Is society ready for proof of reincarnation?

Discussion in 'Reincarnation Questions' started by Alexnovo, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. Alexnovo

    Alexnovo Senior Registered

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    A question occurred to me reading through other threads and I decided to pose it to everyone. What would happen if tomorrow a major scientific journal published an article that (as far as the scientific community was concerned) confirmed that reincarnation is a scientific fact? For the purposes of this question, let us assume that the article contains documented evidence sufficient to convince the skeptics that a large number of test subjects possess memories from a prior time which are both verifiable and could not have been known unless the person had the memories of a deceased person – thus to the scientists the least extraordinary explanation is reincarnation is a fact. Further assume that the evidence has been thoroughly peer reviewed and confirmed. The article does not state why reincarnation happens, or how it happens, but merely that it does happen.

    My question is - would this be a good thing? Are we (society not those of on this forum) ready for such proof? What would the consequences be? Would there be turmoil in society?

    I assume (but would like comments about) that societies that have an existing philosophical and theological acceptance of reincarnation would weather the news quite well (throwing in a few I told you so’s). But what about societies such as those dominated by traditional secular science or Christianity and Islam? How would people without a philosophical framework that accepts reincarnation react? Would more people commit suicide, thinking they don’t like this life, so why not try again? Would people merely deny the truth and go on believing as they did before?

    I guess my underlying question is, are we ready for a sudden announcement or is it best to lay the ground work for a slow and gradual acceptance of reincarnation. I have my own thoughts, but will hold them as I am curious as to what others think.
     
  2. ChrisR

    ChrisR Administrator Emeritus Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Good question Alexnovo, and I think the answer lies in your own post. We're already in the scenario that you laid before us, there's already plenty of documented evidence, or proof. Take the work of Ian Stevenson for example, I mean how much more proof do skeptics need? The bottom line is, there will always be skeptics....until they have a past life experience of their own, then they will simply be replaced by even more skeptics and so on. So my answer to your question would be that society would just continue to deny the truth and carry on with their own faith, whatever that may be.
     
  3. Skarphedinn

    Skarphedinn Member

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    Essay on the cognitive dissonance


    I was looking forward to seeing this question asked, for I have the answer, as I have experienced it quite a lot of times, not necessarily concerning reincarnation.


    The phenomenon I am talking about is called cognitive dissonance in psychology. It occurs, when there is a strong attitude or belief, and one encounters something opposing this belief. One's unconscious does everithing to reduce cognitive dissonance, and finds the ways to remain with his old beliefs. Like a strong smoker, who finds out that he has lungs cancer, and has to do something with the cause and responsibility for his own life.


    Back to the topic: if it comes out on the sheets of a renowned scientific paper, those, who are against will find their counter-arguments to reduce the cognitive dissonance, and would attack the weak points of the article. Like the one, that they are unable to explain the reasons of reincarnation.


    This happened, when Galileo Galilei invented the telescope: his opponents insisted, that it "makes up" the objects it shows, so Galileo tested his new invention upon thousands of objects. He found, what is obvious to us: it shows the reality, but from a different perspective.


    We have to wait for the extinction of opposers of reincarnation, if we want the public to acknowledge its existence. At least according to Thomas Kuhn's theory he describes in his famous work 'Structure of scientific revolutions'.


    Alexnovo, I am interested in your thoughts.


    Skarphedinn
     
  4. Sunniva

    Sunniva Administrator Emeritus

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    In this 200th anniversary year of Darwin I think, unfortunately, we already know the answer to your question. Even though we have so much scientific proof that evolution did - and does - happen there are still many people, who won't believe it. I'm not going to start a discussion on I.D. or creationism, but I think that there will always be a part of society, who will dismiss facts and science.
     
  5. Phoenix

    Phoenix Forgot to play nice

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    Empirical data needed


    Proof of reincarnation of the nature depicted in the OP's question has already been provided. We already have the body of anecdotal data, heavily researched and validated, by Dr. Ian Stephenson. The problem is science requires empirical data as evidence.


    Hypnotic regression is not considered evidence, nor are spontaneous memories. His work is just not considered proof by hard science, because it cannot be weighed, measured, or reproduced under laboratory conditions.


    And, until that happens, there is absolutely no way to "prove" that reincarnation is really happening to people all over the world.


    It isn't helping that whenever a psychologist is convinced by what they see in their practice, such as Dr. Weiss and Dr. Newton, they start spewing new age scripture.


