The Reincarnation Sensation


This discussion originally appeared in the FidoNet RCatholic conference in March and April 1996. It is a good example of the kind of polite and quality discussion in the echo that I was pleased to be a part of for a couple of years. A Catholic dabbler in Wicca (Penny Cousins is quoted in red) has some questions about Catholic doctrine, and she is answered on the question of karma, reincarnation and Christian belief.

For more on heaven, hell and the afterlife, see my Examination of Conditional Immortality

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Date: 03-22-96 / From: PENNY COUSINS / To: ALL / Conf: FidoNet R_CATHOLIC

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Hi, I've just discovered this echo and I'm very happy I did. Let me introduce myself: My name is Penny, living in Alabama, originally from Michigan. Been in the Columbus/Fort Benning, Georgia area for 5 years this May. 27 years old and separated. 2 children, 6 and 8 years old. I was raised Catholic and had alot of questions about the faith when I was older (16-20), because I had so much trouble finding answers, I finally began practicing another faith, I'm Pagan. However, in many ways, it's not always been a decision I was happy with. I still go to Mass on occasion and still consider myself a cultural Catholic and have NEVER denied the Church. Although, in many ways I now follow practices that I don't think too many priests would condone (they threw a friend of mine out of a church for his veiws). I have asked these questions on other Christian echoes but have been badly flamed and have yet to find intelligent conversation on these issues. (my first Christian echo experience was HolyBible [the FidoNet echo of the notorious anti-Trinity Modalist Steve Winter]) I have lurked here for a few days, and lo and behold, I find intelligence! So I decided maybe I could come out of what is affectionately termed the 'broom closet' (I'm a witch) and seek some information. Thanks for listening and I look forward to some interesting discussions. Penny

... If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

Origin: PC MUNCHLAND | 706-561-8043 | Columbus GA | 14.4Kbps (1:3613/4)

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Date: 03-27-96 / From: PENNY COUSINS / To: PHIL P. / Subj: Questions

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PP> Hello, Penny! Glad to meet you.

Glad to meet you, too:) Could you tell me a little about yourself?

PP> Okay, we shall have an interesting conversation.

I hope so!

PP> To what particular brand of Wicca or witchcraft do you subscribe?

I'm eclectic, what that means is that I don't belong to a particular tradition, although I have some Gardnerian training.

PP> Also, ask any questions you like. Be sure to bring up

Question 1: How do you know the Bible is the word of God? Almost any conversation you and I have about God and theology is going to involve scripture so I think we should discuss the scripture itself first:)

PP> And which particular questions were not answered that made you decide to follow the Wiccan Rede

Why Hell? It seems to me that if God is just, then sentencing someone to Hell for all eternity seemed to be a little strong. To me, the ideas of karma and reincarnation seemed more just. If God is just, then the punishment should fit the crime.

PP> "An' it harm none, do what thou wilt." See? I know a little Wicca. Of course this is in direct contrast to what Jesus prayed to his Father just before his crucifixion -- "Not my will, but thine be done."

I've actually managed to reconcile that one but when I tell you how it's going to seem a bit egotistical:)

PP> Ask your toughest questions. Lay it on me, gal.

Thank you!!!!!

Penny

... Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film.

* Origin: PC MUNCHLAND | 706-561-8043 | Columbus GA | 14.4Kbps (1:3613/4)

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Date: 03-26-96 / From: TERRYE NEWKIRK / To: PENNY COUSINS

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The recording angel heard Penny Cousins say to All:

PC> My name is Penny, living in Alabama, originally from Michigan. Been in the Columbus/Fort Benning, Georgia area for 5 years this May. 27 years old and separated. 2 children, 6 and 8 years old.

Welcome, Penny. I can relate: I was a single mom for years. (Still am, but the kid is grown!) :)

<snip>

PC> Christian echo experience was HolyBible) I have lurked here for a few days, and lo and behold, I find intelligence! So I decided maybe I could come out of what is affectionately termed the 'broom closet' (I'm a witch) and seek some information.

Yes, there is intelligence here: the flames are usually spelled correctly! ;)

I look forward to talking with you. I came out of a New Age/occult background before I entered the Church. Not a witch, but practiced astrology, read Tarot, etc.

I have to warn you: I am starting tonight, with this message, praying that you will let go of all that stuff (it's spiritually dangerous) and come back to your faith in Christ and his Church. That's really the only thing that can satisfy the soul permanently, anyway.

I understand that it's hard to buy books on a budget. If you have internet access, or can receive files on a BBS, people (I) can send you things in file form, or tell you where to find them online-- including the Catechism, I believe.

Deja Roux: The feeling that we have cooked this gumbo before.

