Do You Believe In Past Lives / Reincarnation?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by PeterG, Oct 19, 2013.

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Do You Believe In Past Lives / Reincarnation?

  1. No...We Get One Life and One Life Only

    45 vote(s)
    58.4%
  2. Yes, For Sure!!

    14 vote(s)
    18.2%
  3. I'm With PeterG (100% Undecided)

    18 vote(s)
    23.4%
  1. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    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.
  2. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    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.
  3. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

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    What if you yourself did not feel it was perfection, meaning that you were at odds with the supreme figure?
  4. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Is that worse than if its the only life you live?
  5. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    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?
  6. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Apparently most people are not aware.
  7. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    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)
  8. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

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    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.
  9. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    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.
  10. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    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.
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  11. CantALoop

    CantALoop Well-Known Member

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    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.
  12. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    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. :p
  13. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    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.
  14. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    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. :) )
  15. CantALoop

    CantALoop Well-Known Member

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    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 :lol:
  16. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    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.
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  17. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

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    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.
  18. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    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.
  19. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    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).
  20. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    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. :)
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2013
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  21. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

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  22. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    It's been quite a while since I read Pascal, but IIRC, he was used to dealing with arguments that opposed his own viewpoint. There were such arguments even back then.
  23. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Yes that's my sense of him as well. I'm not familiar with the "chronological snobbery fallacy," but I don't really like assigning views to historical figures based on one's own views in a different era. I'd rather try to understand them as they expressed themselves.

    I rather like Pascal's wager as a model for entertaining the idea of eternal recurrence. I don't know of any mechanisms for it, but it improves my life to consider it a possibility and I've nothing to lose if its false.
  24. PRlady

    PRlady aspiring tri-national

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    I suppose that's true. My superstitious belief in the skategods is entirely unsupportable but it does remind me not to count a favorite's chickens before they hatch, so it does no harm and might even do some good. :p
  25. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Somehow I think that science should remind you not to count a favorite's chickens before they hatch, no need for superstitions on that one...
  26. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    From a spiritual POV, Pascal's wager makes no sense to me because it is a bet, a wager. That is not a belief. I bet the Red Sox are going to win the Series. I may even believe it. But that is not how I would describe a belief (faith) in God. And I believe in some sort of first cause God.

    Frankly, I think the Pascal argument is silly.
  27. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

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    Pascal's wager has always bugged me for those reasons too snoopy. I don't think it really reflects his faith so much as his feeling that he needed to justify his faith on the ground of logic.
  28. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I want to hear his story in another 10-20 years from the child himself. I highly HIGHLY suspect his parents are con-artists. This is all just so ridiculous and the boy is allowed to say 2-3 words the entire time. I would be very curious to see how much money the parents have tried to make and that is pretty much confirmed with their book.
  29. PeterG

    PeterG Argle-Bargle-ist

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    Maybe there are an infinite number of souls, many having waited a LONG time to get to the front of the line (so to speak).

    Could you expand on this? I'm sure I'm not understanding you. The part I bolded sounds like "we can just sit around, no need to change and get better as Jesus already did the hard work for us"! I don't mean to sound flippant at all, so sorry if what I just wrote reads that way. I'd like to hear more about what you mean because I'm kind of :confused: right now! :lol:

    What, in particular, do you think has brought about this dramatic change?

    :p
  30. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, PeterG, didn't mean to be confusing. :) What I was trying to say is this (and I haven't had my coffee yet, so let's hope I can put it coherently). Christians believe that it's not our hard work that gets us into heaven, because we can't ever be good enough and holy enough to reach God, who is infinitely holy. This is exactly why Christ died on the cross, to take upon Himself the penalty for our sin. As the perfect Son of God, He could do for us what we can't do for ourselves. (Hence His words just before dying: "It is finished." His task of atonement had been completed.) So we're saved by believing in Him, repenting of our sin, and accepting that He did the atoning for us.

    This is not to say that we sit around with no need to change. (This is actually a fairly common misperception. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer popularized the term "cheap grace" to describe the idea that we can get saved and then just go right on doing whatever we were doing.) But we change because He has saved us; we don't change in order for Him to save us.

    (I should note that a lot of Christians live and speak as if we were responsible to get to heaven by ourselves. But this is what's known as legalism, and it's a wrong view of Christianity. And I think it does a lot of damage by pushing that exact same view -- you have to be good enough on your own merit to get to God -- that Christianity is really against! It's an error rooted in pride -- thinking we're capable of doing it all ourselves, when we're not. Also, it can lead people to try to impose arbitrary rules in order to control others. Ask me about my Independent Fundamental Baptist high school experience sometime. :p )

    So . . . back to "not that we have to improve." What I meant is that Christianity doesn't call on us to keep getting better all on our own. It calls on us to let God save and change us.

    Clear as mud? :)
  31. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    There are multiple Christian denominators. Some teach that grace can be lost. Whether it is 'wrong' or not is your own belief.
  32. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't referring to whether salvation can be lost (I realize that different denominations have different views on this, though I believe the majority of Protestants teach that it can't be). I was referring to the idea that if you can just do enough good deeds, you can earn your way to heaven.
  33. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    FWIW, some denominations teach that you need *both* grace and good works via Matthew 24 & 25. But no major denominations that I am aware say you can get into heaven with good works and not grace.
  34. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    But there are some denominations that Jesus granted us all grace by his death. To some, grace is not something you have to do something to receive.


    I think there is some evidence of this in the Mormon's belief of baptism after-death (you don't have to have believed in Christ on Earth), and the Pope recently said even atheists who have lead good lives are redeemed (though that does appear to be a departure from past beliefs). And almost all denominations that baptise as adults seem to say there is some redemption for kids who haven't accepted Jesus yet because they have not reached age of reasoning- but if acceptance of Christ is needed to erase original sin, this exception doesn't seem to make sense.
  35. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    I've been told that Mormons have a different understanding of who Christ is and what salvation means. I'm not any kind of expert on the LDS church, though.
  36. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they do. Many Christians do not consider themselves Christian, but they do consider themselves Christian.

    I was only replying to "it's a wrong view of Christianity".
    It may be wrong to YOU, but to others, it is a -different- view, and if they believe it, the right one.
  37. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    I understand what you're saying, but there's such a thing as a genuinely wrong view, don't you think? I mean, suppose I were to characterize President Obama as anti-choice. (It's not a word I like or regularly use, but just for the sake of argument.) That would be a wrong view of the President, because it goes against everything he says about himself. He specifically calls himself pro-choice. So if you attribute to someone or something views that expressly go against what they stand for, that's an objectively wrong view.
  38. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    To say Christians believe Brian is the Son of God and not Jesus would be a wrong view, because that is factually inaccurate. I don't think what you said is a factual statement, it depends entirely on the denomination. Legalism is a wrong view of Christianity to X denomination. Other denominations do think that salvation requires you to "be good" and many denominations are very legalistic.
  39. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Well, I would humbly submit that that is not Christianity as defined and taught by the Bible. From 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." According to this and other verses, God's grace toward us is truly the heart of Christianity.

    Now, most or all denominations do teach that we are to respond to God's work in our lives and let Him help us to become holy. But this, technically, is not salvation, it's sanctification.

    (Still think this subject is solely for the uneducated, Tinami? ;) Theology actually has a long and distinguished tradition of being discussed and debated among educated people.)
  40. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Well then, you go tell all the legalistic denominations they are doing it wrong.

    It's irrelevant to me. I just think it is very presumptuous on a thread that ISN'T about Christianity to say that something is a wrong view of it, when it is merely different from what I assume is your own view.