The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
15 Points

Reincarnation should be considered more likely than not on a rational basis

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/2/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,154 times Debate No: 36276
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (6)




My burden is to argue and show why reincarnation should be considered more likely than not, My opponents burden is to show why reincarnation is not more likely on a rational basis, by undermining my arguments.


1. No points are to be awarded for spelling and grammar to either contender
2 no semantics, the arguments is clear from the off set,
3 No insults, profanities or sarcasm that may be deemed as an insult in any way will be accepted, and will result in a forfeit to either contender,
4 Both opponents must try their best to provide their argument in layman's terms
5 Although I intend to show all living beings are eligible to be reincarnated, it is only the reincarnation of human beings which will be the focus of this debate, I will not have to offer evidence for the reincarnation of animals or other living entities apart from humans,

With that said, I welcome Thett3 as my opponent and bid an honest and respectful exchange of opinions.........
Round 1 is for acceptance only,

Best of luck


Thanks to my opponent for the challenge. When I saw such a fascinating topic in the challenge period I knew I had to debate it, so I'm thankful to my opponent for his willingness to engage me. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Thett3 for your respectful introduction.

"It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection." "Voltaire

Now, I shall begin by expressing my concern for taking on such a subtle subject, I use the word 'subtle' because it aptly defines the Soul, which is the main topic of this debate. It is quite obvious to any learned person that the western culture and academic philosophers and scientists have very little by way of knowledge or information regarding the Spirit soul, so I can also understand how my propositions and my argument as a whole will seem abstract to many western thinkers, I myself am a westerner and am brought up in the City of London UK. But I have taken it upon myself to argue from an eastern philosophical viewpoint, which is greatly inspired by a genuine acharya ( spiritual leader ) A.C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada , Below I provide and encourage the reader to view the link to reference's of what established scholars and academics thought about His Divine Grace.

One such excerpt reads,

"...For those who have no access to the Sanskrit language, these books convey, in superb manner, the message of the Bhagavatam. In addition to being a scholarly work, it directly reflects the spiritual aspirations of a religious community which has gained considerable popularity in modern America."

Dr. Alaka Hejib
Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies,
-Harvard University

another reads

This is a work to be treasured. No one of whatever faith or philosophical persuasion who reads these books with an open mind can fail to be both moved and impressed...."

Dr. Garry Gelade
Professor of Psychology
-Oxford University

Again I encourage the reader to view the reviews of this great spiritual leader by a vast number of academics.....

Now, I will be using arguments from analogy, along with scientific research and rational logic. With this in mind I further state that the Souls presence can simply be accepted on circumstantial understanding and will not be proven empirically instead a spiritual science will be applied.... Subtle as I mentioned before means, there is this thing, but this thing I can not see, that is the meaning of subtleness, I know you have a mind, and you know I have a mind, but I can not see your mind and you can not see my mind, similarly, identity, consciousness, I know you have consciousness, and you know I have consciousness, but I can not see your consciousness and you can not see my consciousness That is the meaning of subtle, and the spirit soul is yet even more subtle, So human life is meant for finding out about the Supreme Soul and the spirit soul.

Now to begin with it's important to establish that the Truth means two things.

1 Material energy

2 Spiritual energy

The material nature is an expansion of Gods plenary portion of energy, and is called God's inferior energy. God is the absolute source of all creation in both the material and spiritual worlds.... This is confirmed in the Bhagavad Gita.

Chapter 10. The Opulence of the Absolute


I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.

Also, if any mainstream theology analyzes closely, they will conclude that God is the original source of all creation and nothing exists independently from Him, and everything is dependent on Him... The material energy is called the illusory energy in the Vedas, because it is transient and is not permanent, it is mutable, and it passes and fades... This is confirmed by the second law of thermodynamics, all material energy by it's very nature is subject to decay and change...In fact, ironically, change is the only constant in the material world. The material world is called the relative world and the spiritual world is called the absolute world, because everything in the spiritual world is absolute, the father and the son are one, the name water and the taste of water are the same. in the material world they are relative to each other...this is the inductive knowledge of the Veda.

The Spiritual energy is the superior energy and will be my main focus in this debate, because I intend to show how you are not this material body which passes and fades, but that you are an eternal spiritual soul...a soul who's original nature is full of knowledge and bliss, and is acting due to it's covering of the illusory material energy....

You are not this body.

Every one of us once possessed a baby body, then a child's body, then a teenagers body and onto adulthood, that body we had as a baby is no longer existing, but we ( the spirit soul ) are still existing, our baby body is completely destroyed, all the atoms have been replaced, and we have an entirely new body, also in the future we will again in this lifetime have changed our body, in ten years from now, the body you posses will be replaced with a new body, but you the spirit soul will still exist even though you have changed bodies n this lifetime, this is the process on how to accept the temporary nature of the material body and the eternal nature of the spirit soul.

