Activity time: 5 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Prepare to tell youth about attempts scientists have made to find out what happens when we die. Find the experiments in the activity description, plus others, in "The Big Questions: What Happens After You Die?" by Mary Roach in New Scientist, November 18, 2006, available in full, online, with a subscription.
Description of Activity
The physical aspects of death may fascinate some youth. Tell the group about scientific experiments seeking proof that a soul leaves the body after death and the dead and the living can communicate. Say:
Mary Roach wrote a magazine article in 2006 that talks about 47 attempts to scientifically investigate what happens when we die. Only one investigator ever found out, because he died trying to answer the question. After he died, he could not report back what he had learned.
Tell the youth:
- Some scientists have written secret messages to see if they could send them to other people when they themselves died.
- A scientist tried weighing people when they died to find out if their bodies got lighter because a soul was escaping at death.
- Another scientist tried the same thing with sheep, and discovered that they actually got heavier when they died.
- Doctors in an operating room in Virginia set up a computer to show an image that can be seen only by somebody who has a near death experience.
- None of these experiments have proved anything about what happens when we die.
Ask the youth their ideas for further scientific experiments to explore today's Big Question. Affirm ideas. Encourage youth to articulate how they might conduct an experiment and what hypothesis they might test. Help them distinguish between information about what happens to the body after we die and information about what happens to our intangible selves-our souls, our awareness, our spirits.
Science can tell us what happens to our bodies when we die, but not what happens to our conscious, thinking selves. Science does not know all of what happens after death. Despite the scientists' attempts, death remains a riddle and a mystery.