Am I this Physical Body?

If we ask someone who they are, they will most likely describe their body’s physical features. Or perhaps their body‘s country of origin. They might say “I am American;” “I am black;” or “I am five feet tall, weigh 125 lbs, and female with brown eyes.”

The logical question here is: Am I this physical body?

If so, what happens if my body gains 100 pounds? Do I change with it?

What happens if I change my hair color or get a tatoo?

What happens when my body cannot do the things it used to do?

What happens when my body gets very old and diseased?

When my body changes, does my identity change?
This is answered simply by each of us as we refer to something we did in the past. We will say, "when I was younger, I [fill in the blank]." Even though it was five, ten even 20 years ago, we still feel that I am still the same person I was - indicated by the use of the word "I". If we didn't think that I was me 20 years ago, we wouldn't use "I" or "me." 

This constant self-identification becomes more important when we realize that science has determined that every molecule and atom in our body is recycled and replaced within five years. This means the makeup of our body is constantly changing. 

Most of us assume that our identity runs deeper than our physical body. A person with a black body wants equality with a person with a white body because that person considers that beneath the skin, we are all of the same substance. Similarly, a person with an obese body wants to be treated equally with someone with a more slender body. Why would we request equality unless we are assuming we have deeper identities?

As science has debated this topic, there have been two general views (Popper and Eccles 1983): The first assumes a machine-like information-processing generating system with various modules of activity, all competing for control. This “chaos-machine” theoretically builds upon a system of learning and evolution without any central person or actor.

The other, more prevalent view historically portrays the body as driven by an inner self or life force, central and governing to the body’s existence. Proponents of this inner self model have included Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Jesus and many other teachers and philosophers throughout modern and ancient history. For example, Jesus taught:

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matthew 10:28)

While some have considered the soul as some sort of organ or component of the body, others refer to the soul as part of a trinity: “body, mind and spirit.” 

The word "soul" from Jesus' statement is translated from the Greek word, ψυχή (psychē), which means, according to Strong's lexicon, "the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing" and "the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions." The lexicon goes further to say, "the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)."

So we do not have a soul - each of us is the soul.

What happens when my body dies? Do I die with it?
We know every body dies. We can easily observe that the body no longer functions. Regardless of which outward signs and symptoms we use, there is a dramatic change in the body at the time of death. The body ceases function. The body ceases the display of life and the outward demonstration of personality.

Where did this personality go then? Did it disappear into thin air? Did it evaporate with the final breath? Did this personality die with the death of the body?

Before we can fully understand death, we must understand life. What is a live person, and what is the difference between life and death? What is the difference between a dead body and a live body, and how is the personality we know and hold dear connected with life?

This means we must delve into the source of the energy and life of the body. Where is the generator of the body? Who or what is running the body? This certainly relates to the concept of identity: Are we each simply a temporary physical body? Are we simply cellular machines that decompose after a few decades?

What is the difference between a dead body and a live body?

Discerning the difference between a living body and a dead body was a topic of deep debate by the Greek philosophers. The existence of a living force separate from the body was promoted by many, including Plato, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Socrates, Hippocrates, Pythagoras, Origen and many others. Hippocrates professed that the life within the body was due to a “vital spirit” within, which acted through four different humors, for example.

When one of Socrates’ students asked him how he wanted to be buried, Socrates gave them a clear reply: They could do whatever they wanted with the body, because he would be long gone by then.

By any physical observation made during the death of the body, the living force suddenly leaves. When we see a living body full of life, movement, energy, personality, and purpose, we understand these symptoms of life are residing within the body. When death arrives, suddenly those symptoms of life leave: There is no movement, no energy, and no personality remaining within the dead body. The body becomes lifeless. There is no growth, no will, no personality and no purposeful activity.

For thousands of years, doctors and scientists have autopsied, dissected and otherwise examined millions of dead bodies. No one—not even modern researchers with highly technical instruments—has been able to find any chemical or physical element missing from a dead body that was previously present when the body was alive. The dead body has every physical and material component the living body had. All of the cells are still there. The entire DNA is still there. All the nerves, the organs, the brain and central nervous system—every physical molecule and cell—are still resident in the cadaver.

The one and only claim of a difference, reported in 1907 by Massachusetts physician Dr. Duncan MacDougal, proposed a 21-gram weight difference between a dead and live body. He could not identify the substance of the difference, however. Dr. MacDougal’s results were also inconsistent, and were never corroborated.

MacDougal’s experiment consisted of monitoring six patients as they died upon a table rigged with a beam scale. Of the six, two were eliminated because of technical issues. Three subjects died of tuberculosis. Two of these were losing weight before and after death by “evaporation and respiratory moisture.” One subject died from “consumption” and seemingly lost ¾ of an ounce in weight as he was dying—later converted to 21.3 grams. Dr. MacDougall admitted that it was difficult in some cases to know at what point the patient had died (MacDougall 1907).

A fellow doctor in Massachusetts, Dr. A. Clarke, immediately debated Dr. MacDougal’s hypothesis. Dr. Clarke argued that the typical sudden rise in body temperature before and subsequent cooling without circulation upon death could account for slight weight changes due to evaporation. Especially noting some of the patients had lethal tuberculosis.

While Dr. MacDougal assumed the moment of death occured when the patient convulsed a bit and then lay still without breathing, modern research tells us that brain death must also occur—something Dr. MacDougal was not monitoring for.

Until his own death in 1920, Dr. MacDougall tried to repeat the results and could not confirm his findings. In one test, he cruelly killed fifteen dogs while weighing them and found no weight loss. No other study has substantiated such a theory of weight loss upon death. The 21-gram concept is now relegated to urban myth.

