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Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake holds the honor of being the #1 heretic of the religion of science: scientism. His website, more humbly, describes him as a biologist and author "best known for his hypothesis of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory."

In his book The Science Delusion, Sheldrake takes (many of) the fundamental assumptions of science and formulates them as postulations, and by doing so, elegantly demonstrates that the edifice of science as we know it has extremely weak foundations because it is operating on unproven dogmas.

In other words, the belief in the supreme ontological power of science is (literally) a religion.

This entire edifice, of science, at least its foundations, are just rotten. That the whole thing... it took me a long time to realize just how rotten they are. You know, cuz you don't get told this when you're studying science — it's treated as if it's all true, and totally solid. If I'd realized just how shaky the whole thing is earlier, I would've been actually more, uh, I would've come on even stronger at an earlier age.

Rupert Sheldrake, Nov 2012

All is a matter of perspective, it turns out. Sheldrake, a meticulous scientist of British tradition — the high priests of scientism would have us believe — is a crank and purveyor of pseudo-scientific (read "non-authoritative") ideas.

The Science Delusion

The science delusion is the belief that we already understand the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in. This is a belief system very prevalent among scientists, even moreso among devotees of science — or devotees of scientism.

Rupert Sheldrake

The Biggest Picture takes this observation a step further with the idea of the objective reality delusion or objective reality metaparadigm, an ontological modeling framework which the subjective reality metaparadigm subsumes (in a manner not unlike how quantum mechanics subsumes classical mechanics). As physicist Peter Russell put it:

The worldviews of science and spirit have not always been as far apart as they are today. Five hundred years ago, there was little difference between them. What science there was existed within the established worldview of the Christian church. Following Copernicus, Descartes and Newton, Western science broke away from the doctrines of monotheistic religion, establishing its own atheistic worldview, which today is now very different indeed from that of traditional religion. But the two can, and I believe eventually will, be reunited. And their meeting point is consciousness. When science sees consciousness to be a fundamental quality of reality, and when religion takes God to be the light of consciousness shining within us all, the two worldviews start to converge.

Nothing is lost in this convergence. Mathematics remains the same; so do physics, biology, chemistry. The shift may throw new light on some of the paradoxes of relativity and quantum theory, but the theories themselves do not change. This is a common pattern in paradigm shifts; the new model of reality includes the old as a special case. Einstein’s paradigm shift makes no difference to observers traveling at everyday speeds; as far as we are concerned Newton’s laws of motion still apply. In a parallel way, making consciousness fundamental does not change our understanding of the physical world. It does, however, bring a deeper appreciation of ourselves.

Peter Russell

In the following video, Sheldrake brilliantly summarizes the dogmas of scientism that permeate and stagnate modern science:

Rupert Sheldrake - The Science Delusion

Is the world really a purposeless machine? Independent scientist Rupert Sheldrake challenges the orthodoxies of scientism.

Sheldrake asks such "outlandish" questions as: could the Sun be conscious? He points out that these ideas simply aren't on the agenda of science, due to its unquestioned fundamental assumptions. Yet there are channeled messages by several people claiming to be acting as biological translation devices for star beings — such as Adronis, a 6th density star being from Sirius A, the brightest star in our night sky — thus seemingly (though unfalsifiably) providing an answer to that question.

Sheldrake points out that the idea of "laws" in nature are an anthropocentric assumption, and further that philosophy of science says that "laws" can be seen as descriptions of regularities, and that evolving regularities make more sense in an evolving universe. Max Planck, the "father of quantum physics", put it most succinctly:

We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future.

Max Planck, 1931

According to Sheldrake, the gravitational constant, G, is the most embarrassing of the "constants", varying by more than 1% between measurements (an observation which would seem to favor the Brans–Dicke theory of gravitation over Einstein's general relativity, in which "G is not presumed to be constant but instead 1/G is replaced by a scalar field ϕ which can vary from place to place and with time").

He points out the significance of the missing heritability problem — the missing 75% of the heritability factors in genes that were expected by materialist scientists to be discovered with the sequencing of the human genome under the Human Genome Project (begun in 1990 and declared complete in 2003).

