The Biology of Belief was written by Dr. Bruce Lipton and seems to be on the cutting edge of a new biology. It is an innovative look at the power of mind, matter and consciousness and how these basic forces give shape to our lives.
I am examining a copy that was lent to me to help me kind of get my head around some of these ideas. I feel instinctively drawn to these radical, new fields of science that are developing – mostly because in some way it seems like the kind of knowledge that was once known thousands of years ago. Yes, I do put great stock in the minds of antiquity.
For this exercise, mostly for my own selfish needs, I am going to kind of examine each chapter as I read the book. Starting with Chapter 1 (Lessons from the Petri Dish: In praise of smart cells and smart students) I want to try and flesh out ideas and points of interest to elicit discussion and also to remind me of things that seemed important at the time. So, let’s begin.
The chapter is basically focused on an introduction. Dr. Bruce Lipton has migrated to the Carribean, where he continues to teach and do his research. His academic needs aside, he also gets one of those opportunities we most often don’t recognize at first – a chance to do it your way and a chance to change. He describes his students and the situation he walked into at first – mid semester with under-prepared and bored students.
The basic tenet is the illustration of the battleground over the theory of evolution. In one camp, the Darwin camp, is the idea that species evolved over struggle and strife, meeting violent forces of nature and only the fit would outlive and endure. The weak are to be tossed aside as chafe. There is another notion, however, that is starting to take shape and possible prevail. The idea is that species interact with one another and are dependent on one another for their survival. This symbiotic idea also makes these communities more efficient in their means to survive, therby eliciting an evolution to take place.
Dr. Lipton really hashes out this idea by turning towards a method of anthropomorphizing the behavior of cells. He notes the danger of anthropomorphism, but is convincing in that concerns over such an approach are really misplaced. In fact, it is appropriate within a certain context and can be a useful tool for education. That said, the idea of cell activity – single cell organisms – are depicted to support this community-based evolution. He cites examples of somatic hypermutation as well as intra-species gene trading that goes on. It was long thought that species leave their progeny with genes, but now we see that species share gene traits with other species. Genes, however, are not the end all be all for determining an organism’s behavior. Genes are likened to tangible memories, by which an organism passes on the “data” of survival to its community – not just its progeny.
Basically, everything is either a single-celled organism or composed of a number of those single-celled organisms to make up a multi-celled organism. An amoeba, a rock, a human, a whale – all share the fundamental composition of celled structure and these cells all united to create systems whereby their mutual existence ensures a better, more productive and peaceful life span. It is this impulse that brings us all together and the need for us to unite with one another and connect. I suppose it is also this identification with a given community that forces us to create war with one another, too.
For Dr. Lipton, these single-celled organisms demonstrate learning and they pass this information on in their DNA and their genes. Thus we have evolution but as these cells come together and change their behavior, thus changing this DNA, they are also evolving as clumped units and systems. If we begin to see ourselves as a vast universe of collections of cells and these systems, we begin to understand fundamentally that we are all connected in some way and that seperation is just a matter of illusion. We also learn the valuable lesson of community and teamwork. We learn that we are stronger when we unite and shed the idea of the survival of the fittest. “Two can live as cheaply as one” is an idea brought forward by Dr. Lipton. It also demonstrates the idea that if survival is the key then organisms must come together and work together. United we stand, divided we fall is very true here. This also gives insight into the potential of the “hive mindset” which tools like the Internet make great use of.
If, for example, you want to learn about a particular subject – create a website about it. That way you will have a community of people, all with different experiences and knowledge about a given subject, coming together and discussing that topic. The ongoing body of knowledge, in this example of mine the website, would be like the DNA that is transmitted generation to generation being altered by each subsequent generation as the paradigms of knowledge shift and change.
Pretty good discussion to start with, I think.