What do you want to ask an Atheist? Fill out the form below or submit your question online.
By Jim Downard
Can an atheist believe in reincarnation?
Theoretically, yes, though it does require quite a hopscotch on the conceptual landscape. It would involve positing some manner of spirit or soul that can survive independently from our physical brains and bodies, and that’s a stretch. The physicist Roger Penrose (who apparently falls in the atheist camp) holds to something like that, with a “quantum consciousness” flipping off into the whatever, so that sort of thing could theoretically fit into a reincarnation concept.
I don’t suspect that is a viable possibility, but if I come back as a gnat, I won’t be in a position to report on it.
The snag is memory. If we’re all reincarnated, why do about the only people who express memories of past lives come from cultures that believe in reincarnation? And why not more examples of people recalling their tough time as a gnat. Just as very few non-Christians perceive the Virgin Mary’s image in toast, this looks more like a cultural wish-fulfillment phenomenon.
- Ask An Atheist: Did Jesus Christ Exist? - June 13, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: What Are The Concrete Beliefs of Atheists? - May 5, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: Reincarnation - March 31, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: Is homosexuality logical? - March 17, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: Defining Life - March 9, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: Don’t you have to acknowledge God to deny God? - March 2, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: Explaining without offending - February 22, 2019
- Interfaith For All—When you like it … and even more when you don’t - February 10, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: How did everything come from nothing? - January 28, 2019
- Ask An Atheist: What Does Civility Look Like? - December 6, 2018