Sheldrake thinks of the relationship between memory and the brain as analogous to a TV resonating with the past, rather than the fundamentalist-materialist view of memory as being stored materially in the brain, as he points out is taken for granted within neuroscience — even if "holographically distributed", as has been proposed due to neuroscience not making any progress in the idea of "mapping" the "memory areas" in the brain.

Sheldrake concludes the talk with this:

If we question the dogmas of science, if we treat science scientifically, instead of as a belief system, if we use science itself, to look at them — scientific evidence, scientific methods, scientific discussion — then, in every case, the area of inquiry opens up, new exciting possibilities emerge, new possibilities come that I think will make science better, stronger, more exciting, and a lot more fun. But at the moment it's still held back, by this dogmatic belief system that's hardened into a worldview. And, I myself think that science is already breaking loose from it, in various different parts of science, as this process accelerates, and we'll have a completely new kind of science, and one that's much more life-affirming, and one that fits much better with our own experience.

Rupert Sheldrake

The "dogmatic belief system that's hardened into a worldview", i.e. fundamentalist-materialism (physicalism), is one of the major ways by which Human consciousness has been held back from expressing even a fraction of its full potential. Another major way is the dogmatic belief system known as "authority", the mechanism that elevates one Human being above another by means of fear — specifically by the violent enforcement of arbitrary rules imposed by those who claim to have the right to rule — a right which does not exist. Both of these belief systems attempt to impose the idea of "laws" in an egoic effort to feel in control of the "external world" that, in the ontological lens of the objective reality metaparadigm, is assumed to exist independently of (the) self.

Concepts created/derived by Rupert Sheldrake

Following is a brief summary of some of the most significant concepts developed by Dr. Sheldrake:

Morphic resonance

Morphic resonance is the idea that things happen as they do because they have happened before, e.g. crystals crystallize the way they do based on how they crystallized before, and rats learn new tricks based on other rats having learned similar tricks before, regardless of location/distance. It's a kind of collective memory of species and other processes. Sheldrake defines morphic resonance this way:

Morphic resonance is a process whereby self-organising systems inherit a memory from previous similar systems. In its most general formulation, morphic resonance means that the so-called laws of nature are more like habits. The hypothesis of morphic resonance also leads to a radically new interpretation of memory storage in the brain and of biological inheritance. Memory need not be stored in material traces inside brains, which are more like TV receivers than video recorders, tuning into influences from the past. And biological inheritance need not all be coded in the genes, or in epigenetic modifications of the genes; much of it depends on morphic resonance from previous members of the species. Thus each individual inherits a collective memory from past members of the species, and also contributes to the collective memory, affecting other members of the species in the future.

This hypothesis was first put forward in my book A New Science of Life in 1981, and discussed in my detail in my main theoretical work, The Presence of the Past, published in 1988. See Morphic Fields for a general introduction to the theory.

For comparison, Wikipedia's entry for Sheldrake summarizes his concept of morphic resonance this way:

Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author, public speaker, and researcher in the field of parapsychology, known for his "morphic resonance" concept. He worked as a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973 and as principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978.

Sheldrake's morphic resonance posits that "memory is inherent in nature" and that "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind". Sheldrake proposes that it is also responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms". His advocacy of the idea encompasses paranormal subjects such as precognition, telepathy and the psychic staring effect as well as unconventional explanations of standard subjects in biology such as development, inheritance, and memory.

Morphic resonance is not accepted by the scientific community as a real phenomenon and Sheldrake's proposals relating to it have been characterized as pseudoscience. Critics cite a lack of evidence for morphic resonance and an inconsistency of the idea with data from genetics and embryology, and also express concern that popular attention from Sheldrake's books and public appearances undermines the public's understanding of science.

Despite the negative reception Sheldrake's ideas have received from the scientific community, they have found support in the New Age movement, such as from Deepak Chopra.

Lastly, pseudo-skeptical reductionists sum up (dismiss) the concept this way:

Morphic resonance is a term coined by Rupert Sheldrake in his 1981 book A New Science of Life. He uses the expression to refer to what he thinks is "the basis of memory in nature....the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species."

