Monday, December 1, 2014

What about reincarnation?

A single never-ending afterlife or reincarnation... Which would be better, and is one any more likely than the other? I feel that the answers to both are very clear to me.
Q: Personally, I find reincarnation very attractive. The idea of an endless heaven doesn't appeal to me, but once I die I look forward to living again and again -- maybe on this earth, maybe somewhere else. Wouldn't that be exciting? -- S.N.
I stand firmly in the camp that feels that if there was some form of afterlife, reincarnation is by far the most appealing and exciting of the options available.
A: I know you've convinced yourself it would be exciting to live an endless series of lives, but would it really? 
I think so. It would certainly be better than the Christian alternative.
What if you returned to life in some impoverished, war-torn country, or in a place with no freedom, or even as an animal (as some believe happens)?
Why the hate at being reincarnated as an animal?  When I was a child I loved the notion of being reborn to live life as a cat or a squirrel. Running free through the wilderness or as someone's beloved pet. No responsibilities or need to worry about work, politics... A much more free (although shorter) life.

And yes, the down side of reincarnation is that your next life may be a less happy one. But the religions that teach reincarnation do not talk of it being random. Your next life is decided by how you live the previous one. So if you are good in life, your next life will be a reward for that life. But even if it were random, I'd snap your hand off for reincarnation over the Christian afterlife any day.
In reality, however, this will never happen because the Bible makes it clear that we live only once on this earth, and after we die we enter eternity and stand before God. We aren't here by chance; God put us here, and He placed us here for a reason: to live for Him, and to prepare our souls for eternity. The Bible says, "People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
The problem here is that Billy is basing his answer on the Bible. A book that has been shown to be unreliable and just plain wrong time and time again. His answer has nothing to do with reality and is 100% biased. He can't even fathom the idea of considering a hypothetical question it seems. Oddly, this is a trait I've encountered a few times when debating with Christians...
Why is the thought that you might return to life again and again so attractive? One reason may be because you enjoy your life right now and wish it could go on and on.
What does one's current life have to do with it? Reincarnation is not reliving the same life over and over. But it is attractive for many reasons. There is living different lives and experiencing new things. There is the romantic aspect of finding your first love and experiencing your first kiss over and over. All the landmark firsts that bring life such joy can be yours again and again.

And since reincarnation can also include not being aware of you previous lives, that removes Billy's idea that people just want to relive their lives again even further. If simply continuing life as you know it is what you want, reincarnation is not the answer. But considering all the new things reincarnation can offer, and the chance to live those 'firsts' again, how is it so hard to understand what is attractive about reincarnation?
But listen: Our lives in heaven will be far greater and more delightful than anything we can imagine right now. Don't think heaven will be dull or boring -- because it won't!
Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Heaven has many problems... There's the fact that the Bible refers to it as never-ending worship, for starters. There's the fact that I couldn't be happy there knowing that moral monsters like Hitler could be in Heaven, while good people and loved ones are condemned to Hell. Knowing there are people suffering for no good reason would leave me unable to be happy and guilt-free in Heaven.

But even if you ignore all that, Heaven's grandest offering is it's greatest weakness... That it's forever! Imagine your favorite place or thing in the world; you're grandest desire. Now imagine being there or having it every single day. Eventually you will get used to it and become bored. And once that happens you face forever in all encompassing never-ending boredom. Perhaps you will go through a few different dreams. Love them, live them, eventually lose interest in them and move on. Even if you do that, you will still face the same end result of maddening eternal boredom is the inescapable end product of any afterlife that never ends.
I can't help but wonder, however, if your real reason you feel as you do is because you know you've failed to be as good as you might have been, and hope somehow to make up for this in another life.
It's as if Billy doesn't have but only the slightest understanding of what he's talking about... so par for the course then.  Reincarnation doesn't give you a chance to live that life differently. Sure, your actions in this life help decide your next, but that's a reward or punishment, not a do-over.

And has Billy never taken a moment to look at the religions that believe in reincarnation. They aren't perfect by any means, but as far as religions go, they are the most peaceful and nonconfrontational of the religions. Far better than Christianity and Christians in that regard. I don't actually believe in reincarnation, but given my preference I'd be a peaceful Buddhist rather than a proselytizing Christian any day.
But Christ came to cleanse us of all our sins -- and He wants to cleanse yours, as well. Don't be deceived, but put your life into Christ's hands -- now, and forever.
 And still, Billy fails to even consider that he's the one being deceived and the one striving for an afterlife that is far from glamorous, and ultimately rather dire.

-Brain Hulk

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