Renaissance II: Rebirth in the New Clear Age
By Donn O'Connor
A summary by the author.
The Early History of Christianity
Edgar Cayce, a dedicated Christian, was somewhat dismayed to learn that he had, while in a self-induced trance state, made a statement
referring to reincarnation, since he had considered the concept to be "the work of the Devil."
Such would be a normal reaction, since it
is not commonly known that Christianity's theological foundation, rather than having been based on sacred Hebrew documents and the oral teachings
of Jesus, was established principally on the philosophy of Plato, and reincarnation represented the very foundation of Plato's teaching.
Early Christian leaders apparently had selected this pagan source on which to establish their theology primarily because Plato had developed
a plausible basis for the spiritual nature of both humanity and the next world, whereas Judeo-Christian sources had mysteriously
neglected this higher aspect of our existence.
However, in spite of this early emphasis having been placed on Platonic teaching, Christianity was never to adopt a doctrinal belief
in reincarnation. Regardless, because of Plato's widespread influence, a belief in reincarnation was widely promoted within the early Church.
Virtually all of the Greek Church Fathers, certain bishops, the prominent Christian schools established in Athens and Alexandria, and several
canonized saints considered reincarnation to be an integral part of the faith (and we must wonder how the canonization processes of these
several saints could have overlooked this inconvenient fact).
For example, according to The New Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Justin
Martyr sought to combine the documents of the Old Testament and Plato's full philosophy as representing the essence on which Christianity
would be based.
Subsequently, St. Augustine would predict that Platonic philosophy would unlock the treasures of Christian faith,
and we must also wonder why he may have thought that any such treasures of Christianity were somehow locked up. Did he feel that
Platonism offered something that Jesus had chosen not to reveal?
The Bible does not speak definitively on reincarnation, but it also neglects an explanation of the essential Christian doctrines of grace and
the trinity, for example. However, Jesus did discuss the general subject of rebirth at length with Jewish leader Nicodemus (John
He also emphatically revealed an actual and very prominent instance of reincarnation, proclaiming that John the Baptist was the
Old Testament prophet Elijah (Mat. 11:13-14, which quotes Jesus as saying that John "is Elijah").
Further, there appear to be no
indications that Jesus had ever denounced the belief, even when there were occasions on which such condemnations would seem to have been
mandatory had the concept been false, as when Nicodemus pressured Jesus either to endorse or to deny physical rebirth. For whatever reason,
he did neither.
There was, perhaps because of such confusion and the pagan base from which the concept arose, opposition to reincarnation within the
early Church, strangely by none other than St. Augustine and also by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, both of whom led licentious lifestyles
before and after becoming Christian converts.
Oddly, both chose to delay their baptisms until late in life and, in view of their known moral
shortcomings, it is tempting to suspect that their conversions may have been enticed by the facile means of soul-cleansing as promised by
Christian baptism, compared to the retention of karmic debts, as required by reincarnation.
Curiously, two different Church Councils (Lyons and Florence) used language indicating that reincarnation previously had been
condemned. However, contemporary researchers can find no evidence in conciliar records to support those assumptions.
Accordingly, it appears
that opposition to reincarnation had gradually evolved on a de facto basis, determined largely by prominent religious and secular
figures, rather than by means of an authoritative de jure proclamation – the normal means utilized by Church Councils in condemning
Such reluctance by Councils to act against reincarnation in this manner is rather strange, and we must wonder why the belief had
avoided such a formal anathema. However, it is possible that Christianity may have found itself in a quandary: with its theology having been
initially established on Platonic theory, could it then reasonably have condemned the very essence of that same belief?
Could it be that
Plato, who died three and a half centuries before Jesus was born, may effectively, but innocently, have immobilized Christianity in this
respect, thereby causing reincarnation to be placed in a state of limbo, being neither formally endorsed nor authoritatively condemned –
precisely as Jesus seems to have treated it?
Christianity's historical opposition to reincarnation rests primarily on Hebrews 9:27, the authorship of which is
uncertain, which states that "... it is appointed unto men once to die ... ." What is most peculiar about this seminal statement, if
indeed it represents a valid position on reincarnation, is that it chooses to emphasize the dismal inevitability of physical death, rather
than the glorious potential of life, even if we live only once.
In fact, this statement blatantly contradicts Genesis, since initially
mankind had been appointed to live forever, with physical death entering the picture only as a result of the fall. Additionally,
an analysis of the Greek words on which this statement is constructed is interesting.
The word for appointed, apokeimai, means either to
await, separation, or departure, and the word for die, apothnesko, means to die off, a rather unusual
way to describe the sudden finality of death. Curiously, however, both words are derived from apo, meaning away, in terms
of time and place.
Accordingly, it seems that these Greek words could reasonably be interpreted to mean "... at death, the soul
is temporarily separated from its human body... ," which would tend to support reincarnation, rather than to condemn it.
Catholic Archbishop Arcivescovo Passavalli (1820-1897), who surely was aware of this uncertain history of Christianity, personally accepted
reincarnation, boldly stating that the belief had never been condemned by the Catholic Church, nor was it in conflict with Catholic dogma
(from Preexistence and Reincarnation, by Wincenty Lutoslawski).
