THe Following is a lengthy excerpt from evidences and reconciliations, which was quite possibly the most popular book by John A. Widtsoe. In it he rejects reincarnation. I submit it here for your amusement and comment. For those concerned with copywrite issues or interested in reading more of evidences and reconciliations, the whole text is available online here.
Three doctrines lie at the foundation of belief in reincarnation.
First, the pre-existence of the “soul” of man; second, the indestructibility of the “soul” of man after death; and, third, the possibility of constant development of the pre-existent, eternal “soul.” These are all necessary doctrines to the thinking mind. They are supported by divine revelation. But, in the explanations and applications of these truths, the proponents of reincarnation have failed dismally, and have shown how the semblance of truth, becoming untruth, may lead men into vast fields of deception…
Reincarnation rests upon an unsound foundation; hence is dangerous, and should be avoided…
The conditions of reincarnation by which the immortal “soul” may progress are … unacceptable. “Reincarnation is a plan whereby imperishable conscious beings are supplied with physical bodies appropriate to their stage of growth and through which they can come in contact with the lessons of physical life.” (Ibid., p. 17.) This supplying of bodies is repeated endlessly. By this doctrine, the body of man is of little consequence. We take it on, cast it off, and put on another one, much as we do with our old suits of clothing. The “soul” of man is then really confined to this earth, as in a prison. Why this should be so, baffles the mind. His sojourn between incarnations can be of no value to him, since he must return to earth in a mortal body to gain further experience. He is of the earth, earthy. He cannot in reality go beyond the earth or physical experiences. Therefore, an infinity of experiences are beyond his reach. The universe is not his. Such an eternal “soul” demands a vaster area of understanding and action than the earthly life affords. There is no freedom in reincarnation.
Reincarnation fails utterly to comprehend the meaning of the human body.
The gospel of Jesus Christ declares that man an eternal spirit, acquainted with the spiritual world, came upon the earth when he was fitted and permitted to become acquainted with the material world. To this end he was given a body of material elements. This body belongs to him eternally, to be used by him, in a purified form, in his endless progressive journey among spiritual and material realities. He does not need another. It is a sacred possession, the home of his eternal spirit. With it, composed of celestialized material elements, he may forever explore the universe, in all its aspects, even to the limits of eternity. Without such a body, the immortal spirit would be handicapped in its victorious progress, in the midst of universal elements, toward the likeness of God. Reincarnation has gone far afield to explain that which the Lord has made clear to the human mind.
The doctrine of reincarnation really destroys personality as connected with earth life. The perpetual passage of spirits from body to body on earth, implies that the Lord is using the earth as a playground for a few spirits. As one writer remarks, the soul of the ancient patriarch Seth was probably the spirit of the great prophet Moses. Thus, individuality on the earth is lost. Temporal identification is hopelessly confused. There is no end to the disorder, for the process of reincarnation is unending. That violates the innate desire, even need, of man, for an individual, personal identity on earth as in heaven.
By reincarnation the power of God seems also to be limited. He uses the same, relatively few, spirits over and over again, endlessly, to accomplish whatever may be his purpose. He seems to be short of material and vague in his purpose. This is out of harmony with the gospel, which teaches that there is a host of spirits waiting to take upon themselves mortal bodies, and that the next stage of existence will come when this has been accomplished.
This doctrine of confusion presents no final objective in life. It seems to suggest only living over and over again on earth, much the same experiences, sometimes as a man, sometimes as something else. To what ultimate state does it lead us? Even in human affairs, soldiers who may fight many a battle in various places, come at last to an end — victory or defeat. Reincarnation sets up no understandable objective of existence, except that we are advancing; but how and to what end? It reduces the spirit of man to the position of a treadmill worker in the affairs of the universe. Some say that the end is nirvana, first held to be extinction of existence; now a fusion into a mass of security. That does not help.
This is in clearest opposition to the doctrine of progression, which lies fundamentally in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The objective of life is to move toward the likeness of God. Man rises continually. Once on earth, he experiences earth life, with its joys and sorrows: then bids it farewell, to enter into another life where he continues with added power, in the advancing program of existence. He outgrows the past throughout eternal existence. Reincarnation moves in a circle; the gospel in an ascending spiral. Existence without a definite objective, but with constant repetitions, is valueless.
Finally, reincarnation is incompatible with the resurrection of the body, through the redeeming service of Jesus Christ. The continuous changing of bodies makes the resurrection and any redeeming act, unnecessary. It places the Christ in the class of fakirs. A Christian cannot believe in reincarnation. That should be, in itself, a sufficient answer to the question at the head of this writing.
(John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 369.)
A much simpler reason to reject reincarnation is to take Alma 11:45 at face value…