We are spirit souls

Who are simply just dressed differently, one has the dress of a dog, one has the dress of a king, one has the dress of a tiger, and so on...the soul acts according to the body it has acquired, if one has a bees body then he will be attracted to the nectar and if one has a worms body, he will be attracted to the stool, similarly if one has a child's body then he will act like a child and adult human body is a very desirable body according to the Veda, because it qualifies the spirit soul to acquire knowledge of it's existence and also it is able to understand what it God, none of the animals can understand the spirit soul and the Supreme soul, so human life is very special in this regard compared to the animals....

Having used most of my opening argument in establishing the basics behind my case, I shall now try to reconcile western thinking with eastern philosophy,

Further I would like to state a remark by a well loved scientist, astronomer and skeptic, Dr Carl Sagan, Who wrote in his book, The Demon Haunted World.

""there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study: (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation" -Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World, 1995.

Sagan was a healthy skeptic and added in the same book: "I pick these claims not because I think they're likely to be valid (I don"t), but as examples of contentions that might be true." They "have at least some, although still dubious, experimental support. Of course, I could be wrong." This is the approach that is needed, without the scoffing and the quick, judgmental pronouncements.

Also I refer to Dr Ian Stevenson, who dedicated his life to the subject and conducted research of some 3000 cases of re- incarnation, mostly including small children who claim to still remember and have knowledge a previous life.

Ian Pretyman Stevenson, MD, (October 31, 1918"February 8, 2007) was a Canadian biochemist and professor of psychiatry. Until his retirement in 2002, he was head of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, which investigates the paranormal.

I am almost at my limit of characters and have yet to fully explain my case, I will await the remaining rounds to further explain my position, I know hand the debate over to Thett3,

Many Thanks


Thanks to my opponent. In this round I will present my case and refute my opponents in the next.

What does it mean to decide something rationally?

To determine what is or is not more likely to be true on a rational basis, we need to have some kind of system for deciding what is consisent with reason and, hence, rational. We need some kind of weighing mechanism through which to evaluate the resolution. The real questions at hand is how much evidence consistent with reason do we need to determine what is more likely than not to be true, and do we have enough evidence to meet this burden? I submit that the answer is unequivocally no on both counts.

I. The case for skepticism

To evaluate things on a rational basis and to determine what is more likely than not necessitates that we evaluate the evidence. The problem with my opponents position, then, is that other than scattered stories from a few children (which I will address later) there simply isn't any evidence for any form of afterlife, or reincarnation. We can each look at what little evidence there is and come to a decision on what we think lies beyond death, and that's fine, but the only rational position to hold is a healthy degree of skepticism regarding the afterlife. No one has verifiably died and returned to life to tell of what secrets the realm beyond the grave holds, so the handful of phenomena we do have are not enough to make any kind of judgement.

We each have our subjective judgements of the world, religion, politics, ect. and again while there's nothing wrong with that, the problem this presents to my opponent and to anyone claiming that something regarding the afterlife is more likely than not is that everybody has their own standard for what would convince them something is "more likely than not". Someone who already believes in reincarnation for example would find any argument in favor of it more compelling than someone who is a fiendish critic of the idea of anything after death, so in order to affirm or negate the resolution we need some kind of objective (or at least, something closer to objective than just presenting phenomena and arbitrarily deciding which position they support partially based on our preconceptions) basis on which to judge which explanation best explains certain observations we make about our world. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the only concrete methodology we have to determine what is likely to be true and what isn't, the scientific method. And it is from this end where any supporters of any kind of afterlife see their arguments fall to pieces, because in order to determine anything scientifically we need actual evidence such as experiments and widespread observations to decide what is accurate, and when it comes to the afterlife we just do not have it. The scientific method is the best way to which hypotheses are true because of all methods for determining truth it has the greatest safeguards against bias. Either the evidence stacks up to par or it does not, and many a devoted scientist has found out their own hypothesis was wrong using this method.

Indeed, anyone making claims about the afterlife beyond speculation is misunderstanding the difference between a scientific hypothesis and a scientific theory and the evidence needed to support either one. William Tong explains[1]:

"The scientific method attempts to explain the natural occurrences (phenomena) of the universe by using a logical, consistent, systematic method of investigation, information (data) collection, data analysis (hypothesis), testing (experiment), and refinement to arrive at a well-tested, well-documented, explanation that is well-supported by evidence, called a theory."

A hypothesis is an attempt to explain a phenomena that has yet to undergo serious testing--since it is completely impossible to test any hypothesis regarding the afterlife, we're pretty much stuck with that. Now we can have competing hypotheses and can certainly decide which ones are more plausible--for example, far more plausible that we undergo reincarnation than that what actually happens after you die is that you become a star because we know what stars are-- but to claim that one is more likely than not to be true flies boldly in the face of pretty much all grounded and generally accepted method of decision making. My opponent needs to apply his arguments and examples to this standard, otherwise I could list examples of near death experiences and clinical death that support the Abrahamic version of the afterlife just as easily[2][3][4] and the debate would probably be decided by what the voters initially believed, despite neither of these perspectives mustering up to scientific determination.

