Beyond 2012 – Evolving Perspectives On the Next Age – Full Length Feature

Never before has a time in history been so significant to so many cultures, religions, scientists and governments. Beyond 2012 looks past the apocalyptic world view of 2012 and presents a wide variety of evolving perspectives on the next age of global consciousness and techniques for social and ecological transformation. Topics include Shamanism, Sustainability, Ecological Design, Green Technologies, Alternative Energy Systems, the Mayan Calendar, Psychic Evolution, Synchronicity, and a host of other subjects that deal with the mysteries, wonders and challenges facing all of humankind during this unprecedented age of transformation.

Now available on DVD – Full Version, LOADED with Bonus Features and Bonus Interviews – 187 mins. Cat. #U687. Go to http://www.UFOTV.com.

Featuring
* Daniel Pinchbeck
* Kevin Denaher
* Rick Doblin
* Jim Fournier
* Dean Radin
* Ken Jordan
* James O’Dea
* Rabbi Abraham
* Bia Labate
* Maria Alice Campos

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Dawkins, Darwin, and Other Dogma: How the Tenets of Biology Are Crumbling by Manjir Samanta-Laughton, MD

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We were expected to have evolution figured out by now. You wouldn’t think that anything was amiss from the plaudits Darwin received during the bicentennial honoring of his birth in 1809. These celebrations gave the impression that biology is all sorted out – Darwin planted the seed, and everything we have learned about evolution since has simply grown from it.

The discovery of the structure of DNA in the 1950s seemed to cement the paradigm: we now had the mechanisms by which evolution occurred. We entered an era sometimes known as Neo-Darwinism, which combines his theories with modern knowledge of genetics. This has given rise to some extreme views such as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ belief in the “selfish gene,” which basically says that the purpose of an organism’s behaviors and traits is geared toward the survival of the gene in order to pass it on to its progeny. Genes dictate from within and reign supreme.

Ironically, Darwin was more flexible than many of his scientific descendants. He was a true scientist, aware that new discoveries, which might prove him wrong, would come after he was gone.1 But the Neo-Darwinists have given the public the impression that the mechanisms of heredity have long been understood. On the contrary, new evidence is emerging all the time that exposes the Neo-Darwinists’ ideas for what they are – metaphors and dogmas that are not consistent with the spirit of open science, or exploration and evidence.2 It also turns out that life is much too complex to be reduced to the selfish needs of one molecule, and this has sparked a paradigm revolution. What follows are three key pieces of this emerging new picture.

Revolution #1: Environment Plays a Key Role

How much of who we are is due to our genes and how much is due to our environment? This debate has long raged in biology and seemed to have been won by the gene advocates, who have ruled for so long that we’ve almost forgotten that another point of view exists. The gene dictatorship reduced human beings to passive pawns in a game of evolution that has nothing to do with us as individuals and everything to do with maintaining the immortality of the molecules. Those who suggested that the environment had something to do with the expression of genes were seen as heretics.

It turns out, though, that the champions of the gene are proposing a scientific viewpoint that is increasingly less defensible. Evidence is mounting within mainstream academic science that the environment has a strong effect on gene expression (see molecular biologist Garret Yount’s description of his “avatar-gene experiment” in the latest issue of The Noetic Post, available to IONS Supporting Members). Given these studies and Bruce Lipton’s excellent and groundbreaking work in the area of epigenetics, it turns out that it is our perception of the environment that impacts the receptors in the cell membrane, which inform and influence gene expression.

No doubt many consider Lipton’s work heresy. After all, many biologistshave made a significant investment in claiming no environmental impact on gene expression. They certainly don’t want to add something as nebulous as “perception,” which cannot be felt or dissected, to the rapidly changing mix. But the evidence is hard to ignore; Lipton’s website features numerous papers on how perception of the environment alters gene expression.

Evidencefrom animal studies is also showing how epigenetic modulations to the genome could even be passed onto our progeny.3 This means that changes to DNA expression that occur during an organism’s lifetime in response to its environment are actually passed on to its children. The gene is not a “dictator” after all; it turns out that it has been listening all along. The ebb and flow of our relationship to the environment shows up at the molecular level.

Revolution #2: Survival of the Most Cooperative

”Survival of the fittest” started out as a fundamental tenet of Darwinian biology and gradually became entrenched in our psyches. We came to believe that this is simply how things are. Wasn’t biology telling us so? Darwin’s concept of natural selection meant that if a population is faced with adverse environmental conditions, the ones who happen to have favorable genes, perhaps through a random mutation, will more easily adapt and therefore survive to reproduce more progeny, who will in turn spread this new adaptive advantage until eventually the new population replaces the old.

It’s all very good in theory. This clawing-your-way-to-the-top-of-the-pack mentality has fueled our beliefs and imaginations – vividly and memorably portrayed by the Gordon Gekko character of the 1980s film Wall Street. Gekko compares (and implicitly justifies) his cutthroat behavior to the processes of evolution. (Here’s Gordon Gekko speaking on evolutionary behavior.)

