I was posting over at this great blog about the idea of reincarnation. It occured to me that I have a stronger position than simply not thinking it’s true. I actually think reincarnation is impossible.
Before I explain why, let me spell out the beliefs that appear impossible. I’m mostly thinking about the pop-culture, new age version of reincarnation. There are other formulations of reincarnation that I disagree with, but these are not ones that I think this argument refutes.\
More specifically, I believe the following premises, when taken together, don’t match the facts we see about the world:
1)When humans die, they are reborn eventually as other humans.
2) The whole goal of our mult-life existence is to learn a little more in each life such that we eventually are no longer reborn.
People often point out that people who support reincarnation always seem to have been princes and kings. Very few people say “I was an illiterate farmer in my past life.” Everybody is a king, a soldier, an emporer.
Obviously, for every single famous king there were thousands of far less glamorous people beneath them. This criticism strikes me as valid, as far as it goes. I’m actually focused on a different thing though.
The thing I’m thinking about is this:
The human population is currently the largest it has ever been.
Depending on who you ask, the estimates vary, but the range is somewhere between one-half and one tenth: that is, right now, somewhere between one-tenth and one half of all the people who have ever been are alive.
On the average, we could have only had somewhere between 2 and 9 prior lives. Yes, some people could have had a few more, but this would be at the expense of somebody else having a few less. As the world population continues to grow, this ratio will get closer, on the average, each individual person could have had fewer lives.
People talk about having dozens or hundreds of lives before this one. They talk about old souls. The math just doesn’t work.