Reincarnation through karma

Many Hindus and Buddhists believe that when a person dies, his spirit or soul comes back to life in another form, perhaps as another person, animal or some other living being. The Tibetan Book of the Dead is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, during the interval between death and the next rebirth.The Tibetan Buddhists believe that it’s rare for a person to be re-born as a human, which makes it more likely that humans would be animals in their next life. It is believed that when such a person is re-born, then they won’t have any memory of their previous lives. In fact it is believed by Buddhists that birth and death are mind-states, while re-birth is the persistence of this process. As such, people do not exactly die or are born, but rather they are shifting from one mind-state to the other. 

 In Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu holy text of a conversation between Lord Krishna, who is renowned as a god by Hindus, and the Pandava prince Arjuna says: “Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be. As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from childhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” (Chapter 2:12-13). This process of re-birth is said to be based on karma, a concept that means “Every action has a reaction and the force determines one’s next incarnation.” It is believed by Hindus that once a person is fulfilled with the worldly desires then the process of re-birth will cease and a person will find liberation from birth and death, with the goal of spending eternity in the spiritual world or in the company of a Supreme Being.

 Greek philosophers also believed in the reincarnation. For instance, Socrates is credited with saying “I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living spring from the dead.”  Plato said “The soul, once separated from the body, spends an indeterminate amount of time in “formland” and then assumes another body.” He also believed that “the number of souls must be finite because souls are indestructible”. Amazingly, more than half of the world’s population believe in reincarnation, or rather they hope that reincarnation is true so they can have an opportunity to re-live their lives in a different way and escape the justice of God. But is reincarnation sensible, does it have logical evidence?

 Dr Wilder Penfield, former director of the Montreal Neurological Institute said “Your brain contains a permanent record of your past that is like a single, continuous strip of movie film, complete with sound track. This film library records your whole waking life from childhood on.”(69). In his address delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons of England on 27th April 1961, Dr Penfield said “Electrical stimulation of the human brain, while patients are conscious, has sometimes activated the neuronal record of past experience. While the surgeon’s stimulating electrode is kept in place at some point in the temporal cortex, a secondary stream of consciousness moves through the patient’s mind. It is an awareness of things as they were in some previous strip of time. Action goes forward at the original tempo; he is aware of those things to which he paid attention then, and yet he is also aware of the present.” What Dr Penfield tells us is that a person’s brain records everything that a human does, as such nullifying a contention by those who believe in reincarnation that they would be able to forget  details of their previous lives. The bible reinforces this point. It makes it clear that dead people will be “judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:12). Those hoping that their sins will be forgotten at death and they can start life again without repercussions are fooling themselves, because our brains records everything we have ever done, and God Himself has a record of everything we have ever done.

 God is the embodiment of justice, and He won’t let any criminal get away with sin. Those who believe in reincarnation convince themselves that God will ignore the sins of Hitler, Stalin, or even themselves, but they are wrong. The bible says “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). If reincarnation was true, then it would be worthwhile for people to commit crimes and afterwards commit suicide, after all they would then have a new life that is not connected to the previous life. But we know that reincarnation is not true, hence we take good care to ensure that we don’t ruin our lives by doing things that will get us in trouble. The very fear of death is also proof that reincarnation can’t be true. Why would we be scared to die if we know that we will live again? Reincarnation should make us look forward to our death, but instead the snare of death doesn’t diminish.

 “The idea of karma requires an impersonal “force” that is able to see all people everywhere, keep track of all their deeds, determine whether each is good or bad, tally the results to see if each individual should be rewarded or punished, and assign their identity in the next life. That would require an entity that is eternal, intelligent, omniscient, omnipotent, moral, fair, and just. This describes our holy, righteous Judge rather than some unknowable, impersonal, universal force.” The idea of karma requires the existence of God, to reward and punish people based on their works. As we have seen, God requires moral perfection as such a single immoral deed is enough to condemn us in the eyes of God. This is the point that those who believe in reincarnation through karma fail to understand. They think their good deeds can outweigh their bad deeds; hence some of them become monks and take a vow of personal ethical discipline. But we know from civil law that it only takes one crime to become a criminal, regardless of good deeds one has done in his life. So we are faced with a situation where believers in reincarnation tells us that good deeds can offset bad deeds, but we know that is impossible. We know that there is no civil court in the world that can offset Hitler’s cruelty with his goodness towards to his wife, otherwise that would be injustice. For karma to exist it would have to be an unjust system which allows criminals to get away with their crimes. That is why we know that karma doesn’t exist, but rather people will get justice for their actions.  

