The Soul Podcast - Tools For a Joyful Life

Scientific Evidence of the Soul...?

March 24, 2023 Stacey Wheeler Season 2 Episode 3
The Soul Podcast - Tools For a Joyful Life
Scientific Evidence of the Soul...?
The Soul Podcast - Tools For A Joyful Life
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Show Notes Transcript

As humans move through our time  on Earth, we write down what we've learned and consider to be proven. Some of  what we've learned, we call scientific laws. The laws of science were created from our interaction with the material world. And they are at the heart of what science considers to be truth.             
What if one of those laws supported the idea that there is a Soul? 
In this episode we look at the evidence. 


This episode is dedicated to the memory of Lillian Belloni. 


“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.” - Arthur Schopenhauer


The First Law of Thermodynamics




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The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, 

“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.”

Welcome to The Soul Podcast, I’m Stacey Wheeler

What were you before your birth? What were any of us? We know what we are now, right? We’re living this human existence -as we understand it. But what were we before? Did we not exist in some other way? One moment our consciousness wasn’t here and a moment later, it arrived. And it continues to be here.

We each live our live, while at the same time witnessing it. But what is that witness? And where did the witness come from? 

There are some things we can’t explain or fully understand. At least not scientifically. For now, the Soul is on that list things. What we can better explain and mostly understand is this human existence. And that’s what science is all about. Science, at the heart of it – is about making sense of our world… and that includes our bodies and this human existence. We’ve made our way through generations of life and accumulate an increasing stack of knowledge and wisdom, on the topic of our human experience. As we do this, we write down what we have learned and consider to be proven. Some of these we call scientific laws. The laws of science were created from our interaction with the material world. And they are at the heart of what science considers to be truth. 

What if one of those laws supported the idea that there is a Soul? 

The First Law of Thermodynamics, known as the “Law of conservation of energy” states that, 

“Energy can be transformed from one form to another but can be neither created nor destroyed.”

A matchstick holds a measurable amount of energy. If you light that match, the condensed energy inside is converted to an equal amount energy in the form of heat. The heat from the fire is dispersed widely but continues to be energy in a new form. And then through an ultimately circular process, can again become part of stored energy, like the wood of a tree, or a plant, which can be converted into other kinds of energy, like heat, or the power to run our bodies. So, it seems there’s a fixed amount of energy on Earth -though it is a massive amount. It is constantly changing forms and energy travels in a sort-of circular pattern. That is how the first law of thermodynamics works. Energy is not destroyed, it is converted.

Today I’m going to argue that if this law is true, then it proves the existence of the Soul. I may be right, or I may be wrong. So, hang out a while … and you decide. 

“Energy can be transformed from one form to another but can be neither created nor destroyed.”

Think about that.

What that means when we think energy is being destroyed it is actually changing form. Like in the matchstick example. 

We’ve all seen a depiction of birth somewhere… TV, a movie… or maybe you’ve even been there, in the room when a new life emerges. In this moment, you see her give birth. In an instant, someone comes into being that was not there, moments before. The mother is a holder of energy and so is this new little life. And the life isn’t just energy created by calories and nutrition. There is a spark to this little person. The moment it can focus its brand new eyes -you see the spark there, looking back at you. 

When a child is born, a whole new energy is brought into the world. Where does that energy come from? Look into the eyes of the baby. Look into the eyes of any person. The spark is undeniable. There is something more to every human than just the energy to animate the body.

As I touched on, we can separate the energy into two categories. The energy that gives the child strength is from nutrition, passed on by the mother. This energy originally comes from the sun. The energy from the sun is stored in the nutrients of plants. These plants can become food. When the food is eaten it’s converted into energy to grow and strengthen the body. A good example of conversion of energy.

Okay, I understand this is getting a bit analytical… but stick with me. I’ll try to keep it fun.

So, we’ve seen the birth of a spark of life. But what happens to that same spark when a person dies. The energy present in their body is still there. If you cremate the body you will convert it to heat (another form of energy)… or you can put the body in the ground and it will decompose and fertilize the plants in the soil, which is also a good example of conversion of energy.

But what about that spark? It’s there one moment and gone the next. That animating energy that makes us who we are -beyond the body. That thing that makes you “you”. 

Where does that energy go? 

