Reincarnation is the notion in some Eastern, Indian or Dharmic religions that people who die later return in a different body to start a new life, usually with no memory of their previous life. Often this is paired with the concept of karma, the idea that people go to a higher or lower form of existence based on how they lived in their previous lives.
By contrast, in Western religions that are based on the Jewish and/or Christian scriptures or at least are descended from them, reincarnation is rejected and instead people’s souls are assumed to either go to a place called heaven if they are good (or are true believers) or hell if they were evil (or followed a wrong religion) and never return to life.
I have no empirical reason to believe in reincarnation or indeed any form of an afterlife and it is my understanding that the idea of a soul that can be separated from a body and exist apart from it is simply impossible. Indeed, when a person’s brain is damaged in some way, it is clear that the person is also damaged, so why not just assume that when the person’s brain is completely destroyed at death, the person ceases to exist completely? But that idea seems to frighten most people witless. Why? How did we come up with the idea of an afterlife to begin with? Perhaps because of near death experiences that someone might have had on rare occasions?
Read my earlier statement about spirituality. Because of my open-mindedness on that issue, I have created a concept called “Radical Reincarnation” in which every person and animal that has ever lived was once within every other person and animal that has ever lived. In short, we were all Adolph Hitler, Albert Einstein, dinosaurs, cavemen, and dodos at one time or another and we are also part of the universal life force that we return to when we die. This life force, timeless and incredibly powerful, is what most of us have mistaken for “God”. And it is greater than we will ever know. Of course, I cannot support this idea with any evidence whatsoever, but I also know of nothing against it……..and no, it is NOT the default position to say something is not true just because it has not been proven. Atheists who assert that are as narrow minded as some religious bigots. Rather, individuals are free to believe or not believe something that has no proof and no disproof. I reject the idea of heaven and hell for eternal souls because it HAS been disproven. Radical reincarnation certainly has not…..yet it does not exist in the Dharmic religions either.