2:37 PM 4/2/2003|
Watched a thing last night about reincarnation. It was a scientific study of cases in which children display knowledge of events and people of which they could know nothing. One example was a small child, 18 months, who looked up at his father, who was changing his diaper, and said "You know dad, when I was your age, I used to change your diaper."
The child, Gus, seems to think that he was his own grandfather, who died a year before Gus was born. And the way he said that, if the parents are to be believed, is just creepy. Eighteen month old children don't say things like that. Certainly not in that manner. The same child once picked his grandfather, as a young man, out of an old photograph and said "That's me," and he had never seen his grandfather as a young man.
He displays knowledge of events that his own father barely recalls, and he was there. I don't know about that. Eighteen months is too young to be making up stories like that, so where does he get the idea?
I was talking to my mother about it last night, and she told me a story about my own brother that was kind of along those lines. She said that one day we were out driving, and we passed a cemetary. And I asked what it was, and she told us, my brother and I, that it was where they buried the dead people. And my brother, who was about three, said "yes, but first they have to pull their brain out through their nose with a hook and put it in a jar."
She assures me that there's no way that he could have known about that part of the mummification ritual of the ancient Egyptians. He was three.. she hadn't exposed him to that sort of thing.
Now, I don't give any value to the idea of reincarnation. The very prospect would require the existence of a soul, which I simply cannot accept without evidence. The concept of a soul suggests a division between human and animal that we know, scientifically, does not exist. The difference between a human and a shrew is not just a hard line, it's a gradient range. I mean, does a chimpanzee have a soul? Those religions that believe in reincarnation think not, but we know that a chimpanzee is almost human. We find out every day how much closer to humans they are than we think. So do chimpanzees get reincarnated?
And then you add the idea of karma, which suggests that there's some sort of judging authority that decides what's good, what's not, and weighs your thoughts and deeds accordingly. No, I can't accept the idea without some serious evidence.
So that's what the scientists in this program were doing.. looking for serious evidence. And they seem to have found something that's pretty hard to dismiss. There was another story about a little girl who remembered burning to death. Another about a little girl who remembered falling into a river that she had never seen, and drowning. The stories go on and on.
To me, it comes down to two possibilities:
either the children are saying these things, or they aren't.
Yes, that seems like a bit of an obvious conclusion, but here's what I mean: if the parents are just looking for publicity (which the ones in the small village in Sri Lanka probably weren't, I must admit) then they could be making up what the child said, or telling her/him what to say, or both.
Alternatively, and here's where we get a bit more into science fiction, there's the possibility of race memory.
As I see it, the idea of reincarnation has been around for a lot longer than the idea of publicity, and most religions have their origins in reality, somewhere. So perhaps the concept of reincarnation was based upon children saying things like this. That would rule out publicity as a motive, though not necessarily in the modern cases.
So how about race memory? Well, the trouble with the idea is that it requires documentation, but the nature of the human mind makes it hard to test these things. So here's what we know that supports this idea:
We know that, on a subconscious level, humans are capable of carrying a great deal of information.
We know that this information can leak into the conscious mind, and that often it can be assimilated as if it belonged there. That's been seen in abuse victims, mental disorders, and so on.
Here's where we have to start supposing. Humans have been talking about telepathy throughout most of their history as a species, in one form or another. There are always experiments going on to prove that some humans are telepathic. I'm not talking about deliberate communication, but there are many scientists who feel very strongly that humans can, on a largely subconscious level, communicate information. Reading cards is the stereotypical test, but there are documented instances of, for example, people "feeling" when their sibling is hurt. Or of parents knowing when their offspring is in trouble. The trouble is the lack of standardised tests. And that you can put down to either the whole thing being impossible, or to the unpredictable nature of the human mind.
So let's suppose that the problem is with the unpredictable nature of the mind. Suppose that the stress of a standardised test (like reading cards in a laboratory) is what makes people unable to demonstrate telepathy on demand. Then you're dealing with an ability that only exists at the subconscious level.
Therefore, and yes we're getting into science fiction in a big way now, suppose that memories are broadcast on a telepathic level, and received and stored subconsciously. We know that memories, stored subconsciously, leak from the subconscious to the conscious mind, and are assimilated. This means that you'd effectively be remembering things that happened to someone else. How those memories are interpreted by the person in question is subject to the individual, of course. Some of them might experience them as dreams, others as their own memories, and so on. However, some people remember things from long before they are born. How does that happen? Well, perhaps the content of your subconscious memory store is broadcast telepathically. What that suggests is that your subconscious memory stores a ridiculously large amount of information. Like, several lifetimes worth of memories. And like any other memory, the memories would degrade, and only bits of them would get through. The older the memories, the less survives. If the subconscious collects the incoming information, stores it, adds to it, and rebroadcasts it, perhaps memories from ancient Egypt could find their way to my brother.
There's a lot of supposing there, but it's a better bet than reincarnation, I think. Of course, I wouldn't believe this, either, without some evidence, but there seems to be more evidence to support this idea than there is to support the idea of a soul, and an omnicient power that sits in judgement.