I don't have time to post on spiritualselfhelp AND write the book, so I've decided to stick up chunks of the rough draft as I go along. Please feel free to comment (respectfully...) on anything you'd like to hear more about, or have more details about, or if something doesn't make sense, and I'll try my best to answer your queries in future posts.
Before Darwin came along with his theory of evolution, the idea that people had souls, and that there was a spiritual dimension to life, and that God existed and had created the world, was a given for nearly all scientists. Of course, there were always a few dissenters in the corner, but they normally kept their atheistic views to themselves, in much the same way that modern-day scientists who believe in God are forced to keep quiet, or see their career and reputation disappear down the tubes.
Then Darwin showed up, and challenged the God-centric view of the world in a number of key ways.
Firstly, he suggested that far from there being a specific plan behind, and a specific goal leading creation, everything in the world occurred due to random happenstance.
To put this another way, Darwin’s theory took an axe to the principal of ‘cause and effect’, and reduced everything in the world down to some kind of happy accident.
The next piece of mischief that the theory of evolution wrought in scientific minds is that it planted the idea that the world HAD to be incredibly old. After all, it would take billions and trillions of years before an amoeba could turn into a monkey, or a fully-sentient human being - if it could happen at all.
Sadly for Darwin, pioneering molecular biologist Douglas Axe recently proved conclusively that the amount of time it would actually take for even one of Darwin’s ‘happy evolutionary coincidences’ to occur was a number so big, it’s practically impossible. The world simply isn’t old enough for all the millions of evolutionary tweaks that could turn an amoeba into anything remotely similar to a biped - or even something more modest, like an earthworm or fruit-fly.[i]
Sadly for Axe - and everyone else who believes in God - the theory of evolution was so compelling for those individuals who wished to find an ‘intellectually satisfying[ii]’ way of denying God’s role in creation that no amount of scientific investigation, facts or research has been able to dislodge it.
And so, modern science continues to claim that the world is billions of years’ old, and to view every discipline through the lens of ‘evolution’, disregarding any of the uncomfortably mounting evidence that categorically disproves it.
Definition of vitalism
- 1: a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces
- 2: a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining
All this set the scene for the big schism that occurred throughout the 19th century [CHECK] between the ‘vitalist’ and ‘mechanist’ biological schools of thought. Again, until Darwin arrived on the scene, practically every scientist considered themselves to be a ‘vitalist’, inasmuch as they believed that some sort of invisible animating force, or soul, that they called the anima or elan vital, must be working through the physical body. This idea was so self-evident, it was axiomatic.
Vitalism held that this animating force was what separated living beings, including man, from the rest of the inanimate landscape.
But post-Darwin, when a new, God-less paradigm for life started to come into focus, many of the scientists of the day developed an almost religious zeal to root God and spirituality out of every last vestige of scientific endeavor - including the question of what animated man, himself.
This latter school came to be known as the ‘mechanists’, and they posited the idea that man was really just an intelligent collection of chemical compounds and cells, and was ultimately governed by the same laws of chemistry and physics that applied to inanimate matter.
Much of the debate between the vitalists and the mechanists took place around the subject of embryology, or the study of development. Ironically, Darwin himself gave the new field of embryology its name, and vainly hoped that the study of how life ‘developed’ would provide ample support for his theories of phylogeny, or what he termed the history of evolution.
Yet, despite the fact that the field was eagerly embraced by leading mechanists like German scientist Wilhelm Roux, that didn’t happen. As the field continued to develop (pun intended), embryologists like Roux and his colleague August Weismann soon confirmed that a fertilized egg appeared to be an unstructured single cell that continually divided, proliferated, and then somehow became a collection of differentiated cells.
noun mech·a·nism \ˈmek-ə-ˌniz-əm\Medical Definition of mechanism
- 1: a piece of machinery
- 2a: a bodily process or function the mechanism of healingb: the combination of mental processes by which a result is obtained psychologicalmechanisms
- 3: the fundamental physical or chemical processes involved in or responsible for an action, reaction, or other natural phenomenon
Weissman came up with a theory which postulated that the fertilized egg contained specific chemical structures called ‘determiners’, that would code for all the different cell types required. According to Weissman’s theory, once a cell had turned into muscle cell, or a blood cell, or a nerve cell, its function had been permanently fixed.
The father of modern genetics, American embryologist Thomas Hunt Morgan, proposed the theory that just as the genes contained inherited characteristics, they also contained the ‘code’ that would tell which cells to differentiate and become the endoderm (which gives rise to the glands and viscera in the fetus); the mesoderm (which gives rise to the bones, muscles and circulatory system) and the ectoderm (which becomes the skin, nervous system and sense organs.
At this stage in the game, it was believed that once a cell had been ‘coded’ at the beginning of the process to fulfill a particular function, that was set in stone and couldn’t be changed.
It was only after work progressed on the human genome project that the cracks in this particular theory were discovered. Recent research has shown that there is no such thing as ‘one gene, one result’.
Science has now established that many genes work together to trigger a particular outcome. What’s more, the genes themselves are not ‘fixed’ and can be turned on or off by environmental factors that trigger biochemical messengers which in turn signal the gene to activate, or de-activate.
This process is called ‘methylation’, where environmental factors and experiences trigger a cluster of carbon and hydrogen atom, called a ‘methyl group’ to the outside of the gene. When this occurs, that gene is rendered less sensitive or hyper sensitive to the messages it’s being sent by the body.
What’s more, this pattern of peculiar gene expression, or ‘methylation’ can be passed on to the person’s descendants, in a process called ‘epigenetics’.
RNA vs ‘Determinors’
Weissman and then Morgan suggested that once a cell had been coded, or ‘determined’, it somehow lost the rest of the genetic blueprint that was initially available to it before it differentiated, and got ‘stuck’ being whatever it now was - like a piece of skin, or a heart muscle, or a nerve ending.
But later research showed that wasn’t true, and that the full genetic blueprint could still be found in every cell nucleus. In theory, these genes could be re-activated in the future, and each cell could change into a different type of cell via a process called ‘de-differentiation’.
Something called the RNA decides which bit of the cell’s genetic code gets switched off, and which is activated at any given time.
But the question still remained (at least for the mechanists and modern science): how was the RNA itself making these decisions, about which parts of the genetic blueprint each cell should repress, and which parts should be activated?