I'm sure my opponent will object that it's impossible and unethical to experiment on what people see in the afterlife, and I agree completely. The problem here however is that without experimentation we have no basis to determine if a hypothesis is true. Now there are some things that, given widespread and repeated observation, can probably be accepted as fact. For example, I doubt there have been any experiments to determine if it's true that someone's hand hurts when they stick it into a fire, but reincarnation fails to meet this burden for obvious reasons. From this alone the resolution is negated.

What this means is not that we cannot hold positions on the afterlife, but rather that we need to accept that it's something we can never be even close to entirely sure about and hence making claims about whether any certain position is more likely than not to be true is absurd, and by far the rational position is the complete truth: we just do not know.

II. There is no definite position on the mind

This point ties in nicely with my skepticism argument. Right now there is intense and lively debate both inside the scientific and philosophical communities as well as outside them on what a person actually is/what a mind actually is. To put things in perspective, scientists, philosophers, and laymen alike aren't sure if people have free will or not, if the mind exists outside of the brain or not, what consciousness actually is, among many other things. To claim that it's more likely than not that we not only have some undetectable metaphysical component containing the essence of ourselves called a soul, but that after death this component latches onto a new life form and somehow, despite not retaining our memories (What is our essence, our self, if not the sum of all our experiences?) we are reborn is absurd in light of all the uncertainty regarding the human mind. My opponent has a big mountain to climb to overcome this, there needs to be some compelling evidence offered about why we should believe in a Soul. We will look closer at his arguments in round three, but this was where I found his argument most lacking. The entire idea of our souls being reincarnated hinges on the fact that a Soul exists to begin with, which is something I find impossible to prove conclusively either way. From this it follows that you must vote Con.

I greatly anticipate my opponents rebuttal, but until then I urge readers to vote Con.


3. 23 Minutes in Hell, Bill Weise
Debate Round No. 2


I express my thanks to thett3,

I conclude from my opponents round 2 that I haven't presented enough evidence for the rational decision to be taken that reincarnation should be accepted on a rational basis. Thett3 is asking for scientific proof of the soul, this as I have already admitted in my previous round, the soul can not be proven on an empirical basis, It can be accepted simply on the basis of circumstantial understanding, there is no empirical evidence of the soul, simply because the soul is not considered to be a material element, does that mean the soul does not exist? no.....There are other ways we can measure things which have no empirical substance but we can still conclude they exist, Gravity for example has no physical substance but we know it exists, love has no physical substance but we conclude love is real because we can measure it's effects, if we take my opponents account that unless everything is proven empirically, then we would be a very sad lot indeed. with that said I will offer what I deem to be ample amounts of circumstantial and observational evidence which should lead one to conclude the existence of the soul, and thus re-incarnation as most likely plausible, Also my opponent has mentioned an argument for skepticsim and from memory being thue sum of all our experiences, I agree we should be skeptical to begin with and almost certainly otherwise, but this does not mean we can not make rational decisions, my opponent claims that nodbody has ever came back from the dead to tell us what happens on the other side, on the contrary, there are many well documented cases from Dr Ian Stevenson who carried out over 3000 cases on the subject of reincarnation, and further introduce Dr Jim Tucker who has carried over Dr Ian Stevensons work

Visionary: Jim B. Tucker, MD

Some people seem to have memories of past lives. Are those memories accurate? How would you go about assessing the truth of those memories? Jim Tucker has made it his business to explore these matters. In his book, Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, he presents an overview of more than 40 years of research at the University Of Virginia Division Of Personality Studies into children's reports of past life memories. He describes some of the findings, includingunusual play, behavior patterns, specific phobias, and birthmarks or birth defects specifically related to the life and death of the previous personality. He will discuss the interpretation of the data and details about the methodology as well as possible pitfalls of individual cases.

Tucker challenges the notion that consciousness is only the result of a functioning brain. He suggests that consciousness can be considered separately from the brain, which provides a basis for claims of reincarnation. He also discusses objections to reincarnation: the few persons who actually claim to remember a past life, the fragility of memories, the population explosion, the mind-body problem, fraud, and others.

Also here I provide a philosphers explaination of this phenomenon who describes the case for reincarnation very beautifully and further goes on to claim that he goes a step further and say's, it is irrational to not believe in re-incarnation in light of the evidence. also he explains adequately that just because we have no scientific physical empirical data as to how one soul transmigrates from one body to another, that we can not know that it has transmigrated, he goes on to use an example of not having to know how you got into a room to know you are in the room, watching this seven minute video is vital to my case and is fully encouraged.

My opponent uses an argument from memory as being the sum of our experiences.
but an arguement from memory is no arguemnt at all, for example; we do not remember things that happened to us in this life time, two adults used to play togetther as children, One can remember but the other can not, just because one can not remember, does not mean the incidence's when the children played together didn't occur, so simply because I can not remember, is not a good argument. on the other hand, what is a good argument is that chlidren can sometimes remember their past lives which upon checking turn out to be accurate and can be explained in no other way other than reincarnation,

WINDSOR--A world-famous Canadian heart surgeon says he believes the body has a soul which departs at death and theologians ought to try to find out more about it.

