Essay mark scheme – Resurrection v reincarnation

“Resurrection is more likely to be true than reincarnation.” Discuss. [35] AO1 Q3 Jan 2011

Candidates may begin by explaining exactly what is meant by both resurrection and reincarnation. In the process they may find themselves exploring problems associated with mind and body identity. While the focus of the question is on the afterlife whether that is in some kind of heaven or back on earth in another body, it is reasonable for some candidates to discuss the implications for our understanding of the complex beings we are now.

Some candidates may focus directly on Christian teachings, explaining those parts of the New Testament or the Apostles Creed which shed light on religious beliefs about this kind of post-mortem existence. Some may explore exactly what the Early Church Fathers who wrote the Apostles Creed meant by “the resurrection of the body”.

Others may spend some time explaining what St. Thomas Aquinas meant by being resurrected in a glorified body. A number of candidates may, alternatively, explore the implications of John Hick’s thought experiment more popularly known as his Replica Theory.

In terms of reincarnation, candidates may explain how these beliefs can be found in Hinduism. They may begin by describing the belief in transmigration of the soul which leads the concept of reincarnation, sometimes known as rebirth or palingenesis (to begin again). This may lead to an explanation of the need to see human beings as composed of two fundamental principles opposed to each other in their nature; the soul or atman and the material body or sharira.


Some candidates may notice that the question is not demanding a firm conclusion as to the success or otherwise of either resurrection or reincarnation when it comes to post mortem existence; they merely have to judge whether or not resurrection is the more likely of the two. In their assessment, the better responses are likely to assess what might count as evidence for the success of one belief over another. They may for example evaluate the coherence of these beliefs within other parts of faith systems of religious groups or against more scientific views of the possibility of life after death.

Some candidates may assess the value of alleged evidence of events such as out of body experiences or individuals believing that they remember past lives.








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