Last year I held the hand of my cousin as she left her body. The moment was astounding -for all the emotional reasons you’d expect- but also for the experience of seeing the transformation of her energy. One moment it was there and the next, it was somewhere else. In a glance, I could see the body was empty. 

I say, “somewhere else,” instead of ‘gone’ because the First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy cannot be destroyed, only converted into another form of energy. The energy stored in the body was there. The body was there. But that other bit… the bit that makes us whole, it was gone.

If you’ve witnessed the death of a person, you know what I’m talking about. Yes, it’s sad. And it can leave you in awe. 


If all energy is converted not destroyed, then the spark continues to exist somewhere, doesn’t it? 

One argument against this is that the spark doesn’t represent energy. And I ask, if it’s not energy… what is it? It’s clearly something. This spark is powerful enough to animate a body and give it personality and depth. Without it, the body is a shell. Is a body -in fact- anything more than a vessel to hold the spark?  

More than 100 years ago, scientific minds were already trying to figure out what this spark was. One Doctor theorized that the Soul could be measured by actual weight and theorized that at the moment of death, when it left the body… the weight of the body would change. 

In 1907 Duncan MacDougall, a physician from Haverhill, Massachusetts attempted to measure the mass lost by a human when the Soul left the body. MacDougall placed the beds of terminal patients on a large scale, capable of measuring subtle changes in weight. This was done with six patients to measure the mass change at the moment of death. The results were mixed but one of the six lost three-quarters of an ounce in weight at the moment of death (21.3 grams).

There’s a lot of debate over this experiment and the results so, (to be clear) I’m not using it as evidence that the Soul exists, only that the experiment is evidence that scientific minds have been thinking about the spark that leaves the body, for longer than any of us have been alive. 

Seeing the death of a person can be quite profound. With a dying person, we see in a moment that when the spark goes away, it is a significant thing. We wouldn’t argue that they are still here because the body is. We understand deeply that when the spark is gone, they are gone. The body is a container It is a vehicle for the spark. 

So, I held the hand of my cousin as the body took its final breaths and the spark left her. In that moment the energy that made her, her complete self (beyond the body) was gone. So, I have to wonder, where is the energy of my dear cousin now?

Is the Soul our spark? Or maybe you prefer the word consciousness to Soul? Whatever name you choose, this spark is something that unites us all. We are all born energy, and when we go, that energy converts and goes somewhere. And since before recorded time, we’ve been asking the question, “Where does it go?”  

Another argument we might hear is that the spark is no different than any other energy of the body. It’s not special… it’s just a biological function. The moment a child is born, with that spark and personality loaded…. That’s just biology.

And that moment the body dies and that spark, that personality is no longer there… the entire person, body and spark… it’s all just a biological function. Nothing more. 

I have no law of science to offer against this. But I will ask you this … don’t we all know, at the core of us that this isn’t true? That the internal witness to your life is something bigger than a biological function?

Looking as far back in history as we can (as we did in season one) we can see that people have understood for tens of thousands of years that the life force is a separate energy. The lifeless body is missing the primary energy force, which we think of as the personality. 

If energy is neither created nor destroyed -only converted… where did the spark that made you come from? Where will that spark go? 

In the end, using the First Law of Thermodynamics to talk about this is a philosophical exercise. It allows us to look at unexplainable holes in our understanding of the science we accept. Or maybe that the science we lean on to understand our outer world, can sometimes be used to understand our inner world. After all, we are part of the material world. And each year we still learn things about the material world we didn’t already understand. There’s much we don’t understand. There’s much to learn. 

But we don’t need to try and apply the laws of science to the Soul. The Soul doesn’t belong to the places we see in our reality…. things we can measure. It belongs to a place we will only understand when our spark is transformed -and our life energy goes to the place which comes next. 

…as Schopenhauer said,  “After your death you will be what you were before your birth.”

We compiled the laws of science to try to make sense of our place in the world. To try and understand the things we don’t understand. To try and define the ‘deep knowing’ we have always had. And where it all started -as far back as Plato (and beyond), was with the greatest of these ‘deep knowings’… that we are more than the body. 

We’ve always known.

Both Plato and Aristotle had something to say on the topic of the Soul. They both wondered if death could possibly be the end. So, if you’re trying to make sense of this thing we call the Soul, you’re in good company. Even the greatest thinkers in history were curious about the spark. 

Today, remember the light of a baby’s eyes. Who was that baby before it lent it’s spark to this little body? Who was this child before it was born?