    Phoenix
     
  6. Jody

    Jody Senior Registered

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    One question to ask would be, "how would society use this information?"


    If the scientific proof were along the lines of being able to match "junk DNA" from one life to another, so everyone would have access to who everyone else was in a past life as easily as matching fingerprints, ask yourself -- would you want the burden of being linked to any lives you've lived before that have left a record? Even some of the greatest people in history (especially them, actually) have a lot to be embarrassed about. For example, Thomas Jefferson was a great man, but he did own slaves, even fathered children with one of them. So what can you say about the villians of history? Or even the average Joe who killed Indians or auctioned slaves? Would they be punished in this lifetime for what they did in the past?


    I have to be honest with you, after what happened in the United States for the past few years (Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, erosion of the right to privacy, etc.) I don't think our society is currently spiritually evolved enough to deal with this knowledge in an appropriately compassionate way. The conundrum is: how do you become a spiritually evolved society without this knowledge?


    I'm pretty sure the doctrine of reincarnation was scrubbed from original Christian teaching because it's much easier to control people by scaring them with visions of eternal hellfire and placating them with visions of eternal heaven (as long as they keep their mouth shut and do whatever the guys in charge say).


    As for fears that people will be more likely to kill themselves if they believe in reincarnation, I have to say the current "scientific" belief model of atheism would make me much less afraid to commit suicide than the former -- after all, there's nothing to answer for (or to) under atheism ... *poof* you're gone ...
     
  7. lonewolf

    lonewolf Senior Registered

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    Never underestimate the human tendency for self-deception, or our tendency to explain away inconvenient truths. My feeling on this very interesting question is: we'd find some way to avoid and deny it.


    Lonewolf
     
  8. lonewolf

    lonewolf Senior Registered

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    Hear hear, Phoenix. This is an important aspect of the problem.


    Lonewolf
     
  9. Alexnovo

    Alexnovo Senior Registered

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    I want to thank everyone who responded to this question. I´ll try to respond.


    Chris R and Phoenix:


    I totally agree that Dr. Ian Stephenson’s work has done much of what I postulated. It is well researched and documented. Phoenix you say “His work is just not considered proof by hard science, because it cannot be weighed, measured, or reproduced under laboratory conditions.” To this I partially agree and disagree. I do think that science can and does accept so called “soft evidence” i.e. that which cannot be reproduced in a lab. It does this in psychology and other fields. However, a larger body of evidence is generally required for this type of evidence to be accepted. At a certain point in the process the sheer magnitude of such evidence overcomes the fact that it was not acquired in lab experiments. I think that this can happen with reincarnation if we have a larger number of studies. To me Stephenson’s work is a major step in this process. I look at the weaknesses in the skeptics’ critiques of his studies and see a sloppy scramble to shoot them down. To me this is evidence that in time a growing body of such studies could tip the balance toward a scientific acceptance of reincarnation.


    Phoenix you also say, “It isn't helping that whenever a psychologist is convinced by what they see in their practice, such as Dr. Weiss and Dr. Newton, they start spewing new age scripture.” I understand where you are coming from. From a pure scientific point of view, this can be, and is, used to discredit these peoples’ findings. I would just add, that I understand what they are doing and it was part of the point I was making in asking this question. To me it is hard for many people to accept reincarnation without placing it in a philosophical context. In other words saying souls reincarnate in and of itself is a difficult thing to do, without then asking why.


    Skarphedinn, Sunniva and Lonewolf:


    I could not agree more that cognitive dissonance would apply and that many would simply deny the truth – even in the face of scientifically accepted proof. The example of Darwin is a very good one. I do think, however, over time – generations, that acceptance of reincarnation would set in with many people. Of course there would be some who would hold out, like those that still fight against evolution being taught in the schools, but most I believe would figure out a way to incorporate reincarnation into their beliefs. Like most Christians incorporate evolution into their beliefs now. I do wonder about the hardcore secular crowd (the “what you see is what you get types, who completely discount even the mere idea of their being a soul or anything other than this physical world.) I wonder if it is this group that would have the hardest time with proof.


    Jody:


    Your question as to what would happen if the proof was such that we could scientifically identify who each and every person was in all of their past lives, is an interesting and indeed frightening one. (I say frightening because I have visions of some data base being created and someone denying me a job, because in 76 BCE I committed some horrible act). That was beyond what I was thinking of, and I will have to give it some thought before I respond.
     
