The idea of resurrection is something that represents the idea of simply coming back from the dead which can often bring an interesting debate of whether it is possible, was the person ever dead or has it just been an idea that is only possible through the interpretation of Lazarus coming back from the dead in the Bible. However, reincarnation goes onto create what may appear as a paradox with ‘life after death’= to have life after death in itself is contrary but the concept of this occurring is not able to be empirically tested but cannot be falsified due to when someone dies, who knows if they come back again. Thus deciding whether resurrection is more likely than reincarnation can be a hard decision but with the lacking evidence of resurrection but the compelling possibilities of reincarnation I would suggest reincarnation is more likely despite the mystery of the topic. In the essay I will argue for this.
To begin, John Hick put forward the replica theory in his ‘death and eternal life’ which gives an idea of resurrection a possibility. Hick gives an analogy of John Smith who goes through three stages. The first looks at John Smith disappears in America and returns alive in India being the exact same. The second is he dies in America but returns in India as a replica ‘recreated miraculously in another place’. The third is John Smith dies on Earth and returns as replica in a different world altogether inhabited only by the resurrected. Hick believes this supposition provides a ‘model by which one can conceive of the divine recreation of the inhabited personality.’ Yet what is interesting is that this idea of having a replica in Hicks sense gives an idea of combining reincarnation and resurrection for the issue here is whether disappearing and reappearing in a different country but still with the exact body and personality is resurrection as Jon Smith is being brought back to life on the same planet but if it changes to a different realm, is this then reincarnation? Creating a confusion over what actually Hicks trying to represent here. Suggesting it is giving possibility to the ‘divine recreation of the inhabited personality’ gives the impression that it is about accepting a ‘Godly force’ of some description that allows those who die to reincarnate as the same person just in another place. This however seems far fetched considering the idea of if we kept the same personality, why do we not just have a continuing form of the same people on Earth, do they change names but have the same personality? Does that mean the Presidents in America are always the same person just a new name has been placed on them? Or is Hick trying to imply that when we die there’s a resurrection on another form of our planet but with our exact body and soul embedded in ourselves. Surely one would recollect the memories that we place have otherwise we would be a new human being in every sense, simply cannot survive without memories for they have our basic motor skills which are now subconscious. Without remembering, one cannot develop as the same person and so to replicate the exist person somewhere else is not a possible in the physical realm, whether divinely or not, the existence of the same person suddenly appearing in our world or another of fellow resurrected defeats the object of resurrecting in the same world but instead goes into the idea of other worlds which can only lead to a confusing conclusion thus resurrection is not more likely than reincarnation from this point of view.
Another person to consider is Geach is believed in material continuity. Material continuity looks at having the embodied existence of the personality and the physical self. Whether this is possible is still unverified and Ayer simply suggests that rather like other forms of religious language- it is meaningless. Yet Geach further the idea of material continuity with ‘half belief’. A concept which considers that there has to either be material continuity or memories with characteristics of the past life. Geach chose material continuity to be ‘necessary to accept’ thus a premise of accepting this can only lead to believing that somehow the body can continue it’s physical self. How this is remains a question to be asked but in response Geach argued the realm of forms is where the soul goes to but it is a physical place where the soul see’s forms as normal senses would do our subjected versions of these forms. One can see how Geach is trying to develop his standpoint of having the soul a physical characteristic that can experience as we do on earth so show how the embodied existence could work after death in a physical sense but where does the physical self go? Does one get reincarnated on this earth meaning to say that with the same characteristics of other people, a new born baby could well be Hitler. However surely they would remember past lives and so a repeat of how they are brought up would surely be at risk or is can the social conditioning of our society eventually have a lasting affect on the child? When looking at Geach’s point of view it comes no nearer to deciding which is the most likely to occur as one simply gets found in wondering if this again, this idea of material continuity is actually possible to recreate the physical body or if a soul essence is brought alive which transfers memories and characteristics into a reincarnation but this leaves the question of how come people don’t remember past lives as detailed as one should do? Thus neither are more likely to occur.
This idea of reincarnation can lead to the Buddhist point of view which Gandhi puts forward too. Reincarnation is seen as a process of development to keep going until the soul has reached a state of fulfilment. Perhaps this explains somewhat the idea of forgetting our memories etc. as it is in fact the virtues we retain like temperance or fortitude. This continues on in our souls develop metaphysically rather than adding to our physical body and continuing as the same person. For me, this viewpoint is one of the strongest as it represents the answers to not remembering much or any of our past lives if they existed and to why we don’t just continue looking exactly the same as we did before. It also explains why more people are being born as perhaps people who once were fulfilled have lost sight and needed to return to develop or animals become involved and we end up choosing to live a life of opposite when previously an animal or human. Otherwise if we were the same people then why would more and more babies being born? This for me gives some proportion of an answer and helps explain that reincarnation is the most likely rather than resurrection.
There is the view from Richard Dawkins set out in ‘the river of Eden’ which suggests how we as humans are simply ‘survival machines’ ,flowing like the ‘river of Eden’ and keep on evolving. He says that there is no divine purpose apart from survival. This then rules out the idea of resurrection and reincarnation altogether for if we are here to survive then what is the point of trying to develop intuitions in the hope of reincarnating into a more fulfilled being in the next life or reaching Kant’s Summum Bonum where those who are good in this life go after life. Dawkins explains the evil that is justified for if we are survival machines then one should do what is necessary and leaves one ruling out the idea of faith. Despite this people such as David Hume still proper the idea that ‘death is not the end’, perhaps pointing at a divine purpose to it all that we simply do not have the empirical evidence for except from faith. Either way, if one is to reject Hume’s claim and trust in Dawkins then one is again met at the conclusion that neither reincarnation or resurrection are more likely than the other but it is indeed a simple death is what is met.
However, to conclude, the point of faith is to accept in something that may cause doubt but this doubt is what can strive one to continue to believe in something greater that just the small chance of reaching a fulfillment after death is then better to lead a morally fulfilling life than to believing in ‘survival machines’. Resurrection for me is less likely than reincarnation as I believe reincarnation offers the chance to redeem through the physical world again, continuing with the virtues we have gained or lost to keep going until a fulfilment is met. The reincarnation in the sense of being the same person to me is to much like resurrection and to be able to continue the physical body in the exact state for me is too illogical whereas being able to reincarnate the characteristics of a person through virtues gives chance to forget past lives and try again. Something that for me makes sense as human error can mean that nobody is going to reach fulfilment straight away otherwise the planet would still be a perfect eco-system but instead one can develop and eventually lead to a fulfilled life along with others who have in some form of spiritually developed realm outside the physical. Thus reincarnation is the more likely rather than resurrection.