Sunday, 5 September 2010

Reincarnation = Bad Math

A story on the religion page of yeaterday's Edmonton Journal (to which I can't find a link) says that interest in reincarnation is growing. It seems many believers in such things remember being a peasant in 18th century France, or a Roman soldier, or some other such character. It's odd that no one remembers being a pig, or a caterpillar or some other ignominious being.

But I got to wondering this: according to Wikipedia, the population of the world in 1800 was around 1 billion people. Now it is approaching 7 billion. Well, if everybody alive now was someone else in the past, where did all the extra people come from? There just don't seem to be enough former slaves, or peasants, or countesses or Roman centurions to go around for everyone today.

Or am I missing something? Perhaps, even though no one seems to remember, we all weren't people in our former lives, but bugs or animals. Perhaps extinct animals! That might explain the present absence of mastadons, dodo birds and sabre-toothed tigers. They have all become people. So mourn not species today that seem to be endangered. Perhaps they will all return as people in some future, even more gullible, generation.

Take Care


Tregonsee said...

You are assuming that every soul is incarnate all the time. Suppose that normally there are more souls than bodies. Then there is a "waiting room" of souls waiting to be (re)born. As the population grows the waiting line gets shorter. Problem solved.

Or is it? Suppose there is a large but finite number of souls. What happens when there are bodies for all of them?

One tongue in cheek story considered this. Suddenly, elderly people, and then less elderly people, started dropping dead. Eventually is was discovered that the total number of people in the world was constant, with the number of normal and abnormal deaths exactly balancing births. Since most national leaders are older, they got together and nuked China, which seems to solve the problem. However, people celebrate in the normal way, and 9 months later......... Or maybe God just makes more souls, but that would spoil the story.

If you are wondering, I mostly take the normal Christian view on the matter, though I am open to the remote possibility that a very few times, under very exceptional circumstances, it could happen.

John K said...

Then there is a "waiting room" of souls waiting to be (re)born.
Ya, like clothes hanging in a closet. Then God could rummage through every time there was a new conception and say something like, "Hmmm... this one would go good with that one..." But then some souls would always feel left out, like being the last one chosen for the team in school.

But what is it that ostensibly remembers a former life? Is it the soul, or the brain? Does the soul have memory? What if a soul hates the body it is now connected with, like we might look back and remember a car or a house or a job or a relationship we wish we had kept. Would the feelings of the current body be hurt?

Seriously, I don't think reincarnation is at all compatible with a christian belief. We are destined to die only once, and then judgment. If we die in Christ, we (which I take to be our souls) will be with him forever. We do not return to earth to inhabit another body, and come to think of it, who would want to.

Robert said...

Well, if there is intelligent life on other planets, maybe we could be reincarnated onto any number of Earth-like planets around the universe. Under such a scenario, the total number of souls (in the trillions) could be balanced out on countless inhabitable planets.