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8/30/11

The DNA Evidence for Nonduality

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Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
(September 1, 1939, by W.H. Auden)

And the world continues on its mad way, while occasionally a few begin to question their quiet desperation and ask, What else? There is nothing else. It's all right here. You are what you are looking for, as St. Francis said. Or, what you are looking for is not behind you, as Jean Klein quipped. When this is realized, when only that day dawns to which we are awake, as Thoreau put it, life changes for the better.

That is not so much mystical mumbo-jumbo. The understanding is available as you go about the bustle of your daily life.

A scientific slant on what I mean can be found in the material below. But I provide this because it is not just about DNA; it is about you. DNA is an object, something observed as a word in print or thought, or under a fluorescence microscope. You are not an object.

Richard Dawkins, apostle of materialism and atheism, argues that DNA uses organisms to perpetuate itself and that we exist to serve it. That is, he means we are objects, you and I, and he is big-hearted enough to include himself among us. Although his The Selfish Gene is a brilliantly clever book, it manipulates evidence, as Mary Midgley has noted. Here is a counterpoint to his view. The author I quote, John Stevenson*, speaks outside the centuries-entrenched scientific paradigm, and with regard to DNA and deathless one-life he has this to say:

~Tradition is very strong in human thinking. A lifetime of learning that life consists of being born, having offspring and then dying produces a mind set. Relationships within families such as sister, mother, father, etc. are fundamental in our thinking. A human, we believe, is an individual, another human is a separate life. Conclusion 5 presents an entirely different story. It says that all life in all living things is the same life. This violates all previous teachings about life.

~CONCLUSION 1:
There is no death in the DNA replication process.
Argument:
All of the material in the original strand of DNA becomes a part of the resulting two strands. There is no residue. There is no dead tissue. There was no death.

~CONCLUSION 2:
There is no new life created during the replication process.
Argument:
The information in the coding in each side of the original strand of DNA is identical (although one side is the reciprocal of the other, the information content is identical). One of the sides, containing its complete description of the organism, went into one of the resulting DNA strands, while the other side went into and became a part of the other. There was no new life created. The life in each new strand came directly from the original. The original merely grew into two.

~CONCLUSION 3:
All living DNA today has been alive since the first life.
Argument:
To replicate, the DNA must be alive. When it replicates, it passes its life physically and directly to its offspring. All living things today are alive by virtue of the DNA living in each cell in their bodies.

The organism may be new, but that which gives the organism life is very old. What is the age? It depends on what stage of development is considered the dividing line. Many chemicals can replicate. RNA, which is essentially one side of a DNA string, can, although most must depend on cells that contain DNA for aid in their replication. Many feel that life started with the single cell. It is only there that the DNA became a part of a contained system. It is generally believed that pre-cellular life began perhaps 4 billion years ago and that the first functional cell appeared about 3 billion years ago. Happy 10 digit birthday!

DNA is immortal in the sense that it has no natural death.

~CONCLUSION 4:
All of the cells in the human body contain the same life.
Argument:
When a human child is conceived, it consists of a single cell. In that cell are two sets of 23 chromosomes. One set came from the father, one from the mother. The set that came from the mother contains an X chromosome. The set that came from the father may also contain an X chromosome, in which case the new child will be a female. The set from the father may contain a Y chromosome in the place of the X, in which case the new child will be male.

The DNA will immediately start dividing. When the cell contains four sets of chromosomes, instead of its original two, the cell itself will divide. As the DNA grows, so grows the child. The cells multiply in the series 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc. until the total cell count approaches 10 billion at maturity. We have seen in conclusion 2 that as the DNA replicates, it carries the actual life forward.

~CONCLUSION 5:
There is only one life and it is shared by all living things.
Argument:
From conclusions 1 and 2, if there is neither death nor creation of life during DNA replication, then the life after the replication must be the same life as that which existed before. From conclusion 3, all life since the first life has been alive since then. All modern life is the same age. Life has been growing since the beginning.

Life, therefore, is collective and it began millions of years ago (the life in our bodies is that old). We are vessels that carry a small portion of that life for a short time. Death for the individual is not an end to life, since life continues to exist in all other forms of life, and will continue to do so as long as there is life.

You can read the rest here.

*Stevenson's metaphysics for the creation of  "an enormous, mechanical" universe is within the standard paradigm of science, one that I consider largely workable but faulty as it presumes. In his search for an objective world, Wittgenstein concluded the Tractatus with these famous words: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."
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