The Biology of Belief:
Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles
Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D.
Original copyright by Bruce Lipton 2005
Revised copyright 2008 by Mountain ofLove Productions
Carlsbad,CA: Hay House, Inc.
Hardcover; 204 pages
Review by Joe Szimhart January, 2009
I read this book because I had to. One of my clients under the influence of a controversial New Age guru gave me Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief to read because it largely represented the client’s world view. I spent an evening going through the book. My reaction was, No wonder. Lately I have had time to read the book thoroughly and make notes. The “Notes” section of blank pages at the end came in handy so I thank Doctor Lipton for including it. Up front, I must inform the reader that I have had a long career as a deprogrammer, euphemistically known as an exit counselor. In that capacity I am more interested in how someone sets up someone else to accept a belief and more importantly a false belief. Bruce Lipton expresses the same concern but from a different mindset.
The author dedicates his book so: “Gaia: The Mother of us all. May she forgive us our trespasses” [sic]. Philosophically Lipton easily fits the New Age paradigm that grew out of the Sixties hippy movement. The old paradigm of science and religion (especially Christian) he says is patriarchal, neo-Darwinian, gene-centered, linear, materialistic, Newtonian, practically loveless and hell-bent. His New Biology is feminist, neo-Lamarckian, epigenetically centered, holistic, quantum conscious, spiritual, and love-directed to White Light. One-star reviewers on amazon.com have taken Lipton’s book to task on his misrepresentation of the sciences, so I will not belabor the details. I will say that Lipton includes enough real scientific teaching to easily impress and confuse the non-specialist—and that is a key to grasping why I am critical of Lipton. On the other end the five-star reviewers offer praises glowing in so much white light they brought a tear to my eye.
I gathered that Lipton was a research scientist in biology. He mentions being with Stanford University (1987-1992) many times doing research on cells. My contacts among professors at Stanford never heard of him, so I am not sure what capacity Lipton believes he was connected to Stanford. Lipton was also a biology teacher who had an epiphany about the nature of reality in mid-career. He was so excited that he enthusiastically approached a student with the discovery that the cell’s membrane is the cell’s brain with “This is great s#*t!” His epiphany eventually led him away from academia on to the New Age lecture circuit where he promotes his New Biology message. Essentially, Lipton sums up his new biology in his intro:
“In the immortal words of Tool Time’s Tim Taylor: “Baaaack the truck up. Is he saying that humans are God?”
Well…yes I am. Of course, I am not the first to have said that. It is written in Genesis that we are made in the image of God. Yes, this card carrying rationalist is now quoting Jesus, Buddha and Rumi.” (xxvi)
Before some of you toss Lipton into the fires of Inquisition, keep in mind that the divine or supernatural aspect of human nature is nothing new. We have only to turn to ancient myths, major religions, cartoons and Shakespeare in Hamlet (What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!) —or if you prefer, Shirley MacLaine and Deepak Chopra. More to the point, Lipton is another player in the neo-occult revivals. New Thought religions appeared in the late 19th Century after Mesmer and later Phinias P. Quimby stumbled upon mental healing through suggestion and redirecting beliefs. Quimby asserted first that this was Christian science. In other words, Jesus performed his miracles this scientific way and we can do it better—“greater things shall ye do…” said Jesus to his Apostles. The cults of positive thinking, mind over matter, and being perfect in the moment began in earnest as a result.
Now Lipton wants us all to join the party. Let us celebrate the new consciousness together. “Many spiritual people anticipate the return of White Light to the planet. They imagine that it will come in the form of a unique individual like Buddha, Jesus, or Muhammed. However, from my newly acquired spirituality, I see that White Light will only return to the planet when every human being recognizes every other human being as an individual frequency of the White Light…Our job is to protect and nurture each human frequency so that the White Light can return.” (164). Nice idea but it comes across as suspiciously totalistic—note the language and the narcissism.
“Many spiritual people” were once Ariosophists, Communists, and Futurists a hundred years ago. Those good folks wanted a utopia too and ended up with a Hitler, a Stalin and a Mussolini. Now, I am not implying what many in the Fundamentalist Christian cults imply, that the New Age Movement is some kind of satanic conspiracy. The Satan I imagine would be better organized. Looking to one of the author’s heroes, I doubt very much that the Buddha would endorse Lipton’s supernatural proclivities. Buddha was prone to avoid metaphysical speculation. As for Jesus, well, we only have to recall what the Gospel says he said about the last judgment and false prophets. Or was he being merely “negative”?
What about the “image of God” invoked by Lipton from Genesis? The Jewish scripture maintains in the Elohist tradition that “Let us (Elohim) make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). However, in another tradition seen in Genesis 2:7 we find God portrayed as a potter forming man (adam) out of clay or ground (adama). This is why Isaiah 45:9-11 later states: “Woe to him who contends with his Maker; a potsherd among potsherds. Dare the clay say to its modeler, “What are you doing?”” Lipton seems to have adopted the typical occultist’s confused reality. He wants us to be the holy trinity of God the Potter, man the potter, and Harry Potter all at the same time.
The ancients in many traditions already knew what happens when man tries to be God. And they also knew how easily we fall prey to the urge to create God in our image. To put it another way understandable to the quantum conscious Lipton, we have a loooooong way to go before our galaxy cares a whit what we do with our petty Self-realizations. Lipton’s New Biology succeeds only in thrusting us back into the same geo-centric universe of the medieval mind. Dear Gaia, forgive us our trespasses indeed.
Lipton points to the Inquisition and how it executed Giordano Bruno for defending Copernicus’ cosmology supporting the sun, not the earth, as the center of our world. “[Bruno] was burned at the stake for this heresy.” This is misleading. Bruno was executed, however tragically, for heresy, divination, magic, and alleged immoral behavior. Although Bruno’s views on Copernicus were controversial there was no official Church policy on Copernicus and his revolutionary if flawed science at the time. The subtext implied by Lipton is that he is like Bruno, a heretic, thus we are like the unholy Inquisition when we criticize his ideas. Spare me the grandiosity.
Oh, then there are those magical, loving bonobos that avoid violence and conflict with happy sex. Lipton begins this section on page 169 with the poet Rumi’s words on the power of love and somehow our author drifts into a comparison with a chimp species. Bonobos he says “create peaceful communities with co-dominant males and females in charge…They diffuse their diverse energy by having sex.” The Wall Street Journal reported in aDecember 27, 2008 article by Lionel Tiger “Of Monkeys and Utopia” that bonobos, even females, in the wild of theCongo “engage in clearly willful and challenging hunts. Indeed, female bonobos took full part in some ten hunts observed thus far. Another paradise lost.” Lipton seems to have relied solely on an earlier 1980s study by Franz de Waal who observed bonobos using sexual resolution while they were in a lab setting only.
The bottom line for me is that Doctor Lipton cannot have it both ways. His false dichotomies and poorly researched positions deflate the positive intent of his message. His balloon will not fly except as a capitalist enterprise in New Age literature and workshop circuits. Why capitalist? Read the Addendum and his endorsement of Psych-K that incorporates the controversial muscle-testing type of kinesiology. He seems to enjoy being “out-on-a-limb” and no doubt he has benefited or he would not be there. As long as Lipton remains in that self-sealing feedback loop he risks living the very thing he teaches us to avoid…like one of his cells adapting to the special environment it likes, for better or for worse. Perhaps he should revisit his title for Chapter 2: “It’s the Environment, Stupid.”
Bruce Lipton with Louise Hay, a New Age/New Thought icon. Photo from an unkind review by a skeptic blogger