Tuesday, December 29, 2015

University of Virginia professor conducts research into reincarnation

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Genesis 3:1-5

If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Job 14:14

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25)

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27

As reported by Tara MacIsaac of The Epoch Times, December 11, 2014 (updated August 1, 2015) (bold in original):

Dr. Jim Tucker learned from the best. His predecessor in reincarnation studies at the University of Virginia, Dr. Ian Stevenson (1918–2007), earned the respect of America’s scientific community for his sober analyses, even if he didn’t convince everyone reincarnation undoubtedly exists.

Though he was based in the United States, many of Dr. Stevenson’s subjects were in Asia. Dr. Tucker is bringing the research home to America, a move with as many benefits as challenges...

...Far from fostering talk of past lives, some American families Dr. Tucker has worked with have been dead-set against it. Only after convincing evidence emerged that the child was remembering a past life—evidence strong enough to convince skeptical parents—would Dr. Tucker hear from them.

For example, an evangelical Christian in Louisiana who was completely resistant to the idea of reincarnation was eventually convinced by the details his son gave of a past life.

When his son, James Leininger, was 2 years old, he began having horrific nightmares of crashing in a plane. The boy said he was shot down by the Japanese, that his plane took off from the Natoma ship, and that he had a friend named Jack Larson. He also identified the site where he crashed, Iwo Jima, from a photograph.

Iwo Jima is an island that the United States fought to capture in 1945. The Natoma was indeed involved in the Battle for Iwo Jima. One pilot died in the battle, and a pilot named Jack Larson was also on the Natoma.

Leininger started saying he was the third James. The pilot who died in the Battle for Iwo Jima was named James Huston Jr. That would make James Leininger the third James if he is the reincarnation of this pilot.

Dr. Tucker was raised Southern Baptist himself. When asked how his family feels about his research, he said, “I don’t completely know how they feel about it.” His mother is supportive, though he’s not sure she’s convinced reincarnation exists. His wife and children are supportive.

He’s also lucky to work with supportive colleagues at the University of Virginia. The university’s Division of Perceptual Studies brings together researchers who investigate near-death experiences, apparitions, death-bed visions, and other topics related to human consciousness.

“You never know who’s going to be open to it,” Dr. Tucker said. “It’s different to be sure, but I think that we approach it in a way that’s reasonable and that’s true to the overall scientific approach of curiosity, trying to learn about what’s going on without having any preconceived ideas.”

He also conducts more conventional research alongside his reincarnation studies. While the conventional methods of scientific investigation are able to measure phenomena with a reassuring certainty, Dr. Tucker said there are many important subjects that don’t necessarily lend themselves to conventional study. They should, however, still be explored.
The Benefits of Reincarnation Research

Reincarnation research can help some children who are having a hard time coping with past-life memories. Such children can sometimes even experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by their visions of dying violently. Some have phobias related to these traumatic visions, and some simply talk about missing their old family members so much they become very agitated. In solved cases, children who have visited the families of their past-life incarnations have often resolved the issues that were upsetting them.

Dr. Tucker explained that sometimes it helps because the child’s memories have been validated, or because the child can see that the old family moved on and that life is in the past. Either way, children usually stop talking about their past lives around the age of 6 or 7.

Another way in which this research may help Americans, is that it confirms a belief in the afterlife. Dr. Tucker said that his research can hopefully help people treat each other better, though he says any kind of spiritual belief, whether in reincarnation or otherwise, can help in this regard.

Will Americans one day be as open to the idea of reincarnation as people in Eastern cultures? “I don’t necessarily see the American culture moving in that direction,” Dr. Tucker said. Roughly 20 percent of Americans believe reincarnation may exist, he said, and there’s no indication that belief is on the rise. But Americans may be more likely to believe in reincarnation after hearing examples within their own culture of children who seem to remember past lives, rather than examples from villages on the other side of the world.

As for the multiple details that children give of their past lives that match up with real people who have died, Dr. Tucker said, “It defies logic that it would just be a coincidence.”

He gave the example of a woman in Lebanon who accurately gave 25 names of people from her past life along with descriptions of their relationships. In his book, “Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives,” Dr. Tucker gives many examples of children in the United States and abroad whose apparent recollections of previous lives have confirmed his belief in life after death.
As reported by Tara MacIsaac in The Epoch Times, October 21, 2015 (updated December 13, 2015) (bold in original):

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—Dr. Jim Tucker works at the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) as a reincarnation researcher.

He has a database of about 2,000 cases of children who seem to remember past lives. Some of these children’s memories have been verified to match in detail the lives of people who have died, suggesting the memories are genuine.

Tucker spoke with Epoch Times about his work, starting with the terminology. In his academic work, he usually prefers terms such as “survival” instead of “reincarnation.”

