Does the Bible and Science Support Reincarnation?
My primary impetus in doing this page was from a conversation I had with my Orthodox Jewish supervisor. We have had many discussions about theology and other subjects that are “taboo” in the workplace. In these discussions, I have found that Christianity and Orthodox Judaism teach similar concepts regarding morality and even theology (with obvious differences about who the Messiah is). In one conversation, I was very surprised to learn that reincarnation is a doctrine accepted by Orthodox Jews. In fact, a statement by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the largest ultra-Orthodox Israeli political party, recently caused considerable stir throughout the world. According to the Rabbi, all of the six million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust were sinners who were reincarnated, at least in part, to atone for their sins from a past life.1
In trying to defend the Christian doctrine opposing reincarnation, I found that I was unable to think of even one Old Testament verse that disputed reincarnation. However, I assumed that some verses must exist, since I have found that virtually all Christian doctrines can be found in the Old Testament.
A scientific rebuttal to reincarnation
The concept of reincarnation is widely accepted among non-Christians, probably because it appeals to many who would like to believe that they would be given a second chance in case they failed to make the grade in this life. Christianity disputes reincarnation because it is unnecessary, since anybody can “make the grade” simply through an act of their own will through faith in Jesus Christ. The scientific rebuttal to reincarnation is quite simple. Because of the population explosion, more people are currently living on the earth than have ever lived on the earth for the entire history of humankind. In other words, over half of the people who have ever lived on earth have never died even once! There simply are not enough dead souls to go around for a second time. This does not absolutely eliminate reincarnation, but it does severely restrict its extent, especially for those who have claimed to have lived several times before. However, some people believe that souls can be reincarnated into or from animals. In that case, it is possible that many people have been frogs before they became princes.
Let’s look at what the New Testament says first. The most quoted verse disputing reincarnation is from the book of Hebrews:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27)
Obviously, if a person dies only once, then he can’t be reincarnated. Other refutations of reincarnation came from Jesus. In His description of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man, Jesus indicated that the rich man was unable to do anything about his fate (eternal torment in Hell).2 Reincarnation is supposed to allow a person a second chance at heaven or nirvana. Jesus, in His teachings, indicated that people would have only one chance to obtain eternal life, otherwise suffer eternal punishment:
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. (Matthew 18:8)
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
“Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:45)
” Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:26)
The New Testament letters also indicate that unrepentant people would suffer a final, unpleasant fate.3 Therefore, it is widely accepted by Christians that the New Testament declares reincarnation to be false.
What the Old Testament says
Is the Old Testament really so unclear about the fate of the dead that reincarnation is a possibility? Contrary to what I had originally thought, the Old Testament is not silent on the issue, but provides a clear stance on the subject. Many Old Testament verses affirm that the dead do not return to the land of the living.4 The Old Testament also affirms that people will enter into an eternal destiny after death.5
The strongest argument against reincarnation comes from the book of Job, which declares several times that the dead do not return to the land of the living:
“When a cloud vanishes, it is gone, So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up. “He will not return again to his house, Nor will his place know him anymore. (Job 7:9-10)
While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. (Job 8:12-13)
Before I go– and I shall not return– To the land of darkness and deep shadow; (Job 10:21)
But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. (Job 14:10-12)
“For when a few years are past, I shall go the way of no return. (Job 16:22)
I have heard that certain rabbis interpret the verses from Job as denying resurrection rather than reincarnation. However, Job could not be referring to resurrection, since he specifically refers to returning to his house or his place. In addition, at one point, Job affirms resurrection, since his skin will be destroyed yet he will see God in his flesh.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; (Job 19:26)
The book of Job also contains the main argument used as evidence supporting reincarnation:
‘He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, And my life shall see the light.’ Behold, God does all these oftentimes with men, To bring back his soul from the pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life. (Job 33:28-30)
This chapter does seem to support reincarnation. However, the opinion is that of Elihu, whose speech is not necessarily accurate. For example, Elihu says in chapter 36 that God is judging Job because of unrighteousness.6 We know this is wrong, because it was Satan who caused all the adversity to happen to Job.7 In chapter 1, God said of Job, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”8 In addition, at the end of Elihu’s speech, in Chapter 38, God says that Job’s friends “counsel by words without knowledge.”9 Given God’s response, I’m not sure we are to accept everything Elihu says as being true.
Reincarnation is a popular belief among many “spiritual” people, and is commonly held in most major religions. It has such popularity because people would like to believe that they will be given a second chance if they “blow it” in their first life. In Judaism, where salvation is based upon “being good,” one could be condemned quite easily by making some major mistakes in his life. The “hope” of reincarnation provides an escape from a God who demands righteousness. However, both the Old and New Testaments do not leave reincarnation as an option that God chose to use. Why would God not allow a second chance for those who made mistakes on their first attempt? The answer is quite simple. Salvation is a free gift for all who want it. It requires only repentance from your former life (admitting you were wrong and wish to change) and belief in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross to atone for your sins. Anyone can be saved through the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. Don’t expect a second chance to go to heaven. Today is the day of salvation!
Entire passage taken from:-
I place this article here in response to a recent discussion I had with someone about re-incarnation. They believe they will return for another session of life perhaps in another guise and believe they may have been here before. My argument was that re-incarnation does not happen and referred to the Bible and what it says about the subject. People who are unbelievers will have difficulty in accepting whatever is said in Scripture so they are free to see things as they wish. In fact we all have that freedom to choose. My freedom is to believe in God and what He says in His word. Something to think about over the weekend maybe?