With the exception of these weak findings, many centuries of cadaver research and autopsy have carefully examined organs, bones, nerves, brain, blood, neurochemistry and other vital body parts. None has found any structural or biochemical difference between a live and dead body. The dead body is simply missing an immeasurable element of life that once animated the body: An invisible force that gives the body personality, energy, motivation, and the will to survive.

The life force of the body has never been seen under a microscope or by any other physical instrument. Furthermore, since this living force separates from the body at death—leaving the physical body with no life—it is obvious that this life force is not part of the body. 

As the Greek philosophers promulgated, since the personality is also gone when this life is gone from the body, it would also be logical that our personality is part of this life force, and not part of the physical body. The physical body—including all the DNA and neurons—remains intact. Just as a car's driver is not the car: The driver can step out of the car at any time.

Therefore, the driver has an identity separate from the car—just as we have an identity separate from this physical body.

Which Body Part are We?

Following an amputation due to an infection or other injury, no one would claim the amputee is any less of a person. This is because the same personality is there despite a massive structural change in the body. This logic can be extended to even severe cases such as the loss of both arms and legs or other major parts of the anatomy.

An explosion or other traumatic accident might leave ones torso intact while amputating both the body’s arms and legs. Regardless of losing these appendages, the person is still perceived as a whole person—the same person as before—even though their body cannot function the way it did before.

The person who operates the body still contains the same conscious being with the same personality. This is why paraplegic and quadriplegic rights are protected by law; and why Dr. Steven Hawking, a quadriplegic, is considered one of the today’s foremost theoretical physicists despite his physical handicaps. He is regarded as no less of a person than the rest of us. Physically disabled people are given equal rights because society considers these persons equal in all respects, despite deficiencies in their physical bodies.

The physical organs illustrate the same logic. It is now commonplace in medicine to surgically remove and replace organs such as kidneys, livers, hearts, hips and other parts in order to preserve the healthy functioning of the body. Some parts—like hearts and hip sockets—are now replaced with artificial versions.

Modern medicine has illustrated through many years of organ transplants that a person’s identity does not travel with the organ. Otherwise, we might have—as a few comedic theatrical performances have suggested—people whose personalities reflect their organ donors. Imagine what would happen if someone receiving a heart transplant assumed part of the personality of the dead donor. We’d truly have a mess on our hands.

This situation is analogous to an auto accident: A car is involved in an accident and brought to an auto mechanic. The mechanic determines that the car needs a new set of tires, a new set of bumpers put on, and the engine rebuilt before the car can be put back on the road. The driver waits for the repairs to be completed, and then gets back in the car and drives it away. The new car parts do not affect the driver. The driver is the same despite the changes the car has undergone.

In the same way that the driver is not the car or the car parts, we are not the body or the body's parts.

The Contradiction of Aging

Consider how most of us perceive the aging of our body with respect to our identity. Most of us try to deny the age of our body in one respect or another. Teenagers want to be older and more mature, while older adults want to be younger and more youthful. Most adults refuse to accept getting old.

As any birthday party will illustrate, adults are surprised at the body’s age as it gets older. We try to disconnect ourselves from the physical age of our body somehow. This denial is often joked about, but to most of us—as we are faced with an ever-wrinkling body—it is no laughing matter. We are often embarrassed by our body’s age as we get older.

For this reason, many older adults do not want to state their age. They are embarrassed by it. They want to distance themselves from it. Furthermore, many of us dress the body with make-up, hair dyes and/or trendy clothes in an attempt to hide the body’s age.

For this same reason, many in our society undergo extreme forms of surgery in order to achieve a younger looking body. In these cases, the self is in conflict with the images left by the body. Plastic surgery, hair-removal, hair transplantation, breast enhancement, and various other medical interventions are all extraordinary attempts to reconcile our identity with the temporary physical body.

In recent years, this struggle for self-identification has become more desperate for some, with people undergoing drastic surgery in an attempt to change their body’s gender. Identification-confusion procedures such as sex organ replacement, combined with hormone injections, are sadly becoming commonplace in medical centers. Gender change is another stark example of how the self feels incompatible with the physical body.

Gender issues are controversial today. Women and men demand equal treatment regardless of physical or mental propensities. Homosexuals strive to erase prejudice in a predominantly heterosexual society. The struggles relating to identity and equality with regard to gender over the last few decades has led to childhood gender confusion.

One recent report estimated as many as three million children in the U.S. suffer from gender confusion. In an attempt to accommodate this confusion and postpone a “decision,” many of these children are prescribed hormone blockers to prevent normal puberty development. The concept is that hormone blocking will allow them to make a decision after they turn eighteen as to which gender they want to be—now that they have the option to undergo “corrective” surgery for a sex change.

These sorts of identity issues prevail in a society that assumes we are the physical body. A person who identifies that they are the physical body is met with all sorts of contradictions, including the contradiction of aging, and contradictions brought on by identifying with a particular sexual orientation.

Consider that our bodies are constantly changing - every five years we have completely recycled every atom. This means our body would be compared to a waterfall. A waterfall is made up of constantly changing water. We can look at a waterfall for a minute, turn our back and look back, and the waterfall will be a different waterfall. The water that made up the waterfall before has long fallen and flowed downstream.

Our physical bodies are the same. They are ever-changing. The body we had on as a child is now gone. All those atoms have gone and been replaced by new ones.

The contradiction comes when we identify with these bodies. Which body will we identify with? With the child body we once wore? With the teenager body we once wore? How about the young adult body? Or the middle-aged body?

The reality is that we are none of these bodies. They are simply vehicles we occupy, just as a driver occupies a car.

Each of us - the driver of our temporary body - is eternal. We are from the spiritual realm. We are spiritual in essence. Just as the driver of the car is not made up of the car's metals, we are not the physical body. We are not these atoms that get recycled every five years.

