November 17th, 2018
illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
(intro to the series at gplus.wallez.name/h9qNiAafYx4)
Question 8, and its answer provided by the spam:
If all of us are re-incarnations of prior human beings, how do we account for the growing population? Where do “new” humans come from?
Reincarnation implies all of us were here before, in a prior life. But if humans can only be reincarnated from prior humans, how is it the global population is growing? If humans can be reincarnated from other animals, does this mean the total animal population on earth has always been constant?
Oh look, more logical fallacies on reincarnation… 1/ without even understanding Buddhism teaches rebirth, not reincarnation, 2/ without even looking into other religions which do teach reincarnation and how they easily dispatch of such criticism, and 3/ with double standards, as they of course don't seem to have any problem with souls in their religion, rising out of nowhere, or with packing so many of them (dead) in other realms (heaven or hell), without running out of real estate…
On reincarnation vs. rebirth, I won't repeat 6/12 (gplus.wallez.name/4xJR1B54hKX) and 7/12 (gplus.wallez.name/AevUCgTFhAW) of this series.
« But if humans can only be reincarnated from prior humans, how is it the global population is growing? »
Yeah, congratulations! Except Buddhism never states that humans can only be reincarnated from prior humans! Oops?! Once again the misrepresentating and misleading of a "straw man" logical fallacy?
On the contrary, Buddhism teaches that there's inter-dependence between the various realms (and they therefore constitute "one world" instead of separate worlds, which is why karma brings an appearance of justice, cf. 4/12 (gplus.wallez.name/U8PuZsJrA1L) of this series).
Many suttas mention rebirth from one realm to another, and "higher rebirth" can even be seen as the goal of many Buddhists (who don't feel they can practice hard enough to 'get' serious spiritual attainments in this life, but do hope to be able to do the minimum in this life for a next life to give them such opportunities!). There are, in fact, entire collections of texts counting rebirth from the human realm to either heavenly or hellish realms: the vimanavatthu and petavatthu are included in the Theravāda's Khuddaka Nikāya.
Similarly, there are stories of animals doing a few good deeds leading them to higher rebirth… Sometimes the merit seems improbable, but is nonetheless considered enough to be given a better life, e.g. a frog happens to die while listening to the Buddha's sermon, and attains the Tavatimsa Deva heavenly realm! Other animals in the stories sacrificed themselves, to help others, hence get better rebirth (it doesn't matter if it's some kind of instinct e.g. to protect one's cubs… what matters is that it is volitional, the animal is conscious of endangering oneself to protect the younger ones)…
Having Dhamma in one's head at the moment of dying is the easiest way to get a higher rebirth, which is understandable if one considers the rebirth mechanism I described in a previous post (the rebirth picks up from where one was… without soul, but grasping a context as mine… and if "me, myself and mine" is grasped as "I'm a listener of the Dharma" then the rebirth gives an opportunity to continue doing so). It is also a belief of some Pure Land schools, notably Jōdo-shū (but not Jōdo Shinshū !), that having Amitabha at the forefront of one's mind at the time of death —helped by perpetual repetition of the nembutsu— ensures one's rebirth in Amitabha 's Pure Land.
So… with "If humans can be reincarnated from other animals, does this mean the total animal population on earth has always been constant?", we get closer to Buddhism's view, closer but not yet right.
Might I note that humans (suddenly becoming a lot more numerous than in the previous centuries) are currently causing the sixth "great extinction" of animals (incl. insects)… but are also probably causing their own future major difficulties with climate change, which would probably re-allow animals to flourish… so stability of the total population isn't as foolish as the spammer would like it to appear.
Anyway… We get closer to Buddhism's view, closer but not yet right… The major assumption of the spammer is that no one is reborn from hells or from heavens, but this is obviously wrong (and explicitly rejected) in Buddhism… so reincarnation would not maintain the total population of "animals + humans", but it could maintain the total population of "beings in hell + guardians of hell + ghosts + animals + humans + angels + minor gods + major gods". And this later view would still be wrong…
Buddhism teaches rebirth, not reincarnation: there's no count to maintain in the first place, there's no accounting of supposed 'souls' to do.
Consciousness arises when conditions supportive for such an arising come together, and consciousness ceases when conditions are not supportive.
To the point that a few sentient beings do reach parinibbana by 'luck'… being freed from rebirth, not thanks to having ceased craving, but simply because the conditions for rebirth are not met, in any realm —that's seen as rare but the possibility is not denied.
And to the point that new beings can indeed appear: in fact, that's the very illusion of the "creator god"! He's the first 'being' appearing, i.e. ignorantly introducing duality and 'entities' in the continuum of inter-dependent processes by unwise discernment… then misappropriating what comes next as his creation! Cf. Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) from §40. [And for the avoidance of doubt, Buddhism's view on the universe is closer to the "big bounce" than the "big bang" scientific theory… hence the big bang isn't the beginning, it's the continuation from a previous contraction… so, searching for the beginning (or the end) of the world only leads to infinite regress, not to a 'creator'!]
There's no accounting of supposed 'souls' to do, if there's no soul!