Tag Archives: Carl Sagan

Reincarnation as a Scientific Possibility: Carl Sagan’s Contemplation on Life’s Continuum

For millennia, the concept of reincarnation has been an integral part of various spiritual and religious traditions around the world. However, the idea of the soul transmigrating from one body to another after death has often been met with skepticism and deemed unscientific. Carl Sagan, the renowned astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, was one of the few scientists who contemplated the possibility of reincarnation as a scientific concept. In this article, we will explore Sagan’s views on reincarnation, his perspective on the scientific basis of this phenomenon, and the evidence supporting it. We will also address the common misconceptions surrounding reincarnation and its implications for ethics, philosophy, and spirituality. Join us on this journey to delve into the fascinating topic of reincarnation and its place in the continuum of life.

The concept of reincarnation: history, beliefs, and controversies

The concept of reincarnation has been a fascinating topic of discussion and contemplation for centuries. Reincarnation, also known as rebirth, is the belief that after death, the soul is reborn in a new body. This concept is deeply rooted in many spiritual and religious traditions and has been a source of controversy and debate in the scientific community.

The history of reincarnation can be traced back to ancient Indian and Greek cultures. The Hindu and Buddhist religions believe in the cyclical nature of life and death, where the soul is reborn in a new body after death, based on its karma or actions in its previous life. In ancient Greece, the philosopher Pythagoras also believed in the transmigration of the soul, where the soul is reborn in a new body after death.

Reincarnation has also been a topic of discussion in the Western world. In the 19th century, the idea of reincarnation gained popularity in the West through the works of spiritualists and the Theosophical Society, founded by Helena Blavatsky. Theosophy, a religious and philosophical movement, believed in the concept of karma and reincarnation.

The concept of reincarnation has been a source of controversy and debate in the scientific community. Many scientists have dismissed the idea of reincarnation as a superstition and a myth. The scientific method requires empirical evidence to support any claims, and there is no scientific evidence to support the concept of reincarnation.

However, some scientists have explored the possibility of reincarnation as a scientific concept. One such scientist was Carl Sagan, an American astronomer and science communicator. Sagan believed that the concept of reincarnation was worth exploring from a scientific perspective. He believed that the idea of reincarnation could be explained through the laws of physics, specifically the conservation of energy.

Sagan proposed that the human body and mind are made up of energy and matter, and that energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed. Therefore, when a person dies, the energy that made up their body and mind is not destroyed, but transformed into a new form of energy. Sagan believed that this transformation of energy could explain the concept of reincarnation.

While Sagan’s ideas about reincarnation have not been widely accepted by the scientific community, they have sparked a new interest in the concept of reincarnation. The possibility of reincarnation as a scientific concept raises many questions about the nature of consciousness and the human experience.

The concept of reincarnation has also been the subject of controversy in the religious and spiritual communities. Some religious traditions, such as Christianity, do not believe in reincarnation and consider it to be incompatible with their beliefs. Other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, embrace the concept of reincarnation as a central tenet of their faith.

Controversy also exists within the spiritual community regarding the accuracy of past life regression therapy. Past life regression therapy is a form of therapy that uses hypnosis to access past life memories. Proponents of past life regression therapy believe that it can help individuals resolve issues and traumas from past lives that are affecting their current life. However, critics argue that past life regression therapy is not based on scientific evidence and is therefore unreliable.

In conclusion, the concept of reincarnation has a rich history and is deeply rooted in many spiritual and religious traditions. While the scientific community has not widely accepted the concept of reincarnation, some scientists, such as Carl Sagan, have explored the possibility of reincarnation as a scientific concept. The controversy surrounding the concept of reincarnation raises many questions about the nature of consciousness and the human experience. Ultimately, the belief in reincarnation remains a deeply personal and spiritual choice.

Carl Sagan’s perspective on reincarnation and its potential scientific basis

Carl Sagan, one of the most prominent scientists of the 20th century, was known for his insatiable curiosity and willingness to explore even the most controversial of topics. One such topic that Sagan contemplated was the concept of reincarnation, which is the belief that after death, one’s soul is reborn into a new body.

