Why Isn’t Your Body Perfect?
Deepak Chopra, M.D., Brian J. Fertig, M.D. and Jack A. Tuszynski, Ph.D., D.Sc.
There is no good reason, from everything science tells us, why the human body shouldn’t be perfect. The scientific model builds Nature up from the simplest, smallest components to the largest and most complex. There is no doubt that at the smallest scale subatomic particles, atoms and molecules, and are perfect, because they have endured without change for billions of years.
Did imperfections arise with the beginning of life on Earth? Single-cell microorganisms are thousands, perhaps millions, of times larger and more complex than the smallest molecules that they are built from. But one-celled creatures have endured for something like 3.5 billion years. Since they reproduce by cell division, the most ancient forms of amoebas, algae, protists, and so on are actually still with us–literally the first amoeba has never died or aged. Life forms with complex structures constitute much less than one percent of living things; a bucket of ocean water is likely to contain hundreds of unknown variations on their DNA.
Imperfection gained the stage thanks to the same force that produced perfection: evolution. We suffer from disease, resist aging, and fear death, but all of these are creative steps as far as evolution is concerned, since evolution triumphs through maximum diversity and an endless supply of new genes leading to improvements.
What evolution needs isn’t necessarily what humans desire. From the moment that early hominids started taking care of the weak, elderly, and sick (not that a specific date is known), our species defied survival of the fittest. Now modern people are the weakest animals in our infant state, needing a long childhood and adolescence to become fully developed. We are saddled with bodies that display incredible efficiency to stay alive, even though amoebas and algae leave us in the dust, but the gross imperfections of sickness, aging, and death remain with us.
To get past these obstacles, what is needed — more and better science, the healthiest possible lifestyle, genetically based wonder drugs? Our view is that these are important advances, but they don’t get to the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is that science hasn’t told us what the human body actually is. Let us sketch in what our bodies do that remains mysterious and often unfathomable.
· Energy management. Living beings fight against energy loss, or entropy, by using the energy stored in food. Raw energy becomes diversified in every cell, some of it used for building proteins, keeping the cell’s rigid structure, its “bones and muscles” intact, reproducing through cell division, repelling invaders, eliminating waste, and much more. No manmade machinery is nearly this efficient or diverse.
· Balance. The human body is subject to much more stress than any other living creature, because we live lives filled with noise, accidents, violence, pressures at work, difficult relationships, and extreme physical demands like climbing mountains and running a marathon. In the face of these stresses, our bodies can withstand only a narrow temperature range — a fever higher than four of five degrees Fahrenheit can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Yet somehow our bodies remain in dynamic balance and can return to it as soon as external stresses are removed or lessened.
· Coherence. The ability of one system to sync with another is essential to life. Atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, and organs must cooperate in a single living community. How they do this remains a total mystery. Physics might introduce quantum coherence and electromagnetic fields, but these are rudimentary concepts when it comes to creating and maintaining the human body, or even a single cell.
· Asymmetry. Balance and coherence are totally necessary for living things, but they also spell its death knell without imbalance and incoherence. Nature breaks eggs to make omelets through a process known as symmetry breaking to physicists. Instead of remaining balanced and intact, the dynamic processes in the body need a perfectly regulated mixture of creation and destruction. How these opposites coexist remains mysterious.
To keep things simple, we’ll stop there. Life is explored through other models such as information theory, thermodynamics, and quantum biology that make advances every year. But at bottom imperfection exists not on the physical plane or even in the domain of information. The root of imperfection is an imperfect model of the body to begin with.
Every model breaks down in obvious ways, which makes it very stubborn to cling to them. We’ll sketch the most glaring flaws as follows:
· The body as machine. Everyone accepts that the human body is an incredibly complex machine, yet it isn’t machine-like at all. Machines can’t heal themselves, think, feel, have mood swings, feel happy or sad, and so on. All machines wear out over time through friction and entropy. But if you exercise, your muscles improve with use, and cells repair themselves with self-generated processes totally foreign to a machine.
· The body as thing. Get even more basic than the machine model, and you arrive at the notion that the body is a physical object that displays the characteristics common to rocks, mountains, and stars. Yet the thingness of the body is undermined by the fact that none of its building blocks are alive, and no one knows how inanimate matter learned to live, much less think, feel, and become self-aware.
· A miracle of complexity. Looking at the human brain’s 100 billion neurons and quadrillion synaptic connections, surely we are the product of complexity, beginning with the structure of DNA. But complexity cannot explain how the mind was created. As someone wittily said, relating the mind to complex biochemicals is like saying that if you add more cards to a deck of playing cards, it will learn how to play poker.
· Information storehouse. The fad for information theory rests upon two things, the obvious fact that systems at every level of Nature must “remember” the information encoded in them, and secondly, information seems to get us out of the bind with physical things and their inability to be alive. Information keeps knowledge intact outside the limits of physicality. Still, the most educated mind, stuffed with decades of information gathering, doesn’t protect the body from getting sick, aging, and dying.
Since all of these models are fatally flawed, what model is better? One based on consciousness. Mind can’t be created from the nuts and bolts of the physical universe. We are conscious beings first and foremost. Therefore, why not start with consciousness as the essential ingredient, the X factor that explains how our own complex lives arose? Once science begins to explore Nature as a flow of creative intelligence, many mysteries disappear overnight and new horizons open. The fact that boundaries are breaking down already is the surest sign we have that the imperfection of the human body will be revealed as needless and open to change.
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com
Jack A. Tuszynski, Ph.D., D.Sc. Professor, Department of Physics, Adjunct Professor, Department of Oncology, Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Member, The Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Brian J. Fertig, MD F.A.C.E. Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Associate Professor Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Chairman, Department of Diabetes & Endocrinology Hackensack Meridian Health at JFK University Medical Center, President Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center