Proof Of Soul's Existence?

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Last Tuesday morning, my father, a great patriot and a man of honor, passed suddenly and peacefully, only four months from what would have been his 100th birthday. God was merciful, as my father not only lived a long life, though he had become increasingly frail and feeble, he was spared from grinding illness to the end. 
It is said that what distinguishes homo sapiens from other creatures is our consciousness of death and of our own impending mortality. Only humans mourn the dead, with possibly the exception of elephants who give every sign of grief and mourning when they would return to the remains of a dead family member, to tenderly caress the loved one’s tusks with their trunks.
Anthropologists maintain that it is the human consciousness of death that accounts for our belief in the soul — a conviction that is cross-cultural and reaches back to our earliest ancestors. The reality of the soul is pivotal in the canons of Christianity for it is our Soul, instead of our physical visage, that was made in God’s image. Without our immortal soul, there would be no accounting for our mortal deeds in the afterlife. We would simply be transitory hiccups in the vast Universe, as ephemeral as dewdrops in the morning sun, without meaning or purpose.
The existence of the soul has long been a matter of dispute and debate in philosophy and science. Recently, I stumbled upon a fascinating experiment conducted a century ago (!) by a Massachusetts medical doctor named Duncan MacDougall, which seems to point to the soul’s existence. The good doctor reasoned that if the soul exists, it must occupy some mass that can be measured when it leaves the body upon the individual’s death. As he put it in an article published in American Medicine, April 1907, Hypothesis Concerning Soul Substance Together with Experimental Evidence of The Existence of Such Substance“:

“If personal continuity after the event of bodily death is a fact, if the psychic functions continue to exist as a separate individually or personality after the death of brain and body, then such personality can only exit as a space occupying body, unless the relations between space objective and space notions in our consciousness, established in our consciousness by heredity and experience, are entirely wiped out at death and a new set of relations between space and consciousness suddenly established in the continuing personality. This would be an unimaginable breach in the continuity of nature.
It is unthinkable that personality and consciousness continuing personal identity should exist, and have being, and yet not occupy space. It is impossible to represent in thought that which is not space-occupying, as having personality; for that would be equivalent to thinking that nothing had become or was something, that emptiness had personality, that space itself was more than space, all of which are contradictions and absurd.
Since therefore it is necessary to the continuance of conscious life and personal identity after death, that they must have for a basis that which is space-occupying, or substance, the question arises has this substance weight, is it ponderable?
The essential thing is that there must be a substance as the basis of continuing personal identity and consciousness, for without space-occupying substance, personality or a continuing conscious ego after bodily death is unthinkable.”

 Here’s Wikipedia’s account of Dr. MacDougall’s experiment:

“In 1907, MacDougall weighed six patients while they were in the process of dying from tuberculosis in an old age home. It was relatively easy to determine when death was only a few hours away, and at this point the entire bed was placed on an industrial sized scale which was apparently sensitive to the gram. He took his results (a varying amount of perceived mass loss in most of the six cases) to support his hypothesis that the soul had mass, and when the soul departed the body, so did this mass. The determination of the soul weighing 21 grams was based on the average loss of mass in the six patients within minutes or hours after death.
Other studies were soon put forward to confirm the results. Experiments on mice and other animals took place. Most notably the weighing upon death of sheep seemed to create mass for a few minutes which later disappeared. The hypothesis was made that a soul portal formed upon death which then whisked the soul away.
MacDougall also measured fifteen dogs in similar circumstances and reported the results as ‘uniformly negative,’ with no perceived change in mass. He took these results as confirmation that the soul had weight, and that dogs did not have souls. It should be noted that MacDougall’s scientific methodology in conducting these experiments has been the target of criticism. In March 1907, accounts of MacDougall’s experiments were published in the New York Times and the medical journal American Medicine.
Although generally regarded either as meaningless or considered to have had little if any scientific merit, MacDougall’s finding that the human soul weighed 21 grams has become a meme in the public consciousness. It lent itself to the title of the film 21 Grams.”

Read Dr. MacDougall’s article in its entirety HERE.

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14 responses to “Proof Of Soul's Existence?

  1. Eowyn…So sorry to hear about your father. Death is always painful, mostly because of our own feelings of loss and abandonment. To understand that our souls continue on and never end eases that grief. While your father no longer physically exists, his soul wraps itself around you in comfort until you also pass over and reunite again one day. May your understanding of the souls immortality soften the edges of your saddness. Bless you…

  2. In the scriptures, which of course scientists couldn’t possibly reference, it says that God first created all things spiritually. My sister has a poster I’ve always loved: We are not human beings having spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. Knowing that your father is free of this mortal existence will not ease the pain of missing him when you must face the empty place at the table that no one else can fill. “Not all tears are an evil.” May God bless you with His comfort and strength, Eowyn, and may you feel His loving embrace and peace.