Does the science add up, though? Recent findings from a team of evolutionary biologists at the University of Chicago suggest that such rapid spread of an advantageous gene has been rare in human populations – and in many plants and animals as well. More likely it spreads slowly by way of natural population migration, and not by way of a fitter population replacing another.4 In fact, if some members of a given population are blessed with a genetic advantage, this may involve their helping fellow members survive. Have human beings been practicing cooperation the whole time?

In any case, accumulating evidencefrom population studies by the team in Chicago is showing that we need to reassess the rules of natural selection. “Survival of the fittest” may not be the most important law after all. What will happen to our psyches if mainstream science decrees that this evidence can’t be ignored? Will Gordon Gekko’s famous declaration, “Greed is good,” be revised to “Cooperation is good”?

Revolution #3: Back to the Drawing Board with the Human Genome

Ten years ago it all seemed so tangible: the Human Genome Project was about to be completed, and with it, we anticipated an era of personalized medicine. Once the genome had been sequenced, we believed that we were going to create medicines that were specific to individuals based on their genetic profile. We also believed that we’d be able to predict which diseases we were likely to get in the future and accordingly initiate preventive measures.

This was done by monitoring something called “single nucleotide polymorphisms” (SNPs). To understand this concept, think of a stretch of DNA as a word that we all carry around. If everyone carries the same word, but some of us spell it slightly differently, we can examine whether these slight variations have any individual consequences, such as their effect in disease.

As recently as a few years ago, scientists were confident that if we found these changes, we would be able to tell which of them led to which diseases – and some scientists still feel that way. But many are starting to come around to the view that we’ve been barking up the wrong tree all along. When we examine the SNPs we currently know, we have found that they do very little in helping us to predict disease. Even with SNPs that have been associated with diabetes, for example, they only predict 6 percent of its heritability. These dim results have caused molecular biologist David Goldstein of Duke University to proclaim the entire hypothesis a thing of the past: “We have entered and left that field, which explained less than a lot of people thought it would.”5

Even when the Human Genome Project revealed that we only have 20,000 genes, far fewer than the 150,000 expected, some still clung to the notion that genes make us who we are. And now that the results show fairly conclusively that, except in rare cases, our genome can’t tell us if we’re likely to develop a particular disease, some scientists continue to think that the promised land still exists.

What does it mean that, with a few exceptions, we cannot find strong correlations between our genome and disease? Some are already looking beyond DNA to epigenetic factors and examining how these might influence disease. Others are wondering if so-called ”junk DNA,” which has previously been discarded as having no discernible purpose, may in fact have important regulatory functions.

What if we need to go deeper to find the answers? If we cannot look to a molecule within us, maybe we need to look beyond it. Physics has long declared matter to be made up of information, not of solid particles. This information lies deeper than molecules and deeper than atoms, to the very makeup of all matter. What if this information has an inherent sentience, which causes the self-organizing behavior we see all around us in nature?

Every single molecule seems to know what to do, as if it were inherently intelligent. With the matter-as-information revolution currently taking place in physics, biology should look to a new scientific paradigm as well. It should explore whether information deeper than the level of the molecule is actually powering the formation of our human bodies, and even the onset of disease. Since our current theories have been of little help, we need to embrace something new.

We Are Not Machines

Many of the most enshrined ideas in biology are toppling, but not because of pressure from critics. This is happening from within the field itself. When we look at how, one by one, science’s most cherished ideas have fallen – from the selfish gene to survival of the fittest and the promise of gene therapy – we need to face the facts that we have simply got it wrong.

Nature is far more fluid than we have previously believed. We are not the results of the dictates of molecular machinery. We seem instead to be so much more, leading to a new era of exploration as exciting, if not more so, as the one that gave us the theory of evolution, relativity, and quantum physics. For the first time in modern human history, the cycle of knowledge is returning to what we knew in our distant past: we are connected to something deeper. We are not machines. Intelligent information flows through us and communicates with our environment, and this means that human survival is much more likely when we cooperate. The paradigm revolution in biology promises to be something wondrous to behold.

Manjir Samanta-Laughton, MD, is an award-winning international speaker and bestselling author of Punk Science and The Genius Groove. She is a former medical GP who now links cutting-edge science with esoteric ideas and is the discoverer of the Black Hole Principle. She has spoken frequently about her work and been featured on the BBC and New Dimensions Radio and in The Guardian, among many other outlets
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Endnotes

1. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of the Species (New York: Dover, 2006).

2. Fern Elsdon-Baker, “The Dawkins Dogma,” New Scientist, July 2009.

3. Ibid.

4. J. K. Pritchard, “How We Are Evolving,” Scientific American, October 2010.

5. Stephen S. Hall, “Revolution Postponed,” Scientific American, October 2010.

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