Sagan was not a believer in reincarnation in the traditional sense, as he was a staunch advocate for empirical evidence and scientific rigor. However, he did acknowledge that the concept of reincarnation had some intriguing scientific implications.

One of the key ideas that Sagan explored was the concept of the “continuum of life.” In his book, “The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence,” Sagan discussed how life on Earth is interconnected, with all living things sharing a common ancestry. He noted that the atoms that make up our bodies were once part of other living organisms, and that the energy that sustains us is ultimately derived from the sun.

Sagan believed that this interconnectedness could extend beyond just the physical realm, and into the realm of consciousness. He acknowledged that there was no empirical evidence to support the idea of consciousness surviving death, but he suggested that it was not entirely implausible.

Sagan noted that there were some intriguing cases of people who claimed to have memories of past lives, and that these memories were often eerily accurate. He speculated that these memories could be explained by a sort of “genetic memory,” where the experiences of past generations are somehow encoded in our DNA.

While this idea may seem far-fetched, there is actually some scientific evidence to support it. Studies have shown that traumatic experiences can cause changes to our DNA that can be passed down to future generations. This phenomenon is known as epigenetic inheritance, and it could potentially explain how memories or experiences from past generations could be passed down through our genes.

Sagan also explored the idea that consciousness could be a fundamental aspect of the universe, existing independently of the physical body. He noted that there were some intriguing similarities between the concept of consciousness and some of the fundamental forces of the universe, such as gravity and electromagnetism.

While Sagan’s musings on reincarnation and the continuum of life may seem like purely speculative ideas, they actually have some intriguing scientific implications. For example, if consciousness is a fundamental aspect of the universe, it could potentially be measured and studied in the same way that we study other fundamental forces.

Furthermore, if memories or experiences can be passed down through our genes, it could have important implications for fields like psychology and psychiatry. It could potentially explain why certain phobias or anxieties seem to run in families, and could help us develop more effective treatments for these conditions.

In conclusion, while Carl Sagan may not have been a believer in reincarnation in the traditional sense, he did acknowledge that the concept had some intriguing scientific implications. His explorations of the continuum of life and the interconnectedness of all living things could potentially have important implications for fields like psychology, psychiatry, and even physics. While we may never know for certain if reincarnation is a scientific possibility, Sagan’s contemplations remind us to always keep an open mind and explore even the most controversial of topics.

Scientific evidence supporting reincarnation: studies, theories, and findings

The concept of reincarnation, or the belief in the transmigration of a soul from one body to another after death, has long been a subject of fascination and controversy. While it is commonly associated with religious and spiritual beliefs, some scientists and researchers have delved into the possibility of reincarnation having a scientific basis.

Studies and research into reincarnation have been conducted around the world, with some of the most notable being those carried out by the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia. Stevenson spent over 40 years investigating cases of possible reincarnation, collecting and analyzing data from over 3,000 children from various parts of the world who claimed to remember past lives.

One of the most intriguing findings from Stevenson’s research is the consistency of the memories reported by children. Many of them recalled details about their previous lives, including names, places, events, and people, that were later found to be accurate through historical and other records. Some children even identified their past families and relatives, and were able to recount details about their relationships and personal experiences that were unknown to anyone else.

In addition to Stevenson’s work, other researchers have looked into possible scientific explanations for reincarnation. One theory is that consciousness is a non-local phenomenon that transcends the physical brain, and that memories and experiences can be stored in the universe itself. This theory, known as the holographic universe theory, suggests that our consciousness is a holographic projection of information stored in the universe, and that it can survive beyond the death of our physical bodies.

Another theory, proposed by the late Dr. Brian Weiss, a psychiatrist and past-life regression therapist, is that reincarnation is a way for souls to learn and evolve over multiple lifetimes. Weiss claimed to have helped thousands of patients access past-life memories through hypnosis, and found that many of them were able to overcome psychological and physical issues by addressing unresolved traumas from past lives.

