Abstract Scientists tend take the view that, since consciousness is dependent on the brain, when the brain dies consciousness ceases. Christians take the view that consciousness survives the death of the brain, but both groups tend to take the view that the origins of consciousness are linear, meaning that consciousness arises with the physical body and the travels on a straight time line for either a finitely or an infinitely long period (scientists say finite, Christians say infinite). With reference to the research coming out of the University of Virginia since 1960, we present reasons to believe that consciousness actually has a non-linear origin. On this view, both science and orthodox Christianity are wrong: consciousness on this view pre-exists the physical body in a realm that is infinite, not in the sense of being interminably long, but in the sense of transcending time (eternal). Judging by the empirical evidence, individual loci of consciousness are able to periodically enter and exit the linear temporal realm of our everyday experience like a person entering and exiting a room.
Evidence for the reality of an afterlife includes privilege information provided by those who seem able to communicate with the dead, and those who seem to be the re-embodiment of the dead.
A possible example of the second form of afterlife can be drawn from a 1988 bestselling book by psychiatrist Dr Brain L Weiss (1).
Here he writes of a patient who while under hypnosis tells Weiss that his father and his son are there to see him, and goes on to provide various intimate details about these people that she seemingly could not have learned from anyone living, details such as the cause of his infant son’s death from a rare congenital heart deformation, and the fact that Weiss’s daughter was named after her late grandfather. What are our possible explanations?
- Error or Fraud by Weiss: things didn’t happen as he described them, either because of a misinterpretation or a deliberate act of deception.
- Error or Fraud by his patient: she unintentionally or intentionally guessed these details, or somehow found out about these details by researching her doctor’s private life.
- Weiss’s patient in her hypnotic state somehow had access to a realm in which this information was available, although it isn’t the case that she communicated with the dead.
- Weiss’s patient really communicated with the dead.
If we assume that Weiss is intelligent and sincere, that it is not possible to simply guess the things that his patient came up, and that -since this information had not been published and was known only by Weiss and his closest family- the patient didn’t learn these things as a private investigator would learn them, this leaves the possibility that the information is somehow out there to be accessed by those in the appropriate mental state, or the possibility that the dead can communicate.
A possible example of re-embodiment of the dead is that of Shanti Devi born in Dehli India in 1926. She never spoke until the age of four years old at which time she told her parents that her real home was in Mathura where her husband lived, 140 km away (2). She said was named “Lugdi” and married to a merchant named “Kedar Nath” and that she died ten days after having given birth to a child, details which checked out. When Mahatma Gandhi heard about the case, he met Shanti Devi and set up a commission to investigate (3). The commission traveled with Shanti Devi to Mathura where she recognized several family members, including the grandfather of Lugdi Devi, and decided that she was indeed the reincarnation of Lugdi. Numerous examples of the same phenomenon come from the research begun in 1960 by the late chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of Virginia Dr Ian Stephenson (4). Stephenson’s overall thesis is that was that children’s possession of certain knowledge together with unusual abilities, philias, phobias, certain physical defects and illnesses, cannot not be fully explained by heredity or the environment, and that reincarnation provides a third and the best type of explanation (5). His research has been continued by Dr Jon Tucker, his replacement at the University of Virginia. After studying over 2500 cases of seeming childhood reincarnation, Tucker reports that more than 70% of these cases involve people who died unnatural often violent deaths (6). He also reports that over 35% of children in the unnatural-death cases will show an intense fear toward the mode of death of the previous person. A related feature of these cases is the presence on the bodies of some of these children of birth marks corresponding to injuries -often fatal injuries- sustained by the deceased.
We can apply the same list of possibilities above to any claimed cases of reincarnation where someone seems to possess knowledge that they would not otherwise possess:
- Error or Fraud by the reporter of the case.
- Error or Fraud by the subject of the case: they unintentionally or intentionally guessed the details or they fabricated them based on knowledge and/or research.
- The subject somehow has access to a realm in which this information is available, although it isn’t the case that they are reincarnated.