Notice how the concept is dumbed down several levels in correlation to the level of empiricism/reductionism/pseudo-skepticism that is employed.

Morphogenetic fields and formative causation

The following PubMed abstract summarizes Sheldrake's idea of formative causation and morphogenetic fields:

The hypothesis of formative causation proposed by Rupert Sheldrake in 1981, affirms that morphogenetic fields play a causal role in the development and maintenance of the forms of systems at all levels of complexity and that nature is governed by habits [rather than unchanging laws]. All animals and plants draw upon and contribute to the collective memory of their species. The author suggested that memory is inherent in nature and it is transmitted by a process called morphic resonance and works through fields called morphic fields. The hypothesis of formative causation accounts for the repetition of forms but does not explain how the first example of any given form originally came into being. Despite the advances in molecular biology, morphogenesis continues to elude a molecular explanation and seems to depend on morphogenetic fields. The hypothesis of formative causation interprets many physical and biological phenomena in a way radically different than those proposed by existing theories. According to this hypothesis the conscious self can be thought of as interacting with morphic fields in order to be connected with the external environment and with the state of the body in consciously controlled activity.

Sheldrake himself described it this way in 1992:

The hypothesis of formative causation, which I first proposed in 1981 (SHELDRAKE, 1981) postulates that organisms are subject to an influence from previous similar organisms by a process called morphic resonance. Through morphic resonance, each member of a species draws upon, and in turn contributes to, a pooled or collective memory. Thus, for example, if animals learn a new skill in one place, similar animals raised under similar conditions should subsequently tend to learn the same thing more readily all over the world. Likewise, people should tend to learn more readily what others have already learnt, even in the absence of any known means of connection or communication. In the human realm, this hypothesis resembles C.G. Jung's postulate of the collective unconscious (SHELDRAKE, 1988). The hypothesis also applies in the chemical and physical realms, and predicts, for example, that crystals of new compounds should become easier to crystallize all over the world the more often they are made. There is already circumstantial evidence that this actually happens (SHELDRAKE, 1981; 1988).

Sheldrake's concept of a morphogenetic field (as with Jung's collective unconscious idea) is an approximation (in the objective reality metaparadigm) of the idea that Bashar describes (in the subjective reality metaparadigm) of the collective consciousness agreements that are crystallized in the higher 3rd density frequency level of consciousness — what Bashar has termed the Collective Automatic Mind — though it may also include elements pertaining more to the template-level reality (4th density).

Sheldrake's good friend Terence McKenna suggested that time itself could be seen as the morphogenetic field:

Rupert, why not replace the Platonic models with fractal models? And then say that time itself is the morphogenetic field; that it is some kind of fractal topological manifold. And so the repetition or the connection to past states is really accomplished through resonance, within the fractal; and then we have a model for resonance, because it's familiar to us from other domains of nature.

Terence McKenna [source]

Listen to Sheldrake and friends discuss these ideas in 1998:

Trialogue #28: Morphogenic Family Fields (Terence McKenna, R. Sheldrake, R. Abraham) [FULL]

A Trialogue held on June 8, 1998 at Santa Cruz, CA, where Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham, and Rupert Sheldrake explored Rupert's concept of a morphogenic family field.

Rupert Sheldrake: "And so in human family groups we'd expect the same kind of morphic fields [as in other animal family groups]. . . . It would mean that family fields, with their morphic fields, would have a kind of memory from the families that contributed to them. The father's and mother's families of origin would come together in a family."

Rupert: "Whatever the merits or demerits of [Bert] Hellinger's system, which I think is very interesting and apparently very effective, the idea of making models of the family field seems to me something that one could address in a more general sense."

Terence McKenna: "The family thing works because people really are complex chemical systems with genetic affinity."

Rupert: "There are amazing cases where young people commit suicide in a way that mimics the unacknowledged death of an ancestor, like suicide by drowning when an ancestor one or two generations before have committed suicide by drowning, but they've never been told about it because it was never acknowledged. And you get these extraordinary patterns that repeat."