"There are certain cases where you happen to be present at the moment when people pass from a living state to death, and some mysterious changes take place.
"One of the most noticeable is the sudden lack of life or luster to the eyes. They become opaque and literally lifeless.
"It's difficult to document what you observe. In fact, I don't think it can be documented very well."

Also the location of the mind in the material elements of the brain are not conclusive, it fact recent evidence suggests that three vital regions of the brain that were one thought vital for self awareness are not, and the location of the mind remains as elusive as ever,

So when his team heard about patient R, who had lost brain tissue including the chunks of the three 'self-awareness' regions following a viral infection, they immediately thought he could help set the record straight.

Not a zombie

According to the models based on neuroimaging, says Rudrauf, "patients with no insula should be like zombies".

But patient R displays a strong concept of selfhood. Rudrauf's team confirmed this by checking whether he could recognise himself in photographs and by performing the tickle test "

Also I could very well use an agument from statistics to defend my case, My opponent seems to want concrete evidence for reincarnation, instead of arguing if it's more likely that it exists, I think we can conclude it certainly is likely. even without scientific proof. not everything is scientifcally proven to exist, such as love. but we know love is real because we can feel it's presense....

But concerning weather or not it would be rational to believe in reincarnation, the answer is yes, seeing as 85 percent of the worlds population hold some faith in the worlds major religions, Hinduism declares re-incarnation. In Bhuddism is no secret that it declares reincarnation, The Koran

"And Allah hath caused you to spring forth from the Earth like a plant; Hereafter will He turn you back into it again, and bring you forth anew." - Koran (Sura 71:17-18)

"God generates beings, and sends them back over and over again, till they return to Him." - Koran

The Bible

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

Jeremiah 1:5

Above the Bible declares you were existing before you material birth and will have eternal life after your death either in a spiritula body or in hell, either way you will still get a body.

So here we see all the major religions promise an after life, in one form or another, so either 85% of the worlds population should either accept reincarnation on a rational basis or they should all declare there religions redundant on the basis of there being no rational reason to accept the after life.

I already explained we are not this body and all our atoms are replcaed and every so often we acquire a new body, yet we, 'the self' are still exitsing although the body is destroyed, we have a new body, life is not a combination of material elements otherwise the material scientists should demonstrate this by mixing together the excact chemical composition and create life.



Thanks again Johnlubba.

In his last round, my opponent rhetorically asks: "simply because the soul is not considered to be a material element, does that mean the soul does not exist?". I'm glad my opponent brought this up, because I think it can be utilized to illuminate the broader point of clash in the round, which is what kind of evidence do we need to conclude that something is more rational than not? In my last round, I explained not only what kind of evidence we need, but exactly the methodology we need to go about (which explains why phenomena like gravity and love can't , and why the afterlife fails to cross this hurdle. My argument was not one that the afterlife cannot exist, but rather that we just don't have anywhere near enough evidence to determine if it's more rational than not. Look to this when voting in the round.

John's case

John argues that sometimes children claim to have memories of other lives. First and foremost, even if I accept these claims as entirely true and these cases as entirely legitimate (I don't), this is not proof of a persons soul going into that of another. The very idea that our fundamental essence can interject itself into a new life with no memories of the previous existence the vast majority of the time raises all kinds of questions about what is meant by the concept of a "self". Recall also that my opponent never really gave a powerful argument for why the soul exists; saying that because our body grows and old cells are replaced means we have a soul is false. While old cells die off and new ones grow, this is not ourselves changing with only our soul to hold us to this world, but just a natural cascading biological process. As old cells die new ones are built, and all the while there trillions of cells existing concurrently. This is no proof of a soul, nor are any of the other increasingly vague assertions he cites from Eastern philosophers. This goes back to my case for skepticism, there's nothing wrong with holding a belief in a soul (I certainly do) but to conflate that belief with fact is a mistake, and to build a case upon what is more likely than not to be true without some powerful argument for the soul is flawed.

Anyway, even if we accept these examples as perfectly legitimate, they provide proof of reincarnation only insofar as that's what we are looking for. It's also entirely possible for these memory imprints to be other things. Perhaps consciousness itself is a universal force like gravity and these memories are from rare instances where parts of the force that used to be part of another particular person (not their soul) are used in another person in concentrations unusually high--this would explain the rarity of these occurrences. Or perhaps they are the work of some supernatural being for whatever reason, or some other unexplainable phenomena. And if just a few memories (not their entire memory, or any personal traits) are reborn, how is this the persons essence, their soul, being reborn? The fact of the matter is, like my case explained we simply do not know. If we are all reincarnated, why are these occurrences so rare? And if we are not all reincarnated and only a few are (which is why there are so few cases) than that surely is not more likely than not.

But the problem with the arguments I've just made is that I've presumed these cases are legitimate when they simply aren't. My opponent doesn't cite any actual examples of someone holding "memories" of a past life, he just cites researchers who claim to have the data themselves. The philosopher in my opponents video argues that reincarnation is likely if and only if "these kinds of cases" are acceptable as data. The problem is, if they are my opponent hasn't cited them and there are plenty of reasons to believe that they are not. As a typical example, most of these cases are almost certainly fraudulent, the result of extensive confirmation bias, leading questions, and hype. Not surprisingly, most of the research on reincarnation comes from Ian Stevenson, who grew up in a household holding quasi-religious/spiritual beliefs[1] prompting his research. Philosopher of religion Leonard Angel explains on Dr. Stevenson: "“I think he was trying to figure things out, but he just didn’t follow elementary proper standards." This is not to say that Stevenson's analysis is necessarily entirely wrong, but rather that it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Again, presume skepticism.