While these theories and findings are intriguing, it’s important to note that the scientific evidence for reincarnation is still limited and controversial. Many skeptics argue that the memories reported by children can be explained by coincidence, suggestion, or fabrication, and that there is no solid proof for the existence of consciousness beyond the physical brain.

However, some researchers continue to explore the possibility of reincarnation having a scientific basis, and new studies and methods are being developed to test and verify past-life memories. For example, the late Dr. Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, carried on Stevenson’s work and developed a standardized protocol for investigating cases of possible reincarnation. The protocol involves interviewing the child, their family, and other witnesses, as well as collecting and verifying information about the past life and comparing it to historical records.

Despite the controversies and limitations surrounding the scientific evidence for reincarnation, the concept continues to fascinate and inspire people around the world. For many, the idea of reincarnation offers a hopeful and empowering perspective on life, death, and the meaning of existence. Whether or not reincarnation is ever fully proven or accepted as a scientific possibility, it remains a subject of ongoing curiosity, debate, and contemplation.

Implications of accepting reincarnation as a scientific possibility: ethical, philosophical, and spiritual considerations

Reincarnation, the belief that after death the soul returns to a new body, has been a topic of philosophical and spiritual debate for centuries. However, in recent years, the scientific community has begun to explore the possibility of reincarnation as a scientific concept. This shift in perspective raises a number of ethical, philosophical, and spiritual implications that must be considered.

From an ethical standpoint, the acceptance of reincarnation as a scientific possibility could have far-reaching implications for issues such as social justice and equality. For instance, if one’s circumstances in life are determined by one’s past lives, then it could be argued that those who are disadvantaged in this life are simply experiencing the consequences of past actions. This view could be seen as justifying inequality and social stratification. On the other hand, the idea of karma, the concept that one’s actions in this life will affect one’s future lives, could encourage people to act in more ethical and moral ways in order to improve their future lives.

From a philosophical perspective, the acceptance of reincarnation as a scientific concept raises a number of questions about the nature of consciousness and the self. If consciousness is not tied to a specific body or brain, but rather exists independently and moves from body to body, then what is the true nature of the self? Does it exist beyond the physical body, and if so, what is its relationship to the body and the brain? These questions have been the subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries and may have profound implications for our understanding of human nature and the nature of reality itself.

On a spiritual level, the acceptance of reincarnation as a scientific possibility could have a significant impact on religious and spiritual beliefs. Reincarnation is a central concept in many religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and its acceptance as a scientific concept could lend credibility to these beliefs. However, it could also challenge the traditional views of some religious groups, such as those that believe in a single, final judgment or afterlife. Additionally, the possibility of past lives could provide a new perspective on the meaning and purpose of life, encouraging people to view their experiences in a broader context and to consider their actions in light of their potential impact on future lives.

While the acceptance of reincarnation as a scientific possibility raises many questions and challenges, it also has the potential to offer new insights into the nature of human existence and the universe itself. As Carl Sagan once said, “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” If the soul does indeed exist beyond the physical body, then it is possible that our experiences and actions in this life are part of a larger, cosmic plan. Whether or not we choose to accept reincarnation as a scientific concept, it is clear that the implications of this idea are far-reaching and will continue to be the subject of debate and inquiry for years to come.


The Astonishing Evidence That Made Carl Sagan Believe “Reincarnation Deserves Serious Study”

By Arjun Walia (via Collective-Evolution)


  • The Facts: Carl Sagan wrote in 1996 that reincarnation, among other topics within the realms of parapsychology, are worthy of serious study. He was aware of children being able to remember details about their past lives that should be impossible to remember.
  • Reflect On: Does consciousness survive after “death”?

