Criticisms of science


[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Science, criticisms of" (search under Cosmology/Science)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.1": detail "Section 767 - 773"
I was talking with spirits about the different sciences, such as philosophy, and others – how they develop human minds.
 As for philosophy, every aspect of it up until now has done nothing but cast shadows over minds, and thus has closed off the way to a contemplation of deeper matters, as well as of universal principles, for it consists solely of terms, and of disputes about them—even more so does rationalistic philosophy, which constricts ideas in such a way that the mind dwells upon nothing but petty details and consequently on trivia. Besides, it not only obstructs the channels to what is deeper, but also causes blindness, and completely banishes belief. Therefore, in the other life, a philosopher who had clung fast to such details and given himself up to them, is now stupid, and by far less knowledgeable than others.
 As for Mechanics, when people gives themselves up too much to the practice of mechanical science, then they develop the mental attitude that nothing exists but what is mechanical, not only the whole of nature, but spiritual and heavenly things as well. Then if they cannot trace these to mechanical principles and their powers, they believe nothing, and so become bodily and earthly people.
 As for Geometry and the like, this also strongly focusses the mind, as it were, and prevents it from going into universal principles—except in presuming that nothing exists but what is Geometrical, or mechanical. Yet the scope of Geometry does not extend beyond earthly and physical forms.
 As for historical studies, they do no harm, provided they are not merely matters of memory.
 They who indulge the memory alone, or studies that are a matter of memorizing, or other studies but only for the sake of the memory, in the other life understand very little about what spiritual truth is, still less what heavenly truth is. They remain fixed in their own personal ideas, which form a kind of callus surrounding their brain like bone, or skull; and this callosity has first to be cast off, before truth can penetrate, and before spiritual and heavenly knowledge can have any abode.
 This callus is dispersed only with difficulty, and in fact, only with pain, or if perchance without these, then it has to soften, as it were, over a long period of time. Many experiences have shown this to me, and each time, the depiction of a callus amazed me.
 Experimenting with nature, such as horticulture and similar studies, does not hinder the knowledge of what is spiritual, or prevent those who are educated in this science from being spiritually perfected equally with those who are not—something I have also observed in the case of a certain person.
 Not any knowledge is hurtful or detrimental, provided it is not considered to be everything in itself, but a further goal is looked to. It is spiritual wealth, on which the understanding of realities can be based. It is just the same as with riches or wealth, and with power: if one values them only for the sake of riches and power, then one is very badly off in the other life, whereas if they are valued only for further ends, so that they are only means, and are thus regarded as nothing apart from the end, then they do no one any harm.

[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Knowledge, should be used" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Spiritual Experiences, vol.4": detail "Section 5141"
Those in the other life who have studied various sciences and made no use of them correspond to the bones. Such are those who have studied mathematics merely for the purpose of discovering rules and have not looked for any use; those who have studied physics and chemistry only for the sake of experimenting not on account of any other use; and also those who have studied philosophical matters to invent rules and terms merely for the sake of terminology and for no other use, likewise in other fields. In addition, when those who make up the bones are reasoning, they dispute scarcely anything else than whether a thing exists or whether it does not. From this it is evident that the majority of the educated within the Church become bones. They are sensual in the lowest degree. Today the state of the Church is also on this level. Consequently it is at its end.