A child claiming something random cannot be taken as proof of reincarnation. A well told story of my childhood is when I randomly starting claiming to everyone I was a "spy from Germany from the war". I was too young to know what Germany was, or what "the war" was, but does this mean that in a past life I was a German intelligence officer? Absolutely not. It is nothing more than a random outburst from a child who probably heard the term somewhere. If my opponent claims that his examples of reincarnation are unlike this and more substantial than he would've needed to prove so by citing some of them. What we have now is a few people claiming that they've seen these amazing cases of children being reincarnated with memories of their past lives, but in this debate we have no such proof. What do these children claim to have seen? Do they have memories of specific family members, of vacations, jobs, sex, wars, and other things? Or do they merely claim to have lived in Kansas and get prompted to answer leading questions about "their" past lives? Children are very impressionable and it should come as no surprise that all of these cases come from children who will claim anything and believe anything.

As to my opponents arguments, a heart surgeon arguing that he believes in a soul but it "cannot be documented very well" is an example of a belief, not something that we hold as true under a rational basis. My opponent provides a good argument for why we can't be certain of where the mind is--this supports my contention two. If we can't even figure something as simple as that out, how can we claim to know the secrets of death? Major religious groups believing something does not make it true on a rational basis--my opponent has misinterpreted the scriptures, but even so this is irrelevant because believing something does not make it true. The resolution is negated by lack of evidence to meet the burden of proof even ignoring my arguments.

My case

Most of my arguments are virtually untouched. The problem of claiming what is more likely than not to be true despite having no means to test any hypothesis we do have remains as prevalent as before. I explained why skepticism should be presumed and why affirming the resolution is going to be a very difficult task in light of how to determine something as true on a rational basis, and my opponent makes no response. From here you vote negative. I encourage all readers to go back to my round two and re-read my arguments to see that most still stand. My opponent has provided some evidence for his hypothesis (I believe I've mitigated it greatly, but even ignoring that), but as I have shown there is evidence supporting other ideas of the afterlife available just as easily. We should not rush to identify phenomena as automatically proving anything when we have no widespread observations of these phenomena or means to test them. There have been dozens of purported sitings of the Virgin Mary[2], but does this prove Christianty? Surely not. My case stands. We cannot make any rational claims about the afterlife other than "we do not know", and hence the resolution is negated.


Debate Round No. 3


As this is the last round in this debate I would like to take this opportunity to thank my opponent for his participation and for his contribution to what I deem to be my favourite of all debates so far on this site, with that I commend my opponent for his well delivered and valiant attempt at offering rebuttals to my case.....'However' and there is always a however..... I do believe I hold the upper hand in this debate as I will attempt to show,

My opponent has accused me first and foremost of not touching on his objections, when I clearly gave objections to his arguments in my above round,


My opponent claims I have failed to provide, although even he himself is familiar with the phenomena I have presented, my opponent claims I haven't presented a single case, to which I object and challenge that I have indicated him in the right direction which points to valid scientific circles who claim to have an enormous account of data regarding this phenomena of children who can remember there past lives and which upon checking turn out to be accurate, which according to some academics, is conducted with rigorous scientific study, The doctor


I agreed it's crucial to be sceptical to begin with and almost certainly otherwise, I think even if we accept reincarnation on a rational basis we can still be sceptical about it's likeliness, but in light of the data we should accept it as the best explanation, none of the alternatives my opponent suggests, Con States

"Perhaps consciousness itself is a universal force like gravity and these memories are from rare instances where parts of the force that used to be part of another particular person (not their soul) are used in another person in concentrations unusually high--this would explain the rarity of these occurrences. Or perhaps they are the work of some supernatural being for whatever reason, or some other unexplainable phenomena". ....Con

None of the alternative explanations offered by my opponent have been as backed up by valid scientific or philosophical fields such as I presented, In other words my suggestion carries more weight than my opponents. Therefore I have offered valid reasons why my proposition is more likely...


Thirdly, the argument from memory, as I stated before, is no argument at all. And I adequately rebuttal this in my previous round, but yet we still see Con re-present his case without challenging my original objection. Simply put, because I can not remember, is not a very good argument, some people do not remember things they did in THIS life time, but that doesn't mean the incidences didn't occur, similarly, an old person who has aged may suffer from loss of memory or amnesia and lose all recollection of the days of their youth, does it mean she didn't exist , simply because she can not remember. No, therefore simply because I can not remember is not a good argument. And again I remind the audience that there are arguably 3000 cases well documented cases presented by Dr Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker MD, who carried over Dr Ian Stevenson's work and has many more cases of his own and is the medical director of the Child and Family Psychiatry Clinic, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine....