Rupert: "We don't have adequate models for these family systems, nor the influence of ancestors within them, which my interest in morphic resonance makes me very keen on."

Rupert (describing an indigenous belief): "But you have to be on good terms with the ancestors. And what being on good terms, above all, means acknowledging them. . . . that you name and acknowledge the key ancestors, you acknowledge all the dead in your lineage. And if you miss anyone out they're going to be angry, and if they're angry that means trouble."

Ralph Abraham:"I'm extremely suspicious of the application of quantum mechanical concepts in the arena of psychology, consciousness, sociology, and so on. To me that's much fuzzier than the face on Mars."

Terence McKenna: "Part of the problem is that physical models break down when prosecuted to quantum mechanical levels."

Ralph begins his explanation of the physics of the nimbus, otherwise known as a halo.

Terence: "The more successful psychoanalytic theories, it seems to me, are the least mathematically driven, and depend really on this mysterious business that we call the gifted therapist."

With time, these ideas have become more refined/defined/clear. In a 2010 article titled Morphic Fields and Morphic Resonance, Sheldrake explains these ideas in more precise and concise detail than decades earlier. Following is part of the article interspersed with our commentary:

All self-organizing systems are wholes made up of parts, which are themselves wholes at a lower level, such as atoms in molecules and molecules in crystals. The same is true of organelles in cells, cells in tissues, tissues in organs, organs in organisms, organisms in social groups. At each level, the morphic field gives each whole its characteristic properties and interconnects and coordinates the constituent parts.

The fields responsible for the development and maintenance of bodily form in plants and animals are called morphogenetic fields. In animals, the organization of behavior and mental activity depends on behavioral and mental fields. The organization of societies and cultures depends on social and cultural fields. All these kinds of organizing fields are morphic fields.

Morphic fields are located within and around the systems they organize. Like quantum fields, they work probabilistically. They restrict, or impose order upon, the inherent indeterminism of the systems under their influence. Thus, for example, a protein field organizes the way in which the chain of amino acids (the “primary structure“ determined by the genes) coils and folds up to give the characteristic three-dimensional form of the protein, “choosing“ from among many possible structures, all equally possible from an energetic point of view. Social fields coordinate the behavior of individuals within social groups, for example, the behavior of fish in schools or birds in flocks.

The mathematician René Thom has created mathematical models of morphogenetic fields in which the endpoints toward which a system develops are defined as attractors. In the branch of mathematics known as dynamics, attractors represent the limits toward which dynamical systems are drawn. They provide a scientific way of thinking about ends, purposes, goals, or intentions. All morphic fields contain attractors.

Which, in the subjective reality metaparadigm, means that life itself has a built-in teleological attractor, which represents the purpose (intention to explore particular themes) of the incarnation.

The most controversial feature of this hypothesis is that the structure of morphic fields depends on what has happened before. They contain a kind of memory. Through repetition, the patterns they organize become increasingly probable, increasingly habitual. The force that these fields exert is the force of habit.

Whatever the explanation of its origin, once a new morphic field — a new pattern of organization — has come into being, its field becomes stronger through repetition. The same pattern becomes more likely to happen again. The more often patterns are repeated, the more probable they become. The fields contain a kind of cumulative memory and become increasingly habitual. Fields evolve in time and form the basis of habits. From this point of view, nature is essentially habitual. Even the so-called laws of nature may be more like habits.

The means by which information or an activity-pattern is transferred from a previous to a subsequent system of the same kind is called morphic resonance. Morphic resonance involves the influence of like upon like, the influence of patterns of activity on subsequent similar patterns of activity, an influence that passes through or across space and time from past to present. These influences do not fall off with distance in space or time. The greater the degree of similarity, the greater the influence of morphic resonance.

