In 1985 Bruce Lipton, PhD, resigned from his teaching post at the University Of Wisconsin School Of Medicine. He had spent 18 years in government-funded research working on cloning stem cells. He was overstressed with his academic world and his personal life was in a nosedive. He took a teaching job in the Caribbean at an off-shore medical college. His new relaxed, low academic environment enabled him to dabble with what he knew best–the biology of cells. It was under those circumstances that he made some astonishing discoveries leading to his epiphany.
This came about when he realized that the cell’s life is controlled by the physical and energy environment, rather than the genetic code. Genes provide the blueprint, but it is the environment which connects with the blueprint to develop the cell’s “character”. It is the cell’s awareness of its environment that determines its character.
Lipton came to understand that the human organism is a collection of individual cells, and what happens at the cell level is a reflection of what happens with human life. Added to this was his new view that our lives were not pre-determined by our genetic make up, but were flexible–because perception of our environment is influenced by our beliefs.
The majority of the book explains how he came to this new view–an unconventional view–on genetic control. During one experiment scientists removed the genetic core of a cell–what they believed was the cell’s “brain”. The expectation was that it would die instantly. But it did not. It continued to live without a brain. It could not reproduce itself, but it continued to live for weeks. This led him to the knowledge that the genetic core was nothing more than a plan for reproduction, but not a final plan. The real brain was the outside skin, the membrane of the cell. It reacted with its environment. If some nasty chemicals were put in the cell’s environment, the cell moved away.
If food was placed nearby, it moved towards it. Cells have all the similarities of a human, absorbing nourishment, expelling waste, likes and dislikes. How it does this is explained by Lipton using some clever analogies.
It is not the number of genes that make humans smarter than more lowly creatures. It was expected that humans would have 120,000 genes, but scientists were shocked to discover there was only about 25,000–not so many when even a tiny fruit-fly has 15,000. A mouse has almost the same number of genes as a human. These things are not as simple as first thought. Genes can be modified by information fed back to them, information coming from the environment–nutrition, stress, and emotions. The genes can be modified without the basic plan being unwound.
The book contains quite a lot of biology, mostly dealing with the single cell. You have to be awake to follow the reasoning, the experiments, the results. But with high-school science and a genuine effort, you can follow the story.
Lipton was quite ahead of his time, and almost ashamed that for twenty years he had been teaching students false facts about the importance of the genetic code.
He became euphoric when he discovered the beauty and elegance of a cell’s mem-Brain. It is not genes that control the cell biology, but the membrane which makes the decisions about what happens to it. To quote from the book: “the protein ‘switches’ that control life are primarily turned on and off by signals from the environment… the Universe.”
As the story progresses he involves quantum mechanics, where matter and energy are completely entangled. He discusses the Spirit/Science split, originally caused by Copernicus’ revelation that the Sun, not the Earth, was the centre of the heavens. The split between the two grew even greater when Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution.
Lipton calls for a reconciliation of Spirit and Science. Not that his view coincides with any of the organized religions, his view is a pantheist viewpoint, although the word is never used in the book. What he means by Spirit, is unseen forces, such as are found in Quantum mechanics, Ch’i as in Chinese medicine, electromagnetic radiation; forces that cannot be seen with an electron microscope.
He now opposes the materialistic society; he has concern for the destruction of species, animals, and plants. If humans continue on their environmentally destructive path, it could cause the destruction, or near destruction, of humanity. If we destroy the planet, we will all die. We are, he says, part of the whole; we are connected to our environment, just as cells are connected to theirs.
His conclusion is that subconscious beliefs absorbed as children, control behaviour and gene activity, and thus the direction our lives take. When we become aware that we are responsible for everything that happens to us, then we must take charge of ourselves, and this means correcting our subconscious flaws.
The book is interesting, delving into the world of single cells, biology, fractals, chemistry, and other topics. It is written with a light-hearted touch that makes it less like a textbook, and more like a journey.
You can find more excellent non-fiction books here.
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