By this time the Protestant Reformation had also generally established
its opposition to reincarnation, but with several of its prominent clergy also having accepted the belief (see Reincarnation, by
Head and Cranston).
Science and Christianity
Historically, it had been assumed that physical events are determined by means of cause-and-effect sequences. Obviously, such progressions
could readily accommodate any intentions that God may have had to guide and control humanity.
However, the Copenhagen Interpretation of
quantum theory, which is accepted by most physicists (according to the renowned physicist Paul Davies), is based on experimental evidence
indicating that physical events occur solely through the function of probabilities, rather than as a result of deterministic cause-and-effect
Such a finding would seem to be incompatible with the concept of a controlling and providential God, since the inevitable application
of probabilities would seem to conflict with God's decisions directly to affect mankind.
Of course, it might be that God could manipulate
probabilities so that his immediate preferences might in this manner be fulfilled, but in that case there would have been no need for his
having included probabilities in the functioning of the universe.
Christianity generally holds that humans enjoy free will (although the matter is still disputed); however, such freedom of choice would
appear to be compromised if humans are subject to wills other than their own.
However, it is possible that humans might possess discretionary
powers either to accept or reject opposing wills. While contesting the will of God may sound scandalous, the alternative is to accept that
we are pawns in God's big chess game.
In those instances in which it appears that the will of one person is being imposed on another, we
would have to assume that a previous, irrevocable commitment to submit to the will of others had been established, possibly by the soul prior
to birth (and the Bible does in fact support the preexistence of souls).
Thus, the function of probabilities would serve to control and prioritize
all such potential conflicts of wills, just as other universal laws similarly regulate physical functions that otherwise would produce conflicting
results, thereby permitting the unrestricted fulfillment of all human intentions.
The methodology of creation is interesting. According to Genesis, light was created on the first day, with
indications of green vegetation beginning to grow on the third day. However, the Sun, which is normally essential for the
growth of vegetation, was created a day late, on the fourth day.
The Big Bang Theory doesn't do much better, holding that for the universe to have reached its present configuration it must have expanded
during its early development at a rate that exceeded the speed of light.
However, Einstein's Theory of Relativity denies that anything in
the universe can exceed the speed of light (with prominent physicists lining up on both sides of this debate).
The Copenhagen Interpretation approaches creation in a most unusual manner. Based on experimental evidence, it has established that
all fundamental elements of matter, such as photons, electrons, protons, and neutrons, can exist either as waves or as particles.
they must exist as particles whenever they are being subjected to observation, or, according to Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner, to consciousness.
Obviously, particulate matter becomes essential to support human life, since it is difficult for us to sit on, stand on, or eat electromagnetic
Under this theory, the universe originally must have existed as a wavefunction, which collapsed to become particulate matter
once it had been subjected to consciousness.
However, this theory brings with it the original chicken/egg conundrum: any human who could
have provided the required consciousness would necessarily have required a physical universe to support its existence; but a material universe
could not have formed except for a human's consciousness.
Accordingly, the human and the material universe both necessarily had
to precede each other, and that represents quite a trick for God – and even for the physicists.
While it should not reasonably be expected that someone with only a seventh-grade education could have provided a solution
for this apparently insurmountable problem, which seems still to have physicists stumped, Edgar Cayce may have presented the solution by
revealing from a trance state that physical matter initially was formed by means of the "thought projection" of a single soul that had
simply contemplated a desire to experience physical existence.
It would seem that a thought projection represents an equivalence of the
consciousness that is required by this quantum theory to collapse wavefunctions. Further, if a material universe had formed to accommodate
that single soul's expressed desire, it is reasonable to suppose that an appropriate body also would have been made available for that
soul during its physical existence, and that body seems to have been named Adam.
Since Genesis clearly indicates that other people were present on Earth at the time that Adam, Eve, Cain, and Able existed,
we might assume that such souls may have expressed similar desires to initiate their physical lives (as, indeed, we all may have
Another problem with creation is the apparent existence of evil, which reasonably should not occur within the creation of an ultimately-benign
God, just as grammatical errors should not appear in the novel of an ultimately-qualified author.
On the other hand, the existence of evil
has been defended on the basis that if humans have free will they must then be capable of performing both good and evil acts. While this
argument constructed by humans may appear to have merit, it may also be that what seem to be evil events are in fact illusory:
Genesis (50:20) outlines an amazing conversion of our evil inclinations: "You intend to do evil but God turns it into good."
Thus, it would appear that evil is restricted to our mental concepts, which obviously are not directly associated with God's creation.
this basis, any physical manifestations of such evil intentions must become beneficial, perhaps representing soul-saving opportunities for
humanity. While our voluntary participation in such events may prove to be painful, so usually is any life-saving surgery to which we consent.
A spiritual symmetry may result because of this sanctification of evil intentions, since a corresponding deterioration
must surely accrue to the souls of those whose intentions are evil.
