Bringing you the "Good News" of Jesus Christ and His Church While PROMOTING CATHOLIC Apologetic Support groups loyal to the Holy Father and Church's magisterium
Home About
AskACatholic.com
What's New? Resources The Church Family Life Mass and
Adoration
Ask A Catholic
Knowledge base
AskACatholic Disclaimer
Search the
AskACatholic Database
Donate and
Support our work
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New Questions
Cool Catholic Videos
About Saints
Disciplines & Practices for distinct Church seasons
Purgatory and Indulgences
About the Holy Mass
About Mary
Searching and Confused
Contemplating becoming a Catholic or Coming home
Homosexual and Gender Issues
Life and Family
No Salvation Outside the Church
Sacred Scripture
non-Catholic Cults
Justification and Salvation
The Pope and Papacy
The Sacraments
Relationships and Marriage situations
Specific people, organizations and events
Doctrine and Teachings
back
Specific Practices
Church Internals
Church History

Isabella wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question about past lives. The people who believe in past lives normally:

  • end up going into a past life regression with a psychiatrist, or
  • people claim to have visions of their past lives.

Normally, they arise a lot in two-year-olds. After that, facts are checked and, mostly, in addition to other facts, the most tiny, obscure details are correct. Toddlers, who don't have any knowledge of most things at such a young age, are talking to their parents about their life before this one, surprising them about the things they are saying. Again, facts are checked, and they're all right!

People have ailments that correspond with where they might have been (struck|wounded) in their previous incarnations. Ailments which have been with them since birth, and then, all of a sudden, the ailments go completely away, without a trace, after remembering that life!

So please answer me this:

  • If science and historians can prove what I have said, and when you die, your body does separate from your soul, why can't past lives be a possibility?
  • God wants our souls to be perfect and pure when we join Him in Heaven some day, so doesn't it make sense for us to try again, perfecting our imperfections, so that we may be accepted into Heaven?

I'm asking only because I'm curious. I am a Catholic who believes in the chief truths of the Church, even though I personally believe that there is more to everything than what is put in the Bible — you know, like how the Church has rules that don't necessarily come from the Bible.

Isabella

  { If science and historians can prove that past lives are real, why can't the Church accept them? }

Bob replied:

Isabella,

Thanks for the question.

You bring up some confounding issues which often have us scratching our heads. The basic thing to know, before getting into the details, is what the Church teaches as the basics about life and death: life, death, judgement — going to God or not.

When there are things that contradict that, or throw it into confusion the best answer is that we don't have all the answers to make the difficulty go away completely. We just don't know everything. The Church and myself are quite sure that reincarnation doesn't happen, and that it simply isn't part of God's plan. I suppose it could've been if He wanted it to, but there is nothing that:

  • Jesus
  • the Apostles or disciples, or
  • the Church

ever taught, at any time, that made reincarnation part of Revelation so there has to be another answer for why children, who would have no motive to deceive, could have these memories.

I have found that Peter Kreeft's answer (which I copied from a website and pasted below) gives us an insight to some possibilities. Other spirits, human or demonic, can convey things through telepathy.

The Webmaster who posted this web page, containing Kreeft's answer, takes issues with the idea of the dead having any contact with humans because he is a fundamentalist that doesn't understand Purgatory and the realm of the faithful departed the way Catholics do, but I included his comments so you can see how a Protestant may react to this line of explanation.

His part begins with Please Note: in number 9.

Demons have been reeking havoc on human beings since the beginning. The fact that today people can't sort out the basics of gender is a testament to how effective demonic confusion has become. Combine that, with other principalities and forces from the unseen world that we don't understand, and you have confusion. So, when something like early childhood memories from another life arise, don't be so quick to assume it must be validation of what proponents of reincarnation would like you to think.

We may not have a definitive explanation, but there are possibilities. The fact that you are thinking about these things deeply is a good sign. You are a seeker of truth. Jesus guides us into that Truth, which is Himself. When we are confounded, we need to turn ever more closely to Him.

Here is the bit from Peter Kreeft, a Catholic philosophy professor, author and all around great guy. Check out number 9 in particular.

Ten Refutations of Reincarnation

Christianity rejects reincarnation for ten reasons.

  1. It is contradicted by Scripture (Hebrews 9:27).

  2. It is contradicted by orthodox tradition in all churches.

  3. It would reduce the Incarnation (referring to Christ’s Incarnation) to a mere appearance, the Crucifixion to an accident, and Christ to one among many philosophers or avatars. It would also confuse what Christ did with what creatures do: incarnation with reincarnation.

  4. It implies that God made a mistake in designing our souls to live in bodies; that we are really pure spirits in prison or angels in costume.

  5. It is contradicted by psychology and common sense, for its view of souls as imprisoned in alien bodies denies the natural psychosomatic unity.

  6. It entails a very low view of the body, as a prison, a punishment.

  7. It usually blames sin on the body and the body’s power to confuse and darken the mind. This is passing the buck from soul to body, as well as from will to mind, and a confusion of sin with ignorance.

  8. The idea that we are reincarnated in order to learn lessons we failed to learn in a past earthly life, is contrary to both common sense and basic educational psychology. I cannot learn something if there is no continuity of memory. I can learn from my mistakes only if I remember them. People do not usually remember these past reincarnations.