* Origin: Little Flower Retreat @ 11pm-7am (99:1/0)

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Date: 03-28-96 / From: PHIL P. / To: PENNY COUSINS / Subj: Reincarnation Sensation

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PP> And which particular questions were not answered that made you decide to follow the Wiccan Rede

PC> Why Hell? It seems to me that if God is just, then sentencing someone to Hell for all eternity seemed to be a little strong. To me, the ideas of karma and reincarnation seemed more just. If God is just, then the punishment should fit the crime.

Before dealing with the concept of "hell" and its eternity, let's discuss karma and reincarnation and why I don't believe they are true and why the Church has condemned such teachings. First off, some obvious reasons why reincarnation is not true.

(1) Reincarnation can't be true because it is numerically impossible.

If there is one soul per person, and if the population of the world is increasing (which it is), where are all these new souls coming from? In other words, the population has more than doubled from around two billion at the turn of the century to over 5 billion today. If each of these 5 billion souls have lived at least ONE past life, where did the over 3 billion souls come from which did not exist before 1900 AD ? It seems there are several possible solutions to this problem:

(A) These new souls are coming from animals or inanimate matter.

(B) These new souls are coming from other planets (Shirley Maclaine has offered this as a solution I have heard), ETs and stuff.

(C) New souls come out of "thin air" or are somehow created by God or perhaps have always existed so they are actually "old" souls.

(D) or there are people with several souls -- perhaps 3 or more.

Since the standard definition of reincarnation involves one soul per person, that rules out option (D). Now if you accept the classic Hindu concept of reincarnation -- the idea that you could come back as a cockroach if you lived a really bad life -- then option (A) is a possible solution. If you are nuts, then option (B) is possible.

Again, if the standard definition of reincarnation holds true, new souls are not created out of thin air, but already exist and are just taking on new lives and new bodies. So option (C) is out.

The Catholic concept is that souls are indeed created immediately by God (see the Catechism paragraph 366). One soul and one body (Mt 10:28).

(2) Reincarnation is not true because it contradicts the Resurrection.

To quote some Bible, "it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgement" (Heb 9:27) is probably a text you've heard. BTW, there are alleged supports for reincarnation in the Bible and I am familiar with them (none of them actually supports reincarnation).

The teaching of the resurrection of the dead is one life, one soul, one body. There will not be multiple bodies for one soul which is what reincarnation requires. The body is not something to be discarded and forgotten but will be reunited with the soul at the final judgment.

Thus, reincarnation contradicts the historical Christian teaching and Bible concept of the resurrection of the dead.

Now I realize there have been some who have tried to show they are compatible, such as Anglican priest Geddes MacGregor who has a couple of books on the subject of Christianity and reincarnation. A good book that answers his arguments is The Reincarnation Sensation by Norm Geisler and J. Yutaka Amano (Tyndale House, 1986).

(3) Reincarnation is not true because it simply makes no sense.

It makes no sense because the reason we live further lives is to supposedly improve upon and do restitution for what wrong we did in our prior lives. But who remembers their prior lives? I have no conscious memory of any prior lives. So how in the world am I supposed to improve upon what I did if I can't remember what I did?

Now I realize some people claim to remember their prior lives through various techniques, particularly hypnosis. But it has been documented that hypnosis is notoriously unreliable. We have people claiming everything under hypnosis -- from UFO abductions, to Satanic ritual abuse, to prior lives. Is all of this stuff true?

A good recent book on hypnotherapy written from a skeptical psychologist point of view is Robert Baker, They Call It Hypnosis (Prometheus Books, 1990). I believe that is the correct title.

(4) Reincarnation is not true because it perpetuates the problem of evil.

Contrary to what you said about karma and reincarnation being just, the concepts are unjust because evil is perpetuated and there is no forgiveness. To quote what you wrote --

PC> To me, the ideas of karma and reincarnation seemed more just. If God is just, then the punishment should fit the crime.

Therefore, if I am a murderer in this life, does not the law of karma require that I must come back as the victim of a murder?

If I am a wife beater in this life, don't I have to come back as a woman who is beaten by her husband (or something equivalent to have "justice" done to me) ? Each crime committed in this life requires the perpetrator to return in a future life to have the same thing done to him or her!

Do you see how evil is perpetuated? There is no forgiveness here. That's why the Hindus refer to this as "the wheel of reincarnation" since there is no getting off. It is a hopeless cycle. And where is God in all of this?

A question that must be asked -- where did evil originate according to the laws of karma and reincarnation?

I think you will discover that "evil" originated with God according to this view which is generally pantheistic. God is good, God is All, therefore All is good. Evil is just an "illusion". Now we're getting really heavy. I'll stop here and you can tell me if I am giving you too much. Everything you ever wanted to know about hell but were afraid to ask is next. See the Catechism paragraphs 1033 - 1037. Please tell me if you got these posts.

