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Ask An Atheist: What if I Believe in Reincarnation?


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By Jim Downard

So I don’t believe in god or the devil, or anything like that, but I do believe in reincarnation. So, would that make me an atheist or no??

That’s a good question. The short answer is that a belief in reincarnation is not automatically an endorsement of gods (or “devils”, whatever they are), and so you can believe in reincarnation and be an atheist too.  I’ve mentioned this before in conjunction with whether being an atheist rules out belief in an afterlife (which doesn’t necessarily require supernatural gods either).  Nor is an afterlife a given even when it comes to the beliefs of religions.

Now it is more typical for atheists and agnostics to be more skeptical of afterlives (especially when the current neuroscience is included, which make incorporeal spirits a problematic concept), and so reincarnation would be in that “might be nice if it were true, but the evidence for it is very problematic” category.

Jim Downard
Jim Downard
Jim Downard is a Spokane native (with a sojourn in Southern California back in the early 1960s) who was raised in a secular family, so says had no personal faith to lose. He's always been a history and science buff (getting a bachelor's in the former area at what was then Eastern Washington University in the early 1970s).

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