Reincarnation exerts a real force of seduction on Western mentalities. After a general presentation in the first article, the second article gave the judgments of the Church. The third and fourth articles presented the points of conflict between metempsychosis and Catholic dogma. The subsequent articles examine the question from the point of view of philosophy.
There remains one argument that is said to be decisive in favor of reincarnation, that of the facts. Contra factum non fit argumentum. The most learned reasoning does not stand up to the facts. If reincarnation is impossible, how can the abundant testimonies of those who say they remember past lives be interpreted? Are they all charlatans?
As this solution appears difficult to support, the best way to proceed is by elimination. The first articles have absolutely excluded divine intervention. God cannot, because He cannot contradict Himself, want reincarnation, nor give the illusion of it to men. Healthy philosophy has shown that, for its part, this thesis is in radical opposition to the laws of nature. Therefore, healthy and right thinking cannot adhere to it.
Two phenomena remain which could account for the advanced experiences: a preternatural influence and a psychic illness.
* A diabolical intervention
This is not to be dismissed too quickly. The devil indeed has a power over our imagination and our senses. He can very well simulate in his victims the memory of a previous life, with the most astonishing details, and make them speak a language hitherto unknown to them.
How can we be surprised that the devil now exercises such a wide influence when so many people give themselves over to him, appeal to occult forces, to “spirits,” to the fables of astrology? They thus open their souls to the devil.
We must also remember the religious character of metempsychosis. This is not primarily a philosophical system. It claims a global explanation of the world, of man, of his destiny. It is a religion, all the more formidable as it presents itself in the guise of austere discipline. We should therefore ask ourselves: who benefits from the crime?
Is there not a hidden hand, a preternatural force, behind the many variations of reincarnation, their prodigious propaganda and even some of the facts they are based on?
Two authoritative voices provide us with the answer: St. Paul tells us, “I say that what the pagans offer in sacrifice, they offer to demons, and not to God.” (I Col. 10:19). And St. Irenaeus: “the gods of the nations (the pagans) not only were no gods at all, but even the idols of demons.” (Against Heresies, IV, 24).
* Mental disorders
But do we have to go back so far to interpret all the cases of remembrances? It seems not, and we must consider another explanation, not exclusive of the first, that of mental disorders.
Mental illnesses, of which many of our contemporaries are the victims, alcohol abuse, the use of hallucinogens, can they not account for the phenomenon that we are studying?
In order not to say anything gratuitously, we have turned to a man of the trade, a psychiatrist. His science of mental illness and his experience confirm the results that we have obtained through philosophy. Here is the text of his response.
“Refuting metempsychosis and all the theories revolving around reincarnation is very commendable. These ideas spread very quickly and, through conceit, a person can adhere to them without thinking. In psychiatric pathology we meet up with delusional speeches with a theme of a previous life, in two circumstances. The first case is that of chronic delusional psychoses:
“- in chronic hallucinatory psychosis;”
“- in fantastic delusions (or paraphrenic delusions);”
“- in schizophrenic delusions.”
“You should know that this delirium, or hallucinations, as a symptom, are a means of defense. The patient unwittingly ‘chooses,’ unconsciously, to become delusional for the economy of anguish that it gives him in the face of his unhappiness with a painful reality and with which he can no longer establish links.”
“Out of all this comes an unshakeable conviction of the delusional in his delirium, a desperate attachment to his symptoms. ‘You would have to be crazy not to believe it,’ said Gaëtan de Clérambault. It has been observed that certain delusional subjects, brutally stripped of their delirium by a neuroleptic course of treatment, presented a severe depressive state and could commit suicide.”
“The second case is the addictive use of hallucinogens (LSD, mushrooms, peyote, etc.). Many of the classic symptoms of schizophrenia and its possible delusional episodes are found in hallucinatory drunkenness.”
“You ask me how to explain the fact that many people in good faith remember past lives?”
“If these are 'normal' people I don't believe it at all. They are pathological liars.”
“If they are 'healed' delusional people they can have memories of their fruitful times.”
“Personally, I have never met a so-called normal person who remembers a previous life. "
This study on reincarnation therefore gives us the joy of seeing once again the perfect harmony between revelation, sound philosophy, and the human sciences. It also offers us the only remedy for this epidemic: a return to a deep faith, to the realistic philosophy of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, and to a balanced life.
Fr. Jean-Dominique OP