One such case reads

In 2006, Tucker investigated the case of Cameron Macaulay as part of the Channel 5 Documentary Extraordinary People: The Boy Who Lived Before.

Now, My strongest argument that comes from my opponent is, That we just don't know what lies beyond death and if the soul survives the body, and we shouldn't jump to conclusions, so we should remain sceptical, I have no problem with this line of thinking, but it does not mean we can not make rational decisions,
For example; Both theist and atheist alike, have no proof if God exists or does not exist, yet we both draw a rational conclusion as to weather he exists or not, although the theist believes he does and believes he reached that conclusion through being rational, still I agree, he still doesn't know, same as the atheist, he still doesn't know if God exists or not, Yet he holds no belief in God, yet even the atheist is sceptical and admits, although I don't believe God exists or lack a belief that he does, I can not know, and the theist holds a belief that God does exist, yet he still does not know. This example shows that we can make rational decisions being both atheist and theist, and yet still not know. But we make those decisions on the available data, and the data I have presented surly shows it is rational to accept re-incarnation as the best possible explanation for the Phenomena of children who can remember their past lives.

There is even an atheist argument for re-incarnation, don't ask me how, but there is, apparently. I won't present it as it is my last round, and to be honest I just looked it up and to my surprise, it's still possible for an atheist to believe in re-incarnation, as all atheism entails is lack of belief in God.

Conclusion, I have offered ample amounts of philosophical and analytical plus scientific based arguments for my case, although as Thett3 points out we should remain sceptical as we just don't know, is a good line of thought, I think we can conclude from the available data that re-incarnation in light of any alternatives my opponent has presented, should be considered more likely than not, on a rational basis. and is the best explanation of the phenomena.

With that said I will provide links which I previously presented to which I found broken,

And finally I would genuinely like to thank my opponent Thett3 for giving me a fantastic debate and for being a fantastic debater and giving me the opportunity to have this debate.........

But I urge the audience to Vote Pro, and live forever.

For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Chapter 2. Contents of the Gita Summarized


Many Thanks.


Thanks for the debate, John.

I'll first return to my own case and explain why it stands, then return to my opponents.

Evidence standard/skepticism

My opponents arguments never met the standard I argued was necessary to determine what is more rational than not. At most, Pro gives links to scientists who claim to have this kind of evidence without actually presenting any himself; we still have no idea of the nature of these supposed memories, and my opponent never responded to the blatant bias and lax standards of his main researcher--this is not an ad hominem attack on Stevenson, his work can still be right despite his bias, but the problem is in this round we're never actually given any of his work. We have only evidence to not take his findings seriously.

Moreover even if these cases are perfectly valid, they're only proof of reincarnation if that is what we were looking for the begin with. In my last round, I gave a variety of examples of ideas that these memory imprints could also prove, such as an intervensionist supernatural being, or conciousness as a life force. John responded to this argument exactly as I hoped he would, arguing:

"None of the alternative explanations offered by my opponent have been as backed up by valid scientific or philosophical fields..." This was exactly what I was trying to illustrate! Reincarnation as well has not been backed up by science and indeed it's impossible for it to! These cases are evidence for reincarnation only if we start initially looking for evidence of reincarnation, despite the fact that these phenomena (that haven't really been illustrated well in this round anyway) can support a myriad of hypotheses. My suggestions are just as valid as my opponents, and consquently this circles right back to my argument throughout the entire debate which is that we just cannot know.

You can extend my argument about how proving that any afterlife is more likely than not is impossible, which negates the resolution right here. We can have our own opinions, but these will never be able to be conclusively proven or disproven, this debate pretty much proves that as all the evidence my opponent brought up can be used to support all kinds of hypotheses. Recall also that isolated phenomena do not prove something is true--if we're going to follow that standard, pretty much every religion is true as the siting of the Virgin Mary and supposed experiences of the Christian afterlife illustrate.

My argument about how we can't prove that a soul exists and my opponents case is predicated upon the existence of a soul can also be extended. We know so little about the mind and about what a soul would actually be like that we can't affirm the resolution. My opponent misunderstands this argument and extensively argues against my passing statement that people are only the sum of their memories and their experiences. He makes a good argument for why memory is not our essence, but my actual argument was that the person we are is the sum of all our experiences. Even if we cannot remember something, it still shaped a part of us and helped to create our personality. But most importantly, this wasn't the major argument, rather it was that we don't know enough about the mind, the soul, or reincarnation to make any really powerful claims.

Indeed these supposed memories are likely not so. I gave an example from my own life (incidentally the only example given in round--my opponent gave a source listing a researcher conducting a television show about "Extraordinary people") of a child (me) claiming to be something it could not possibly be, but this does not prove reincarnation but rather that children will claim random things at time. Children will answer questions falsely and will believe just about anything because their minds are not yet complete. Convincing them that they've led a past life and then asking them questions about it does not prove reincarnation, and is it any surprise to anyone that these cases are all children? I made this argument in my previous round, children are impressionable and will often make wild claims for reasons adults can't really understand. Are there any adults claiming to have been reincarnated, or any of these children who maintain their claims into their adult lives? Somehow I find that very doubtful. There is simply no substance in this argument.