In the spiritual realm there is no time. Time is a feature of the physical realm. Therefore, each of us are eternal.

This is why we are so distraught as we see our body age. We are not used to aging. Aging is unnatural to us because we are eternal.

This is also why every living being struggles for survival. Why, if we were physical machines destined to die, would we try to avoid death? It is because our innate identity does not die: We do not die.

Dying - like aging - contradicts our identity because we are eternal by nature.

Awareness and Consciousness: Self versus Non-Self

The difference between the physical body and the living personality requires a clear differentiation between matter and life. This investigation has been captured by science under the term autopoiesis. Autopoiesis is the study of the characterization of a complete living system as it compares to either a part of another living system or non-living matter.

Over many years of laboratory research, test results have demonstrated that all animals and plants also have this self-concept awareness, which prevails through their responses to various environmental challenges. The functions of their mechanical physiology have also confirmed that this self-concept pervades through all living tissues, reflected by the display of episodic memory—remembering specifics about past events and past sensations.

For this reason, we see animals learning quickly which activities result in pain and which activities result in pleasure. They immediately respond simply because every living being seeks pleasure (Dere et al. 2006).

Bitbol and Luisi (2004) sum up the distinction between living organisms and non-living matter as grounded within the principle of cognition. A definition of cognition as proposed by Bourgine and Stewart (2004) is, “A system is cognitive if and only if sensory inputs serve to trigger actions in a specific way, so as to satisfy a viability constraint.”

Bourgine and Stewart also contend “A system that is both autopoietic and cognitive is a living system.” Bitbol and Luisi clarify that “the very lowest level of cognition is the condition for life,” and “the lowest level of cognition does not reduce to the lowest level of autopoiesis.”

When we consider the element of cognition, we bring into focus the nature of awareness. Cognition is the awareness of self and non-self. The awareness of self and non-self are required for a living organism to consider survival important. Without an awareness of self and non-self, there is no intention for fulfillment.

To investigate this we could first analyze the difference between a living organism and a piece of matter without the component of life. An easy comparison would be between single-celled bacteria and a dead cell separated from a living body.

A single-cell bacterium is a complete living organism. Studies have shown bacteria indeed respond to stimuli, avoid death, and avert pain. As we know from medicine, bacteria will intelligently mutate and adapt to antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are bacteria that have intelligently defended themselves. Living bacteria also conduct all of the activities required for independent survival: consumption, digestion, reproduction, self-propul­sion, sense perception and emotional response, the intention to survive, and self-organization.

Clive Backster’s (2003) EEG work with bacteria proved that bacteria could sense danger through a subtle means of communication. This is also called quorum sensing. In quorum sensing, bacteria communicate amongst each other to come to consensus about the safety or risk about a particular environment.

Non-living objects display none of these characteristics. A machine may digest and respond to stimuli, but it will not have sense perception and emotional response. A machine relies upon a living person to program its tasking and response. Once a machine has been disconnected from its power source, the machine ceases function.

A single cell can be put into a Petri dish and kept alive, however. But this in vitro setup makes the cell now dependent upon the environment of the lab equipment, driven by living lab operators. The cell has thus become a surrogate of the lab, just as it was formerly a surrogate of the living body. It is now more like a machine hooked up to an energy source. It displays no independent sense perception, the desire to survive or independent emotional response.

While the cell is part of the living body, it maintains the body’s self-concept only when it is connected to the power source of the body - the living being. Once detached, it displays metabolic continuation, but no separate self-existence.

Without intention and the awareness of self, there is no consciousness. Without consciousness, there is no life.

Are we the Cells?

Throughout its physical lifetime, our body is continually changing, yet we continue to maintain our core identity and consciousness. Research has shown all living cells in the body have a finite lifespan, ranging from minutes to days to years. A few cells—such as certain bone marrow stem cells and brain cells—may exist through the duration of the body.

There are only a handful of these cells compared to the estimated 200 trillion cells making up the body, however. By far the vast majority of cells in the body will participate in cell division. Following division, older cells time out. They are broken down by the immune system and discarded, leaving the newly divided cells in their place. Using this process the body constantly sloughs off older cells from the body, replacing them with new ones. Different cells in different parts of the body have different lifespans. For example:
  • Gastric cells are replaced about every five minute
  • Stomach lining cells are replaced within a week
  • Skin cells are replaced within about 90 days
  • The entire liver is regenerated within two months
  • The bone cells will all be replaced within a year.
    While nerve cells and stem cells can live longer—for years—the composition of every cell, including all nerve and stem cells, undergoes an even faster turnover. Every cell in the body is made up of ionic and molecular combinations. These molecular combinations make up a cell’s DNA, RNA, cytoplasm, organelles, and membrane.

    These atomic and molecular sub-units are constantly being replaced. New molecular matter enters the body from the environment. Old molecular matter is expelled through waste and respiration. Processes of cell membrane diffusion, osmosis and ionic channel conveyance allow each living cell to undergo a constant recycling of atomic elements.

    Active cells will replace molecules and ions quite rapidly. Brain cells will recycle all their atoms and molecules within three days. Ninety-eight percent of all the atoms and molecules in the body are replaced within a year, and most biologists agree all the atoms and molecules within the body are replaced by new ones within five years.

    Understanding that our physical bodies change nearly every cell within days, weeks or years; and all our body’s atoms and molecules are being replaced from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, we can accurately make the following statement:

    The body we are wearing today is not the same body we were wearing five years ago.
    We are now wearing a completely recycled body. In effect, we have each changed bodies. Every rhythmic element of matter—every vibrating atom—is different.

    This might well be compared to a waterfall. The water within a waterfall is always changing. From moment to moment, the waterfall will be made up of different water. Therefore, the waterfall we see today is not the same waterfall we saw yesterday.

