By false intelligence and wisdom we mean any intelligence and wisdom that is devoid of acknowledgment of the Divine. In fact, people who do not acknowledge the Divine Being but put nature in place of the Divine all think on the basis of their physical bodies. They are merely sense-centered, no matter how scholarly and learned they are considered in this world. Their learning, though, does not rise any higher than the things in front of their eyes in this world, things that they keep in their memory and inspect almost physically. This is the case even though the very same branches of knowledge serve truly intelligent people as a means of forming their understanding. By “branches of knowledge” we mean the various experimental disciplines such as physics, astronomy, chemistry, mechanics, geometry, anatomy, psychology, philosophy, and political history, as well as the realms of literature and criticism and language study.
There are church dignitaries who deny the Divine. They do not raise their thoughts any higher than the sensory concerns of the outer person. They look on the contents of the Word as no different from knowledge about anything else; they do not treat those contents as subjects of thought or of any thorough consideration by an enlightened rational mind. This is because their own deeper levels are closed off, and along with them, the more outward levels that are next to these deeper ones. The reason they are closed is that they have turned their backs on heaven and reversed the things that they could see there, things that are proper to the deeper levels of the human mind, as we have noted before. This is why they cannot see what is true and good—because these matters are in darkness for them, while what is false and evil is in the light.
Nevertheless, sense-centered people can think logically, some of them actually with more skill and penetration than other people. However, they rely on deceptive sensory appearances bolstered by their own learning, and since they can think logically in this fashion, they think they are wiser than other people.e The fire that fuels their reasoning is the fire of love for themselves and the world.
These are the people who are devoted to false intelligence and wisdom, the ones meant by the Lord in Matthew: “Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13–15); and again, “Things are hidden from the intelligent and wise and revealed to children” (Matthew 11:25–26).
from Heaven and Hell,Section 353