I’d like to tell you how my life as a “transformed” scientist began in order to set a context for why I turned to an “unscientific” oracle like the I Ching for understanding and direction about the fix we find ourselves in today.
As a cellular biologist, my work has always been driven by the desire to understand the nature of life. I will never forget the first time I used an electron microscope in graduate school. The large control console of the microscope resembled the instrument panels of a Boeing 747. It was filled with switches, illuminated gauges and multicolored indicator lamps. Large tentacle-like arrays of thick power cords, water hoses and vacuum lines radiated from the base of the microscope like tap roots at the trunk of a tree. The sound of clanking vacuum pumps and the whir of refrigerated water re-circulators filled the air. For all I knew, I had just walked on to the command deck of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Apparently, it was Captain Kirk’s day off, for sitting at the console was my cell biology professor. I watched attentively as my mentor began the elaborate procedure of introducing a tissue specimen into the high-vacuum chamber of the electron microscope. Finally, he began increasing the magnification of the tissue specimen, one step at a time: first100X, then 1,000X, then 10,000X. When we hit warp drive, the cells were magnified to over 100,000 times their original size.
It was indeed Star Trek, but rather than entering outer space we were going into deep inner space where “no man has gone before.” One moment I was observing a miniature cell and seconds later I was flying deep into its molecular architecture. I knew that buried within the cytoarchitecture of the cell were clues that would provide insight into the mysteries of life. Throughout graduate school, postdoctoral research and into my career as a medical school professor, my waking hours were consumed by explorations into the molecular anatomy of the cell.
Though my exploration of the “secrets of life” led to a successful research career studying cloned stem cells grown in tissue culture, I eventually ran afoul of the scientific establishment because the results of my research forced me to question the dogmas on which cell biologists and other life scientists base their work. I refer to these dogmas as the “Three Assumptions of the Apocalypse” because I do not believe human civilization will survive unless we turn away from these false beliefs. Specifically, I rejected these three assumptions: 1) genes control biology, 2) evolution is a random process driven by a struggle for the survival-of-the-fittest, and 3) life can be understood by only studying the physical parts of the body.