My book makes a case for the “pre-existence of souls,” something the early church father Origen first proposed about 1800 years ago. It is different from reincarnation, which is normally focused on the living of two separate lives, one right after the other. The pre-existence of souls has a much broader scope, dealing with eternity and our eternal nature. It assumes that even though we may be living on earth right now, we are eternal beings. Our spirits could have already been around for a couple billion years and this is definitely NOT the first time we have gone through a planetary spiritual education program (see chapters 17 & 18 in the book for a more detailed explanation).
With the pre-existence of souls, we become part of a “generation” of spirits moving through earth’s spiritual education program, one that started with Adam & Eve and that will end with Revelation. It is a different interpretation of the word “generation” in the verse saying that “…This ‘generation’ will not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Luke 21:32) This interpretation also does not create or destroy energy throughout eternity, which aligns with physics’ law of the conservation of matter and energy, and it assumes that spiritual beings move from a higher to a lower dimension when they come to earth, which aligns with the book’s Geometric Proof (See the blog post “Rethinking Our Christian Worldview” for an example).
The problem with this interpretation is that the timeline for the spiritual education of eternal beings could be extraordinarily long. Here is where the theory of evolution enters into the picture. In his book, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton. 1986), Dr. Richard Dawkins shows how evolution significantly decreases the time required to effect physical changes within a living species. In chapter three, he describes a software program that simulates an evolutionary function. Without the evolutionary function, the odds of producing a 28-character phrase using 100 sets of randomly generated characters was about one in 1040. However, when the evolutionary function was introduced, the program was able to replicate the phrase in less than fifty iterations. The program showed how the use of evolution significantly shortened the time required to make physical changes in a living species.
While this demonstration was directed toward physical evolution, I believe it could be equally applicable for spiritual evolution. If the objective of earth’s spiritual education program is to instill a particular quality or virtue in spiritual beings, it would be essential to employ a technique such as evolution to accomplish it. Based on the example above, it could mean the difference between living 50 lives on earth and one in 1040! The important prerequisite in this example would be to maintain a consistent objective function, similar to the unchanging phrase used in the software as the replication goal. This is where religion comes in.
Since its scripture is deemed “sacred,” its spiritual messages can potentially remain unchanged for thousands of years. Furthermore, the passing down of religious beliefs from parents to their offspring ensures that succeeding generations are continually exposed to those spiritual messages. So why does religion continue to exist on earth? It could be to serve as an evolutionary function that significantly decreases the time required for eternal spiritual beings to move through earth’s spiritual education program!