    Since each of us is the same person from moment to moment and year to year within an ever-changing body, logically we each have an identity separate from this temporary vehicle. We cannot be the body, since the body has been replaced while we are still here.

    Should we look at our photograph taken five years ago, we will be looking at a completely different body from the one we are wearing today. The very eyes looking at the eyes in the picture are different.

    Our body has changed but we are still the same person.

    Are we the Brain?

    One might propose that since we have yet to transplant someone’s brain maybe we are the brain. Most of us have heard of the famous neurosurgical experiments first documented by Dr. Wilder Penfield, where he stimulated the temporal cortex and stimulated particular memories during brain surgery.

    These results and their confirmations left scientists with an impression that life must reside in the brain since emotional memories were stimulated with the electrode testing.

    This assumption is disputed by other brain research over the past fifty years on both humans and animals, however. The assumption that the emotional self is contained in the brain has been conflicted by the many cases of emotions and memory following the removal of brain parts and even a majority of the brain.

    Mishkin (1978) documented that the removal of either the amygdala or the hippocampus did not severely impair memory. Mumby et al. (1992) determined that memory was only mildly affected in rats with hippocampus and amygdala lesions.

    According to a substantial review done by Vargha-Khadem and Polkey (1992), numerous hemidecortication surgeries—the removal of half the brain—had been conducted for a number of disorders. In a majority of these cases, cognition and brain function continued uninterrupted. 

    A few cases even documented an improvement in cognition. Additionally, in numerous cases of intractable seizures, where substantial parts of brain have been damaged, substantial cognitive recovery resulted in 80 to 90% of the cases.

    These and numerous other studies illustrate this effect—called neuroplasticity. In other words, the inner self is not reduced by brain damage or removal. The same person remains after brain parts are removed. The same personality remains. Many retain all their memories. The majority of brain-damaged stroke patients go about living normal lives afterward as well.

    Even in cases where memory, cognitive and/or motor skills are affected by cerebrovascular stroke, the person within is still present. Though handicapped, the person remains unaffected by the brain damage.

    Personality and the self-perception are not brain-dependent. Many organisms exert personality and perception without even having a brain. Bacteria, for example, do not have brains, yet they can identify and memorize a wide variety of skills and events, including what damaged or helped them (self-perception) in the past. Other organisms such as plants, nematodes and others maintain self-perception and even memory without having brains or even central nervous systems.

    MRI and CT brain scans on patients following brain injuries or strokes have shown that particular functions will often move from one part of the brain to another after the functioning area was damaged.

    We must therefore ask: Who or what is it that moves these physical functions from one part of the brain to another? Is the damaged brain area making this decision? That would not make sense. Some other guiding function must be orchestrating this move of the function. What or who is guiding this process?

    The retention of memory, emotion, and the moving of brain function from one part of the brain to another is more evidence of a deeper mechanism; an operator or driver within the body who is utilizing the brain—rather than being the brain. The driver is the continuing element.

    Physical structures - inclusive of memories and emotions - continually undergo change, while the driver remains, adapting to those changes.

    Are we Chemicals?

    Over recent years, various researchers have proposed from one basis or another that our identities are chemical. They have proposed that emotions and personality are seated within the chemicals (such as hormones and neurotransmitters) that flow through the bloodstream, basal cell network and the synapses of our nervous systems. Could our identities simply be a mixture of complex chemicals? A logical review of the scientific evidence would indicate otherwise.

    Emotional responses to environmental stimuli will initiate any number of biochemical cascade pathways to occur within the body. A cascade occurs when one chemical release stimulates the release of another biochemical, and that biochemical in turn stimulates the release of another. The biochemicals in the cascade might stimulate a particular cell, tissue or organ function. With each cascade, there are initiating stimuli and subsequent responses from various tissues and nerves.

    Because neurologists and other researchers have seen these biochemicals involved with emotional response, some have proposed that these biochemicals contain the emotion. They propose that chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, or acetylcholine each contain the particular emotions they reflect, and are thus the sources of the emotion.

    They propose that these signaling biochemicals connect with receptors positioned at the surface of the cell; and the response by the cell is the emotion being released from the chemical.  

    An example some have used is the famed opiate receptor, linked with the cell’s reception of morphine or endorphins, and the sensation of euph­oria. The idea is that the feeling of euphoria is produced when the ligands like endorphin connect with the receptor.

    One problem with this speculation is that no two organisms respond identically to the same chemical. With opiates for example, some may hallucinate while others may only respond casually. On the other hand, some may have nightmarish experiences. If these structurally identical neurochemicals contained the emotion, why would each person respond differently to the same chemical and dose?

    Another major problem with this thesis is the observer: Who is observing that the body is feeling euphoria? Who observes the hallucinations created by certain chemicals? Who observes the positive or negative sensations of the body? The fact is, without an observer, there is no way to be able to view feelings. A physical body that is experiencing a physical emotional response with no observer could not observe and review the experience.

    Therefore, there could be no discretion regarding the event. There could be no judgment available as to whether the experience was positive or negative. There could be no available decision on whether the experience should be repeated or curtailed. There could be no analysis or learning experience from our activities. These require an observer of the experience.

    The perception of pain may offer some clarity. In 2005, Dr. Ronald Melzack, co-author of the now-standard 1965 gate control theory of pain transmission, updated his theory of pain from a simple gateway effect to one of a multidimensional experience of neurosignatures. His updated theory—which he calls the body-self neuromatrix—explains that the consensus of clinical research over thon acute pain, behavior and chronic pain indicates an independent perceptual state of self; observing and exchanging feedback and response with the locations of injury. 

    Because doctors and researchers have found a good portion of the pain response is unrelated to specific injury but rather a modification of sensory experience, this neuromatrix indicates that pain requires an interaction between the nervous system and what Melzack calls the “self.”