Today more than ever, parapsychology, which is the scientific study of telepathy, remote viewing, clairvoyance, reincarnation and much more, is receiving extreme amounts of credibility. Numerous studies and repeatable experiments have shown statistically significant results, and various findings within quantum mechanics have also demonstrated that mind/matter interaction, also known as telekinesis, may very well be real.

On top of this we also have declassified literature from multiple countries that show parapsychological phenomena has been documented and demonstrated within human beings that poses “special abilities.” For example, this CIA document shows how “gifted children” in China were able to “teleport” small objects from one location to another, here’s another that documents the “paranormal writing” ability of a child. It’s quite fascinating, and understandable why so many people just don’t believe in this type of thing. It’s truly paradigm shifting and has the potential to change what we think we know about the nature of reality, forever.

Such discoveries and evidence have always been ridiculed and ignored by “intellectual” authorities simply because they don’t fit within the framework of accepted knowledge. Furthermore, when it comes to this type of study, which is also known as non-material science, we must go beyond the parameters of science. A lot of the phenomena documented and observed within these realms is simply not explained by science and our our perception of what science is and has become. In a lot of ways, science limits us today and there are many examples where dogma has become labelled as “science.”

Did you know that Carl Sagan, the late astronomer was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)? He once wrote that “there are three claims in the (parapsychology) field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study with the third being “that young children sometimes report 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.” He wrote this in 1996, it’s now more than two decades later and the number of examples and evidence accumulated suggesting that reincarnation, or at least some form of it, is real is quite astonishing.

Serious scientific study of reincarnation has spanned the last several decades. There are many interesting cases of children remembering details they could not have obtained from anywhere else.

For example, a report published in 2016 in the journal Explore titled “The Case of James Leininger: An American Case of the Reincarnation Type” published by Jim B. Tucker, MD from the University of Virginia, explains,

Numerous cases of young children who report memories of previous lives have been studied over the last 50 years. Though such cases are more easily found in cultures that have a general belief in reincarnation, they occur in the West as well. This article describes the case of James Leininger, an American child who at age two began having intense nightmares of a plane crash. He then described being an American pilot who was killed when his plane was shot down by the Japanese. He gave details that included the name of an American aircraft carrier, the first and last name of a friend who was on the ship with him, and a location and other specifics about the fatal crash. His parents eventually discovered close correspondence between James’s statements and the death of a World War II pilot named James Huston. Documentation of James’s statements that was made before Huston was identified includes a television interview with his parents that never aired but which the author has been able to review.

At the age of two, James’s father was looking through a book called  The Battle for Iwo Jima 1945. His father reports that James pointed to a picture showing an aerial view of the base of the island, where Mt. Suribachi, a dormant volcano, sits, and said, “That’s where my plane was shot down.” His father said, “What?” and James responded, “My airplane got shot down there, Daddy.” That’s when it all started.  This is one of many cases that are similar. In this case James demonstrated knowledge of events from 50 years before he was born. Many of his accurate statements  were documented before the previous personality was identified.

On August 27, 2000, when James was 28 months old, he told his parents he had flown his plane off a boat. When his parents asked him the name of the boat, he said, “Natoma.” After that conversation, his father searched online for the word and eventually discovered a description of the USS Natoma Bay, an escort carrier stationed in the Pacific during World War II. He printed out the information he found, and the footer of the printout includes the date he did.

You can read about this specific case more thoroughly, here.

If you want to read about more examples, here’s an excellent paper published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration you can refer to. Here’s another from 2005. You can access many more research studies on the topic here, all from the Perceptual Studies department at the University of Virginia. It’s a great place to start if you want to dive deeper into the topic.

I’ve written about a reincarnation case in which a three-year old boy claimed to have remembered a past life. In this life, he remembered being struck by a big blow to the head with an axe, and having a long, red birthmark on his head.

The present-day boy, whose name remained confidential throughout the entire study, also had a birthmark in the exact same spot, which is interesting because multiple studies, like the one published in Explorepoint out how shared birthmarks are common to children who remember their past lives.