  10. stardis

    stardis Senior Registered

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    I think acceptance of reincarnation will come after the idea of parallel universes and multi-dimensions in our own universe are pretty well accepted by everyone. Physicists have made great advances in theoretical physics and these ideas are backed up by some pretty solid work. I believe theoretical physics is the groundwork that must be done first; otherwise people may continue to mix reincarnation and religion into the same bag when they are not the same thing at all (IMO).
     
  11. Phoenix

    Phoenix Forgot to play nice

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    Agreed on the mixing, issue, stardis. By looking at reincarnation as being a matter of religious belief and a "mystery", not only do we get the kneejerk reaction of "it's against my religion" when the subject comes up, but we also have to deal with the human-created dogma that seeks to create rules and regulations which order a natural process.


    Only once we can look at it as a natural process, free of superstition and magic, can we give science anything to work with. That's something the new-age scripture writers don't seem to understand. Their efforts are actually acting against reincarnation's acceptance as scientific fact.


    Phoenix
     
  12. tanguerra

    tanguerra Moderator Emeritus

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    Good question Alex.


    We had a thread a bit like this a while ago, which has some interesting discussions in it: Imagine reincarnation is proven.


    As the others have said there is actually a great deal of evidence already, Dr Ian Stevenson of course and also Dr Helen Wambach have compiled a great deal of data. Also, as the others have said this is largely dismissed because it is too mind bending for most materialist, reductionist Western thinkers and the new-agey, quasi-religious tone of many adherents' writings does not help it to be taken seriously, as Phoenix says.


    In fact, there are some cultures which pretty much accept reincarnation as a fact - Tibetan Buddhism, Indian Hinduism are two examples. In each of those countries there are many social impacts of this belief, some positive (in the case of the gentleness of Tibetan culture), some negative (in the case of the caste system in India).


    I have been to Bali on holiday where they are predominantly Hindu and believe in reincarnation. There is a lovely gentleness and calm about the people, but there also tends to be a certain fatalism about one's life which can be a bit scary when your bus driver is taking the corners on mountain roads at high speed in a rickety old vehicle! :)


    What would happen to our culture if people really, really believed in reincarnation as a fact? Would they be so greedy? Would they be so selfish? Would they be so fearful? Would we be so materialistic? Would we try to manipulate it to our own advantage somehow? Interesting to contemplate.
     
  13. Ailish

    Ailish Administrator Emerita

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    An interesting question ;)
     
  14. Nightrain

    Nightrain Senior Registered

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    As everyone so eloquently stated above, I think there is adequate evidence for most people to believe that Reincarnation is a real phenomenon; but, that there is such cognitive dissonance as a result of previously trusted beliefs.


    I've encountered the fear some people have regarding an epidemic of suicides occurring, if reincarnation becomes accepted. However, I feel strongly that it is our present Western belief of only one life per customer, which causes the desperation that leads to suicide. I also believe that the value of life becomes much cheaper without reincarnation.


    When society as a whole becomes cognizant of reincarnation, each individual becomes aware that there is no escaping our responsibility, and that murder, genocide and suicide solves nothing in the long run. In addition, those who realize their mistakes in life need not throw themselves under the bus, because there are plenty of opportunities to set things right.
     
  15. stardis

    stardis Senior Registered

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    I don't think that people will -generally speaking - ever be ready to live their lives as though reincarnation is a fact.


    I say that because I believe it takes a huge leap of imagination to envision yourself as a being who is energetic consciousness and who is immortal. I don't think that most people can climb that first step and come to the realization that, since reincarnation is true, the old ways (and current) of ordering civilization will not allow us to grow this species in the way that we hope for: a species that seeks knowledge, values learning and delights in interpersonal relationships. Probably this brief warm period in the planet's cycle of glaciation will not last long enough for a generation to be raised within a new paradigm of science or philosophy that establishes a basis for reincarnation. I hope that I am wrong since coming back to the Earth is something that affects me as well as absolutely everyone else whether they now believe it or not.


    I have come to the conclusion that Humans (you can't spell out the species name on the forum) may not be the inheritors of the Earth. It is something to think about, anyway.
     
  16. Lynnette

    Lynnette New Member

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    There is a question that I too would like to pose, (and hope it is okay for me to post it as a continuation of this thread) and that is this..