    In other words, pain requires two components: 1) The sensory transmission of pain and 2) the observer or experiencer of that pain.

    Once that pain is experienced, there may also be a feedback response from the experiencer. This feedback may either be: 1) take action to remove the cause of the pain; or 2) if there is no apparent cause then become extra-sensitive to the pain until the cause is determined (Baranauskas and Nistri 1998).

    This increased sensory elevation leads to what is called nociceptic pain—pain not appearing to have a direct physical cause. Some might also refer to this type of pain as being psychosomatic, although psychosomatic pain is often considered not real. Noiceptive pain is considered real, but its cause is not obviously physically apparent.

    Regardless of the name, this type of pain is very difficult to understand and manage. This is especially true for doctors and patients who deal with chronic pain that appears unrelated to trauma or inflammation. Because the self naturally seeks pleasure, we would propose that the current cause of that pain is always real, from either a gross physical level or a more subtle level.  

    Regardless of the level, the self experiencing the pain would certainly be considered separate from the pain, along with any biochemical messengers assisting in its transmission. After all, how could the self “escape” pain unless it was separate from the cause of the pain? Because they increase the separation of the self from the pain source, pain medications are a multi-billion dollar business.

    Since the biochemical transmission effectors such as substance P among neurons are present during pain responses, it is logical that these chemicals have a role in the physical responses to emotions or memories. However, the proposal made by scientists such as Candace Pert, Ph.D. that emotions exist within the chemicals is not supported by logic or observation.

    Researchers have observed an increase in biochemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and various endorphins in the bloodstream during feelings of love or compassion. The question being raised is whether the emotions stimulated the biochemicals or the biochemicals stimulated the emotions.

    The implications of proposing the limited view that the emotion was created by the biochemicals are many. This would be equivalent to saying love comes from biochemicals. It would open the door to a murder suspect pleading that his body’s chemical balance was responsible for his committing the fatal crime.

    Dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are circulating at heightened levels following activities such as laughing eating, sex and post-traumatic stress. These biochemicals are also circulating at other times, during other emotions, albeit at different levels.

    What comes first, the biochemical or the emotion? Does the emotion drive the biochemical levels or do the biochemicals drive the emotional response? To break this down properly, we must separate the physiological response to an optional response relating to behavior and decision-making.

    Yes, a biochemical reaction or ligand-receptor response can stimulate a physiological response. But can it dictate behavior? Could a hormone or neurotransmitter ligand-receptor response force us to shoplift? In that case, we should be able to find that certain biochemicals were “shoplifting” chemicals. We’d be able to just reduce their levels and forget about putting shoplifters in jail. 

    We’d also have to look at blood donors’ criminal records before accepting their blood.

    The reason we put shoplifters in jail is to teach them that shoplifting is morally wrong. This is decision for an observer—an inner self—who can observe the body’s activities. Each of us can observe our activities and steer them with decision-making. We may not always be able to steer our physiological responses, which also produce certain moods within the brain and nerves. But we can observe those moods and decide whether we are going to let them control our activities. While more shoplifters are likely to have bad moods, we aren’t forced to shoplift by a bad mood.

    If biochemicals create emotion, they would be present only in and prior to particular emotions. Instead, they are present during a variety of emotions. Again physiological changes can be brought about by biochemicals. But emotions stem from life: There is no emotion left in a dead body.

    Furthermore, if chemicals could contain emotions, these emotional characteristics should exist in the chemicals both inside and outside of the particular body of the person experiencing the emotion. Illustrating this, health workers regularly remove biochemicals (in the form of body fluids such as blood, plasma and marrow) from one subject and transfer them (or their components) to other subjects. In none of these cases are emotions transferred from one person to another.

    Supposed “emotional biochemicals” do not retain or display the emotions of their donor once they are transferred to a new host. Certainly, if we found that blood transfusions resulted in changes in personality or emotions, blood transfusions would not be very popular.

    Thus, the basis for a biochemical self fails thousands of times a day around the world in hospitals that transfuse blood.

    This is not to mean that injected biochemicals cannot stimulate a physical response within a new host, which may or may not facilitate particular emotions to be expressed. The organism receiving epinephrine or another neurochemical may experience a physical response consistent with the vanilla biochemical response related to that particular molecular structure. Injected adrenaline may produce a physical reaction of increased heart rate, for example. 

    However, adrenaline drawn from one person during a fearful response will not induce a recall of the donor’s fears. The recipient’s physical response after the injection will neither reflect the appropriate response required for the donor’s particular fears.

    Once the inner self responds to a particular sensory input—often signaled through biochemical reception—the unique emotional response of the self stimulates particular biochemicals to translate and express the emotion. In other words, these biochemicals help translate the emotional self’s response.

    Just as current travels within an electrical wire, neurotransmitters help transmit sensory feedback messages to the inner self. They also help transmit emotional responses from the inner self. The self is the observer of sensory input, and stimulates feedback responses utilizing some of the same biochemical transmission pathways.

    We must therefore conclude that there is someone inside who is either—directly or indirectly—receiving and responding to the body’s neural transmissions. Any response that proceeds with direction and decision-making must come from a conscious source. Otherwise we would simply be machines.

    Fuel may ignite a spark in the cylinder of an automobile engine causing combustion, which will push the rods into motion, exerting force on the axel cranks. Fuel is not the original stimulant, however. Nor does fuel contain the ability to guide and steer the car. Rather, there is a driver within the car who consciously turns the key, presses the gas pedal and drives the car to a particular destination using the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes.

    At the end of the day, the driver stimulates the flow of fuel through the injection system by pressing the gas pedal. The driver can also stop the flow of fuel and the electricity running through the engine by turning off the car.

