Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by PeterG, Oct 19, 2013.
If reincarnation does happen, those would all be new souls.
Found this to be interesting... turns out, there are PLENTY of souls around from before: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx
But as a figure skating fan, you should know that "perfection" is subjective.
I'm assuming to believe in reincarnation, you also have to believe in a supreme figure who does the deciding.
Isn't this the idea of karma though? You are punished BY your reincarnation. You shouldn't be punished as it, because the punishment has already occurred.
I prefer Nietzche's concept of eternal recurrence. You live your life in exactly the same detail, over and over. Eternally.
Groundhog Day writ large. What a terrible idea, worse than No Exit.
I think human beings, the ones who get to live normal lifespans, are gifted with the ability to come to accept death. Whether that is a psychological trick our brains play on us to make it easier to age and die, or a gift from God, or a function of the slowing down of the body, is up to you. Speaking for myself I find death much less threatening than I did in my twenties when I just couldn't imagine ceasing to exist. Now it seems that, when I get tired enough, that will be just fine by me.
Personally I think we get one life, our minds don't exist independent of our brains and when we're dead, we're dead.
But if you feel that way, shouldn't you change how you live your life? What if we all tried to actually live as if we are going to go this way over and over eternally?
Its definitely my perferred option over reincarnation, after life, or nonexistence.
Ick. To me, that sounds almost like hell even if I were perpetually a princess.
I like the concept of reincarnating, not so much for karma, but because of the idea of having a *plethora* of experiences. So if you had 20 lives - being a princess, a housewife, a slave, a pirate, an investment banker….then each of them seems like more of an experience and adventure. And the bad lives seem more like having a different experience rather than experiencing “evil”.
I'm wondering, are "you" the same "you" through all those lives so that its really like just playing a part in a play? So there's still a "you" underneath all the lives so in a way its only one life?
I like my life; its the only one I want. I would love to get to do it again.
I'm only in my 30s, but personally, it is not death I fear- it is painful suffering leading up to death that I worry about. How long will it last? How do I avoid a situation where I have to endure that?
I fear the death of others.
But what if the troubles in life are not ones you have much control over? If you are eternally oppressed, starved, beaten, etc in a war torn country, that seems supremely unfair. Sure, you could make choices to take a stand, try to change it for others: but your personal eternal existence is going to suck.
What if you yourself did not feel it was perfection, meaning that you were at odds with the supreme figure?
Is that worse than if its the only life you live?
I think this is the reason many people believe in Heaven. Something better is coming.
I think eternity would be worse than once though. Especially if there was some idea that it had all been done before- are you aware you are repeating the life?
Apparently most people are not aware.
But you don't make the decision: when you die, I don't think you get to evaluate yourself. Assuming I do believe in reincarnation (I don't think I do)- you don't get to decide what to be reincarnated as, your karma determines it. You don't get to decide when the cycle stops. When the cycle stops, you have reached perfection. My understanding of various world religions, I think almost all of them have a point where the cycle stops, and I've never heard of a belief system that allows you to be at odds with the supreme figure (who I think in some cases may just be the karmatic universe)
I don't. And not only I don't believe, i get very sad and frustrated when in a circle of well educated, well travelled, international worldly group of people such question is even raised or when people ask about mythological creature called "god". (the fact that it upsets me does not mean one should not ask them; just sharing the extend of my emotions on the subject).
I will how ever entertain a SCIENTIFIC-BASED discussion on what may happen to the movement of any creature's "energy" after death.
Ah. I would like to state for the record that, although I'm a little more hesitant to publicly criticize magical thinking, at bottom I agree with everything Tinami wrote.
It's worth remembering, though, that through the centuries many well-educated, well-traveled people have believed in the existence of God. Michelangelo, Dante, Bach, Newton, Shakespeare, Kant, Pascal . . . The list is a very long one. And today there are Francis Collins (head of the NIH) and Marilynne Robinson (winner of the Pulitzer for fiction) and Stephen Colbert and quite a few more. There are people at every level of intelligence, from the geniuses to the mentally challenged, who believe.
Pretty much what Tinami said. I'm pretty much sure there's no such thing as reincarnation, but if someone provided compelling evidence besides anecdotal stories or had a reliable method of transferring thoughts from a dying person to a newborn, I'd be more inclined to believe in reincarnation.
