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The no-soul theorists weigh in

In our Tuesday column, a reader asked how you know when  the spirit or soul leaves a body. One part of the answer read:

In the late 1800s, Dr. Duncan MacDougall of Massachusetts conducted research on dying patients. He set their beds on specially designed scales. His conclusion was that the soul left the body “coincident with death.” The resulting weight loss? Twenty-one grams.

We heard from a couple of readers who took issue with the fact the people even have spirits or souls. And like most of my correspondence with agnostics and atheists, I am always struck with how well they express their thoughts. I've known J.E. Hill for nearly two decades now, and he weighed in with this comment. Thanks J.E.!

Here's a thought: Isn't the soul supposed to be a “non material” aspect of life? If it is non material it can not have physical weight. If it has physical weight, then it's material and thus has existence value as any other bodily organ or function and measurable by anybody. The soul is as non-provable as the existence of the god(s) that claims to have made it…Last January I sat and watched my Mother die (from Alzheimer's) Her brain was gone and the only thing keeping her alive was a muscle called the heart and then that failed. That's it. And for all of us there, the only thing leaving the room was a big sigh of relief that this ordeal was over. 

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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