  9. The supposed evidence for reincarnation, rememberings from past lives that come out under hypnosis or past life regression can be explained — if they truly occur at all — as mental telepathy:
    • from other living beings,
    • from the souls of dead humans in Purgatory or Hell, or
    • from demons.

The real possibility of the latter should make us extremely skittish about opening our souls to past life regressions.

Please Note: While I would agree with the demonic aspect, I do not agree with the idea of Purgatory nor can I agree with the idea of the souls of dead humans communicating with living people. The dead are confined, according to Scripture, and cannot reveal themselves. This is suggested in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 and by the extreme surprise of the witch of Endor when she saw Samuel who was dead (See 1 Samuel 28:8ff). She claimed to be a medium or one who contacts the dead, but when Saul requested that she contact Samuel and when God brought him forth, it startled her and brought great fear. This appeared to be her first experience with the real thing, i.e., with seeing the dead because this is normally not possible. When people do experience such experiences or contact, what they are seeing or experiencing is better identified as demonic.

  1. Reincarnation cannot account for itself.
    • Why are our souls imprisoned in bodies?
    • Is it the just punishment for evils we committed in past reincarnations?
    • But why were those past reincarnations necessary?

For the same reason. But the beginning of the process that justly imprisoned our souls in bodies in the first place—this must have antedated the series of bodies. How could we have committed evil in the state of perfect, pure, Heavenly spirituality? Further, if we sinned in that paradise, it is not paradisical after all. Yet that is the state that reincarnation is supposed to lead us back to after all our embodied yearnings are over.

If the answer is given that our bodies are not penalties for sin but illusions of individuality, the pantheistic One becoming many in human consciousness, no reason can possibly be given for this. Indeed, Hinduism calls it simply lila, divine play. What a stupid game for God to play! If Oneness is perfection, why would perfection play the game of imperfection? All the world’s sins and sufferings are reduced to a meaningless, inexplicable game.

And if evil is itself only illusory (the answer given by many mystics) then the existence of this illusion is itself a real, and not just illusory, evil. Augustine makes this telling point.

  • Where then is evil, and what is its source, and how has it crept into the creation?
  • What is its root, what is its seed?
  • Can it be that it is wholly without being?
  • But why should we fear and be on guard against what is not?

Or if our fear of it is groundless, then our very fear is itself an evil thing. For by it the heart is driven and tormented for no cause; and that evil is all the worse, if there is nothing to fear yet we do fear.

Thus either there is evil which we fear, or the fact that we fear is evil.

(St. Augustine, Confessions, VII, 5)

(See also Justin Martyr, Dialog with Trypho [ca. 180 A. D.], and Albrecht, Reincarnation, for extended Christian critiques of this idea.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Isabella,

You said:
I'm asking only because I'm curious. I am a Catholic who believes in the chief truths of the Church, even though I personally believe that there is more to everything than what is put in the Bible — you know, like how the Church has rules that don't necessarily come from the Bible.

The Apostolic Catholic faith which has been passed down through the centuries in the Written Word has also been passed down to us in Oral Tradition. These are Written and Oral Teachings we must believe to be faithful Catholics.

Many faith seekers looking into the Church often confuse teachings with a capital T, with customs, disciplines, and non-binding practices which we refer to as traditions with a small 't'.

Many Catholics and non-Catholics have a misunderstanding that the Bible is the pillar and foundation of truth. It is not! The Bible itself testifies to this in 1 Timothy 3:15.

The Holy Bible alone or the Holy Bible plus Oral Tradition?
Matthew 23:1-3
Chair of Moses; observe whatever they tell you.
(Moses’ chair was a prefigurement of the chair of St. Peter.)
Mark 13:31
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words won't.
Mark 16:15
Go to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Luke 10:16
"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me."
John 21:25
Not everything Jesus said was recorded in Scripture.
Acts 20:35
Sayings of Jesus were not recorded in the Gospels.
Romans 10:17
Faith comes from what is heard.
1 Corinthians 11:2
Commends them for following Apostolic tradition.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Hold fast to traditions, whether they are oral or by letter.
2 Timothy 1:13
Follow my sound words; guard the truth.
2 Timothy 2:2
What you heard entrust to faithful men who will also teach other faithful men . . .
[from generation to generation to today.]
1 Peter 1:25
God's eternal word equals the word preached to you.
2 Peter 1:20
No prophecy is a matter of private interpretation.
2 Peter 3:15-16
Paul's letters can be difficult to grasp and interpret.
St. Athanasius (360 A.D.)
Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian. (Four Letters to Serapion of Thmius 1, 28)
Origen (230 A.D.)
"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession, from the Apostles, and remains in the Churches even to the present time. That alone is to be believed as truth which is in no way in variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition." (Fundamental Doctrines 1, preface, 2.)

Interested in what other Christians in the Early Church thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic and this topic.
In addition to Bob's great answer, I searched our knowledge base and found these related postings on past lives (and|or) reincarnation.

Our Search Engine will give you a lot of answers quick, so give it a try.

http://www.AskACatholic.com/SiteSearch

Hope this helps,

Mike

Similar issues . . .

[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]|[Related posting]

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.