!
I cannot possibly believe that the Lord, with His mercy and foresight, would allow His Divine Revelations to be at the mercy of the human failings of angels or spirits when they were instructing Swedenborg. If I did this, I would pick and choose just what I wanted to take, and toss aside other portions, and this I think would be wrong.
I most fervently believe that the Writings do really consist in actual fact, of the Lord's Second Coming in Truth, and must be defended at all times.
My friend, Rev. Nemitz, absolutely nothing personal is intended hereon, I only desire to keep the record straight.