- The subject really is reincarnated.
Orthodox Christians often insist that the reincarnation is impossible, and that all apparent cases of reincarnation arise because the person supplying the privileged information that seemingly establishes their claim is possessed by a spirit (which falls under 3). But this theory can’t account for those many cases when -in addition to the possession of privileged information- there are birth marks or deformities on the living person corresponding to the wounds of a dead person or a strong physical resemblance between the living and the dead person.
In 2000, Tucker analyzed 799 cases of children who claim to remember a previous life and found that in the stronger cases there was a greater facial resemblance to the deceased individual that they were said to have been (7). Interestingly, most of these cases involve an average time of sixteen months between the death of the one person and their seeming reincarnation, and they involve memories that mainly concern events towards the end of the life of the deceased (8). This feature of the cases naturally raises the question of the what happens if and when there is a long time -say centuries- between incarnations, and whether there could be any clear memories of the previous incarnation in these circumstances, i.e the question of whether there is an inversely proportional relationship between the time between incarnations and the strength of the memories, the strength of the abilities and phobias etc., the strength of the birth marks, and the strength of facial resemblances… This is a question that could be researched by use of hypnotic regression using a similar approach as that of Stephenson and Tucker, i.e. gathering the details given by the subject of their past life, and then seeking to disestablish any connection between lives that requires reincarnation to explain it.
Stephenson studied a case in which a small child named Suzanne Ghanem believed she was a woman named Hanan Monsour (4). At sixteenth months, Suzanne grasped the phone as if trying to speak into it and said repeatedly, “Hello, Leila?” When she was older, Suzanne explained that Leila was one of her children in her past life and that she was not Suzanne, but Hanan. By the time she was two, Suzanne had correctly identified her (Hanan’s) other children, her husband, Farouk, and her parents and her brothers from the previous lifetime… A photographic comparison of the two women made when Suzanne was an adult, and of a similar age to Hanan, reveals a distinct physical resemblance. An excellent example of the transmission of physical features from one life to another is the facial similarity between Fire Chief Jeffrey Keene and General John B. Gordon. Below we compare Keene with himself and then with Gordon using Microsoft’s facial recognition algorithm (which assigns a number between 0 and 1, where 0 means two faces certainly don’t belong to the same person, and 1 means that they certainly do):
The story of the connection between Keene and Gordon began when Keene walking through a field called “Sunken Road” and was suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by a severe anxiety attack (9):
A wave of grief, sadness and anger washed over me. Without warning, I was suddenly being consumed by sensations. Burning tears ran down my cheeks. It became difficult to breathe. I gasped for air, as I stood transfixed in the old roadbed. To this day I could not tell you how much time transpired, but as these feelings, this emotional overload passed, I found myself exhausted as if I had run a marathon. Crawling up the steep embankment to get out of the road, I turned and looked back. I was a bit shaken to say the least and wondered at what had just taken place. It was difficult getting back to the car because I felt so weak…
A year following this experience, Keene stumbled on a civil war magazine in which there was a picture of Gordon, who was severely wounded in a civil war battle fought on Sunken Road. Thereafter he went on to discover many parallels between himself and Gordon, including a similar physical appearance (looks, height, eye color, birthmarks), personality traits, common lifetime events, writing styles, habits and traits. Keene’s strange experience at Sunken Road by itself is perhaps easily explicable as coincidence, Keene’s close physical resemblance to General Gordon by itself is certainly easily explicable as coincidence, but together they suggest to something other than mere coincidence. Assuming that there is no error or fraud, the possession by people such as Suzanne Ghanem and Jeffrey Keene of privileged information about Hanan Monsour and General Gorden, together with strong physical similarities to these people, imply that reincarnation really has taken place as opposed to an illusion of reincarnation created by a psychic insight into the past.
THE SCIENTIFIC OBJECTION
A compelling case for the reality of reincarnation concerns young boy born in 1998 -James Leininger- who claimed to be the reincarnation of an American navy fighter pilot James Huston shot down and killed by the Japanese in 1945 (10).