OLX 2.1 TD et eorum coronando merita tua dona coronas--St Augustine

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Date: 03-31-96 / From: SEAN M. BROOKS / To: PENNY COUSINS / Subj: Witchcraft

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Hi, Penny Cousins. Hope you're well. And your children as well.

I read with interest your first posts on R CATHOLIC. But, I felt so busy trying to keep up with my e-mail I felt unable to immediately write to you.

Naturally, as a Catholic, I'm glad you're willing to take another look at the Faith. I won't dump whole lists of books on you just now. It's better to learn about the Faith over a fairly long period of time. Simply ask questions or offer comments on any topics of interest to you for the time being.

I may have old files I wrote on topics which may be of interest to you. Such as purgatory, the Mass, St. Mary, Papal history, "sola scriptura," etc. Let me know if you're interested in a particular topic. I may have a file for it.

I noticed where you said you were involved in "Wicca" for a while. You mentioned being involved in Gardnerian witchcraft. Could you explain what that is and why you may have become dissatisfied? There was a time about 20 years ago when I was interested in the history of witchcraft. Have you read any of the following books?

Chadwick Hansen, WITCHCRAFT AT SALEM

Heinrich Kramer & James Sprenger (translated by Montague Summers), THE MALLEUS MALEFICARUM

Montague Summers, THE HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT

Charles Williams, WITCHCRAFT

I would especially recommend the Williams book as a good one book intro to this difficult and tortured subject.

Pax tecum. Sean M. Brooks

... Clarity of thought does not exclude charity.

* Origin: Merr.ValleyUsersGroupBBS No.Andover,Ma.(508)682-6263 (1:324/117)

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Date: 04-03-96 / From: GREGORY GARLAND / To: PENNY COUSINS

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=> Quoting Penny Cousins to Phil P. <=-

PC> Next question, why do sinners go to hell?

PC> Penny

Hey Penny!

I'm new here, so please excuse me for jamming in here.

A relative of mine who was a very mean person died this morning. I have been praying for her that she may go to heaven. I don't know alot about much of theology, nor am I very erudite in my wording, but I think hell is a choice.

Maybe it was the C.S. Lewis "Great Divorce" book or something, but I think choosing "life" over "death" is something that each of us does, both in this world, and as we pass over to the next one.

For some, whenever something goes wrong, a tragedy, or a simple hurt occurs, there must be another at fault. The world is replete with examples of this too numerous to mention. If a living person is close at hand, they become the scapegoat. If nobody is nearby to take the "blame" then these people feel a need to blame God.

Assuming we are on the same page so far, next comes the cycle of forgiveness for the hurt, disaster, whatever. Many people have great difficulties in forgiving others, human, or Divine. They instead carry great anger with them all the days of their lives. They choose to be distanced from the "culprit" until the end of time.

I think as these people die, the resentment is so great, that they would choose to go to hell rather than forgive God for whatever pain they ascribe to him, and let their anger towards him go. God respects our choices, even if it is rejection of him in toto. I guess these people get what they want.

I have prayed that my now departed relative had sufficient time to accept forgiveness, grace, and peace. I hope she was able to forgive God for the pains of her life, and from there to forgive the others she hated for so long and so hard. She took several hours to die from massive brain hemmorages, and the pain was very great, I am led to believe. However, as she died, I understand that she went peacefully.

Maybe my prayers were answered?

Regards, Gregory in Arvada

* Origin: The Grotto - Arvada, CO - (303) 421-7186 - V.34 (1:104/251)

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Date: 04-01-96 / From: BRETT JOHNSON / To: P / Subj: Reincarnation Sensation

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PC> To me, the ideas of karma and reincarnation seemed more just. If God is just, then the punishment should fit the crime.

PP> Therefore, if I am a murderer in this life, does not the law of karma require that I must come back as the victim of a murder? If I am a wife beater in this life, don't I have to come back as a woman who is beaten by her husband (or something equivalent to have "justice" done to me) ? Each crime committed in this life requires the perpetrator to return in a future life to have the same thing done to him or her! Do you see how evil is perpetuated? There is no forgiveness here. That's why the Hindus refer to this as "the wheel of reincarnation" since there is no getting off. It is a hopeless cycle.

Though I agree with all of your other points and thought they were really good, this one stands out; it has to be the best one out of them all to convince someone that reincarnation doesn't make sense.

It supposedly punishes one for their past crimes by commiting some sort of harm against them in the next (but are we not all born ignorant of past life offenses, thus "innocent"?!), thus indicting some other person's soul to punishment! And the soul victimized is ignorant of their crimes, thus they are not "learning a lesson."

Brilliant! I'm glad you brought it up!

God Bless...

* Origin: The Desert Sands BBS Cambridge ON Canada (1:221/203)


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