On April 10, 1901, a somewhat bizarre experiment was conducted in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A scientist, by the name of Dr. Duncan MacDougall, set out to prove that the human soul had mass and was measurable. The good doctor enlisted six dying patients as volunteers for the experiment. He placed the patients on specially-made scales and waited.
The experiment consisted of weighing each body on highly sensitive scales before and after death to determine if there were any differences. After each patient died, Dr. MacDougall and four other doctors compared the weights. The results were reported by the New York Times on March 11, 1907:
The instant life ceased, the opposite scale pan fell with a suddenness that was astonishing – as if something had been suddenly lifted from the body. Immediately all the usual deductions were made for physical loss of weight, and it was discovered that there was still a full ounce of weight unaccounted for.
Based on his findings, Dr. MacDougall concluded that the weight of the human soul is 21 grams. He also asserted that dogs and other animals do not have souls (with which I might disagree, but that is an argument for another time).
The human soul. People, like Dr. MacDougall and others, believed they proved its existence. Others have argued that the soul doesn’t exist at all. Some have even tried to sell their souls. (By the way, the selling of a soul is expressly forbidden on eBay but appears to be allowed on Craig’s list). The human soul has been the subject of poetry, novels, and even movies. And while it is one of the more important words in the Bible and essential to our understanding of the faith, most of us cannot define what a soul is. It remains a mystery!
But even though understanding the human soul might be a mystery to us, Jesus fully understood the soul and its importance. Listen to what Jesus says about our souls:
For whoever wants to save their soul will lose it, but whoever loses their soul for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Matthew 16:25-26)
Maybe this is why John Wesley was so concerned with our souls. How is it with your soul?