232. The second Memorable Relation:
Some time later I again heard from the lower earth the voices previously heard, OH, HOW LEARNED! and OH, HOW WISE! As I looked around to see what angels were then present, lo, they were angels from the heaven immediately over those who were crying, OH, HOW LEARNED. When I spoke to them about the cry, they said: "These learned men are men who merely reason, Is this so or Is it not so, and rarely think It is. They are therefore like winds which blow and pass away, or like the bark around trees without a core, or like the shells of almonds without a kernel, or the rinds upon fruits with no pulp; for their minds are devoid of interior judgment, being united only with the senses of the body, and if the senses do not make the judgment, they can come to no conclusion. In a word, they are merely sensual. By us they are called Reasoners, because they never come to any conclusion but take up whatever they hear, and then, with perpetual contradictions, dispute as to whether it is. They like nothing better than to attack truths, and by bringing them into dispute to tear them to pieces. They are men who think themselves more learned than all the world."
 Hearing this, I asked the angels to take me down to them. They then brought me to a cavern from which steps led to the lower earth. We descended and followed the cry OH, HOW LEARNED! And behold, some hundreds were standing in one place beating the ground with their feet. At first I wondered at this and asked, "Why do they stand in that way and beat the ground with the soles of their feet?" and I added, "They may thus make a hole in the ground with their feet." At this the angels smiled and said, "They appear to stand thus because they do not think of anything that it is so, but only whether it is, and this they make a matter of controversy; and since their thought makes no further progress, they appear merely to tread on a single clod and trample it without any progression."
I then approached the men there assembled, and lo, they seemed to me to be men with faces not unhandsome and in fine clothes; but the angels said, "They appear thus in their own light, but when light from heaven flows in, their faces are changed and also their clothes." This indeed came to pass, and they were then seen with swarthy countenances and clothed in black sacking; but when the light was withdrawn, they appeared as before.
Presently I spoke to some of them and said: "I heard the cry of the crowd around you, Oh, how learned; may I therefore be allowed to exchange some words with you on matters which are of the highest learning?"  to which they answered, "Say whatever you please and we will satisfy you."
I then asked them, "What must be the nature of religion whereby man is saved?" They replied: "We must distribute this question into several questions, and until we have come to some conclusion respecting these, we cannot give you any answer. The questions that must be discussed are: 1. Is religion anything? 2. Is there or is there not such a thing as salvation? 3. Is one religion more effective than another? 4. Is there a heaven and a hell? 5. Is life after death eternal? besides many other questions."
When I asked about the first question, "Is religion anything?" they began, with an abundance of arguments, to discuss whether there is such a thing as religion, and whether what is so called is anything. I then begged them to refer the question to the assembly. This they did, and the general answer was that this proposition required so much investigation that it could not be finished within the evening. To my question, "Can you finish it in a year?" one of them said that it could not be finished in a hundred years, whereupon I said, "Meanwhile you are without religion," and he answered: "Must it not first be shown whether there is such a thing as religion, and whether what is so called is anything? If it is, it must be for the wise also; if not, then it must be only for the common people. It is well known that religion is called a bond, but the question is, For whom? If it is only for the common people, then in itself it is not anything; if also for the wise, it is something."
 On hearing this, I said to them: "You are anything but learned, for you are only able to think whether a thing is, and to turn the answer to either side. Who can become learned unless he knows something for certain and progresses into it as a man progresses into wisdom, step by step and so successively. Otherwise you do not touch truths even with the finger-nail but remove them more and more out of sight. Reasoning merely as to whether a thing is, is it not like reasoning from a cap which is never put on? or a shoe which is never worn? What comes of it except that you do not know whether there is anything; yea, whether there is such a thing as salvation; whether life after death is eternal; whether one religion is more effective than another; whether there is a heaven and a hell. You cannot think anything about these things so long as you stick fast in the first step and, beating the sand there, do not set foot beyond foot and go forwards. Beware lest your minds, standing thus on the outside at the door of judgment, grow inwardly hard and become statues of salt, and you yourselves friends of Lot's wife."
 Saying this, I went away, and in their indignation they threw stones at me. They then seemed to me like stone sculptures wherein is nothing of human reason. I asked the angels respecting their lot, and they said, "Their lot is, that they are sent down into the deep and there into a desert where they are driven to carrying loads. Being unable to proffer anything from reason, they then chatter and indulge in empty talk. From a distance they appear there like asses carrying burdens."