According to a 2003 Harris poll, 96 percent of adults who self-identified as Christians believe Jesus was resurrected. More surprisingly, 50 percent of these Christians believe in the existence of ghosts, 27 percent believe in astrology as a means to make decisions, and 21 percent believe in reincarnation (that they were someone else in a past life).

With this in mind, Mary Roach's latest book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (W. W. Norton, 2005) makes good reading not just for those looking for an interesting and sometimes humorous look at scientific attempts to prove the existence of the soul, but also for those of us who minister to people with souls, even if those people are not clear on what their soul is.

Roach, whose first book, Stiff, examined in equal detail what happens to the body after death, writes that she was raised in a Christian home, but the faith didn't take "because science kept putting it on the spot."

When she decided to examine beliefs about the soul, it was natural ...

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