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Today it is hard to believe, but true nevertheless, that until 130 years ago hardly anyone in the Western world had heard of reincarnation or knew anything about it. This hadn’t always been the case, as a belief in reincarnation had flourished in the West in ages past and had even been part of early Christianity until it was officially declared heretical by the Church in the sixth century A.D.


by T.B. Harbottle

May 5, 1888
Reprinted from “Theosophical Siftings” Volume 1
The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

IN approaching the subject of re-incarnation, we are confronted at the outset with a very serious difficulty. Like all other portions of the Esoteric Doctrine, re-incarnation, when considered alone, is not only incapable of satisfactory proof, but has no intelligible raison d’être. it is only when examined as an integral part of the whole system that its place and function in the scheme of human evolution become apparent, and that the arguments in its favour can be advanced, and those brought against it be repelled, with any degree of success.

The Key to Theosophy, 123-133H. P. Blavatsky



ENQ. The most difficult thing for you to do, will be to explain and give reasonable grounds for such a belief. No Theosophist has ever yet succeeded in bringing forward a single valid proof to shake my scepticism. First of all, you have against this theory of re-incarnation, the fact that no single man has yet been found to remember that he has lived, least of all who he was, during his previous life.

By John Algeo

Originally printed in the MARCH-APRIL 2006 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Algeo, John. "Reincarnation's White Crow: Ian Stevenson and Evidence of Past Lives." Quest  94.2 (MARCH-APRIL 2006):47-51.

John Algeo

Reincarnation is a hypothesis about what happens to the consciousness of a human being after bodily death. That hypothesis has both simplistic and complex versions, but none of them are subject to laboratory testing because death and rebirth cannot be put into a test tube or under a microscope. Some aspects of the reincarnation hypothesis, however, can be studied with scientific rigor, although the possibility of such study has been widely discounted by those scientists who have mistaken their heuristic techniques for an ultimate metaphysic.

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