    When the driver of the body leaves at the time of death, there are no emotions exhibited in the dead body. Yet all the hormones, neurotransmitters, genes and cells—all the biochemical ligands and receptors—are still contained within the recently dead body. The body supports no memory or emotional response because there is no longer a conscious driver present. The conscious driver who drove the feedback and response neurochemistry has left.

    Emotions elicited from a response to an observation or other sensual stimuli would logically come from someone separate from those stimuli. Because emotion is integral with interpreting stimuli, an observer would be necessary for that interpretation. Without an observer, there could be no decision-making: There would be no optional behavior.

    This does not mean that all physiological responses require conscious interpretation and decision from the self. For example, should we touch the burner of a stove there is programming in place within the neural network to instantly react by pulling the hand away. This will often happen before the self has a chance to make a decision. However, this programming does not mean the self cannot engage in the decision to resist that reaction of pulling away.

    A firewalker may intentionally walk on the coals despite his sympathetic system’s programmed response to jump away onto the cool sand. These observations lead us to understand that the self can be involved in almost any sensory reception should there be determination and intention.

    Most other stimuli requires the emotional self to respond. Otherwise, no action would occur. This is where intention comes in. Upon hearing the alarm in the morning, the self could choose to do nothing—lying in bed for the rest of the day. The self could also intend to accomplish something that day, and rise to begin the day’s activities. Ultimately, the self creates the intention and impetus for those activities.

    While biochemicals participate in the process of conscious response and feedback, they are actually conductors for electromag­netic wave transmissions. Once sensual stimuli are pulsed to the neural network after ligand reception, neurons produce specific information waves. As we will discuss later in more depth, at any particular point in time, there are billions of brainwaves of various frequencies moving through the brain. As the different waves collide—or interfere—they create different types of interference patterns.

    The neurological research headed up by Dr. Robert Knight at the University of California at Berkeley and UC at San Francisco illustrated that the interaction of these interference patterns together formulate a type of informational transmission and mapping system.

    This mapping system forms a type of observational screen from which the self can view incoming waveform information. Using this mapping system, the self can view the sensory information coming in from sense organs, and combine these with the feedback from the body, creating a total perception of ones environment and situation.

    As the self views these waveform interference pattern images, we can respond with intention. Intention from the self is typically translated through the prefrontal cortex and medial cortex to create brainwave patterns that express the self’s response. These response brainwave patterns are translated through the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to produce master hormones such as growth hormone, adrenocorticortropic hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, oxytocin, luteinizing hormone, and others, stimulating the cascade of biochemicals that translate the response into action. The brainwave transmissions also stimulate a particular nervous system response which activate particular muscles, organs and other tissues.

    The end result is a physical action combined with certain biochemicals that stimulate a physical response.

    We can illustrate this process more practically. Let’s say that we heard from a friend that a relative was hurt. The transmission brought through our body’s ears will cause an emotional reaction from us as soon as we hear it. The emotion was experienced following the aural reception of the announcement. Upon interpreting the aural reception, our inner self—we—react emotion­ally. The particular response would depend upon our personal connection with the relative. It is not automatic. If they were a vicious, hurtful relative, we may react far differently than if they we had established a close personal relationship with them.

    Assuming a close personal relationship, our inner self may then initiate a physical response, producing tears and a rush to the hospital to be with them. These physical activities were stimulated by the emotional response of our inner self. 

    The emotional response and subsequent activities of the body originate from a conscious individual. Because there must be an initiator for the production of the biochemicals that produce an emotional response, there is ultimately a source for the response that is invisible.

    This is the same source that disappears at the time of death - the invisible difference between the life of the body and the death of the body is the individual spiritual self.

    Are we DNA?

    A newer version of biochemical identity put forth by modern scientists over the last few decades is the notion that the self is the genetic information—or DNA—of the body.

    The assumption that we are DNA is buried within the theory that genes accidentally evolved from chemicals. The gene evolution theory supposes that genes, and life itself, spontaneously arose from a random pool of chemicals. This theory requires a process called spontaneous generation. Unlikely as it seems, the spontaneous generation of life theory was debated by scientists for hundreds of years, as they observed life seemingly growing from barren flasks.

    Finally, Dr. Louis Pasteur refuted spontaneous generation by illustrating that this growth was due to the presence of tiny microorganisms invisible to the naked eye.

    For many decades this assumption of spontaneous generation has continued nonetheless. And many researchers have attempted to create life from ‘primordial’ chemicals—all without success.

    Could life have randomly arisen from chemicals?
    To analyze the likelihood of even one typical protein molecule to have been randomly developed, we can reference Nobel prize winner Dr. Francis Crick’s statements in his book Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature. Here Dr. Crick calculates that the chance of even one conservative protein molecule of two hundred amino acids coming into existence is one chance in 10260 — the number one with two hundred and sixty zeros behind it.

    Dr. Crick also states this would be analogous to a billion monkeys typing onto a billion typewriters and somehow typing one sonnet of Shakespeare.

    The chance of a 1,000-nucleotide chain DNA molecule forming accidentally is more remote. Both Dr. Dawson and Dr. Crick agree with this. Lester Smith (1975) calculated the probability as about one in 10600.

    The probability of genetic mutations accidentally leading to a new species is even more remote. Dr. Lee Spetner (1998) calculates that a new species (one positive mutation step) would have a probability of 2.7 x 10-2739 , (that is a probability of it not happening, of 2.7 with 2,739 zeros after it) using Stebbins’ (1966) estimation that five hundred intermediate mutations would be required to establish one positive mutation step.

    This fantastic assumption that chemicals spontaneously created genes and life also assumes that those chemicals combined then somehow developed the desire to survive. In other words, accidental chemical combinations somehow developed the intention to improve their chances of survival.