As a small child, James Leininger (pictured at an older age on the left side of the picture) correctly identified the aircraft carrier from which he which James Hewston ( right) was flying his missions and its location at the time Hewston was killed, correctly identified one of Hewson’s co-pilots, and correctly identified the manner in which Hewston was shot down .. The skeptical objection is encapsulated by a comment appearing beneath a you-tube video telling this story:
This is ridiculous. I’ll throw out 3 explanations, what is the most logical:
1. His father is making the whole story up to try and become famous and earn a bit of money. Pretty logical. Everyone likes to make a buck. We didn’t even get to see James speak and be asked questions without his mother and father next to him. That would result in him not being able to answer questions except for the ones mentioned by his father there.
2. He somehow heard about this James Huston guy’s story somewhere. Seeing how he absolutely loved planes, it seems quite possible that some relative could have mentioned this story to him. He wouldn’t have to go in depth, he didn’t reveal that much.
3. When you die, your brain, which holds your memories by the way, somehow gets transfered into the child of a random boy born in the USA.
Now which seems more logical…
This critic is grasping at straws (James’ father is a staunch evangelical Christian, unwaveringly upright, and initially very opposed to the idea of reincarnation, and James Huston’s story only became public knowledge after this case), but the response is typical of the skeptic of reincarnation: regardless of the strength of the evidence, there is something objectionable with the very idea of reincarnation that calls upon the “logical” person to look for alternative explanations. Reconsider our list of possibilities:
- Fraud by the reporter of the case.
- Fraud by the subject of the case: they guessed the details or they fabricated them based on knowledge and/or research.
- The subject somehow has access to a realm in which this information is available, although it isn’t the case that they are reincarnated.
- The subject really is reincarnated.
3 and 4 are out for the you-tube critic and skeptics, leaving them with 1 and 2 and with error and/or fraud. But what exactly is the problem with the other possibilities, and with the possibility that the subject is reincarnated? The answer is simply that the assumption that consciousness is in the brain regarded as a piece of machinery means that when the brain dies there is nothing left of consciousness. Stephenson’s most active critic was for a time was philosopher Paul Edwards, editor-in-chief of Macmillan’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy. From 1986, Edwards punished several articles on Stevenson’s work, and discussed Stevenson in his Reincarnation: A Critical Examination (11, 12). He argued that Stevenson’s views were “absurd nonsense” and that when examined in detail his case studies had “big holes” and “do not even begin to add up to a significant counterweight to the initial presumption against reincarnation.” Stevenson, he claimed, “evidently lives in a cloud-cuckoo-land.” Against Edwards, philosopher Robert Almeder points out in Death and Personal Survival (13) that the philosopher has begged the question by stating in advance that the idea of consciousness existing without the brain in the interval between lives was incredible, and that Edwards’s “dogmatic materialism” has forced him to the view that Stevenson’s case studies must be examples of fraud or delusional thinking… This point gets right to the point: Almeder finds that Edwards doesn’t have anything other than empty rhetoric with which to discredit Stephenson’s research, but if one assumes that consciousness can only exist in a functioning brain then what choice does one have but to dismiss afterlife and reincarnation? It’s a similar thing with my favorite topic the Shroud of Turin: all the forensic and historical evidence points unambiguously to authenticity and to the incorrectness of the radiocarbon date, the radiocarbon dating of ancient cloth is an unreliable test at the best of times, but always the devout materialists will cling on to that result because what choice do they have if they must deny there was anything extraordinary about Jesus of Nazareth and the circumstances surrounding his death? The history of science has shown us time and time again that the unwavering commitment to philosophical assumptions is a dangerous thing – and materialism in all its form is no more than a philosophical assumption- but many scientists despite long experience of getting it wrong (so far they have all got it wrong since today’s best physical theory is entirely inadequate to the phenomena and internally incoherent) have yet to learn this lesson. To see that this assumption about consciousness is wrong, not only at the level of experiment, but at the theoretical level, consider a problem on the borderland of computer science, logic, maths, philosophy, and physics known as “P versus NP”. This concerns the question of whether the class of decision problems whose solutions are quickly verifiable (NP) by a computer is the same as the class of problems that are quickly solvable by computer (P). Historically the problem arose because certain problems seem to be hard to solve (NP-hard). More particularly, they seem to require a lot of time -an exponentially growing amount of time- to solve. An example of a NP problem that seeming takes exponential time is Factoring. While it doesn’t take long to factor 15 or 21, imagine trying to factor the 200 digit integer
