If reincarnation is about humans dying and their souls taking on new bodies, doesn't a net increase in human population size contradict it?

I know I'm assuming that non-human organisms do not possess souls, but if they did, wouldn't that sort of push moral relativism way too far? Because that would imply non-vegetarianism is tantamount to cannibalism or homicide.

The first is the primary question although you could share views on the other one, too!

  • 1
    You are also assuming that reincarnated souls are manifested on Earth. Why should they be even in the same physical universe? By the way, many proponents of karma do believe that souls transmigrate into lower life forms, and not all of them are vegetarians. "Over 500 million people of the Hindu religion believe that one can be reincarnated as either a human or an animal", see Animal Reincarnation
    – Conifold
    Apr 9 '17 at 23:48
  • 1
    @Conifold Apart from the ineluctable moral relativism that sprouts from inclusion of non-human organisms, there also exists a slippery slope: how low can "lower form of life" be? Dogs, fishes, beetles, mosquito, yeast, Rbcs? Do i have billions of tiny souls within myself? Also, the question remains...
    – Harman
    Apr 10 '17 at 0:02
  • 1
    .. Also the question remains now in a way more intricate fashion: on what basis fo we assume that there exists an equilibria amongst the population size of all the organisms that the reincarnationists would deem eligible candidates for soul possesion? Would any pitfall - however smallnor transient- in this perfect balance indicate a surplus or a deficit of souls or maybe delay in their manufacturing or maybe some "waiting zoned" poor souls?
    – Harman
    Apr 10 '17 at 0:03
  • @HarmanDeep You have about 40 trillion bacteria in your gut. Each one a little soul, thinking deep thoughts and helping to keep you alive. And even if they don't have souls, they do keep you alive. There are a lot of living creatures inside us.
    – user4894
    Apr 10 '17 at 0:08
  • 2
    It depends on the specific "rules" of reincarnation and souls. As Conifold points out, why would the souls be limited to just human beings? Additionally maybe the "rules" for souls are that none ever die but sometimes new ones are made and added to the pool. As it stands, I don't think you'll get an objective answer to this unless you have an enumeration of all of the "rules" that apply to how souls and reincarnation work. In that respect, different religions say different things, and it may be the case that reincarnation doesn't happen, so an objective answer to this might be out of reach.
    – Not_Here
    Apr 10 '17 at 0:11

This really depends on what the process is. You seem to be assuming several things:

  • All souls must be on Earth
  • All souls must be in use at once/as soon as you die you go straight into a new life.
  • Souls cannot be split
  • There was a set number of souls to start off with.

If any of these assumptions are wrong then there is a solution:

  • As one civilisation dies in another galaxy there is could be another popping up somewhere in the universe.
  • Maybe there are trillions of souls and they just wait their turn until a space is available, a soul might have been incarnated as one of the first humans and only just now get its ticket drawn for a second incarnation.
  • Perhaps it all started out as one soul and it gets divided up among people as there are more of us (might explain all the people thinking they were once Napoleon).
  • Maybe new souls are created as the need arises.

Where there are other possible solutions (especially when we know little about a process) we can't rule it out with assumptions that have no basis.


The simple answer is no -- there is no logic problem. Your assumption of a logic problem was assuming that all souls must be in a human at all time, there is not a large pool of unemployed souls hanging around, they cannot be in animals or aliens, and no souls fission or are created.

However, while there is no logic problem, there is an evidence based problem. Ian Stevenson has examined cases of spontaneous recall of past lives by children, and in his studies, he does not see aliens, or animals. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/ian-stevensone28099s-case-for-the-afterlife-are-we-e28098skepticse28099-really-just-cynics/ And he does not see long periods of hanging around -- instead there is only a 2 year average gap between death and rebirth.

A variety of other researchers have used past life hypnotic regression to examine past lives, and they too see human backgrounds, and no long gaps, and no animals. Helen Wambach found ~ 50 years between past lives. Michael Newton shows 60 in 20th century, 100 in 19th, 500 for most of history. Carol Bowman cites a few months to a few decades. All of these indicate double digit or even triple digit as a minimum past lives over the past 6000 years. But worldwide population studies show total human population over the past 50,000 years is only ~100 billion, with half being infant deaths – 25B/~7B(2010 population) = ~3.5 past lives available on average over all of history, not double or triple digit in just 6000 years!

This is the "Problem of numbers". There are just too few past lives available for all the recalled past lives to be plausible if souls are 1:1 and indivisible.

So, rather than a logic problem, we have an empirical model test, where the model of

  • indivisible soul
  • one soul per person
  • our tools for investigating past lives are valid

cannot all be true.


Addressing the main heading question, the answer is no, an increasing population does not logically preclude reincarnation.
Just like God incarnated Adam from "mud", He can also reincarnate any soul from "mud." No "new" body would be required!


Let's consider the first question: If reincarnation is about humans dying and their souls taking on new bodies, doesn't a net increase in human population size contradict it?

I will be addressing this only as a logical question. I am not attempting to provide an opinion on whether reincarnation is true or not.

If I can find a source that has some familiarity with reincarnation and who can provide an explanation that avoids this potential contradiction, then this logical argument against reincarnation loses its strength. My source will be Brian Weiss.

Brian Weiss is an M.D. who offers past-life regression and future-life progression therapy He writes about a similar question: (page 8)

One of the questions that comes up frequently is "Where do the souls come from since there are so many more people now than when the world started?" I have posed this question to many patients, and the answer is always the same: This is not the only place where there are souls. There are many dimensions, many different levels of consciousness where there are souls. Why should we feel that we're the only place?

Weiss asks his patients because they are the ones in the hypnotic state with access to information, assuming what they experience is real.

Weiss's answer, or rather the answer he received from his patients, doesn't remove the possibility that non-human animals could have souls. They may represent "different levels of consciousness" where there are souls. That means the second question about the ethics of non-vegetarianism would still have relevance if all this is true. However, that wouldn't logically contradict reincarnation, but only complicate ethics.

The main question is whether differences in population size logically preclude reincarnation. Weiss's answer shows that one can avoid a potential logical contradiction by assuming that there are "many dimensions, many different levels of consciousness where there are souls".

"Brian Weiss", Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Weiss

Weiss, B. L. (2004). Same soul, many bodies: Discover the healing power of future lives through progression therapy. Simon and Schuster.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.