    Have we ever observed chemicals desiring survival? Chemicals simply do not display this characteristic. No scientist has ever found the intent to survive outside of a living organism. No chemical desires survival unless part of a living organism—hence the name biochemicals (bio = life). Chemicals may react and form various substances, and certainly will change structure when heated or cooled.

    Having a desire to survive is another matter altogether
    The desire to survive is connected to the desire to improve survival factors and eliminate threats to survival. The need to improve survival requires that someone values survival over death. Otherwise, we would be talking about a group of unconscious chemicals somehow beginning to value their existence.

    Chemicals that value their own existence means that the chemicals could somehow recognize a difference between living chemicals and dead chemicals. This in turn requires that chemicals have awareness, because the desire to survive requires an awareness of self-existence. It also requires a fear of death: Could a chemical become afraid to die?

    In order to desire survival, a living organism must be aware that it is alive. A living organism must be able to differentiate itself from a dead batch of chemicals. If there is no distinction between life and death, why avoid death? Why desire life without a distinction between living and nonliving chemicals? Certainly it would be easier for a batch of chemicals to remain dead than to have to struggle for survival in the midst of all the environmental challenges to staying alive.

    A small unicellular organism can be killed by so many environmental challenges: Freezing, direct sun exposure and any number of natural enemies. If there were no distinction between living or dead chemicals, the path of least resistance would be to remain dead chemicals. Why try to survive without a benefit for living? If there were no awareness and desire for survival in the face of all this resistance, there would be no incentive for genes to develop and evolve towards greater complexity—the basic tenet of the evolutionary theory and the ‘survival of the fittest.’

    Put more simply, if a living entity could not distinguish itself from a nonliving entity, there would be no urge to survive. Without the urge to survive, there would be no motivating factor to encourage adaptation or mutation. There would be no impetus to evolve because survival is not valuable without an awareness of life.

    There must be a self to be selfish
    In his 1977 book "The Selfish Gene," Dr. Robert Dawkins proposed that genes themselves somehow became not only selfish in their orientation, but also somehow acted upon their selfishness. 

    Certainly, we can all agree that in order to become “selfish,” there must be a “self.” Without a self, how could something become selfish? How could there be an orientation towards oneself without there being a self?

    We must also ask, logically, just who would be available to recognize life in a chemical-based existence? We are being asked to assume a batch of chemicals developed a state of consciousness, yet there is no individual (self) present within those chemicals to be conscious of being alive?

    The incidental gene theory of life simply has no logical basis. Genes cannot desire survival. They cannot mutate, or make changes that promote survival without an underlying conscious self present within the organism - a self who values life and wants to survive.

    This living being must be aware that it is alive, and must therefore value survival. Once the self values survival, it has a logical basis for making genetic and physiological adjustments to better adapt to the environment. Because the self is fundamentally alive when it is inserted into a temporary physical body, it naturally strives to survive within that organism.
      
    Admittedly, the total mapping of the genome and further mapping of the individual allele locations within codons—their haplotypes and collectively, their hapmaps—reveals a complexity of design beyond our current understanding. But what could be driving that complexity?

    Over the past three decades, tremendous research efforts have gone into creating statistical models to match the physical traits of humans and other organisms with particular gene sequences - called genomes. As a result, thousands of species genomes have been tabulated and connected with physical characteristics.

    In addition, different diseases and traits have been connected to certain sequences. Although these efforts are laudable, science has unfortunately succumbed to a blurring of the relationship between these genetic traits and consciousness. The erroneous assumption is that gene sequences—the particular arrangement of alleles or nucleotides at different positions of the DNA molecule—are the cause of those physical or behavioral traits. That somehow, those sequences together make up the identity of the conscious individual.

    Is this a chicken-and-egg problem?
    While some might call this a chicken-and-egg problem, the solution is certainly clearer than this. This assumption that the conscious self is a genetic hapmap would be equivalent to saying a telephone is the source of the voice we hear through the telephone speaker. It is elementary: The voice on the line is coming from a remotely located person: A conscious entity utilizing that phone.

    We may not be able to see the person while we are speaking with them, but we know a conscious person is on the other side of the phone conversation because we exchange personal communication as we hear their live voice. In addition, the voice on the other side responds to our statements with a clarity that can only come from a conscious speaker.

    Thus there is no confusing the conscious speaker on the other side of the phone line with the phone itself.

    DNA is dead chemistry without consciousness
    The sequencing of genetic haplotypes indicates its complex structure. This complex coding indicates programmed design. As with any programming, there must be an underlying consciousness designing this structure. It is not logical to assume that a complex, well-designed code with specific rules comes from a chaotic and accidental design process. Just as we can connect the lucid voice on the phone to a personal consciousness, we can tie the sequencing of genes to a living, conscious component, ultimately driving its design with intention.

    If we were to extract a DNA molecule from our skin or body fluids, and place it onto the table or even in a test tube, we will find there is no display of life. Just as the body after death is lifeless, DNA or RNA molecules extracted from a living body become lifeless. It should also be clarified that RNA transcription and genetic mutation is impossible without consciousness driving the process.

    We can certainly force a mutation upon an organism or its seed through the vehicle of a virus. Yet the mutation will only become duplicated through an organism if there is a conscious living force present in that organism. In other words, we cannot insert a mutated gene into a dead body and see that mutation replicated through the dead body.

    Personality comes from consciousness
    The proposal that personality is determined by genetic code is refuted by children who have inherited genes from parents. Children are each born with distinct personalities, talents and character traits not necessarily portrayed in their parents or grandparents. While we are quick to notice similar physical traits among our children, each has their own character and personality. 

