Blog Post

The Physics of Ghosts

LD writes: “I often hear you say on Wacky Wednesday that the reason why dead people can’t come back and haunt us isn’t just about religion, but physics. What do you mean by that?”

Great question! The connection between physics and ghosts is fascinating.

Many people believe that science has proven the existence of ghosts. This statement is based on the belief that Albert Einstein came up with a scientific basis for the reality of ghosts when he posited that the energy of the universe is constant and can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, when a person dies, the electrical energy in their bodies is not destroyed but is transformed into another form of energy. This new energy form is what we refer to as ghosts.

However, this theory is flawed. As Benjamin Radford writes in this article appearing on LiveScience, what happens to a person’s energy after they die is not at all mysterious.

“After a person dies, the energy in his or her body goes where all organisms' energy goes after death: into the environment. When a human dies, the energy stored in his or her body is released in the form of heat, and transferred into the animals that eat us (i.e., wild animals if we are left unburied, or worms and bacteria if we are interred), and the plants that absorb us. If we are cremated, the energy in our bodies is released in the form of heat and light.”

In other words, as Radford explains, when we eat dead plants and animals, we’re actually consuming their energy and converting it for our own use. “Food is metabolized when digested, and chemical reactions release the energy the animal needs to live, move, reproduce, etc. That energy does not exist in the form of a glowing, ghostly ball of electromagnetic energy, but rather in the form of heat and chemical energy.”

Even though ghost hunters use a lot of fancy equipment to detect the energy fields created by ghosts, once an organism dies, it no longer generates energy.

It’s important to note that the energy we’re referring to here is veritable energy which is well known to science. Contrary to putative energy (chi, qi, prana, universal life force) which is not supported by science, veritable energy consists of mechanical vibrations (such as sound) and electromagnetic forces, including visible light, magnetism, monochromatic radiation and rays from other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. At the time of death, when the body shuts down and stops generating energy, whatever energy is stored in the body is simply released and absorbed into the environment where it ceases to exist. It does not transform itself into any other shape or form.

This is why we so often say that disembodied human souls, which are those souls who have left the body at the time of death, are incapable of “haunting” anyone because they lack the physical (i.e. bodily) ability to do so. In other words, it's not just a matter of religion. It's physics!

Does this mean the dead can't appear to the living? Yes, because they lack the physicaly ability to do so; however, as we know, the deceased can and do appear to the living in  apparitions. But this is only due to the permission and intervention of God who has the power to facilitate the appearance of a bodily form.

On the other hand, persons who allegedly appear to mediums are not the deceased because God does not permit the practice of necromancy (see Deuteronomy 18:10) and therefore would never permit a departed soul from answering to the call of a necromancer. Even though preternatural beings, such as angels and demons, also have the power to facilitate the bodily appearance of a departed soul, the good angels would never conspire with a medium to do so because they exist solely to do the will of God. Therefore, the only other means for a “ghost” to appear would be through the agency of an evil spirit.

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