In the subjective reality metaparadigm, morphic resonance is energetic vibrational resonance. In other words, it is not only form (morphic information) that is transmitted via a "field" that exists beyond 4th-dimensional spacetime; it is manifestation itself (all form) that is transmitted from a "field" that exists beyond 4th-dimensional spacetime — specifically, higher-frequency energy transmitted from the 5th-dimensional Higher Mind (the conceiver) to and through the Physical Mind, which the brain (the receiver antenna) then electrochemically translates into the perception that the Physical Mind experiences.

Morphic resonance gives an inherent memory in fields at all levels of complexity. Any given morphic system, say, a squirrel, "tunes in" to previous similar systems, in this case previous squirrels of its species. Through this process each individual squirrel draws upon, and in turn contributes to, a collective or pooled memory of its kind. In the human realm, this kind of collective memory corresponds to what the psychologist C. G. Jung called the "collective unconscious."

This idea within the objective reality metaparadigm, while a big step up from fundamentalist-materialism, assumes that (the experience of) time is fundamentally 4th-dimensional (even if not necessarily linearly-invariant), when in fact physical reality may be better thought of as a 5th- or 6th-dimensional experience. The idea of pooled memory from previous happenings ("the past") can alternatively be thought of as collective energetic agreements at higher frequencies of consciousness. Bashar distinguishes two levels of collective agreements: the Collective Automatic Mind (higher 3rd density), and the template-level reality (4th density, or "lower astral realm").

Morphic resonance should be detectable in the realms of physics, chemistry, biology, animal behavior, psychology, and the social sciences. But long established systems, such as zinc atoms, quartz crystals, and insulin molecules are governed by such strong morphic fields, with such deep grooves of habit, that little change can be observed. They behave as if they are governed by fixed laws.

By contrast, new systems should show an increasing tendency to come into being the more often they are repeated. They should become increasingly probable; they should happen more easily as time goes on. For example, when a new chemical compound is synthesized by research chemists and crystallized, it may take a long time for the crystal to form for the first time. There is no pre-existing morphic field for the lattice structure. But when the first crystals form, they will make it easier for similar crystals to appear anywhere in the world. The more often the compound is crystallized, the easier it should be to crystallize.

In fact, new compounds do indeed tend to crystallize more easily the more often they are made. Chemists usually explain this effect in terms of crystal “seeds“ from the new crystals spreading around the world as invisible dust particles in the air, or chemists learning from others how to do it. But the hypothesis of morphic fields predicts that this should happen anyway under standardized conditions, even if dust particles are filtered out of the air.

In the subjective reality metaparadigm, as Bashar explains, habits can be redefined as patterns of behavior that are unconscious, which, once brought to conscious attention, become (or are more accurately perceived as) choices. Thus, while it might not be very relevant for a plant or a rock to redefine its habits, for humans experiencing negative polarity which they consciously know they do not prefer, this idea may be of paramount relevance in the idea of transforming darkness into light.

Observations by Rupert Sheldrake

Being perhaps the most hated "pseudo-scientist" in the belief systems of the pseudo-skeptics, Sheldrake, like his fellow skeptical friend Terence McKenna, observes the problem of scientism/reductionism/positivism that permeates the world of science:

Sheldrake on pseudo-skeptics

There are these very dogmatic people who are called upon by the press because they can be guaranteed to make clear statements that are easy to quote, soundbites. They reinforce the prejudices of some science journalists. But the fact is most people within the scientific world, in my opinion and experience, are NOT as dogmatic. What we have in place is a kind of social constraint. Most scientists don't speak out, for fear of being thought peculiar, weird, or something. But actually the number who really believe this dogmatic materialism is a minority. A vociferous one.


Within scientific institutions there's a large minority and in many institutions a majority who don't really buy into this materialist dogma. They pretend to, during working hours, but if you talk to people in the evening over a glass of wine, you find a MUCH broader and more interesting views.

Rupert Sheldrake, March 2012 [source]

The fundamentalist reductionism of the pseudo-skeptics leads to absolutism, hence their simplistic and clear statements that appear to be in defense of "science", but which are really in defense of perceived "authorities" and the two largest religions on Earth: statism and scientism.

