Controversy

Does reincarnation exist?

WRITTEN BY
12/26/23
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Fact Box

  • Reincarnation, or transmigration and metempsychosis, is a religious philosophy of rebirth after death in consciousness, mind, soul, or entity. This view believes rebirth may be human, animal, spiritual, or vegetable, depending on tradition.
  • Reincarnation depends on the doctrine of karma, the law of cause and effect, which asserts that “good or bad actions determine the future modes of an individual’s existence,” meaning what people do in their present life will have an effect on their supposed next life.
  • Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism believe in cyclical patterns of life, while Christianity, Judaism, and Islam consider time to be linear. 
  • A 2021 Pew Research study found that 33% of all American adults believe in reincarnation, with the belief gaining popularity among younger generations. Among those surveyed, 73% believe in heaven, while 62% believe in hell.

Bre (Yes)

Imagine that a child remembers vivid, consistent details from a previous life. Upon investigation and knowing they lack outside resources to gain them this information, that is reliable proof to back up their claims they are who they say they have been. For as long as the subject has been studied, this experience has been the case for countless parents and their children worldwide.

Numerous books are published expanding on the depth to which those who recall past lives can demonstrate this. From specialized awareness that defies explanation, ranging from foreign languages, accents, and abilities to wardrobes, weapons, and warcraft of past eras, plus dates and locations of little-known events. More often than not, the accounts astound in their inexplicable accuracy.

Even the most skeptical scholars are forced to question their stance upon evaluating the volume and apparent authenticity of recorded cases of children possessing memories from previous lives. Compelling consistencies include early development, suffering an unnatural death, increased presence of memories from ages 2-6, and same-sex reincarnation.

Furthermore, some details are unable to be faked, like birthmarks that align precisely with fatal wounds or incapacities which are consistent with past events. Recorded characteristics seeming to stem from past lives include phobias, dreams, accents, abilities, careers, family members, and even having spent time with God. In fact, many religions teach belief in reincarnation, and globally, there are more believers than non.

Past life regression therapy has also been making waves and converting skeptics. Reincarnation can’t be disproven, and more evidence exists in favor of it than against it. According to quantum theory, reality is a product of consciousness, so the growing collection of documented stories providing proof of reincarnation has no reason to be discounted.


Maha (No)

While the idea of reincarnation is attractive to many, there’s no irrefutable proof of its existence. Many contradicting interpretations of what reincarnation is exist. In Hinduism, it’s viewed as the atman (soul) beginning a new life in the body of a human animal or spiritual entity, depending on its action before its biological death. Meanwhile, spiritual guru Osho bases reincarnation on the memories of dead individuals that were released into the cosmos. So, “newborns” absorb a mix of memories, making it difficult to remember their past lives. 

According to most believers, reincarnation aims at cleansing a soul of the sins committed while alive. That way, they can perform commandments they missed while alive. However, if Osho is right, wouldn’t the inability to remember past lives make this impossible? Even in cases where children apparently remember many details of a previous lifetime, their ‘memories’ are still not completely accurate. Take the case of Ryan Hammon, a child who claimed to be Marty Martyn in a past life. Despite sharing some accurate details, he got his previous self’s cause of death and father’s occupation wrong. 

With so many variations and challenges in explaining how reincarnation actually happens, believing its concrete existence is tough. Concerning the first-ever soul and those that followed, if consciousness is the result of previous consciousness, how did the first consciousness come to be? Given the yearly population growth, where are the new souls coming from? Lastly, how does one ever become “good enough” to tackle the evil they are paying off in this life? This view produces a hopeless cycle of blaming oneself for all their bad fortune. So, unless these questions and contradictions can be addressed and proven, the existence of reincarnation is questionable.

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