In response to the need for skepticism my opponent gives the example of atheists and theists who can come to rational decisions about their beliefs. First of all, this is extra-topical and fails to address the argument as well as not being an example of a similar case. The case of the existence of God is different as there are philosophical (along with scientific) arguments for/against the existence of God, which do not exist in the debate over life after death (if they do my opponent has failed to show them).

The summed up version is that my opponent claims there have been over 3000 cases proving reincarnation, I argue that not oly has he not introduced a few of these for evaluation (how can I refute what isn't presented?) but also that the scientists conducting these studies were biased and didn't meet scientific standards. I also explained why my arguments still stand in round, meaning that we have to presume skepticism and consequently negate the resolution. There is no way to conclusively prove an afterlife.

My arguments have stood my opponents scrutiny, and consequently the resolution is negated.

Johns case

There isn't much to say here as most of the debate especially in the last round ended up falling onto my contentions, even if much of it was actually his advocacy, it mostly tied in with my arguments in one way or another. Still, there are a few things that need to be cleared up, namely:

My opponent never gave any standard to decide what is more rational than not. I did, (the scientific method) and his case fails to meet this standard. As such voters need to judge this round based off of science, who provided better scientific evidence of their position. In that case, your ballot should be clear as no where in this round has my opponent even given an example of someone who lived before. Pro presents Carl Sagan as being somewhat impressed by the findings of some of these researchers, but in round the evidence John gave has been less than impressive; the fact of the matter is that Johns arguments failed to meet any legitimate hurdle.

I sincerely appreciate my opponents effort, but I genuinely believe and have provided evidence for the idea that we do need to presume skepticism and his case has failed to really move the debate in his direction. The problem with Johns case is that it probably would be convincing to someone who grew up believing in reincarnation, but the someone who hasn't the slightest idea what reincarnation would actually be like, such as myself, the idea that a soul exists and can be transferred into another being is not one that we can just presume but rather something that much be argued for.

In the end, what we have is very little in the way of evidence meeting any form of scientific standard, and we will have to negate.

Thanks to my opponent. I urge a con vote.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by johnlubba 1 year ago
Begginer, you didn't understand the debate. You RFD was a shambles.
Posted by Beginner 1 year ago
I'm not going to go back to reread the debate, but what I think I may have meant was that CON validly constructed an acceptable set of standards by which to judge the topic at hand. Your argument, on the other hand, didn't seem to recognize this fact and simply waved away the standard as an appeal for empirical evidence, which is far less than convincing. It was necessary that you convincingly refute the scientific theory as an acceptable standard for determining truths in order for you to effectively refute PRO's argument, and I guess I didn't feel that you did so.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
@ Begginer, I don't know if you have the best RFD or I am becoming more convinced by nuance.
But what does this mean?

CON's argument revolved around using the scientific theory as the standard for determining rational likelihood. PRO completely misunderstands the argument, construing it as nothing more than an appeal for empirical evidence.

If you are not asking for empirical evidence then what use is the scientific theory.

Didn't I provide an argument for the soul and then provide arguments for it's transmigration. To which a university depeartment at Virgina university are conducting studies to this day and for the past 40 years since Dr Ian Stevensons first started the investigation. Dr Ian Stevenson is was the head of perceptual studies at Virginia university, I don't think he reputation should be marred without proper or sufficent reasons to do so.

His Chracter is not in question, the data of their research is... I can learn to strengthen this point in future.
Posted by Beginner 3 years ago
JohnLubba, you've neither presented any specific case of a child recounting a past life for the voters/readers to consider nor have you presented anything to establish the veracity, viability or credibility of said children.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
Above all, Congrats to Thett3 for being a great contestant and for his impeccable conduct, Yes I am upset about the votes because people simply viewed the debate through rose tinted glasses and never gave the data much investigation apart from grasping the slim opportunity to declare that the scientists are themselves bias, or by expecting concrete scientific evidence for something as illusive as the soul's transmigration from one body to the another, even after admitting their is no physical process to verify such a process but instead the cases speak for themselves......Oh I forgot, they are bias scientists.

Well I don't believe they are being bias towards the investigation, I actually think the scientists are telling the truth and they conducted the investigation with scientific rigour according to some other academics . As I mentioned in the debate.

I wonder how well it would sit if I argued that Richard Dawkins argument about abiogenisis being likely was bias because he was an atheist.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
Pro simply did not meet the Resolution's claim of "more likely than not." Most of the debate Pro didnt even seem like he was defending that aspect, Hahahha That's hilarious......

but instead aiming only to show that reincarnation was a plausible or rational belief. Hahahha That's hilarious...... Really?

. For example, the final round argument about how "I have no problem with this line of thinking, but it does not mean we can not make rational decisions..." Pro just backs away from the Resolution and pretty much gives the debate to Pro.