Sheldrake on academia/universities

Universities are a small, enclosed world, where people have quite tight constraints on what they can think; it's a kind of culture of a rather narrow, old-fashioned kind, where lots of thoughts are not allowed. For example, you couldn't sit in university and discuss your ayahuasca experiences, except perhaps in the neurology department, where, you know, the question would be, which bits of your nerve endings are being activated by DMT or something, but it wouldn't be a very interesting discussion, it would be about molecular mechanisms. So there's a lot of topics that are simply not permitted in universities, cuz of this narrow, dogmatic view. And it's a shame that so many young people are forced through them, like a sausage machine, you know, standardizing people's thinking.

The case of DMT is a clear example of the process of science being hindered by, and scientists bowing to, "authority" — i.e. the people who claim to have rights that others don't. A single DMT trip shatters the fundamentalist-materialist's core beliefs, i.e. the façade of physicalism, the veil of 3rd density physical reality. So these authority-bound institutions would rather try to "understand" the neurochemistry of DMT than to actually have the DMT experience which pervasively displays the illusions the institution is built upon (by upregulating the frequency of one's consciousness from 3rd density potentially all the way up to 7th density, i.e. as much as 4 levels of consciousness beyond the parameters that science can reach).

Sheldrake says that, according to surveys in the top 10 universities in America, a majority of scientists, when spoken to in private, will speak about their paranormal experiences and consider more advanced ("fringe") theories, but not in public. Even in "politics" (i.e. media displays of some actions of people who are referred to as politicians) there is some degree, however farcical, of debate. Not so in public discussions of science (scientism).

Sheldrake on the nature of experiment

Scientific experiment is entirely based on the notion of restoration of initial conditions. But, as Terence McKenna often pointed out, this is just an assumption — "an assumption that Newton got himself into". Sheldrake spoke of this idea at least as early as 1988:

Very few scientific experiments are repeatable, in fact. They are repeatable only approximately. I've spent years teaching practical classes in Cambridge and other universities, Harvard, teaching practical classes to undergraduates in biochemistry. It's an enlightening experience, because there any given experiments to do which are textbook experiments that everyone already knows work... So you give them the most certain, established, and repetitive and repeatable of all the systems you can think of. You don't want them right up at the research frontiers where results fluctuate wildly and no one knows really what's going on, until it's sort of stabilized, being published and become kind of habitual thoughts and expectation. You give them things that are already believed by everyone to work. And the results you get are astounding, they're all over the place... The results are extremely variable, for any biological experiment I've ever had in hundreds among ones I've conducted. They're given the same apparatus, the same pipettes, the same solutions. [...] Even in 3rd year undergraduate [unintelligible], the results keep coming out all over the place; and, you explain away the ones that either they didn't know the technique, they put the wrong solution in, they must've done this or that; you can find a hundred ways to explain why this actually happens. The only actual examples we have where people try to repeat experiments on a mass scale turn out to be highly unrepeatable. And most scientists don't spend their time repeating standard experiments and measuring whether they fluctuate or not; they're always getting on to the next thing. And so this idea has never been tested.

Rupert Sheldrake, 1988

Watch Sheldrake and McKenna speaking of ideas way ahead of their time back in 1988:

Terence McKenna & Rupert Sheldrake - Forms and Mysteries [1988]

Sheldrake on the "laws" of nature

Sheldrake points out the "embarrassingly anthropomorphic" nature of the idea of unchanging constants or even "laws":

The memory of nature

From the point of view of the hypothesis of morphic resonance, there is no need to suppose that all the laws of nature sprang into being fully formed at the moment of the Big Bang, like a kind of cosmic Napoleonic code, or that they exist in a metaphysical realm beyond time and space.

Before the general acceptance of the Big Bang theory in the 1960s, eternal laws seemed to make sense. The universe itself was thought to be eternal and evolution was confined to the biological realm. But we now live in a radically evolutionary universe.

If we want to stick to the idea of natural laws, we could say that as nature itself evolves, the laws of nature also evolve, just as human laws evolve over time. But then how would natural laws be remembered or enforced? The law metaphor is embarrassingly anthropomorphic. Habits are less human-centred. Many kinds of organisms have habits, but only humans have laws. The habits of nature depend on non-local similarity reinforcement. Through morphic resonance, the patterns of activity in self-organizing systems are influenced by similar patterns in the past, giving each species and each kind of self-organizing system a collective memory.

