Chiropractic Philosophy and the New Science: An Emerging Unity

Author // Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.

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Chiropractic Philosophy and the New Science: An Emerging Unity
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As a former medical school professor who currently lectures before chiropractors and chiropractic students, I must admit I am very perplexed about the intellectual foundation of chiropractic education. Major chiropractic colleges create an academic impediment that unknowingly destabilizes their students and hobbles their graduates’ effectiveness.

I am referring to the problem of incorporating a basic medical science curriculum in the foundation of chiropractic education. My concern is not with chiropractic-relevant descriptive courses, such as gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, physiology and neurophysiology. The intellectual problems arise in the presentation of courses like cell biology and biochemistry. Unlike the other basic science subjects, these courses are more than just descriptive in nature. These courses define the “mechanisms” of life upon which modern allopathic medicine is built. The medical model, the allopathic healer’s Holy Grail, is derived from an understanding of these molecular mechanisms.

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The importance of the medical model is so fundamental to the philosophy of modern science it has acquired the status of The Central Dogma. This dogma defines the flow of “information” in biological systems that shape the biological character of an organism. The information is presumed to express itself in a linear, unidirectional path that originates with DNA (genes). Information is then translated into RNA, and finally it is expressed as proteins. The protein molecules are the building blocks of the human body and provide for our physical and behavioral traits. Consequently, the “character” of one’s life is defined by their protein building blocks. DNA molecules are recognized as life’s source, since they are the “blueprints” used in making the body’s proteins.

The Central Dogma emphasizes that genes (DNA) are source and an individual’s character “unfolds” from the information codified in our genome. This assumption leads to the notion of genetic determinism, the belief that the traits and quality of one’s life is “predetermined” by the genes acquired at conception. Genes are localized within the nucleus of each of the body’s cells. Consequently, life is “controlled” by a molecular mechanism inside a cell. The character of this hereditary information is subsequently manifest on the outside of the cell in regard to the way the cell influences bodily functions and health. In the figure on the next page, the cell on the left illustrates the flow of information according to allopathic philosophy.

Chiropractic philosophy, which defines the foundational beliefs underlying the practice of chiropractic, offers a completely contrasting concept of source. Chiropractic emphasizes that the source of life is Innate Intelligence. The Innate, described as a form of environmentally derived vital energy, flows from the brain through the nervous system and is then distributed to the tissues and cells. Innate information controls the structure and behavior of the cells, which in turn is expressed as health or dis-ease. The philosophical differences regarding the flow of information is illustrated by the cells depicted on the following page.

Focus on the illustration for just a moment and you will readily see there is a fundamental conflict between chiropractic and allopathic healing philosophies. Their flows of information (source) are diametrically opposed! Chiropractic philosophy is built upon an external energy (i.e., an invisible moving force, spirit) source while allopathic medicine argues for an internal material source (genes).

Each philosophy provides an intellectual foundation as to why its particular healing practice “works.” The problem facing students of chiropractic is that they are taught allopathic philosophy in cell biology and biochemistry, and contrasting chiropractic beliefs in their philosophy courses. What’s a student supposed to believe?

Why should chiropractic schools provide allopathic science and philosophy to their students? The answer is simple: Allopathic science is the recognized provider of truth in Western civilization. If it’s “scientific”…it must be true. Buying into that belief, chiropractic academicians feel it is necessary to teach that view of the “truth” so that their students won’t be disadvantaged in the “real” world. By teaching the gene-based medical model as truth to its students, chiropractic educators are brazenly negating the validity of their own philosophy and healing art. One cannot ascribe to diametrically opposed philosophies at the same time!

Most chiropractic students are unaware of this glaring philosophical conflict, yet the opposing models they are taught are programmed into their subconscious mind. The academic conflict programmed in the subconscious mind unknowingly undermines the confidence of chiropractic students and practitioners. Built into the unconscious awareness of each chiropractor is the gnawing doubt that chiropractic is “not scientific.”

How can this academic paradox be resolved? The unfortunate resolution is that chiropractic has steadfastly broken away from its metaphysical roots and generally de-emphasizes Palmer’s philosophy, deeming it not relevant to the practice of chiropractic. Many schools have actually stopped teaching chiropractic philosophy altogether, while those that still teach it do so in a perfunctory manner and treat it like a dry professional catechism. By shying away from the principles of chiropractic philosophy, some in the profession have attempted to gain legitimacy by measuring its successes using “evidence-based science.” In other words, chiropractors dismiss their own philosophy and try to explain the effectiveness of an adjustment through the mechanistic model offered by allopathic medicine.

It is ironic that some in the chiropractic community want to measure its healing phenomena using an allopathic “yardstick.” The practice of allopathic medicine is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for about 750,000 deaths per year. If that many people died from iatrogenic illness, I cannot even begin to fathom the number of citizens who have been sickened to the brink of death by the practice of medicine. Consequently, trying to justify the practice of chiropractic by adopting the mechanics of allopathic “science” is tantamount to comparing chiropractic to the work of the Grim Reaper.

From the perspective of an outsider of the chiropractic field, I see great folly in the stampede of these chiropractors trying to convince the medical community that the value of an adjustment can be measured using the allopathic mechanical model of life. The humor lies in a simple fact: If the medical model that some chiropractors so much want to emulate was actually right…why would allopathic medicine be the leading cause of death?

Is the medical model that suggests human beings are biochemical machines controlled by genes scientifically correct? The answer is a profoundly simple no! Recent research in cell and molecular biology reveal that the following two fundamental assumptions of allopathic philosophy are completely wrong. Assumption I: Genes control biology, and, Assumption II: Biological processes employ Newtonian mechanics.

In regard to the fact that we “believe” genes control life (The Central Dogma): More than 100 years ago, scientists were removing the nuclei from large egg cells of marine organisms, such as starfish and sea urchins. The cell’s nucleus is the organelle that contains the genes. These enucleated eggs were still able to divide, many forming embryos with 40 or more cells…each without any genes! Whatever it is that “controls” life in these cells, it was definitely not the DNA.

In cell-culture laboratories, especially those involved with growing viruses, many tissue-culture dishes are lined with a “feeder” layer of cells. These cells are used to “condition” the growth medium so that it will support the production of viruses. In order to prevent contaminating the viruses with the genes from “feeder” cells, the DNA of the feeder layer cells is destroyed (usually through exposure to gamma rays). While these cells do not have any functional DNA, they may live for one or two months without any genes. During this time the cells eat and digest food, excrete wastes, respire, move around and communicate with other cells and can avoid toxins.

Obviously enucleated cells express complex, integrated behaviors that are not “controlled” by genes. This fact was recently revealed in a different way through the surprising results of the human genome project. The medical model of a gene-controlled biology requires that the human genome contain more than 150,000 genes. The Human Genome Project results identified only approximately 25,000 human genes. That means eighty-five percent of the genes needed to support the allopathic medical model do not even exist.