1-Sentence-Summary: The Biology of Belief is an overview of the recent findings in cellular biology, which are redefining the way we look at evolution, genetics and the nature of life.
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The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles is one of the books representing the “new science.” It shows that, in many ways, our image of the world is based on outdated ideas that have already been proven wrong. It’s just that the new findings haven’t reached the collective awareness yet.
Dr. Bruce Lipton wrote this book to spread the word about the recent findings in biology that many people are still not aware of. He points out that, in the area of physics, a lot has changed during the 20th century. As a result of Einstein’s discoveries, we made the collective transition from Newtonian physics towards the theories of relativity and quantum physics.
However, this transition hasn’t yet happened in biology, which still approaches organisms in a deterministic manner. For example, most people believe that genes are the decisive factor in our development, or that our minds are somehow independent of the body.
Lipton challenges these and other well-established notions. He signals that the newest evidence, including his own work as a cellular biologist, is advocating against them. With this book, he opens a whole new perspective not only on human biology but also on our understanding of the nature of life.
Here are 3 lessons that have profoundly influenced my thinking about biology:
- The idea of evolution doesn’t come from Darwin.
- Genes don’t play a key role in determining our biological development.
- Your parents influence you from the moment of conception.
If you are ready to uncover some mysteries of life, let’s waste no more time. Here we go!
Lesson 1: Charles Darwin wasn’t the first to come up with the theory of evolution.
I know, right? Reading this, you may at first think that it’s a misunderstanding. Surely we call Darwin “the father of natural selection” for a reason?
Lipton argues that not only have we got the author of the evolution theory wrong. Our common understanding of it, based on Darwin’s work, is also not correct according to the newest findings. The French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck came much closer to the truth with his theory of evolution. He worked a few decades before Charles Darwin.
There are two main differences between Lamarck’s and Darwin’s theories. Both have quite serious consequences for our thinking about natural selection.
For starters, Lamarck recognized cooperation between species as central to evolutionary processes. That stands in contrast to the Darwinian “survival of the fittest” and “interspecific competition.” However, Lipton argues that modern science confirms Lamarck’s rather than Darwin’s hypothesis.
The second important difference is in looking at the deliberateness with which species adapt to their environment. According to Darwin, the process of adaptation was to a great extent random. As various genetic mutations emerged, the ones that granted the biggest chances of survival simply persisted – and were passed down the generations.
Lamarck understood this process differently. According to him, species learn to fit their surroundings through interacting with their environment. This implies some kind of a built-in “intelligence” – which Lipton’s life-long study of cells seems to confirm.
Lesson 2: Genes don’t determine our lives to the extent that our environment does.
The notion that our genes primarily determine our lives became widely accepted in the 20th century. As a result, people came to believe that much of their health, psychology, and disease predisposition is hard-wired into their biology and hence, beyond control.
In the introduction, Lipton describes himself as a victim of such thinking, too. As a hyper-rational scientist, he concluded that the misery he felt most of his life is simply genetic, and that “this is just the way he is.”
It wasn’t until his moment of epiphany while working in the Caribbean that he realized that this deterministic view of human biology was false. During one warm evening, he was looking through his notes once again, and finally, everything came together. In his own words:
“Suddenly I realized that a cell’s life is fundamentally controlled by the physical and energetic environment with only a small contribution by its genes. Genes are simply molecular blueprints used in the construction of cells, tissues and organs. The environment serves as the “contractor” who reads and engages those genetic blueprints and is ultimately responsible for the character of a cell’s life.”
That realization was a transformative moment, both for Lipton and for modern biology. It endorsed the notion that genes only determine a small part of who we are – and that we can shape our own destiny to a previously unimaginable extent.
Lesson 3: Your parents influence on you started in the womb.
The logical conclusion of what Lipton discovered was that our environment shapes us from the earliest stages of our lives. This means that from the moment of conception, every human, or any other organism, is influenced heavily by their parents.
It’s easy to see the impact of the parenting we receive as children on the rest of our lives. For example, most people understand that if a child repeatedly hears that he or she is “stupid” or “weak,” this is likely to influence their self-image in the later years.
But according to Lipton’s research, what happens to us in our mother’s womb is equally, if not more, important. Because all cells respond to their environment, everything that happens in prenatal life influences and “programs” them.
That’s why the mother’s diet, environment, and the emotions she experiences are so important when she’s pregnant. The fetus’ cells perceive all of these things and “program” them in one way or another.
However, the good news is that later in life we can still re-wire even the earliest-installed programs. This is probably the most optimistic conclusion of the new approach to biology proposed by Lipton.
The Biology of Belief Review
Eye-opening and easy to read, The Biology of Belief is a book that I would recommend to all the curious ones. You may even realize that what you once thought were “scientific facts,” are actually just beliefs. Lipton’s writing has an amazing quality of conveying complicated concepts in a very comprehensive way that anyone can understand.
Who would I recommend The Biology of Belief summary to?
The 28-year-old medical college graduate who doesn’t want to rely solely on pills she prescribes, the 41-year-old psychotherapist who wants to expand his knowledge about human psyche and physique, and anyone who loves to dig deeper into big questions about the nature of life.