I believe that the natural selection of habits will play an essential part in any integrated theory of evolution, including not just biological evolution, but also physical, chemical, cosmic, social, mental and cultural evolution (as discussed in THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST).

Habits are subject to natural selection; and the more often they are repeated, the more probable they become, other things being equal. Animals inherit the successful habits of their species as instincts. We inherit bodily, emotional, mental and cultural habits, including the habits of our languages.

Sheldrake on the nature of genes

In regards to the function of genes, Sheldrake writes (in 2005):

Morphic fields in biology

Over the course of fifteen years of research on plant development, I came to the conclusion that for understanding the development of plants, their morphogenesis, genes and gene products are not enough. Morphogenesis also depends on organizing fields. The same arguments apply to the development of animals. Since the 1920s many developmental biologists have proposed that biological organization depends on fields, variously called biological fields, or developmental fields, or positional fields, or morphogenetic fields.

All cells come from other cells, and all cells inherit fields of organization. Genes are part of this organization. They play an essential role. But they do not explain the organization itself. Why not?

Thanks to molecular biology, we know what genes do. They enable organisms to make particular proteins. Other genes are involved in the control of protein synthesis. Identifiable genes are switched on and particular proteins made at the beginning of new developmental processes. Some of these developmental switch genes, like the Hox genes in fruit flies, worms, fish and mammals, are very similar. In evolutionary terms, they are highly conserved. But switching on genes such as these cannot in itself determine form, otherwise fruit flies would not look different from us.

The molecular biology research done by fellow biologist Bruce Lipton suggests that genes are not switched "on" or "off", but rather that they are more like blueprints, and that the determinant of gene expression is the perception of the environment.

Sheldrake on telepathy

Fields of the mind

Morphic fields underlie our mental activity and our perceptions, and lead to a new theory of vision, as discussed in THE SENSE OF BEING STARED AT. The existence of these fields is experimentally testable through the sense of being stared at itself. There is already much evidence that this sense really exists. [Papers on Staring] You can take part in a staring experiment yourself through this web site. [Staring Experiments]

The morphic fields of social groups connect together members of the group even when they are many miles apart, and provide channels of communication through which organisms can stay in touch at a distance. They help provide an explanation for telepathy. There is now good evidence that many species of animals are telepathic, and telepathy seems to be a normal means of animal communication, as discussed in my book DOGS THAT KNOW WHEN THEIR OWNERS ARE COMING HOME. Telepathy is normal not paranormal, natural not supernatural, and is also common between people, especially people who know each other well.

In the modern world, the commonest kind of human telepathy occurs in connection with telephone calls. More than 80% of the population say they have thought of someone for no apparent reason, who then called; or that they have known who was calling before picking up the phone in a way that seems telepathic. Controlled experiments on telephone telepathy have given repeatable positive results that are highly significant statistically, as summarized in THE SENSE OF BEING STARED AT and described in detailed technical papers which you can read on this web site. [Papers on Telepathy] Telepathy also occurs in connection with emails, and anyone who is interested can now test how telepathic they are in the online telepathy test. [Experiments Online]

The morphic fields of mental activity are not confined to the insides of our heads. They extend far beyond our brain though intention and attention. We are already familiar with the idea of fields extending beyond the material objects in which they are rooted: for example magnetic fields extend beyond the surfaces of magnets; the earth’s gravitational field extends far beyond the surface of the earth, keeping the moon in its orbit; and the fields of a cell phone stretch out far beyond the phone itself. Likewise the fields of our minds extend far beyond our brains.

And, as Bashar further elaborates, telepathy is really more accurately termed telempathy, because tele(m)pathy is not reading another's mind, but rather being on the same wavelength thus having similar experiences, including similar thoughts.

