Also known as morphic fields, it's a theory originated by Rupert Sheldrake concerning the epigenetic memory of living systems. It presents an alternative to mechanistic-thinking in the biological sciences. A morphogenetic field, or morphic field, is the collective memory of a given species. Every species is embedded in its own field which affects the knowledge, behavior, and intelligence of each member of the species. Rupert Sheldrake actually ascribes the property of "life" to anything in the physical universe, thus implying that morphic fields exist for atoms, molecules, rocks, the sun, and even the laws of physics.

Evidence for this theory abounds. At Harvard University, over a ten year period, many generations of rats were trained to escape from a maze. Each new generation was able to learn how to escape quicker than the previous generation. At the end of ten years, the rats could escape ten times quicker than the original rats. Interestingly, this change occurred in all rats of the same species, not just the genetic descendents of the original rats. In fact, the change occurred in rats of the same species in other parts of the world. The term given by Rupert Sheldrake for this type of phenomenon is morphic resonance, wherein the creative/original/useful knowledge or memory of one or more individuals of a species is propagated to the rest of the species through the medium of the morphogenetic field.

More empirical evidence for the theory results from observation of the blue tit, a European bird. The blue tits learned how to steal cream from the top of milk bottles delivered to the doorsteps of houses. Eventually, blue tits all over Europe were performing the same theivery. When World War II arrived, however, milk delivery was stopped in Holland. It started up again when the war ended eight years later. In a very short time, the birds were back to stealing the cream. The strange thing is, blue tits only live three years. That means two generations of blue tits had gone by without milk delivery and yet their descendents still knew how to steal the cream.

In the human world, evidence of morphic fields is limitless. Some well-known examples are the simultaneous and independent formulation of the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. The same thing happened when Isaac Newton and G.W. Leibniz independently invented calculus.

For more information, see Rupert Sheldrake's "The Presence of the Past"

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