The boy’s father and a number of other relatives in the village decided to visit neighbouring communities to see if his past life identity could be established and Dr. Lasch was invited to join. On this journey, they visited multiple villages until the boy remembered the right one. He remembered his own first and last name, as well as the first and last name of his murderer.

You can read more about this specific story here.

Can “Consciousness” or “the mind” Survive “death” ? Is reincarnation one of many paths?

Reincarnation may not be “the” answer as to what occurs when someone dies. Perhaps it’s one out of many paths. I’ve come across a lot of interesting information suggesting that we are more than just our body, and when we leave this physical plane our “soul” can take multiple routes, and reincarnation might be one of them if we have to come back and complete/learn the lessons we were/are supposed to while experiencing life on this planet. I’ve also come across some interesting information that this is a choice before we are born, that we choose to incarnate here, that we “exist” before we are born, but such claims lack definitive proof despite the fact that they seem to resonate with many people. But then again, perhaps our definition and view of “proof” needs to change. There are anomalies in this word, like some mentioned at the beginning of this article that have enormous amounts of proof, yet they are simply “too much” for the average human being to believe.

These questions have been contemplated for thousands of years. In the Socratic dialogue, Meno by Plato, the character Socrates attempts to prove that life exists before birth. Instead of innate knowledge that we are simply born with, knowledge that simply comes naturally to us, Plato relies on prenatal knowledge to explain our ability to solve problems in mathematics and philosophy, and suggests that we must have known the answers to these problems all along.

Perhaps reincarnation isn’t really reincarnation? Perhaps these memories are simply proof that all consciousness, in some way, is connected and these children are simply picking up on aspects that’s simply another part of themselves? Perhaps they are simply retaining memories of the past life, and that specific consciousness or “soul” did not actually reincarnate into another body, because if it did would more memories not be present? Perhaps there is another explanation as to why these children can remember such things that don’t include the idea of reincarnation?

There are so many unanswerable questions.

Perhaps reincarnation is one path out of many, what about those who have learned what they came here to learn? Perhaps they came here for another reason and do not need to reincarnate? I’m not sure what the other paths may be, perhaps an experience as another being on another planet? Perhaps as a life form that doesn’t dwell within the physical realm? I don’t know, but I could think of several possibilities. Perhaps a trip back to where we all originated from? Perhaps consciousness is separate from a “soul” and one remains and lingers while the other moves on? Perhaps a “soul” can experience multiple “consciousnesses”?

The question of whether or not consciousness survives after death is at the forefront of many scientific circles. For example, Neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander says that science shows that the brain does not control consciousness, that it’s more of a receiver of it, a channel for consciousness to come in from somewhere else. He believes there is reason to believe our consciousness continues after death, and that a physical body is not required for consciousness to exist.

Here is a great video from Dr. Gary Schwartz, professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry and surgery at the University of Arizona discussing whether or not consciousness is the product of the brain or a receiver of it.

There is also the topic of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) that are quite astonishing. People who have “died” and come back on the operating table were able to describe being outside of their body and provide details they would not otherwise have been able to provide had they been “inside” their body. To read and learn more about NDEs, you can access the research here.

The idea that consciousness is a separate “thing” from our biology is supported by a wealth of evidence in the fields of quantum physics, parapsychology and neuroscience. Despite this evidence, the topic is still shunned within many mainstream academic circles, and perhaps it’s because the idea simply challenges our long held belief systems of what we think we know and have already discovered.

Cassandra Vieten, PhD and president/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences offers a possible explanation.

There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important that encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.’ (source)

Consider the prominent physicist Lord Kelvin who stated in the year 1900 that, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now…All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” It wasn’t long after this statement that Einstein published his paper on special relativity. Einstein’s theories challenged the accepted framework of knowledge at the time and forced the scientific community to open up to a broader/alternative view of reality. This type of thing will continue to happen throughout humanity history, the only thing constant is change and discovery that expands upon and changes what we once thought we knew.

Photo credit: Illustration by Jody Hewgill