The Weight Of The Human Soul
By James Donahue
There has been disagreement over the centuries over just
what the human soul is, or even if such a thing exists. The soul, which is not the same thing as the spirit, seems to be that
spark of something within us that links us to our creator. Some say this is God. We believe it is the Mother Earth, from which
we were spawned and to where we will return after our bodies are turned to rot.
That we are creatures with memory, awareness of ourselves
and that we exist within our bodies is not debatable. What is in question is just how unique we are in comparison to the other
animals sharing this planet with us. So how do we prove that we have a soul?
There was a strange experiment by a doctor in Massachusetts
back in 1907 that suggests something, indeed, leaves the body at the moment of death. And that something weighs about 21 grams.
It seems that Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Haverhill conducted his experiment with the help of six dying patients placed in a specially
designed bed. The bed was built on a scale so that they could be weighed before, during and immediately after death.
Writing in a journal of American Medicine, Dr. MacDougall
told of one patient who was dying of tuberculosis. He wrote: "He lost weight slowly at the rate of one ounce per hour due
to evaporation of moisture in respiration and evaporation of sweat. At the end of the three hours and forty minutes, he expired
and suddenly coincident with death the beam end (of the scale) dropped with an audible stroke . . . "
He said the loss was about three-fourths of an ounce,
or just over 21 grams.
MacDougall conducted similar tests during the deaths of
other patients over the years and got similar results. He noted that the entire bed was weighed so that any loss of fluids
from urine or the bowels at the moment of death would still be weighed because the material would remain on the bed.
The doctor even considered loss of left-over air in the
lungs. To test the possible weight of air in the lungs, he said he and another person each got on the bed and strenuously
inhaled and exhaled. Their efforts made no change on the scale.
As a further part of his experiments, Dr. MacDougall wrote
that he tried the same experiment with 15 dogs. He said he had to drug the animals to keep them from struggling, which suggests
that he also used drugs to kill them. He wrote that there was no change in the weight of the bodies of the dogs at the moment
of their death.
The experiments suggest then, that the soul has substance
and a measurable mass. It also suggests that humans have something that animals do not, and that it leaves the body at the
moment we die.
What continues to remain a mystery is what that something