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August 31, 2022

Added Can Naturalism Make Room for Reincarnation? (2022) by R. N. Carmona to the Conceptual Arguments section of the Life after Death/Immortality page in the Modern Documents section of the Secular Web Library.

When one normally thinks of reincarnation, one has in mind a caricature, an oversimplification. Modern-day science can be marshaled in to lend support to a kind of reincarnation. The combination of traits that make you you, no matter how multifarious, are finite. This implies that given a long enough time, some sentient being, whether Homo sapiens sapiens or something very similar to our own species, will come to believe in the same you that you believe constitutes you. This, to my mind, is how naturalism makes room for “reincarnation.” Thus naturalists should shun the habit of dismissing an idea because it is religious or apparently supernatural. However, while such a naturalistic conception of reincarnation is logically coherent, it still exceedingly unlikely, and that fact should count for something. Ultimately, reincarnation is incompatible with naturalism, but not because it is too mystical—but rather because even the strongest “steel man” notion of reincarnation considered here is undermined by the simple fact that one’s full set of experiences is very unlikely to recur in the life of another person no matter how long the universe goes on.

Recommended reading: Secularism: The Basics (2022) by Jacques Berlinerblau

Secularism: The Basics is a concise and engaging introduction to confusing and contradictory public discussions of secularism across the globe. There are countless examples of politicians, religious leaders, and journalists, invoking the S-word in heated debates about public education, gender, sex, national symbols, and artistic freedom. In this lively and lucid book, Jacques Berlinerblau addresses why secularism is defined in so many ways and why it so ignites people’s passions. What does secularism mean? Why should we care about this idea? What are the different types of secularism and what are their histories? What are the basic principles of political secularisms? Why are secularism and atheism often confused? What opposition are secularisms up against? What does the future hold for a concept millennia in the making, but only really operationalized in the twentieth century? The book considers key philosophical, religious, antireligious, postmodern and postcolonial arguments around secularism.

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