  3. Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. All of us have very small circles around of us of individuals who love us deeply and without measure. As we lose family members our circles gets smaller and we feel more alone. Fortunately for those of us blessed with faith we know that love does live on and we are also always surrounded by HIS love. I will hold your family in my prayers as you get through the difficult days ahead. I believe.

  4. Eowyn, you know that you have been and will continue to be in my constant prayers to Our Lord, and that you are also in my constant state of consciousness. I offer my suffering, which will be purified of unnecessary complaints and groans through Our Lady, to Our Lord, for your father, for you, and for your family. You are my dearest Sister whom Jesus has given to me. Your dear father, a great patriot, loved the Triune God, the Faith that Our Lord established, devoting his life’s efforts to being God’s servant, with his loyalty and allegiance to Truth. I warmly feel and perceive that he is thoroughly enjoying God’s burning and indescribable love and mercy. Your father is a model to us of patriotism, of standing for what is true and right in the face of adversity and evil, just as you, dear Eowyn, are a model to us, a true Patriot, a wonderful Daughter of God, who puts on the armor of God daily and proceeds forth speaking Truth and emanating God’s light and life! I extend my love to you as well as my greatest admiration for you! I thank you for everything that you do and for WHO YOU ARE!

  5. My deepest condolences. I have lost all that were closest to me. It is hard to let go when we can’t see them or touch them, yet, they are there waiting for us. This I know. My best friend spoke of seeing people before she passed and was looking for her dad in the crowd.
    I believe that there is an innate knowledge of right and wrong, and because of this knowledge, we mourn the ones who have passed. Not only for ourselves, and in that we will miss them desperately, but for the fact that we want reassurance that we will indeed see them again. The same One who puts into us that innate knowledge, is the same One who equipped us with all the emotional feelings we hold inside. The feelings of love and sadness, loss, pain, happiness and joy. This is why those, who have their complete faith and trust in the Lord above, although they experience some sadness at their loss, also have real joy in their hearts. For if the one who passed, also had complete faith and trust in the Lord above, there is no doubt that there will be a reunification of the souls in a place so beautiful, one can’t even imagine it.
    I Corinthians ch 2 vs 9
    But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things God hath prepared for them that love Him.
    May your father rest in peace in that beautiful, tranquil place until the Lord calls us all to be with Him, to see Him and to reside with Him forevermore.

  6. So sorry for your loss Eowyn….prayers for you and your family.

  7. Eowyn, I said this beautiful prayer from the Order of Christian Funerals, appropriately called the Prayer of Commendation. Can’t you all see in your minds’ eyes, Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, the wonderful Angels and Saints:
    “Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
    In the name of God the almighty Father,
    who created you,
    in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,
    who suffered for you,
    in the name of the Holy Spirit,
    who was poured out upon you.
    Go forth, faithful Christian!
    May you live in peace this day,
    may your home be with God in Zion,
    with Mary, the virgin Mother of God,
    with Joseph, and all the angels and saints.
    May you return to your Creator
    who formed you from the dust of the earth.
    May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
    come to meet you as you go forth from this life….
    May you see your Redeemer face to face….”
    (591 CCC)

  8. Thank you, all, for your kind words of sympathy and condolence, and for your prayers. Instead of pain, loss, and sorrow, I have been full of JOY. For I know that my dad is with God, seeing Him face to face — something I can only hope for which I will be found worthy when my time comes.
    I did not lose a father because, as my Godsister Joan so ably put my inchoateness into words, my eternal Father is God Himself who loves me despite myself.
    God bless you all!

  9. Eowyn,you and your family are in my heart and in my prayers. Your Dad is in a beautiful place.

  10. Eowyn, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. Your dad is watching over you from heaven.

  11. Eowyn: Very sad to hear this. But I believe you will see him again. I remember reporting on this when I was religion editor of the Miami News (Fla) in the early 1970s. Although I can’t recall the exact details, the studies I saw were fairly new at that time. Apparently other researchers picked up where Dr. McDougall left off.

  12. I don’t believe the soul has a 21 gram actual mass. You should consider the possibility that the type of power we’re talking about here is of a quality and type to affect gravity by that amount; warping it by our souls’ presence in the body. Jesus could walk on water, and hover, both a demonstration of control of gravity. If we possessed the faith as a grain of mustard seed, we could do these things, too. I have had a near death experience. I have no doubt we move on to a much larger world when we pass.

  13. Pingback: Physicists discover humans have souls - Fellowship Of The Minds

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