Lipton introduces in his book The Biology of Belief what he calls the new biology against the dogma of contemporary biology: DNA controls biological life. Ever since Darwin suggested in his 1859 book, The Origin of Species that “hereditary factors” passed from parent to child was the driving force for evolution, biologists were obsessed with the search for the hereditary mechanism that controlled life.
When the DNA structure and function were unveiled by James Watson and Francis Crick, the world was being taken by the rosy prospects of discovering the secrets of life. The power of DNA has grown from determining our physical characteristics, to controlling our emotions and behavior. The survival of the fittest individual is reflected in the survival of the fittest genes.
The New Biology
Against this traditional reductionist’s view of a competitive life, Lipton presents scientific evidences, including underrated old findings and exciting recent discoveries, that life is about co-operative harmony not only with other life forms, but also with the physical environment.
By expounding why and how “smart” cells, as Lipton calls them, can teach us about human mind and body, Lipton replaces the biological myths with the following conclusions:
- Genes do not control biology in a fatalistic sense.
- Cell membrane, instead of the DNA-containing nucleus, is the true brain of a cell.
- The environment plays a decisive role in the behavior of cells despite the genetic codes.
How Thoughts Control Life
By explaining why quantum physics is relevant to biology, Lipton points out that the body, like the universe, is one indivisible whole with interchangeable energy and matter. Thoughts, the mind’s energy, directly influence the physical brain, long recognized as an electrical organ. The brain controls body’s physiology by activating or inhibiting proteins which in turn change the micro-environment of the cells and thus control cell functions.
Such biological consequences of thoughts or beliefs lead Lipton to call his book The Biology of Belief. The placebo effect is a prime example Lipton uses to explain the effects of mind over body. However, Lipton points out that reality is complicated by the operation of conscious and unconscious thoughts. The mere thinking of positive conscious thoughts against the more powerful unconscious programming does not change anything.
Lipton continues to illustrate the biological basis of negative thoughts, mostly related to the physiology of the flight and fight response triggered by fear. Such protective mechanism inhibits growth to conserve energy and resources for survival. The growth-inhibiting mode has profound effects on human development as far back as the time of conception. Lipton devotes a whole chapter called “Conscious Parenting: Parents as Genetic Engineers” about the importance of creating a healthy and happy environment – biologically, emotionally and physically – for the unborn children and infants.
What Lipton does not elaborate much is how an adult can undo the self-sabotaging unconscious programming to create a fulfilled life although he does mention in the Addendum that PSYCHE-K has helped him undo his self-limiting beliefs. The Biology of Belief is more a scientific exploration about how thoughts control life, rather than a self-help book with practicable steps to change one’s life.