Souls January 21, 2012Posted by thegodless in Uncategorized.
How can all human actions and functions be so clearly the result of biology and there still be people who believe that we are some sort of invisible being within our own bodies?
In 1907, Dr. Duncan MacDougall attempted to take weight measurements of people as they died. Dr. MacDougall’s proposal was that if souls existed and they exited the body at death, there would be some measureable amount of weight loss. It’s worth noting that in valid scientific tests, scientists are well aware to keep in mind their own biases and convictions. For Dr. MacDougall, his so called “tests” were specifically performed to prove his own strongly held beliefs. Before ever performing any of the “tests”, Dr. MacDougall firmly believed in the existence of souls. It is curious to note, that while Dr. MacDougall was trying to find support for his own religious beliefs, he was also unwittingly attempting to confirm the pagan beliefs of ancient Greeks and other primitive religions (The idea that souls exist predate the Bible). While his belief in souls doesn’t automatically invalidate his “tests”, Dr. MacDougall did not provide any checks in his testing for this bias. It doesn’t take much critical thinking to imagine how Dr. MacDougall’s beliefs may have guided him to the answers he was hoping to find. Thankfully, real science has several built in mechanisms that work to weed out test results derived from biased and invalid testing. Although many believers continue to cite Dr. MacDougall’s “tests” as proof for the existence of souls, Dr. MacDougall’s results have never been reproduced and are regarded as having very little scientific merit.
Considering how common it is to hear references to souls in modern society, one would think that there has been at least a shred of evidence that backs this belief. Much like the common belief in gods, every event and action that has been attributed to a soul has been repeatedly explained through natural means. For quite some time now, science has been able to manipulate brains in such a way that they have “religious” experiences, feel an overwhelming connection to the Universe, and feel the flittering and warm sensations of love.
If the existence of souls has been debunked, why do so many people continue to believe in them? Could it be, not just with souls, but also gods, demons, ghosts, and other “invisible” beings, that imperceptibility and invisibility are being held as proof? How can something that is supposed to be undetectable ever be disproven? Shouldn’t people that believe in souls believe in everything that is proposed to be invisible?
For a much more in depth and better written examination of this topic, check out: Why people believe in invisible agents.