Do You Believe
In Reincarnation?

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From: Positive Atheism <>
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Sunday, November 07, 1999 5:26 PM

This "experiment," which suggests that the "soul" is material, has never been replicated. While popular several decades ago, hardly anybody uses this angle any more because it is so dubious. Also, there are possible material explanations for this man's change in weight, which have not been eliminated.

Besides, the documents that tell us of Heaven and Hell, the Bible and the Koran, make serious errors in describing the material world. If I can show that these books are wrong about information that I can verify or refute, why should I trust what they have to say about untestable claims, such as those regarding heaven and hell?

Just because we know there cannot be a heaven or a hell, this does not leave reincarnation as the unavoidable alternative.

Yes, but the matter and energy which make up an organism's consciousness is converted upon death. The structures and energy which allow consciousness are converted to structures and energy which do not allow consciousness.

If I take a sledge hammer to my computer, I will actually be adding energy to the total system, but this will not improve its ability to perform computing functions. This is because the structure is crucial to its ability to perform.

If we can verify that their details are accurate, this means that such information is part of the publicly available record. Thus, we cannot eliminate the possibility that the person "remembering" also had access to the very same records we would need to use to verify their claims. One way for a "channeler" to make an impact upon skeptics would be to accurately reveal, for example, the location of a huge fossil bed that is as yet undiscovered. Another would be to solve some of the current puzzles in physics, such as, What is the nature of the "dark matter" which we think exists in the universe, and how would we go about detecting it so we could independently verify its existence?

This claim has other problems: some of the "information" unwittingly given by some channelers is very testable, and has been verified to be wrong. Linguist Sarah Thomason performed linguistic analysis on tapes of eleven channelers. She found that all had inconsistent and implausible accents or dialects, inappropriate for the time and place claimed by the alleged source. Marjorie Turcott's entity, "Matthew," supposedly a sixteenth-century Scotsman, pronounces "neighbor" the way a modern Englishman would, with a silent "gh." "Matthew" also uses the term rapscallion, which did not appear until long after the sixteenth century. Penny Torre's "Mufu" character, allegedly from the first century, uses an English accent that can go no further back than C.E. 800. Julie Winter's "Mitka" switches between American and British accents, saying "very" one time and "veddy" another. (See: Psychology Today, October, 1989; Victor Stenger, Physics and Psychics (Prometheus:1990), page 209.)

I agree that people should be entitled to their own opinions, but I do not think any more about reincarnation than I do about Heaven and Hell. This is because I have been given no reasons for believing either exist. Also, the arguments I have heard for the existence have been, for the most part, replete with falsehood and faulty logic.

As close as I come was best described by a short story by Ray Bradbury, called (I think) "Mother." In it, the matriarch of a large family dies, and the family discussion turns to the afterlife. In the ensuing discussion, Bradbury's characters remark that little so-and-so has Mamma's eyes, and uncle such-and-so loves animals just like she used to love animals. This suggests that one's "immortality" can, in a way, be gained through procreation, but it does not suggest that anybody's actual consciousness survives the death of the body.

Woody Allen suggested that, in addition to procreation, some seek immortality in their work. I can never meet Thomas Paine, but I do have the next best thing: his writings. I can read and enjoy his works, but I can only wish I could meet him and ask him a few questions and tell him about what's going on in America today. I can never meet Jimi Hendrix, who I hear was a kind and thoughtful man, but I can listen to recordings of his performance and recordings of a few of his conversations.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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