Nature versus Nurture has been a hotly debated topic since Pa fell off the proverbial bus but no scientist worth their salt would waste one molecule of energy on such an argument today. In Bruce Lipton’s book – The Biology of Belief – he sets out to debunk the idea that genes control biology claiming that this notion has been repeated so often and for so long that scientists have even forgotten that it is a hypothesis, not a truth.
Environment triggers genetic activity
Most people sitting on the outside of the scientific community have swallowed the idea hook, line and sinker that genes control everything from personality and intelligence to introversion, alcoholism and even depression. But Lipton is clear that our fate is not sealed by the contents of our ancestors’ jeans because genes can’t switch themselves on and off; something in the environment has to trigger genetic activity. The environment that Lipton refers to has less to do with the smoggy air so many of us breathe and more to do with the physical environment created in our bodies by our minds.
Fear operates like a toxin
As a cellular biologist researching the science of cloning blood vessels, Lipton observed that cells naturally move towards nutrition and away from toxins and – being a bit like some men – cells can only do one thing at a time. While there’s nothing particularly remarkable about this, Lipton shows that thought is the energy of the mind and therefore our thinking can literally activate or inhibit cell functioning. The energy controlling the nervous system is what we experience as an ‘emotion’. More remarkable, is the way cells respond to fear as if it is a toxin, while love – or the different energy associated with loving life – is the best growth promoting substance for each of the trillion cells in the human body. Cells can’t entertain both love and fear at the same time so for our health and wellbeing we need to decide whether we are going to love life or fear it.
Not genes but stress
Lipton is emphatic that genes do not map our destiny. Environmental issues including nutrition, stress and emotions influence the activity of the genes we inherited. He says that almost every major illness that people acquire is not determined by our genetic inheritance, it is linked to chronic stress. Stress activates the fight-or-flight system which automatically diverts blood supply away from our major organs and the brain to the muscles in our arms and legs. It also weakens the immune system. Stress is supposed to be a short-term response to immediate threats to our survival but, when we experience high levels of fear or stress on an ongoing basis, our organs are deprived of essential blood flow and we can’t think straight. When stressed, it’s no wonder we behave badly and end up getting ill.
Genes x Environment
Given that the brain and body work as a system, Lipton resolves the age-old nature versus nurture debate by stating that it is genes x environmental influences that make us who we are (genes multiplied by environment).
Woo-Woo Alert: This book is written for the layperson but Lipton disappoints at the end by only recommending the Psych-K technique to resolve all of life’s complex issues. This is an extraordinary body tapping system that this writer doesn’t know enough about to decide whether or not it’s (in)credible. Disappointingly, he also threw in his lot with many of the evangelists from the nonsensical movie ‘The Secret’. So, if science is what you’re wanting, read this book as some of his later works are thought to be a bit whacky or woo-woo. For those preferring a more visual medium, Lipton has also posted some of his earlier scientific presentations on YouTube.