The finality and inevitability of death is pretty scary if we only look at our lives, but I think it's pretty cool that after I die, my atoms will return to Earth and eventually find their way into a diverse array of other living different creatures. I wouldn't bet that my atoms would retain any knowledge of what goes on inside my brain, but with how quirky quantum mechanics is, I wouldn't completely rule it out.
However, the list of scientists today who publicly affiliate with atheism and secular humanism is a great deal longer. Collins is pretty much the poster boy for religious scientists, but if you read Dawkins or Hitchens it's pretty obvious he's in a tiny minority. As for all those great minds of the past, we materialists understand that even the best and worst ideas can't be completely extricated from culture. I'd sure like to see what Leonardo or Pascal would say nowadays.
Should they be reincarnated, that is.
Not every faith tradition believes that people only get reincarnated as other people. There could be reincarnation as a bug, a flower, an animal....any "thing" that has a life.
They might be atheists . . . or they might not. To assume that people's beliefs arose solely because of the time they lived in comes perilously close to the chronological snobbery fallacy.
Anyway, Tinami's point, as I understood it, was that it's absurd for intelligent people to believe in or even discuss God. But some intelligent people do, all the same.
(I have read Dawkins and Hitchens. They're overrated. )
Yes I know that, hence the basis for the second part of my post.
I was just giving an example of tests/methods that could provide some evidence of past lives/reincarnation. After all, it's a lot easier to get information from another human than it is to ask an amoeba, slime mold, corpse flower, coelacanth, or dung beetle what they remember about any past lives
Okay so I thought about this. My first thought was to ask how much could I have screwed up last time, if I am doing better this time. Cause I screw up a lot this time.
But then I went further and considered that if EVERYONE gets do better on the second to twenty-second go around - and we all intersect - then all the people who have sucky lives would no longer have sucky lives. The scientist would have cured Alzheimer's, the slave trader would have never bought his first human, and the murderer would have never shot his gun.
So holy smoke. We'd end up with nirvana.
It's a cool thought when it's pushed out a little.
I voted undecided because I don't know for sure and I don't care. I tend to agree with Tinami because fundanmentally I am an atheist, and I equate god stories with mythology. But it doesn't bother me if other people do - they can go right ahead and worry about that as long as they don't need to tell me all about it. I can't be bothered with it. I don't feel the need to delve into it to explain anything about my life, and I don't need the threat of future lives or whatever to make me "do the right thing" in this life. I don't think I am going to be judged by god or a supreme creature. If it happens, I will be surprised, but I am not worried about it. Scientific discussion of movement of energy -- that is more interesting than a god-based discussion to me, but whatever, dead is dead to me. I'd just prefer not to be buried alive or burned at the stake, that is all. You can dump me in the garbage after death for all I care.
It seems to me from just the point of view of science that suspension of judgement makes the most sense, given how much humans' scientific knowledge and theory has changed over time. Science itself seems to predict that we cannot know at any given time what we may know at another point in time.
I'll have to go hunt up my copy of Pascal, but it seems to me that I recall his view being that regardless of arguments we might label scientific he would still choose to believe because he would gain by doing so and would not lose anything if when he died it turned out he was wrong. I don't see why he should approach that any differently today (other than cultural pressures on someone who pursues science to follow the dominant view).
I think, four hundred years later, the preponderance of evidence against a personal god who is keeping track of his deeds for eventual consignment to heaven or hell would have led that fine thinker to take a firmer stance. (And I think someone who says his belief is conditioned on self-interest isn't much of a believer!)
The many thinkers who came after him who argued that belief in god is not harmless but actually affects (and deforms) life decisions, not to mention the larger impact on society, might have impacted Monsieur as well. But he's not around to ask so it's only a fun counterfactual.
Also, I'm not sure we can or should 'suspend' judgment. We have to make decisions on the facts available. The current scientific body of knowledge not only indicates no proof of a god's existence but removes any logic or supporting reason for such belief. Then, from the standpoint of a humanist or social scientist, you are left asking if widespread belief in something that is non-existent, especially when it has such enormous impact on human decision-making and society's choices, is a good thing or something that should (without coercion) be eradicated over time, as belief in burning witches at the stake has been in most societies.
Therefore, I'm not in favor of suspending judgment.