“It’s all in the genes” is a comment we hear often. Whether it is about our health problems, weight issues or temperament, we have been educated to believe we are programmed a certain way even before birth, and that there is not much we can do but grin and bear it.
At the Hay House Conference with the theme “I Can do it,” held this month in Vancouver, Dr. Bruce Lipton challenged this belief. He spoke about the results from his pioneering studies into the new science of epigenetics, which means “above the gene.” He gave an example of an experiment he did in cultivating stem cells in a petri dish. After some time he divided the genetically identical cells into two or more dishes, and placed them all in different environments. He asked the question, “What controls the fate of the cells – their genetic composition or their environment?” The result of his experiment, and many other similar ones, is that even though the cells were genetically identical, they each subsequently evolved differently because of their environment.
Lipton is not alone – either today or historically – as others have challenged the premise that we are destined to certain physical and mental outcomes as a result of our DNA. Over one hundred years ago, Mary Baker Eddy also challenged this cruel teaching of predestination, not only theologically but also in beliefs about predestined health involving genetics. Her study and research led her to the conclusion that the simple but profound Bible-based teaching that we have a divine inheritance is the key to healthier and more meaningful lives. She wrote, “Heredity is not a law,” and went on to prove her theory by healing people who were suffering from diseases believed to be inherited. One might say, she discovered the divine “epigene” to tap into.
That may seem like a new idea, but it has been brought to light repeatedly over the millenia. When we look to and accept our spiritual nature, instead of exclusively focusing on the physical or personality traits of our relatives and ancestors, we discover a freedom that is empowering and health-giving.
Case in point: As a young man, my uncle was known to have a bad temper. This was believed to be something he inherited from his father and grandfather and something he and those around him simply had to live with. Yet, I only remember him as the most affectionate and gentlest of men. He told me that as a young man he decided one day that he didn’t want to spend his life under the shadow of this tragic inheritance. My uncle was not a churchgoer, yet he felt that it was through prayer that his nature could change. He shifted his thought into a different environment and experienced a profound transformation – somewhat akin to Dr. Lipton’s discovery from the cells placed in different environments. In this case, the mental environment he chose was spiritual. Despite a difficult and sad childhood, my uncle’s change of thought led him to his original, spiritual inheritance. He tapped into the divine “epigene” and lived a long, kind, calm and healthy adult life – something his father had not experienced.
Today, Dr. Lipton and many others are disputing through biological experiments the long-held Darwinian theory that DNA alone predetermines our health destiny. They are gaining glimpses into the fact that there is more to our health than the genes we inherit, and that our environment determines more than we realize. The thoughts we entertain, the food we eat and the upbringing we experience influence the genes we believe predict the outcome of our lives and health.
The message clearly is that neither the past nor our physical makeup has locked us into a dismal future. When we realize we do not have to endure inherited personality traits, then what we believe about hereditary health issues will seem less like a life sentence. We can, alternatively, choose a spiritual environment and a healthier inheritance.