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On Reincarnation – SN Today #29


Episode 29: Many naturalists are attracted to ideas and concepts in Eastern philosophy as a part of their practice. The concept of reincarnation, however, seems to be a stumbling block. In this episode host Daniel Strain and co-host Thomas Schenk discuss some naturalistic approaches to this concept. We would love to hear your thoughts as well!


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  1. Why is there no discussion of the strong evidence (cases such as James Huston) from researchers such as Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker? Reincarnation should be accepted as fact if you really look at the solid evidence, not just empty concepts. Get some real experts next time!

    • Hello Chuck, thank you for listening and your comment. We certainly cannot claim to know that reincarnation of the type you describe couldn’t possibly exist. We also mean no disrespect to your beliefs in this. But for us, the Spiritual Naturalist principle of “humility in claims to knowledge” prevents us from asserting or affirming those things that cannot be verified by evidence.

      While you describe the work of Stevenson and Tucker as solid evidence, there may be a difference of definition for evidence within the Spiritual Naturalist approach. For us, the more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the evidence must be to support it. In the case of their research, there are many elements that cast enough doubt on it that more mundane explanations seem to be too strong a competition for us.

      For example, Stevenson’s own former assistant, Champe Ransom described several procedural problems with his methodology. These included:
      – Leading questions,
      – Investigations too short to be thorough,
      – Too much time between the recalls and their investigation,
      – Imaginative capacity of the children not well explored,
      – Stevenson had a tendency to “fill in” stories to make them more complete,
      – Too much reliance on witnesses that were potentially biased,
      – 90 percent of the cases were those where the recalling child’s family had met with the families of the deceased prior to the research.

      There also seem to be issues with cultural influence and confirmation bias, and these similar approaches seem to be shared by his successor, Tucker.

      Again, this does not mean Reincarnation is proved false, but the burden of proof for that which requires more assumptions about the way the universe works, is far greater than the burden for the other natural phenomena which may be studied through witness accounts.

      This is why we have chosen to focus our discussions on other aspects of naturalistic concepts of rebirth. Thank you for the opportunity to explain our approach to these issues and best wishes to you 🙂

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