You can easily check that it divides evenly into the primes
but although it takes a pocket calculator a spit second to do the multiplication, it would take a single 2.2 GHz computer roughly 75 years to do the division. We can prove that there is an arrow of time here – an asymmetry – by considering the Travelling Salesman Problem, which is he problem of whether a salesman can visit a number of cities exactly once and return to a home-city for a certain cost. First we transform TSP into a problem of whether a computer (salesman) can execute some number of instructions (visit some number of cities) which executes every instruction exactly once (visits every city exactly once) before returning to a halt state (home-city) for some maximum cost. An arbitrary computer is therefore working on the problem of whether an arbitrary computer will halt when run with an arbitrary set of instructions, and thus the point will be reached when the evaluation is a self-evaluation, i.e. the point will be reached such that the computer is attempting to determine of itself if it will halt.
If we associate to every city an instruction, this self-evaluative point will be reached when the number of cities on the tour is not less than the number of instructions in the program. This leads to a contradiction in the case that the number cities is greater than the number of instructions.
It follows that TSP involves a limit on the number of cities, from which it follows that TSP differs from polynomial-time problems, which aren’t sensitive to the size of the input, and that P and NP are not equal. It follows from the arithmetic hierarchy formed by the relative complexity of programs of Turing machines that Factoring is NP-hard.
Shor’s Algorithm (14) is an algorithm for a quantum, rather than a classical computer, that permits the Factoring problem to be solved in polynomial time, and puts Factoring in BQP, which is the quantum version of P. From the existence of this algorithm, it follows that quantum computers can factor integers in polynomial time, and since this involves collapsing the arithmetic hierarchy, that they can solve NP-hard problems. Two things of importance follow from Shor’s algorithm. One is that scalable quantum computers cannot be built (if they could be built, this would collapse the classical/quantum divide itself). The other is that the conscious mind is not a classical computer. The conscious mind is not a classical computer because a classical computer is as we have seen, bound by the finitude of its program to operate on things no more complex than this program. Given that the brain as it is understood by those -like Paul Edwards- is not a classical computer, and given in particular that consciousness is not in the brain, the philosophical foundation of these objections collapses. For decades now certain philosophers and scientists (notably philosopher J.R. Lucus, and physicist and mathematician Sir Roger Penrose (15, 16, 17) have argued that Godel’s Theorem (18) shows that consciousness is not a classical phenomenon. In essence Godel’s Theorem involves to formulation of a mathematical sentence that says of itself that it is not provable by means of some finite set of rules: if the sentence is false, then the relevant set of rules is inconsistent, and if it is true then it is as it says not locally provable. The “Lucus-Penrose thesis” is that, since Godel’s Theorem shows that there are truths lying beyond the capacity of any finite set of rules to prove them, and since the human mind can prove/see that Godel’s Theorem is true, the human mind cannot be a classical computer. This same argument can be generalized by appeal to the idea that Godel’s Theorem is one of a number of equivalent problems, all of which are forms of the P versus NP problem, and all of which carry the implication that consciousness lies beyond any finite set of rules and therefore beyond any classical computational process, and beyond the brain. The trick to the unification of these problems is a notion -best explained by logician Graham Priest (19)- of an inclosure contradiction, exemplified by the Liar paradox, and involving an object that both transcends and yet is inclosed by some set of objects:
“I am false.” therefore “I transcend the set of all true sentences.”
“Is is true that I am false.” therefore “I am inclosed by the set of all true sentences.”.
