NOTE: See the August 30 post for a shorter, edited version.
Faith-based arguments are not scientifically valid arguments. They can be accepted as true only if the tenants of the faith in question are accepted, either on the basis of personal experience, or by accepting the authenticity of someone else’s experience and the authority of an institution established by them. So, as a scientist, I must remain skeptical of such arguments. This doesn’t mean that I reject the teachings of Jesus. I certainly do not. On the contrary, I believe Christ Consciousness is real, and that it is the only road to Cosmic Consciousness. But, faith is not a basis for proof, believing is not knowing, and science must prove the reality of something before announcing it as truth. A scientist cannot accept a concept as indisputable truth based on someone else’s experience or belief. A scientist must have direct proof. Without direct proof, an idea, however appealing, is just a hypothesis; a theory to be tested, nothing more.
Unless you have direct two-way communication with Christ, you have no proof and must rely on hear-say and very questionable authority, because Jesus, like Mohamed, wrote nothing down. Neither did Gautama Buddha. Isn’t this remarkable? Is it possible that the founders of three major world religions were illiterate? No. They wrote nothing down because they knew that words in any language, misrepresent and distort as much as they reveal. Their revelations of the truth were much more complete, and on a much deeper level of consciousness than can ever be conveyed in words. It was their inspiring presence and extraordinary spiritual energy that convinced their followers that they knew the Truth, as much or more than the words they spoke. So, let’s leave faith-based “proofs” behind and move on to non-sectarian arguments against the idea of reincarnation. Can science prove or disprove the reality of reincarnation?
The consciousness of an individual sentient being is wholly produced by that individual’s physical body and brain, and cannot exist without them.
If this hypothesis is true, then when the body and brain of an individual cease to function, or when they are destroyed, by whatever means, the consciousness of that individual is simply gone. It can no longer exist, period. But, as professor James pointed out, there is no need to look at all of the arguments that may be made supporting this hypothesis. If there is even one counter example, the hypothesis is invalid.
Swarnlata Mishra was born in Pradesh India in 1948. When she was just three years old, she told her father about her previous life in the town of Katni more than 100 miles from their home. She related many details of her previous life in Katni. She said her name was Biya Pathak, and that she had two sons. She recalled details of their home in Katni, including the following: It was white with black doors fitted with iron bars; four rooms were stuccoed, but other parts were less finished; the front floor was of stone slabs. The house was in in the Zhurkutia, District of Katni; behind the house was a girl's school, in front was a railway line, and lime furnaces were visible from the house. She added that the family had a motor car (a very rare item in India, even in the 1950's, and especially before Swarnlata was born). Swarnlata said Biya died of a "pain in her throat" and was treated by Dr. S. C. Bhabrat in Jabalpur. All of these details, written down when Swarnlata was three, and they were verified later when Swarnlata was 10 years old and they actually traveled to Katni. Until then, the two families were unaware of each other’s existence.
Sly Stallone is sure he had at least four past lives, and he experienced a gruesome end in one of them. In an interview early in his career, he said, “I’m quite sure I lost my head in the French Revolution.” His success with his screen persona Rocky Balboa may have something to do with Stallone’s claim that he was actually once a boxer who was killed by a knockout punch in the 1930s.
"Friends are all souls that we've known in other lives. We're drawn to each other. Even if I have only known them a day., it doesn't matter. I'm not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know."
"I lived in Judea eighteen hundred years ago, but I never knew that there was such a one as Christ among my contemporaries."
"I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born."
"And as to you, Life, I reckon you are the leaving of many deaths, (No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)"
"I am certain that I have been here as I am now a thousand times before, and I hope to return a thousand times."
"It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection."
"Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life."
"All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies."
Rejecting the part of original Christian teachings that held that the soul is spiritual and immortal, an idea that Church Fathers like Clement of Alexandria and Origen documented, misguided Church theologians developed the concept of creatio ex nihilo, or creation out of nothing. This belief in something from nothing is reflected in the belief in the big-bang theory of the origin of all things as originally posited by physicalists.
Thanks to the Emperor Justinian, and the Catholic Church that accepted his decree designed to suppress ideas that elevated the potential of the consciousness of human beings to cosmic consciousness, that doctrine persists to this day. The New Catholic Encyclopedia says:
"Between Creator and creature there is the most profound distinction possible. God is not part of the world. He is not just the peak of reality. Between God and the world there is an abyss....To be created is to be not of itself, but from another. It is to be non-self-sufficient. This means that deep within itself [the soul] is in a condition of radical need, of total dependence.... It means to accept the fact that the world has no reality except what the Creator thinks and wills." (Emphasis added.)
In other words, according to institutionalized Church doctrine, there is not, as the Platonists believed, a great chain of being linking the creation to the Creator and enabling the creation to return to the Creator. There is no divine spark inside each heart. God created everything to run on its own, without any further involvement on his part. This dogma allowed the Church to promote itself as the only path to salvation of the soul.
The Jews answered him, saying, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”