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Swedenborg and the Plurality of Worlds : Astrotheology in the Eighteenth Century

Dunér, David LU (2016) In Zygon 51(2). p.450-479
Abstract

The possible existence of extraterrestrial life led in the eighteenth century to a heated debate on the unique status of the human being and of Christianity. One of those who discussed the new scientific worldview and its implications for theology was the Swedish natural philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. This article discusses Swedenborg's astrotheological transformation, his use of theological arguments in his early cosmology, and his cosmogony that later on ended up in his use of contemporary natural philosophy in his theology, especially concerning the question of the plurality of worlds. I will first sketch the astrotheology found in his natural philosophical works, and then turn to the astrotheology of his later... (More)

The possible existence of extraterrestrial life led in the eighteenth century to a heated debate on the unique status of the human being and of Christianity. One of those who discussed the new scientific worldview and its implications for theology was the Swedish natural philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. This article discusses Swedenborg's astrotheological transformation, his use of theological arguments in his early cosmology, and his cosmogony that later on ended up in his use of contemporary natural philosophy in his theology, especially concerning the question of the plurality of worlds. I will first sketch the astrotheology found in his natural philosophical works, and then turn to the astrotheology of his later spiritual teachings. In Swedenborg's works we find teleological arguments and a stress on the universality of the divine creation and Christianity, as well as anthropomorphic descriptions of extraterrestrial life. By reconciling contemporary astronomical ideas, among others the concept of the plurality of worlds, with Christian dogmas, Swedenborg refuted deistic conclusions that Jesus was merely a mortal, while at the same time keeping his belief in the modern astronomical worldview.

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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Astrotheology, Eighteenth century, Emanuel Swedenborg, Extraterrestrial life debate, History of astrobiology, History of astronomy, Physico-theology, Plurality of worlds, Teleology
in
Zygon
volume
51
issue
2
pages
30 pages
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • Scopus:84964940201
  • WOS:000382672200013
ISSN
0591-2385
DOI
10.1111/zygo.12264
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9f9d1b89-a1ba-4d7c-ac65-543f623e7c1c
date added to LUP
2016-05-19 14:39:12
date last changed
2017-01-01 08:26:32
@article{9f9d1b89-a1ba-4d7c-ac65-543f623e7c1c,
  abstract     = {<p>The possible existence of extraterrestrial life led in the eighteenth century to a heated debate on the unique status of the human being and of Christianity. One of those who discussed the new scientific worldview and its implications for theology was the Swedish natural philosopher and theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. This article discusses Swedenborg's astrotheological transformation, his use of theological arguments in his early cosmology, and his cosmogony that later on ended up in his use of contemporary natural philosophy in his theology, especially concerning the question of the plurality of worlds. I will first sketch the astrotheology found in his natural philosophical works, and then turn to the astrotheology of his later spiritual teachings. In Swedenborg's works we find teleological arguments and a stress on the universality of the divine creation and Christianity, as well as anthropomorphic descriptions of extraterrestrial life. By reconciling contemporary astronomical ideas, among others the concept of the plurality of worlds, with Christian dogmas, Swedenborg refuted deistic conclusions that Jesus was merely a mortal, while at the same time keeping his belief in the modern astronomical worldview.</p>},
  author       = {Dunér, David},
  issn         = {0591-2385},
  keyword      = {Astrotheology,Eighteenth century,Emanuel Swedenborg,Extraterrestrial life debate,History of astrobiology,History of astronomy,Physico-theology,Plurality of worlds,Teleology},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {450--479},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Zygon},
  title        = {Swedenborg and the Plurality of Worlds : Astrotheology in the Eighteenth Century},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/zygo.12264},
  volume       = {51},
  year         = {2016},
}