Sheldrake on scientism

In an article entitled Why Bad Science Is Like Bad Religion, Sheldrake perfectly summarizes the nature of science and scientism:

In both religion and science, some people are dishonest, exploitative, incompetent and exhibit other human failings. My concern here is with the bigger picture.

I have been a scientist for more than 40 years, having studied at Cambridge and Harvard. I researched and taught at Cambridge University, was a research fellow of the Royal Society, and have more than 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals. I am strongly pro-science. But I am more and more convinced that that the spirit of free inquiry is being repressed within the scientific community by fear-based conformity. Institutional science is being crippled by dogmas and taboos. Increasingly expensive research is yielding diminishing returns.

Bad religion is arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant. And so is bad science. But unlike religious fundamentalists, scientific fundamentalists do not realize that their opinions are based on faith. They think they know the truth. They believe that science has already solved the fundamental questions. The details still need working out, but in principle the answers are known.

Science at its best is an open-minded method of inquiry, not a belief system. But the "scientific worldview," based on the materialist philosophy, is enormously prestigious because science has been so successful. Its achievements touch all our lives through technologies like computers, jet planes, cell phones, the Internet and modern medicine. Our intellectual world has been transformed through an immense expansion of scientific knowledge, down into the most microscopic particles of matter and out into the vastness of space, with hundreds of billions of galaxies in an ever-expanding universe.

Science has been successful because it has been open to new discoveries. By contrast, committed materialists have made science into a kind of religion. They believe that there is no reality but material or physical reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Nature is mechanical. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.

These materialist beliefs are often taken for granted by scientists, not because they have thought about them critically, but because they haven't. To deviate from them is heresy, and heresy harms careers.

Since the 19th century, materialists have promised that science will eventually explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry. Science will prove that living organisms are complex machines, nature is purposeless, and minds are nothing but brain activity. Believers are sustained by the implicit faith that scientific discoveries will justify their beliefs. The philosopher of science Karl Popper called this stance "promissory materialism" because it depends on issuing promissory notes for discoveries not yet made. Many promises have been issued, but few redeemed. Materialism is now facing a credibility crunch unimaginable in the 20th century.

As I show in my new book, "Science Set Free," unexpected problems are disrupting the sciences from within. Many scientists prefer to think that these problems will eventually be solved by more research along established lines, but some, including myself, think that they are symptoms of a deeper malaise. Science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas.


Contemporary theoretical physics is dominated by superstring and M theories, with 10 and 11 dimensions respectively, which remain untestable. The multiverse theory, which asserts that there are trillions of universes besides our own, is popular among cosmologists in the absence of any experimental evidence. These are interesting speculations, but they are not hard science. They are a shaky foundation for the materialist claim that everything can be explained in terms of physics.

Good science, like good religion, is a journey of discovery, a quest. It builds on traditions from the past. But it is most effective when it recognizes how much we do not know, when it is not arrogant but humble.

A parallel could be drawn between "promissory materialism" and the religious promise of a heavenly afterlife, only the fundamentalist-materialists don't feel bound by moral rules and ethical behavior as do the religious fundamentalists, because the elusive promise does not grant the fundamentalist-materialists anything new — they believe they already have it all figured out and thus tend to arrogantly adopt nihilistic or cynical attitudes toward life.

Sheldrake putting the scientific method to truly good use

Lightning flashes over the statue of Christ the Redeemer

Since at least his 1994 book Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A do-it-yourself guide to revolutionary science, Sheldrake has been devising various experiments that attempt to demonstrate/explain (among other things):

  • How dogs know when their "owners" are coming home
  • How we often think of someone and then we get a phone call from that person
  • How lightning bolts are attracted to and tend to bend towards the tallest object
  • How we often can feel a "phantom" amputated arm
  • How pigeons find their way home

Sheldrake has been and remains a rare shining light in British science and academia circles, no matter how much the dogmatic gatekeepers of officialdom's "authoritative" false narrative wish and attempt to denigrate and marginalize him — even if they burned his books.


So, the energetic causation as we know it is based on a pushing principle, and formative causation is based on a pulling principle, towards a kind of goal, or form, or an attractor.

Rupert Sheldrake