The biggest roadblock in contemporary Western culture to an acceptance of rebirth is materialism, also known as physicalism. According to materialism, the mind is entirely explainable in terms of physical phenomena. An inevitable consequence of this is that there can be no such thing as rebirth.
Yet the materialist paradigm/worldview is increasingly coming under attack. In recent years a number of philosophers and scientist have been arguing for a revised view of the world that treats mind or consciousness as a fundamental building block of reality. To use an expression coined by the philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, I believe we are seeing no less than the beginning of a paradigm shift in science.
A brief review of some of the most illustrious names that have come out against the materialist worldview might be useful. In 2012 the eminent philosopher Thomas Nagel published Mind and Cosmos, a modern trailblazer in this area. Other notable philosophers, such as David Chalmers, have been making similar anti-materialist arguments.
A similar development is seen in science. In 2004, Nature magazine, perhaps the world’s preeminent scientific journal, published an essay titled The Mental Universe by the physicist Richard Conn Henry. More recently the leading neuroscientist Christof Koch has been advocating panpsychism, a philosophical theory that sees consciousness as a fundamental aspect of nature.
But for a truly compelling modern argument against materialism it is perhaps hard to beat the work of the philosopher Bernardo Kastrup. Here is his latest peer-reviewed article. The article is technical and takes a quite a bit of effort to read for a non-specialist. But I think it is well worth the effort.
Kastrup is also a contributor to Scientific American. These articles are much more accessible, written as they are for a popular scientific magazine. Kastrup covers a broad range of topics, from physics to psychology, all of it of high quality. The overarching purpose of his writing is always to defend a non-materialist interpretation of reality. (I should also mention that Kastrup advocates a form of idealism that includes a universal mind. Although I think his arguments against materialism are well-founded, I believe he goes fundamentally wrong when he tries to replace it with a philosophy that seems almost indistinguishable from Advaita Vedanta.)
Are we seeing a scientific paradigm shift happening before our very eyes?