By Engr Carlos Cornejo
Reincarnation, which means literally “to be made flesh again,” is the belief that after death the soul lives on in another body. The soul might inhabit a similar body (e.g., a man’s soul enters another man’s body) or even a radically dissimilar body (e.g., a man’s soul enters a frog’s body).
What does our Catholic belief say about reincarnation? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed, we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once” (Heb. 9:27). There is no “reincarnation” after death. (CCC 1013)
There are quite a number who believe in reincarnation even among Christians these days. I even have a priest friend of mine who is doing missionary work in Africa who has some belief on it. I sort of told him that time, while he was still in the Philippines, that reincarnation is not possible because when the soul is separated from the body through death it cannot remain in this world because the earth is not a place for the spirits. Reincarnation is a belief that does not stand a chance if we just use logical reasoning and common sense. Here are a few reasonings against it:
If we all have been reincarnated, we or each and every one of us should have some recollections of our past life as another person. We know that scientific laws are confirmed as “laws” because they are repeatable and observable anytime and anywhere in the world such as the law of gravity. But if very few people claim they are reincarnated or not all can relate to it or it is not a common phenomenon then that is hardly a truth of nature.
Second, as it is believed that in some reincarnations, humans after death could enter an animal’s body, then we should be talking to some animals right now. We should be able to hold conversations with some dogs, cats, goats or frogs if they have been inhabited by a human soul because a soul does not lose its rationality. Rationality is what makes us different from animals. Animals don’t have intellect and will. When we die, we don’t lose those faculties because they reside in our souls. So, if a human soul enters an animal, it should at least show some semblance of higher intelligence. Besides, it sounds absurd that we having a higher form of being will go into a lower one. Only Christ as God did that. Being God He became man to save us.
Third, proponents of reincarnation believe that souls are not created nor destroyed. Souls are just perpetually reborn to other bodies. If that’s the case, then our population or the number of people living in this world should remain constant. But the population is always growing. Where do the new souls come from? There was one reincarnation believer who tried to defend this by saying, they come from another world. But from which world? Well, that’s what we call muddling the issue. Defending a confusing topic with another confusing one.
God gave us only one life but as the saying goes if we do it right, once is enough. In Tagalog (as I’ve learned in my Pilipino class in college), “Minsan lang tayo mabuhay, pero kapag nabuhay tayo ng matino, ang minsan ay sapat na”. Or as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt would say, “Life is like a parachute jump; you’ve got to get it right the first time.” Even with one shot at life God gives us many chances to get it right such that no one at the end of his or her life would be able to say he or she lived the wrong life but did not have the opportunity to correct it. If there’s life, there’s always hope (to change for the better). And there is no such thing as too late to change. You can change your life right now if you want to. Only dead people cannot change.