“There are a lot of connotations with ‘reincarnation,'” Tucker said. The religious connotations do not necessarily have bearing on the cases he studies. “Stated most conservatively,” he said, “[the cases] provide evidence that some young children have knowledge of events that happened in the past and their experience of that knowledge is that they are memories that they went through themselves.”

“The simplest explanation is that they’re recalling a life they actually lived,” Tucker said...

...“With our cases, we don’t take anything on faith if we don’t have to … The question is, do the things that they say match with the life of somebody in the past? … In the strongest cases, it would have been impossible for the children or even their parents to have committed fraud, because the information was so hard to come by...”

...Database of Cases, Patterns Emerge

“We’ve studied 2,500 cases, and we have this data base where we code each case on 200 variables,” he said. “We can see patterns from the group of cases that you can’t necessarily see on an individual level.”

An example of a pattern he’s observed is that more boys talk about past lives than girls. This seems strange, because girls are usually more verbal at a younger age. But Tucker thinks he may have figured it out.

About 90 percent of children talk about memories of past lives as the same sex. “So when we say more boys talk about these cases than girls, we’re saying that more of the previous personalities were male than female, and … it’s in the unnatural deaths where there are more males than females.”

About 73 percent of the unnatural deaths purportedly remembered by children are male. This correlates to U.S. statistics which show that in a five-year period 72 percent of unnatural deaths in the country were male.
Traumatic Deaths and Birthmarks

Many of the outstanding cases involve children remembering traumatic deaths or traumatic experiences in past lives. Sometimes the children even have birthmarks that seem to match the wounds from their past lives.

Tucker considered how a past-life wound could physically appear on the body of a baby in the present life, how the mind might imprint a mark on the body.

“We know that specific images in the mind can sometimes produce specific marks on the body. For instance, there are what are called stigmata cases where someone will pray intently to Jesus and then develop what appear to be wounds like the wounds of Jesus described in the Bible.

“Or there’s this well-known case where a man was recalling a very traumatic event where he had been tied up. He developed what looked like rope marks on his arms.”

“If someone dies a traumatic death, then if the consciousness does carry on, it may carry with it the imprint of that memory … to the developing fetus,” he said. The memory could thus cause the marks to appear where the wounds were.
American Cases

Tucker’s predecessor at the university, Dr. Ian Stevenson, did much of his research in Asia or sometimes Africa and other regions. Tucker has decided to focus more on cases in the United States.

He said one of the advantages of this approach is that more records are usually available for verification in America than in Asian villages. Another advantage is people can’t argue that it’s a cultural belief in reincarnation causing the children to fantasize about a past life. Most of the American cases take place in families that have no initial belief in reincarnation.
Regression Not as Trustworthy

Tucker does not study cases of past lives remembered through hypnosis.

“One problem with hypnotic regression is that hypnosis itself is just such an unreliable tool, even for memories from this life,” he said. Sometimes people may recall things they read or watched, he said. “It’s very hard for someone to tell if it was a memory or just a fantasy during hypnosis.”

He acknowledged, however, that there have been some exceptions, some cases with verification.
What’s It Like to Die?

About 20 percent of the children who report past-life memories also talk about the time between lives. They sometimes talk of floating up and seeing their bodies, some talk of going to other realms, of being led to their next parents, and a variety of other experiences.

Concerning how his work has affected his view of his own mortality, Tucker said: “I’ve become persuaded over the years that there does seem to be more than just the physical world … that there is this consciousness piece that’s separate … I don’t see any reason that consciousness would be completely dependent on the living brain.”

He said, “I’d still like to put it off as long as possible, but I’m hopeful that after I die, I’ll be able to have new experiences.”
One of the reasons I believe that the early chapters of Genesis are accurate history rather than fiction is because the lies told by the serpent in Genesis 3 are the same lies being spread and believed today: God hasn't spoken; you shall not die; and you shall be as gods. If Satan can deceive people on the subject of death and the afterlife, they are deceived indeed, especially if Satan can deceive people when they're young. It's worth noting that the reports of past lives seem to be increasingly coming from children; for recent examples, go to The Epoch Times and search their site under "reincarnation."

The cases described by Dr. Tucker conflict with what the Bible says concerning death and the afterlife; they aren't, therefore, evidence for reincarnation, but they are evidence that something is happening in the spiritual realm. The truth is to be found in Scripture; the Bible teaches resurrection--not reincarnation--to eternal life for the saved, and eternal damnation for the lost:

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death...
...But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
I Corinthians 15:20-26, 35-55

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years...
...And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:5-6, 12-15

For further reading on this subject from a Christian perspective, I recommend three books that are long out of print, but are worth reading: Is There Life After Death? by Zola Levitt and John Weldon (1977); The Other Side of Death by Tal Brooke (1979); and The Reincarnation Sensation by Norman L. Geisler and J. Yutaka Amano (1986).

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