 And of course we have practical reasons why reincarnation is impossible. For instance, there are more people living today than ever lived previously, so where did the extra people come from if everybody living today used to exist previously? Buddhists claim that the extra people come from the animal family, but if that is the case then we should still have the same total number of people and animals combined, and not more. Remember that Buddhists believe that the process of re-birth occurs until a person reaches a point of ‘moral perfection’, which means that the population numbers should be getting less and not more, but we know for a fact that the world population has been growing at a rate of more 1% for decades.

 Another practical reason why reincarnation is a fallacy is the fact that karma is supposed to lead to inevitable moral and spiritual progress for all humanity. But we know for a fact that humans have not improved morally or even spiritually. For instance, in 70AD one million Jews were killed by Roman soldiers when they revolted against the Roman rule. 1900 years later, six million Jews were killed by Hitler, for fun. In fact there are more people who have been killed in wars during the 20th century than during any other period in history. Historians usually go as far as saying the 20th century has seen more people killed than in the history of humankind combined. So we can see that it is a fallacy to claim the existence of reincarnation through karma when the evidence is just not there.

 If reincarnation through karma was happening, then an argument could have been made that it is the cause of evil and hardship in this world. For instance, why would karma allow a re-birth of a person who would go on to kill millions of people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tseng, and others have done? Isn’t karma supposed to be intelligent and morally perfect enough to resist a re-birth of a person who would go on to kill others? You could also ask if karma was intelligent enough to finally get rid of these men after their (recent) death. What are the chances that Hitler is reincarnated as someone else, and he would go on to do the same things that he did?

 Reality is that reincarnation through karma is just a hope that guilty people hold on to, nothing more nothing less. It’s like criminals who think they can escape jail through a legal technicality, even though their guilt is not in question. At the end of the day (death), God’s justice will be done and none will escape it.


  2. The Mystery of the Mind : A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain. Penfield, Wilder. Princeton University Press, 1975
  3. Ray Comfort, Evidence Bible, Karma, Bridge Logos


  1. TheTruth said

    Here’s the funny thing – there’s just as much evidence for reincarnation as for judgement leading to either eternal damnation or equally eternal heavenly frolicking.

    Who are you to say their delusions are sillier than yours?

  2. We have the witness of Jesus Christ, remember Him, the one who was resurrected and was seen by more than 500 people in Jerusalem, whom some of them went on to write about Him. It is his testimony that we rely on.

    • TheTruth said

      So your certainty is based on the teachings of a character in an incoherent novel, written by bronze-age goat herders, with not a whit of its veracity to be found outside of itself?

      No less silly than lying awake at night fearing that you’re coming back as a cockroach, I’m afraid.

  3. Nokuthula said

    Well written Sello.

    Your imagery has provided me with much humour. May the scales fall off the eyes that are blinded. God bless you.

    Thank you.
    Ms T

  4. telson7 said

    If we start to examine the basic views of the New Age movement and the Oriental religions, it is good to start with reincarnation. This doctrine is in the background of almost all teachings of the New Age movement and it is also the basic belief of the Oriental religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. It is estimated that approximately 25% of people in the Western countries believe in reincarnation, but in India and other countries of Asia – where the origin of this doctrine are – the percentage is much higher. Mainly in India and other countries of Asia they have taught this doctrine for at least 2000 years; it was generally accepted about 300 years before Christ, not much before that.
    People who believe in reincarnation believe that life is a continuous cycle; each person is born on the Earth again and again and again, and will always get a new incarnation depending on how he has lived in his previous life. All bad things that happen to us today are only the result of earlier events. We must now reap what we sowed during earlier lives. However, if we do not experience enlightenment and at the same time gain freedom from this cycle (achieving moksha), this circular life will continue forever.
    In the Western world, achieving moksha is not very important. Instead, in the Western world reincarnation is seen in a positive light, mainly as a possibility to develop and grow spiritually. It does not have the similar negative nuances.
    But what should we think about reincarnation: Is it really true? Is it worth believing in? We will try to address these questions in this article.

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