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Scientific Proof of Reincarnation:
Dr. Ian Stevenson's Life Work?
By Richard Presser
In the Western world, the mainstream view of reincarnation is that it’s a bunch of nonsense. Yet, on the Indian subcontinent, for example, it is an accepted fact.
I often recount the tale of the English graduate student who told his English colleague that he planned to do his thesis on reincarnation. “Why would you bother?" his friend replied, “Everyone knows it’s nonsense.”
He then mentioned his plans to an Indian friend who replied, “Why would you bother? Everyone knows it’s true.”
I do not know if this story is true or not, but it sweetly illustrates how reincarnation is viewed in the world.
If you trace the origin of the rejection of reincarnation in the West, you come face to face with the teachings of the Catholic church, which has long taught that there is no such thing. Now, you might say that you were not brought up Catholic, but it’s so easy to ignore the fact that the Catholic church dominated Western culture and beyond for the best part of 2,000 years, so much of their dogma is deeply inculcated into our cultural mores – we just don’t even see it.
What is interesting – though refuted, of course – is that the Catholic church taught reincarnation until Second Council of Constantinople (also called the Fifth Ecumenical Council) in 553, when it was removed under the instructions of Emperor Justinian. There are many explanations for this; however it is oft forgotten that Justinian and other Roman Emperors considered themselves to be God, and Justinian adjudged reincarnation of “Joe Average” from a soul created by God as inconsistent with this belief.
Also the following from here:
A prominent theologian named Origen wrote around 250 AD about the pre-existence of the soul. He taught that the soul’s very source was God and that the soul was traveling back to oneness with God via the lessons learned in multiple lives. He taught that Christ came to show us what we can become. For centuries this was the mainstream view of Christianity but 300 years later it became a huge issue and the belief was made illegal because Emperor Constantine believed it was dangerous to the Empire to believe in reincarnation. (I doubt this given what I know of Constantine). In the sixth century A.D., Emperor Justinian and Pope Vigilius disagreed on whether or not the teachings of Origen should be condemned as heresy. The Pope supported the teaching as being consistent with the teachings of Jesus the Messiah. The Emperor was determined to eradicate the belief even though the Pope and the church believed in reincarnation. The fact that the doctrine of reincarnation had been a part of Christian theology for over 500 years did not sway the Emperor.
Additionally, Judaism has acknowledged reincarnation from its foundation, and it is easy for Christians to overlook that Jeshua ben Joseph (Jesus to most) was Jewish. Indeed, he was a rabbi, which Christianity also likes to gloss over, and rabbis are required to be married, as I understand it – but I digress. Moreover, the denial of reincarnation fits well with the model that we came forth by Darwinian evolution from primordial slime, lived in caves 10,000 years ago and there’s nothing left of us when we die.
I share this piece of history by way of context; as is usually the case, all is not what it seems on the surface. Also, it appears that at least 25% - and some estimate as high as 40% - of Americans currently believe in reincarnation. Further, many who follow a spiritual path quite often recall past life experiences, and we have seen many confirmations of this in our own work.
Is there proof of reincarnation?
At first blush, you might consider that this question is simply a matter of conjecture because it cannot be proven. Well, it turns out that is not so. Indeed Dr. Ian Stevenson made the study of the evidence for reincarnation a key focus of his life’s work. Stevenson primarily focussed on the recollections coming forth from children about past lifetimes that they seemingly recalled, and then looking at the evidence that supported their recollections. And his research was highly rigorous.
The results are undeniable. You cannot review the results of Dr. Stevenson and continue to conclude that reincarnation does not exist.