    Say there is something there, as I believe there is, in which we can envision previous lives... Now, .. why is it that people think since we can envision/delve in to/experience these previous lives, that they must be our own and so we must be reincarnated? Could they not be something else?


    To be sure, some of them are indeed real - finding the people in my own dreams has proved that to me, but can we not just be experiencing the lives, echoed through or rippled through time of someone else?


    Some people can go back and repeatedly regress to different stages of the same lifespan. Well, okay, but again, could it be that we are able to do so because we are tuned in to, or resonate in some way with the echos of this lifetime? Sort of like tuning in to a radio. And when I say echos or ripples, or tuning in, I do not neccearily mean literally speaking, but lack any other way to describe or explain it - I can also visualise the concept of everything past/resent/future, existing concurrently, though I'm not sure what the phrase or terminology for that concept is.


    Then again, people mention having been healed of trouble or phobias following past life regressions... if we are tuned in to experience the feelings/visions/emotions/experiences of these other life times, would that not have a subconscious effect on us to elicit these symptoms without them having to literally 'belong' to us? And that going back to experience or re-live the time when they initially occured procurrs a release of those symptoms in our present frame of mind?


    As for birthmarks etc, I don't know if the resonance of events 'tuned in' to us would have this effect on the foetus, but seeing as how even the mood of the mother during pregnancy, or what stresses/strain etc she experiences could have an effect on the foetus, and there is a 'over-generation affect', whereby for example grandchildren and even great grandchildren of women starved in famines during childhood can turn out to be retarded or under-developed in their growth, whether trauma experienced by people in the past can echo through to affect the foetus that matches the past person's frequency?


    I don't know if any of this makes sense at all; it is all there in my own mind but I am not quite sure how to express or pose it! But I hope the jist comes through, in that, why do past life memories have to neccesarily be our own and not just revererating echoes of someone else's life that we are somehow able to tune in on, for example...?
     
  17. stardis

    stardis Senior Registered

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    My opinion:

    Probably, our existence as multidimensional beings is far richer than we can imagine whereby the stream of consciousness or akashic records are available to us literally for the asking and we just don't know how to discriminate between what we remember and the memories of other beings. By "multidimensional beings", I mean the various aspects or facets of our nature of which we are normally only aware of the one current physical incarnation.

    Some people would call that the "timeless now". The idea that God and therefore we exist temporally is not one that is universally agreed upon. We certainly would agree that in this physical existence we do experience our lives temporally, that is we experience the succession of events in a definite order and yesterday comes before tomorrow. But that is not to say that another facet of our multidimensional being is not experiencing existence in the "timeless now" or even in another temporal time period. Probably we do not experience (normally) the other facets of our true self because it would negate the benefits that we hope to obtain by living this physical life as a creature who struggles to find meaning in the circumstances in which we are born into this world. How could we experience the indescribable joys or the unbearable sorrows of life if we were not completely immersed in the emotional drama of life? We are born into this world feeling like we are on our own, that this is "it" and we must sink or swim - and so the stakes are very high for us to do as well as we can.


    There are good reasons that we, as human beings, don't see the true self in all of its exotic faceted nature and it takes a mature inward seeking individual to even contemplate that nature. However, if you are able to contemplate your multidimensional nature then you are also mature enough to live a purposeful life and so there is no conflict between your thoughts and your daily life. Most people will never think about that - which is probably how things are meant to be.


    Just my thoughts.
     
  18. Artzab

    Artzab AS2

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    reading this thread, a thought came to me. That if it's true what scientists say about consciousness, that essentially everything is one in this universe, then aren't we all in a way living each and every life we ever will simultaneously even if we aren't aware of it? Or, are these past life memories only a psychic ability to peer into the consciousness that unites everyone in the universe? I know that wouldn't explain the personality characteristic traits people carry one from one life to the next, but just a thought. as far as whether society is ready to accept reincarnation as a scientific fact, I think we may come close to that. 2012 is coming up soon and even though 2012 is a Mayan cultural belief system, I've heard some Christians refer to 2012 as when the second coming of Christ happens. I wonder if this 2012 year will see many changes in the environment with global warming and psychic experiences as well as proof of reincarnation and past life memories.
     
