Explanatory Value of Reincarnation
Reincarnation is able to better provide explanations for certain observed phenomena that other theories are unable to do. Dr. Ian Stevenson wrote an article on this in the Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders. The following is an abstract of the article:
The idea of reincarnation is presented as having considerable explanatory value for several features of human personality and biology that currently accepted theories do not adequately clarify. Reincarnation is not offered as a substitute for present knowledge derived from genetics and understanding of environmental influences; it may, however, usefully supplement such knowledge. The present paper does not present evidence from cases suggestive of reincarnation. It does, however, cite cases of subjects who have claimed to remember previous lives, most of whose statements have been verified in the course of detailed investigations. For each case, a reference is provided to a detailed published case report furnishing the evidence in that case. The idea of reincarnation may contribute to an improved understanding of such diverse matters as: phobias and philias of childhood; skills not learned in early life; abnormalities of child-parent relationships; vendettas and bellicose nationalism; childhood sexuality and gender identity confusion; birthmarks, congenital deformities, and internal diseases; differences between members of monozygotic twin pairs; and abnormal appetites during pregnancy. Empirical studies of cases of the reincarnation type have so far not provided any evidence that justifies using reincarnation as an explanation for the occurrence of child prodigies of the large inequities in socioeconomic conditions of humans at birth. (Stevenson, J Nerv Ment Dis. 1977 May;164(5):305-26)
While the article states that empirical studies have not given evidences on the role of reincarnation in cases of prodigies and inequities, reincarnation does provide the most plausible explanation on the evident inequalities of talent and fortune of individuals — why some are born with severe disabilities and others are normal. Reincarnation further appears to offer a more rational view about the destiny of human beings after death. For example, Christian doctrines include the belief that people may go to eternal hell or damnation after death, a view that has been viewed with skepticism by many thoughtful people since no amount of faulty actions in one lifetime seem to deserve eternal punishment. Reincarnation opens up the possibility of people compensating for or rectifying their past faults or immature deeds, and the chance to grow to become a fully mature and self-actualized individual.
Such a possibility for continual and cumulative growth is compatible with age-old views in many spiritual traditions about human perfectibility. Christianity has passages in the Bible such as “Be ye perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48) and “just men made perfect” (Heb 12:23). Hindus speak of such perfected individuals as jivanmuktas or liberated souls. Buddhism refers to them as Arhats, Bodhisattvas or Buddhas. Islamic Sufism talks about “al-kamil al-insan” or the perfect person.