Behind the technical gobbledegook is the simple idea that self-consciousness always locates the self beyond any finite inclosure. This idea permeates mathematics in the form of the distinction between smooth and non-smooth manifolds. A manifold is a surface (like the surface of a sphere), that from a local point of view can be regard as flat, a smooth manifold is a surface (like the surface of sphere) that can be expanded or shrunk indefinitely, a non-smooth manifold is a surface (like the surface of a torus) that cannot be expanded or shrunk indefinitely.
This distinction corresponds to the distinction between an infinite set of rules and an infinitely expandable self, and a finite set of rules and a finitely expandable self. Whenever we start to study this distinction in the context of mathematics or mathematical-physics, we come up against the problem posed by smooth manifolds for any classical computational model of intelligence. Classical computers are governed by a finite sets of rules and cannot therefore correspond to smooth manifolds. So if the brain and/or the mind is supposed to be only a classical computational device, and thus to correspond only to a non-smooth manifold, then how does it even have any notion of a smooth manifold? How does it devise a thing like Godel’s Theorem, how does it solve a problem like P versus NP? From Shor’s algorithm, the self-conscious mind is non-classical, it is something that can operate on objects of every possible size, but not something that can be built in, or that exists in the classical domain, a quantum rather than a classical computer. But since it lies in some sense outside of the classical domain, outside of the domain defined by its governance by a linear arrow of time, the self-conscious mind must be eternal. Not “infinite”, which in mathematics and science means indefinitely short or long or indefinitely big or small, but beyond measurement, eternal. Jesus describes the eternal perfectly when he says says in John 8: 58:
“…before Abraham was born, I am!”
and Jesus’ message was first and foremost that the highest form of reality is the eternal, from where he came, and to where he returned following his crucifixion with the view that he would, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger be back… And yet the self-conscious mind can nonetheless occupy a world which is governed by a linear arrow of time and is not eternal. It follows that consciousness doesn’t arise from matter as materialists suppose, but that matter arises from consciousness. On this view, the material worlds of which we are conscious, and by which materialists are entranced to the point that they fail to see their illusory nature and what lies behind them, are like films whose projectors are immaterial. The idea behind reincarnation is that the same group of immaterial projectors (the same mind/self) can project different films (lives). After one films ends, as all films do, another film -consistent with the first- might in certain circumstances begin and the same mind/self more or less pick up where it left off.
The CHRISTIAN OBJECTION
Although a 2009 pole showed that 24% of professing American Christians also profess a belief in reincarnation (20), Christianity officially denies reincarnation. The Nag Hammadi library (early Christian writings unearthed near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945), clearly espouse doctrines that involve reincarnation (21), but there are passages in canonical bible that at least cohere with the veracity of this concept. I think most particularly of Malachi 4: 5:
See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
This reads as if the returning Elijah is the literal Elijah, not merely someone with similar personality or mission. Knowing that the return of Elijah precedes the coming of Messiah, the disciples ask Jesus
“”then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
Jesus reply is that
“To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
But was John the Baptist the reincarnation of Elijah? Luke 1: 17 says:
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous\[LongDash]to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
This refers back to Malachi, since Malachi 4: 6 says of a future Elijah that
He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children…
One who comes in the spirit and power of another might well be the reincarnation of that other person -a person comes in the spirit and the power of themselves, and John 1: 6 says that
There was a man sent from God whose name was John
which suggests that John pre-existed his arrival on earth. But John 1: 21 has John the Baptists himself explicitly deny being Elijah:
Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.
Jewish historian Josephus writes of the Pharisees (22) that they
say that all souls are incorruptible; but that the souls of good men are only removed into other bodies; — but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.
