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Science Studies the Soul

Neurophysiologist Dick Burgess is trying to find scientific proof for consciousness and the soul. Some of his evidence comes from the story of Uttara Haddur, a Hindu woman who suddenly began speaking an ancient form of Bengali in 1974, without ever having studied the language. She told stories of people in a village many miles away and said her name was Sharada. University of Virginia reincarnation researcher Ian Stevenson traveled to India to study her, and found out that she was telling true stories about people and events from the early 1800s. Burgess says, "This case is very difficult to explain unless Sharada's soul is driving Uttara's nervous system."

In the Deseret Morning News, Elaine Jarvik quotes Burgess as saying, "For many years I shied away from the soul because it had these religious connotations. But why not just be bold, and take the evidence you have, without preconceptions, and see if you can integrate it into a coherent network that explains all these phenomena?

"We don't know what consciousness is. If we knew what its properties were, then we might say, 'Of course it might survive death because given its properties we can predict it will not be dependent for its integrity on being interfaced with the brain.' But we don't know now. We're very, very early in this as a scientific endeavor."

One way he's studying this is by trying to see if the life force that the Chinese call "chi" can be directed outside the body towards chicken nerve cells growing in a petri dish, making them grow faster. "The work is in progress, but it's promising," he says. If it works, this will help demonstrate that consciousness is not simply the way we perceive the electrical impulses of our brain, but is a separate force.

He wants to study mediums, near-deaths experiences, cases of apparent reincarnation, and out-of-body experiences. "The data available from these sources is relevant and compelling," says Burgess. "But most academics are quite conservative."

Quantum physics has proved there's a God; now it might prove there's a soul as well.

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