  19. Truthseeker

    Truthseeker Former Moderator

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    Personally, I don't think that the 2012 thing has anything to do with the second coming of Jesus. I am very skeptical of 2012 to begin with, but feel free to disagree with me if you like. ;) Christians have been anticipating Jesus' return for 2000 years. The apostles thought they would see Jesus return within their lifetime. If you go by scripture, Jesus said you will know not the day nor the hour. I doubt he would stick to an ancient Mayan prediction. Just my two cents.


    I think there is a greater awareness now in our culture than there has ever been before. I think it greatly has to do with the internet and mass media. We live in the information age. I don't think there is an actual increase in psychic activity or spiritual connection. I spite of greater awareness, I don't expect a sudden swing in western culture towards reincarnation beliefs. Change comes slowly, especially for a collective society. People feel attacked when their beliefs and traditions are challenged. The more reincarnation leaks into the main stream, the more it will be attacked. That is not to say that progress can't be made - take gender equality and race relations for example. Are we there yet, no. Have we come a long way, yes. But progress is slow and painful.


    I hope I'm not coming across as a downer : angel but if undeniable proof was flooding the TV networks tomorrow, those with an open mind would find it interesting. Those with a closed mind would attack and ridicule it.
     
  20. Charles Stuart

    Charles Stuart Probationary

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    What I find is that many people cannot even begin to handle the subject, and in many cases it seems clear that they hardly hold an interest, preferring to just plod along with their lives...


    If there will one day be such a thing as "proof", it would overwhelming to most people in such a manner as can hardy be conceived. Just as would also "proof" concerning the reality of extraterrestrial beings.


    How a concept such as "eternal hell" and several others came to be practically without being questioned is just as astounding. Regarding what Nightrain said about reincarnation being precisely the opposite concerning suicide, I totally agree. Reincarnation, to me at least, has always been a reason for hope, not desperation. And the concept of heaven and hell is one that indeed would imply in an "eternal separation" of the Souls condemned to either of the two, for there would be no connection between one and another, whereas the concept of reincarnation is one by which we can rest assured that we will certainly be with our departed loved ones once again...
     
  21. Nightrain

    Nightrain Senior Registered

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    In spite of certain predictions that December 21st, 2012 will bring mass changes to much of society, I tend to agree with Charles, that no matter what science proves or the future brings; society, as a whole, will not experience a quantum evolutionary leap of heightened spiritual consciousness. And, although it is true that technology and the internet have provided access to knowledge such as human civilization has never before witnessed; I feel that the majority of people will not choose to use it to their best advantage. Indeed, there is a strong case for the possibility that technology can interfere with the development of our natural spiritual abilities and perceptions.


    In terms of scientific proof of scientific discoveries, I think the majority of even the most educated people will likely not consider such information as meaningful in the daily application of their lives, let alone the rest of the population. After all, how many people among your fellow graduates or circle of friends even realize what quantum entanglement or the uncertainty principle suggests? These are things, which have been proven to exist, but how many people understand how this changes their current concepts of reality? Even as I write this, I know that tomorrow I will forget the profound implications of this knowledge, and that I'll most likely revert to my usual materialist perceptions.


    As Truthseeker suggested, change comes very slowly and with great pain. Indeed, I believe that change can occur with greater speed among those with the greatest relative characteristics, as suggested by observations of learning among closely related animals. However, it doesn't happen to an entire species within the space of only one year, let alone upon a single date when the sun crosses the galactic ecliptic.


    I strongly suspect that most of us will still be here struggling with the daily mundane tribulations of life during 2013 and 2014 and on. There will still be people using the internet to hone their gaming skills, and there will still be people who don't care about scientific proof of anything. There will still be several billion people trying to survive from day to day, while a very small percentage of us are, by some miracle of fate, fortunate enough to spend our time contemplating the meaning of our existence.


    By the year 2120 I sincerely doubt that any of us will still be here in the same body; but, if we are, I suspect we may wish that we weren't. We'll likely be back in a new body, pursuing our dreams in a fashion that is quite similar to our past incarnations, but hopefully with some of the wisdom we've gained in this one. And, if an asteroid or gamma burst destroys all life on this planet, I, for one, will enjoy an extended vacation from material existence.


    : angel
     
  22. Charles Stuart

    Charles Stuart Probationary

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    Not to mention the unimaginable possibilities for the continuation of the incarnatory process in the countless other worlds of this almost infinite physical universe. :thumbsup:


    Where we will end up, however, according to what I believe, is entirely dependant upon our conduct in our current existences...
     

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