Chiropractic Philosophy And The New Science: An Emerging Unity
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.
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 reveals 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.
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 85 percent of the genes needed to support the allopathic medical model do not even exist.
In light of this genetic shortcoming, Nobel Prize-winning geneticist David Baltimore had to publicly concede that genes do not provide for human complexity. In the 2001 issue of Nature in which the genome results were published, Baltimore responds to the question of the missing genes by writing, “What does give us our complexity…remains a challenge for the future.” Yes, the Central Dogma is dead!
In the shadow of the DNA-dominated world of scientific research, a new scientific awareness had already begun to manifest while the genome project was capturing all the media’s attention. The new insights provide a far simpler view of the nature of life, one that is synchronistically in alignment with Palmer’s original philosophy. To understand how life works, we must start with understanding proteins, the molecular building blocks of our bodies.
There are more than 150,000 different proteins that make up a human’s body. Each protein is a long, linear molecule of amino acids linked end to end. The molecule is like a nano-sized spine in which the amino acid molecules are the equivalents of vertebrae. There are 20 different amino acids, and each has a unique shape. So the final shape of each protein’s spine is determined by the specific sequence of unique-shaped amino acid links. Essentially, a cell is built from the assembly of thousands of different shaped protein molecules.
Proteins are not only physical building blocks, they also provide for the magic of life. As Palmer wrote, “Life is movement.” The magic of proteins is that they can change their shape. The movement of a protein spine is analogous to the movement of a human spine. Each of the spine’s jointed segments (vertebrae or amino acids) is capable of rotating or flexing at the point they are coupled (joint or peptide bond). While muscles are used to provide the force to move the human spine, protein spines change their posture due to the repulsive or attractive force generated by electromagnetic fields.
When the protein’s electric charge or field is altered, it will adjust the shape of its spine to accommodate the forces. As a human spine can change its shape by bending or rotating, so can a protein’s spine change its shape. In changing conformation (shape) from one configuration to another, the protein molecule “moves”! The particular movement of a protein molecule is integrated with the movement of other protein molecules in functional assemblies called pathways. Respiratory pathways, digestive pathways, and muscle-contraction pathways, for example, refer to assemblies of proteins whose coordinated movements produce those particular functions.
How does life work? Through the coordinated movements of proteins. What is it that “controls” life? The answer is simply whatever it is that controls the movement of proteins, turning them “on” and “off.” The answer to that question was briefly mentioned above: Whatever changes the electromagnetic charge or field of a protein is what causes it to move. Two things can do that: physical chemicals or immaterial vibrational energy fields. Collectively, these represent “signals” that activate proteins by changing their force fields. Allopathic medical philosophy, based upon Newtonian mechanics, only recognizes the role of chemical signals, such as hormones, growth factors, neuropeptides and, of course, drugs, as signals that can impact physical protein molecules, causing them to move.
The most recent biophysics research reveals that energy (vibrational) waves, operating through quantum-mechanical principles, are more effective in signaling protein movement than are physical chemicals. While allopaths have focused their attention on the physical signals of controlling the body’s proteins, physicists endorse the role of energy fields as being more important in “controlling” life.
Medicine’s adamant denial of the role of “energy” in the human body is now a blatantly unscientific principle. Physicists adopted quantum mechanics in 1925 as the science that explains the mechanics of how the universe operates. Allopaths are still trying to understand the mechanics of life using the outdated Newtonian philosophy, a belief that prevents them from recognizing the role of energy in life. Interestingly, Palmer founded chiropractic as an “energy” medicine in 1895, and his philosophy has essentially been discarded to accept a materialistic allopathic philosophy… one that is no longer even scientific!
There are only two fundamental components that provide for life: proteins and their complementary signals. If we consider what can cause a dis-ease, we are left with only two possibilities, something is wrong with the protein, or something is wrong with the signal. If a protein is dysfunctional, it is generally the consequence of a genetic mutation that changed the protein’s assembly blueprint. Statistics reveal that far less than 5 percent of the population can claim that their lives are impaired due to genetic defects. These people express dis-ease as a consequence of a birth defect.
Ninety-five percent of us arrived here with a functional genome. If we have a dis-ease, it cannot be attributed to the proteins; it must be related to the signal. There are three ways by which protein-regulating signals can induce dis-ease: First, if the signal-conducting pathway is physically damaged and does not provide effective signal transfer. Second, if the chemistry used in the communication pathway is insufficient to propagate the signal. Third, if the signal pathways are structurally intact, but the nervous system responds to environmental stimuli by sending inappropriate signals—signals that would engage compromising or life-threatening behaviors. Signal interference can be generated through trauma, toxins and thought. Sound familiar? These are the same causes of subluxation that were originally described by Palmer more than a hundred years ago!
Interestingly, leading-edge cell research now reveals that cells are controlled by the conditions of their environment. When the new model is applied to multicellular organisms, such as humans, information, in the form of energy, would flow from environment > brain > spinal cord > peripheral organs and tissues, which may be penned as: Environment (Innate) > A > D > I > O. Surprise—the new scientific model is the “old” chiropractic model.
There is clearly an upheaval of conventional thought brewing in the allopathic ranks. Modern cellular science is now affirming the role of an Innate Intelligence in shaping biological organisms and this new biological awareness places the emerging science in direct alignment with chiropractic’s philosophical paradigm. The new vision offered by biomedical research provides for both a solid philosophical and scientific foundation for the practice of chiropractic.
There was a comic that once remarked, “The older I get, the smarter my father becomes.” I think we should all stop for a moment and honor the father of chiropractic, D.D. Palmer. He was indeed a smart man!
Note: The new view of science described above and how it relates to chiropractic care are described in Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. Check out the contents of this book and read a sample chapter at brucelipton.com/flipbook/biology-belief. Additional related articles and references are freely downloadable at brucelipton.com. Author reserves first rights.