Other questions that are dealt with in Renaissance II:
- Who was Jesus Christ? (The Bible provides a clue, referring to Jesus as the "second Adam.")
- Why isn't the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil," referred to in Genesis, explained?
- Why is the method involving the final judgment, as described by Matthew (25:31-46), both impossible and in conflict with other direct
statements made by Jesus regarding judgment?
- The "Temptation in the Desert" episode may represent one of the most important events in Scripture; however, literally, it doesn't
make sense. It must be important because only Jesus, the Spirit, and Satan were involved, which means that it must have been Jesus who revealed
the specifics of the confrontation, as they come to us.
- In addition, it is possible that Satan inadvertently may have contributed to an understanding
of our existence – a disclosure that God could not have made without having totally compromised human free will.
- It is also possible that creation, as described in Genesis, represents a very curious allegory.
- Are Christian objections which are commonly made against reincarnation valid? We examine the book written by a Catholic priest, presenting
and then analyzing the objections he offers.
- How can the presumed 13-billion-year history of the universe, as postulated by the Big Bang theory, be reconciled with the much younger
age of the Earth, as implied by the Bible and also by certain physical evidence that seems to refute this theory? (A clue is given above.)
- Might nature exist solely to accommodate human beings? (Experiments indicate that it may.)
- What does the future hold for us? Are we capable of "bootstrapping" ourselves by means of a second renaissance, or will we decline
into a state of chaos, and possibly into oblivion?
According to traditional Christianity, each soul is granted only a single lifetime. With God having allocated as much as 13 billion
years for the physical universe to have evolved, why would he so significantly restrict human physical existence?
Beyond this consideration,
why are the lives of some, of whatever duration, cruel, unjust, meaningless, or which represent various combinations of undeserved adversities,
especially when a soul's status for eternity may depend on that single lifetime?
Some Christian teachings hold that at death the status of all souls becomes fixed; others that God will then raise all souls to a state
of perfection. The former eventuality would seem to represent heaven as being a form of hell, since virtually all souls must then forever
contemplate their failures and their subsequent inadequacies.
In the latter case, human existence itself becomes meaningless, since God could
have granted souls such perfection without them having existed physically, thereby avoiding the injustices and suffering that necessarily
accompany physical life (according to Christian doctrine).
It should be obvious why some early Christian leaders attempted to adopt Plato's complete philosophy, since reincarnation answers virtually
all the questions that Christianity, as presently formulated, cannot.
There is no logical reason why God should not have made eternity available
to all, so that we might have as much opportunity as needed in order to achieve our spiritual objectives, whether we choose ultimate evil
or glorious perfection.
We should keep in mind that perfection is the goal that Jesus said we must attain (Mat. 5:48). Such an objective
would seem to be well worth the effort, since it comes with Jesus' assurance that our yoke can essentially become comfort-fitted, with our
burdens becoming ever lighter (Mat. 11:30). By any measure, it would seem to be a no-brainer.
Perhaps, as Søren Kierkegaard suggested, "Christianity should be re-introduced to Christians."
An opinion regarding Renaissance II:
The present century may be witnessing an intellectual renaissance. Hugh Ross, in The Genesis Question, has established that
Scripture describes the prehistoric ages, as we now comprehend them, with uncanny accuracy.
William A. Dembski, author of Intelligent
Design, has demonstrated how grossly improbable it is that random chance could have given rise to the highly-adapted species we take
for granted - let alone the origin of life or of consciousness.
And now comes Donn O'Connor, who has ventured to explore the anomalous phenomena
of quantum mechanics and - quite plausibly - to reconcile them with the very meaning of our lives within time.
Surely, not all members of
every Christian church will read, mark, learn, and digest such an erudite and scholarly work as this; however, every congregation should
call upon its pastor to advise its adult education sessions how their theology can respond to this dramatic challenge.
This is a very, very, very worthwhile book.
Professor Brian W. Firth
Renaissance II attempts to establish a synthesis of certain critical beliefs:
Christianity, with one estimate establishing that it is now represented by as many as 34,000 separate and distinct denominations.
Obviously, this belief has certain inherent problems as represented by this diversity of beliefs, each of which claims to have an exclusive
understanding of God's disclosures, which should have come to us with a more clarity if they in fact represent revelations.
Deism, the belief of many of this nation's founding fathers, including Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin, which
accepts Christianity but questions certain doctrines on the basis of both Scripture and reason.
Platonic Philosophy, which, in spite of nearly unanimous disapproval by Christian authorities, has been so thoroughly accepted
within the Western world that its enthusiastic advocates represent what in effect is a "Who's Who" of the most illustrious intellects that
humanity has produced.
A consolidation of these seemingly incompatible beliefs may be supported by the fascinating theories of Quantum Mechanics,
which indicate that the functioning of nature may help to clarify God's intentions for mankind.
The author is a decorated Korean War veteran, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and a retired businessman, who now enjoys the inspiring
beauty of Blue Ridge Mountains, overlooking the picturesque and peaceful Shenandoah River and Valley in West Virginia.
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