Thackeray (23) says that this is an expression of “the doctrine of the reincarnation of the soul”, but is Josephus talking about reincarnation in the sense of the souls being reincarnated in another earthy as opposed to a heavenly body? Hard to say, but the passage in John, together with another passage in which Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is and is told “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Mathew 16: 13-14)), doesn’t make sense unless the the Jews of Jesus time possessed a belief in reincarnation in this sense of an earthy reincarnation: Mathew 14: 1 – 2 shows that Jesus’ identity as John the Baptist might have been a matter of resurrection (At that time Herod the Tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”), but the only possible way Jesus could have been Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets referred to is if he was a reincarnation of these men. So although John in fact denied being Elijah, he might just as easily have affirmed it. And while on the one hand he denied being Elijah, on the other hand he identified with Elijah by quoting Isaiah 40: 3:
I am the voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
This preparation of the way is very the role of the returned Elijah spoken of in Malachi. Malachi 3: 1:
I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me…
This distinction between being Elijah in a literal sense and coming in the spirit and power of Elijah is tricky, and seems to involve pre-existence if not transmigration: something is being sent, and you can’t send something that doesn’t in some sense already exist. In 543, the Emperor Justinian issued a decree against the influential church father Origen (24) and his followers who upheld a belief in the pre-existence if not the transmigration of souls (25):
If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.
And although one wouldn’t want to go so far as to say that the Church “banned” reincarnation (the pre-existence plus the transmigration of souls) at this point in history, there can be no question that the Roman Catholic and Christian Churches have since this time been hostile to the idea reincarnation. But Malachi, the gospel writers and the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospels imply it, Josephus suggests that the Pharisees believed in something similar, Gnostic and other early Christian writings unearthed in 1945 unambiguously support it, as do the later writings of Kabbalists and Hasidic Jews (26). And the oft quoted passage (Hebrews 9:27)
It is appointed unto man once to die and after the death the judgement
doesn’t carry the weight it is supposed to carry because of the numerous counter-examples. Most significantly for the modern mind, there is a large and ever-growing body of scientific data meticulously collected by Drs Stephenson and Tucker and their team at Virginia University and that argues for the truth of the idea.
POST SCRIPT: The REINCARNATION OF JESUS
An article published on http://www.toptenz.net/ Top 10 People Who Claim To Be the Reincarnation of Jesus Christ shows that it is relatively common these days to claim to be the reincarnation of Jesus of Nazareth (27). He doesn’t crack the top 10 list, but Australian cult leader Brian Leonard Golightly Marshall claims also to be the reincarnation of Jesus of Nazareth, going so far to argue that it is his face on the Shroud of Turin, and publishing photos and videos he says prove that this is so.
He has his followers -as many Jesus-pretenders do- but I think this claim by Marshall hurts rather than helps his cause because -as indicated by Microsoft’s facial recognition algorithm- there is not a close resemblance between the face on the TS and Marshall’s face (like an anorexia sufferer looking in a mirror and seeing a fat person, Marshall has imagined something that isn’t there):
But what if someone were to come along whose face really was the spitting image of the face below (which if the TS is authentic is literally a photograph of the battered, bloody, and traumatized face of the historical Jesus of Nazareth as he was after dying on the cross) ?
Historically speaking, the man whose face most closely resembles the face of man on the TS is that of Isaac Newton as portrayed by Sir Geoffrey Kneller in 1689:
That this similarity isn’t merely in my imagination is shown by the fact that Microsoft’s facial recognition algorithm thinks the faces belong to the same person:
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world…
John 8: 12:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night:
God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.
That Newton was man with very strong intellectual and temperamental similarities to the historical Jesus of Nazareth is demonstrated by these quotes from various biographers:
The more Newton’s theological and alchemical, chronological and mythological work is examined as a whole corpus, set by the side of his science, the more apparent it becomes that in his moments of grandeur he saw himself as the last of the interpreters of God’s will in actions, living on the fulfillment of times… In his generation, he was the vehicle of God’s eternal truth… from him nothing had been withheld… (28)
The scientist’s interpretation of Daniel, his decoding of the book’s cryptic language, and his discussion of theological questions, among them the Second Coming, all emanated from the sense of a special mission. This feeling grew from a belief that the “wisdom” to understand the prophecy was transmitted from God to a chosen person – himself. The sense of chosenness grew in Newton, not as a result of his study of prophecies, but following his unique achievements in natural science, which in his opinion, were conveyed to him by God alone… When Newton recognized his authority to interpret the book of Daniel he was convinced that (a) he had been chosen by God; (b) that the time for the end had arrived and the holy process begun (with the birth of Newton)… (29)
And Newton’s case perfectly fits with Stephenson’s and Tucker’s observations about the inexplicable abilities, philias, and phobias, inherited by reincarnated individuals from their earlier incarnation.