No I never handed the debate to Con by admitting we can accept it's likeliness on a rational basis. That is noty handing the debate over to Con but being honest....Proving something more likely than not, Such as abiogenesis ( Which I don't advocate ) is not to say that you can prove it entirely but it's likeliness, as far as I know there is very little evidence to support the claim of abiogenesis, but that does not mean people can not accept it's likeliness on a rational basis, I also likened this to belief or non belief in God...

I will not delve any deeper into your RFD, because quite simply what's the point....

Al I will say is that about 30% of your RFD was constructive and, well, about 70% was hog wash.
Posted by Raisor 3 years ago

Pro simply did not meet the Resolution's claim of "more likely than not." Most of the debate Pro didnt even seem like he was defending that aspect, but instead aiming only to show that reincarnation was a plausible or rational belief. For example, the final round argument about how "I have no problem with this line of thinking, but it does not mean we can not make rational decisions..." Pro just backs away from the Resolution and pretty much gives the debate to Pro.

Pro wins the framework argument, that we should rely on scientific method for determining what is likely true. Arguments aside, Con doesn't provide a competing model of how to evaluate what is/isn/t likely to be true. Con sort of nods at what might sort of kind of be considered different epistemological models, but doesnt describe them or how the relate to this debate. Even those nods Con gives sound a lot like something similar to science, e.g. relying on circumstantial data sounds just like relying on observation.

Con also succeeds at poking holes in Pro's science-based evidence. Con points out that the author of Pro's studies is biased and has come under criticism for methodology AND that con has not actually presented the evidence his author relies on. In addition, Con has an even-if argument that offers plausible alternative explanations for this scientific evidence. Pro fails to explain how the evidence he brings out makes reincarnation more likely than these competing theories.

If the Resolution was "reincarnation is rationally plausible," I might have to think harder about this debate. But given the resolution, Pro has clearly failed to show reincarnation is more likely than not.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
I bought Con's claim that Pro had not provided any testable evidence for an afterlife and that we should therefore reject that there is any rational basis for accepting it. Royalpaldin

So Children who can remember their past lives is not testable evidence and I am to believe this, even so I provided the names of two reputable scientists who work in this field and claim to have over 3000 well documented cases, this is just swept underneath the carpet without any real investigation into the cases....I am sure the scientists are just being bias.....sure you are. Even though I state that some academics claimed Stevensons work was conducted under proper scientific rigour, How do you figure a bias from this?
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
This debater is not if I can prove re-incarnation as a fact but if I can show if it is more likely than not,
Also losing a debate to a single vote where the voter has voted in favour of my opponent in the last 5 out of ten votes has cast, is no big deal. Obviously you are being biased.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Beginner 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: A clear win by CON, who presents a compelling case in favor of skepticism by introducing the scientific theory as the solid basis by which the hypothetical can be proven to be more likely than not. CON's argument revolved around using the scientific theory as the standard for determining rational likelihood. PRO completely misunderstands the argument, construing it as nothing more than an appeal for empirical evidence. I find PRO's case, hinged on the words of certain potentially biased scholars (as indicated by CON, the scholars say there are evidence, but we, as readers on DDO, aren't presented with this evidence), to both fail to meet the uncontested rational standard introduced by CON and to fail to meet any standard of rationality that I know of. PRO fails to meet the burden of proof as per the resolution.
Vote Placed by Raisor 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Seems like a pretty clear Con win... RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by donald.keller 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: All and all, both sides had great sources, but Thett made a great Argument. John's was good to, but I'd say Thett won this one.
Vote Placed by Fruitytree 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did show that reincarnation is more likely than not, and Con only have shown that there is no empirical evidence, which isn't enough to suggest it is unlikely, and didn't even present a strong other explanations to counter the arguments of Pro! And I am intrigued at the people who voted Con considering the resolution ?
Vote Placed by philochristos 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: This was an interesting debate, but not nearly as in depth as I would've liked. I thought John's post, especially, wasted a lot of space discussing eastern and western philosophy and not getting down to the arguments. John had to show two things--that people have souls and that those souls inhabit different physical lives at different times. He argued that because we change bodies during one lifetime but remain the same person, that the person is not the body and therefore we have souls. Thett seemed to agree that our bodies are in a constant state of change, but he didn't say anything about personal identity through change, so I think John won on that point. But I think Thett won on the other point. John just didn't provide enough evidence to show that people had previous lives. He cited the research of two scientists, but thett explained how easily that kind of research can go wrong, and John didn't overcome those objections. So arguments to thett since that was crucial.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I think the main problem with the Pro case was that it was essentially a series of arguments from authority without actual proof, which was something that Con picked up on. It is not enough to say that the Baghavad Gita and Dr. Stevenson believe in reincarnation-we need to see the actual evidence, because Stevenson may have biased reasons for making the claims that he made, as Con pointed out. Con was the only one who presented any sort of framework, so I have to accept the standard of rationality and the criterion of the scientific method. I bought Con's claim that Pro had not provided any testable evidence for an afterlife and that we should therefore reject that there is any rational basis for accepting it. It seems like Pro tried to fight this back by saying that the soul intuitively exists, but he did not question the actual framework/mechanism, and intuition is not accepted in the method. I thought Con's case could have been strengthened if he had referenced Hume's theory of self