    We can easily observe children behaving significantly different from their parents in similar situations. We can also witness the many conflicts that arise between children and parents. We have also observed that the extraordinary talents of child music geniuses or savants are not passed down genetically. In most musical savant cases, the parents have relatively little or no musical gift whatsoever.

    Twins are never identical
    If personality and behavior were genetically driven then genetically identical twins would live parallel lives and have identical personalities. They would make the same decisions, leading to identical histories.

    This is not supported by the research. Twins live dramatically unique and individual lives from each other. Depending upon how much time they spend together, they will make distinctly different choices in life as well. In general, they display significantly unique and often diverse behavior. Hur and Rushton (2007) studied 514 pairs of two to nine year old South Korean monozygotic and dizygotic twins.

    Their results indicated that 55% of the children’s pro-social behavior related to genetic factors and 45% was attributed to non-shared environmental behavior. It should also be noted that shared environmental factors could not be eliminated from the 55%, so this number could well be higher if shared environments were removed.

    In another study from Quebec, Canada (Forget-Dubois et al. 2007), an analysis of 292 mothers demonstrated that maternal behavior only accounted for a 29% genetic influence at 18 months and 25% at 30 months. In a study of 200 African-American twins, including 97 identical pairs, genetics accounted for about 60% of the variance in smoking (Whitfield et al. 2007).

    In a study done at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (Maes et al. 2007), a large sampling revealed that individual behavior was only about 38-40% attributable to genetics, while shared environment was 18-23% attributable and unshared environmental influences were attributable in 39-42%. These studies are also confirmed by others, illustrating a large enough variance from 100% to indicate the presence of an individual personality within each twin.

    Distinct identity despite genetic sameness is further evidenced by the fact that identical twins will have distinctly different fingerprints, irises and other physical traits, despite their identical genetics. Many twins also differ in handedness and specific talents. Researchers have found that twins will often have significantly different lifestyle choices later in life such as sexual preference, drug abuse, and alcoholism.

    For example, say two people purchase the exact same make, model and year automobile at the same time. Comparing the two cars in the future will reveal the cars had vastly different engine lives and mileages. They each had different types of breakdowns, and different problems. This is because each car was driven differently. One was likely driven harder than the other was. One was likely better taken care of than the other was. They may have been the same make and model, but each had different owners with different driving habits.

    Because twins have the same genetics—just as the cars shared the same make and model—the unique factors related to the eventual circumstances of their lives stem from the fact that each body contains a distinct driver.

    Because geneticists are not aware of the inner self, they are now trying to resolve the inherent inconsistencies of the gene theory with the developing theories of epigenetics. In general, epigenetics is the acceptance of additional factors (called marks or phenotypes) that affect the switching on or switching off of genes. This is also called gene expression. It was hypothesized—and confirmed by research—that while the DNA may or may not change within a species, there are many physiological and anatomical changes that will take place within a lifetime or within immediate generations that will reflect environmental changes.

    These environmental changes are seen as turning on or off these phenotypes, enabling changes in the epigenome of the individual or family.

    Epigenetics provides clarity
    The concept of epigenetics was proposed by geneticist Conrad Waddington in the early 1940s to explain how environ­mental circumstances could effect genetic expression. In the 1980s, Dr. Lars Olov Bygren studied Northern Sweden populations that descended from families who were isolated and subjected to periodic famines. He found that children of famines had different genetic traits than those who did not live through famine. Those who lived through periodic feast and famine years died sooner and had more cardiovascular disease.

    As researchers have discovered more genetic anomalies—such as the twins research mentioned earlier—the concept of epigenetics has received increasing attention.
    The biochemical relationships between gene expressions have focused upon the action of DNA methylation or histone regulation.

    These biochemical messengers have been implicated in the process of switching alleles on or off. The assumption once again has been that the body’s switching systems are purely mechanical and robotic. There is no intentional driver or observer present: Only a biochemical machine that somehow acts with desire and direction.

    However, the very research by geneticists that theoretically supported epigenetics also exposed a major shortfall in the theory. In cruel mice experiments at McGill University’s Douglas Hospital Research Center (Szyf et al. 2008), epigenetic phenotypes could be turned on and off within baby mice by the increased nurturing from the mother. In other words, baby mice receiving mama’s nurturing would switch on genes differently than mice not receiving nurturing from mama mouse.

    Quite simply, this indicates the presence of another influence upon the genetic switching of epigenetic phenotypes: That of an exchange between emotional personalities. Nurturing is, in its very essence, the expression of love between one living being and another. When a mother communicates love through nurturing, the baby receives that expression of love through those nurturing activities. As the expression is received, there is a resonation or hand-shaking between the two living beings.

    That resonation produces an effect upon genetic expression through the pathways of the brain, nervous system and the body’s biochemicals, which bridge the self with the body and its genes.

    The inner self is connected to the body’s genes through conscious decision-making. The research has quite resoundingly connected environmental changes with epigenetic changes. Yet many environmental changes are the direct result of the decisions of the inner self.

    Let’s say we decided that we wanted to live in a warm climate. Furthermore, we decided that a warm climate was more important to us than having a good job. So we packed up our belongings and moved to Hawaii. We settled down in Hawaii and lived there for the next twenty years. Over that time, our body will undergo many adjustments as it accommodates the warm, humid weather of Hawaii. Eventually, these environmental conditions will affect the switching on and off of certain genes, ultimately changing our genetic outcome. One might be a longer life.

    Epidemiological research has confirmed that Hawaii residents have the longest life expectancy among other states in the U.S.—at 80 years—while the average life expectancy of the rest of the country is 78.3 years. Without our conscious decision to give up our job and move to Hawaii, those physical (and epigenetic) results would never have occurred.

    The bottom line is that epigenetics research illustrates that we are not the genes: We are the living being within these bodies, who can affect and change our genes with our conscious choices.