- Ability: Newton was, as was Jesus, one of the most brilliant and influential minds in all of human history. He is most know for his mathematical and scientific work, but was called by Thomas G Barrnes “perhaps the greatest biblical scholar of his age.” (29) (yet he was the a farmer’s son and ins spite of a Cambridge university education was mostly self-taught);
- Philia: he was marked like Jesus by a fanatical religiosity (he was obsessed with Christianity and wrote far more about the bible than he ever did about mathematics and science, he was completely celibate, and once cut off an associate for telling a dirty joke in his presence);
- Phobia: In keeping with being the reincarnation of someone who was ridiculed, tortured, and ultimately crucified for expressing their revolutionary ideas in public, Newton had a paralyzing fear of public ridicule (he preferred to keep his ideas to himself lest he be persecuted for them).
On the subject of Newton’s phobias, Manuel writes (28):
Newtons conviction that he was a chosen one of God, miraculously preserved, was accompanied by the terror that he would be found unworthy, and would provoke the wrath of God his father. This made one of the great geniuses of the world also one of its great sufferers.
On the subject of Newton’s phobias and philias, Quinn writes (30):
Newton was a very strange man. His reluctance to publish, his sensitivity to criticism, his repeated camouflaging of his true intentions, and perhaps too his preoccupations with the millenarian and the occult – all these point to a neurotic behavior pattern that makes the nervous breakdown of 1693 far from surprising.
Interestingly, Jesus was also characterized by the camouflaging his true intentions. When asked by his disciples why he spoke in parables he answered in Mathew 13: 11:
“Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.”
In the words of one commentator:
Jesus did not intend the many to understand the full meaning of His teachings! Here is one of His hard sayings that so many can read over and not understand. And it is as applicable today as it was then. Christ knew the ears, eyes and hearts of the masses could not grasp the deep meaning of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. He deliberately cloaked His message!
Newton was a master of the cloaking his message, something he justified on exactly the same grounds that Jesus did. Assuming that the TS is authentic, it might seem from what has been said above that there is plausible case to be made for the idea that Isaac Newton was a later incarnation Jesus of Nazareth. The trouble is of course that the bible declares that Jesus will descend from heaven when he returns for the second time. Mark 16: 62 records that, when he is asked if he is the Messiah by the high priest, Jesus replies that he is and that
“…you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
This is admittedly ambiguous -who knows from the context when this is supposed to occur?- but Acts 1: 10 – 11 has this to say about the ascension:
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
There is a possible way to resolve the conflict. From the example of John the Baptist and the reasoning above, we have idea of someone that is not quite reincarnation of someone else, but something close to it, i.e. someone who comes in “the spirit and power” of the earlier person and thus shares many of their personal characteristics. Newton, it might be argued, was one of those very rare individuals that came in the spirit and power of Jesus of Nazareth in a similar way to that in which John the Baptist came in the spirit and the power of Elijah the Tishbite. And this was essentially the role Newton cast himself in.
(1) Weiss, B (1988), Many Lives, Many Masters
(2) Rawat, K et al (2005), The Life Beyond: Through the eyes of Children who Claim to Remember Previous Lives
(3) Gupta, L et al (1936), An Inquiry into the Case of Shanti Devi
(4) Stephenson, I (1966), Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation
(5) Stephenson, I (1997) Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects
(6) Tucker, J (2008), Children’s Reports of Past-Life Memories: A Review
(7) Keil, H and Tucker, J (2005), Children Who Claim to Remember Previous Lives: Cases
with Written Records Made before the Previous Personality Was Identified
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