Controlling the Immune System
At the beginning of this essay, I discussed having an ear infection and asking the Holy Spirit how to take care of it. By "coincidence" I had come across a book on Intelligent Design a few days earlier that had discussed inefficiencies of the immune system, more specifically the B Lymphocyte/antibody subsystem. While working through the comment about "variance managing 3-D solids", that inefficiency came to mind, and I thought to myself "You know, the antibody immune system could do with some Intelligent guidance to be really effective.... HEY! Holy Spirit, could you make my immune system produce antibodies specific to my ear infection?"
Within three hours, the pain in my right ear had subsided, and by the next day, the only pain in it was due to TMJ of the joint under it. Even as I write, the pain from the joint has gone down considerably since then. [Note 01/26/09: The persistent jaw pain from TMJ is almost gone. Some pain is still there when the muscles are exercised. My impression is that, after having taken care of the root cause of the TMJ, the Spirit is leaving the job of finishing the cure to my natural body repair mechanisms. As I continue living the Christian life symbiotically, I find that this interplay between the work of the Symbiote and the work of the Host is repeated and reflected at all levels.]
To say that I was astounded is an understatement. This happened shortly before the start of the cold season, and there were at least four separate times when I felt that I was coming down with the flu or a cold, called upon the Holy Spirit to tweak the immune system to suppress it, and "shook it off". I say "shook it off" in quotes, because I know I should have failed at least two of those four times based on experience gained over the last several years. The feeling of being in control of a subsystem normally viewed as autonomous is frustratingly indescribable.
A quick description of how the B Lymphocyte/antibody immune subsystem works is in order: every antibody is a combined protein complex shaped like a "Y". The base stem of the "Y" is constant, while the two "tines" of the fork of the "Y" are variable. The variableness of the tines is completely random, and there are up to a billion possible amino acid combinations of the variable portions of the antibody. Each antibody, by virtue of the uniqueness of the variable portions of the tines, is coded to attach itself to the specific and unique protein "coat" that is "worn" as the surface of an invading bacterium or virus (pathogen). Quite literally, the vast proportion of antibodies in your body are designed to detect and attach to pathogens that do not exist and which you may never encounter. In other words, it is entirely by chance that a B-cell with the right antibody attaches to the coat of an invading pathogen. Once the attachment is made, however, the immune system is very good at replicating the B-cell that produces the antibody, effectively creating a huge army of B-cells tuned to that pathogen ("acquired immunity").
Unfortunately, it appears that there are protein coats worn by existing pathogens for which there are few, or no, amino acid combinations that the antibody can create to detect those pathogens, requiring the use of antibiotics to kill the bacteria. The AIDS virus is an example of a virus whose coat is not only un-detectable by antibodies, but which attacks essential T-cells that make up the immune system. The technology of monoclonal antibodies involves the systematic development and reproduction of specific antibodies, but because there are no B-cells that can mass-produce those "man-made" antibodies, the infected person is dependent on regular injections of the specific monoclonal antibodies tuned to his disease. Finally, there are auto-immune disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis, where the immune system has produced an antibody that matches the protein coat of the mylin sheath of nerve cells, leading the immune system to attack a vital body part.
The Symbiotic Refinery
Once we see how the B Lymphocyte/antibody immune subsystem works, it immediately becomes obvious that adding some "intelligence" would make the whole system work more efficiently: that's the premise behind monoclonal antibodies ("designer antibodies"). My experience indicates that the Holy Spirit, working in cooperation with the Host, can provide that intelligence, implying that affecting the Immune system is isopistic with respect to affecting neurotransmitter secretion.
The actual mechanism, once we think about it, is quite obvious: if the Holy Spirit can pop, or inhibit the popping of, vesicles in neurons, what keeps it from affecting the vesicles of other cells? Neurons are not the only cells in the body, but they happen to be the most imporant cells in the body: if the Holy Spirit is given permission to affect neurons, which He proceeds to do, what prevents us from giving Him permission to affect B-cell production within bone marrow? If the Holy Spirit can affect cellular vesicles, then He can certainly affect the (much smaller!) portions of the B-cell's DNA that determine the variable proteins that the affected B-cell will produce. Those customized B-cells subsequently interact with the pathogen in the manner that nature normally dictates. Further, this restriction of His manipulation of the immune system to the DNA of developing B-cells accounts for the three to four hour period between my request of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the abatement of the discomfort caused by the pathogen, since one would expect that it would take that much time time for the retargeted bone marrow to produce sufficient quantities of the spiritually modified B-cells and put them into the blood stream for transport to the site of infection for relief to appear. Antibiotics have a similar delay between initial administration and the appearance of the first signs of relief.
We shall see this pattern of the Spirit affecting the human by intervening at the early stages of cell birth appearing again in the essay concerning increasing one's faith.
In this part, as the section title suggests, I make several conjectures for which I have no proof other than good engineering sense guiding a creative application of the known capability of the Holy Spirit to affect sub-cellular structures. Think of this section as a transcript of a brainstorming session to come up with potentially fruitful research directions, not reports of discovered and verified capabilities.
I have discussed how the Holy Spirit can interact with the bone marrow to produce "designer" B-cells that produce "designer" (monoclonal) antibodies that would act against a pathogen that "naturally produced" B-cell antibodies cannot affect. It is possible that AIDS is a virus with a protein coat that is not handled by normal B-cell randomization processes, requiring the development of specific B-cells to handle the pathogen. I conjecture that the Holy Spirit can design and deploy a "designer" B-cell that can target and destroy AIDS
Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, including some of very strange origin and very difficult to cure. All of these involve the immune system developing antibodies against the other cells of the host body. Many treatment regimes include chemotherapy. Originally developed to combat cancer, chemotherapy has the bad side-effect of destroying the immune system. When it comes to autoimmune diseases, this "side-effect" is the desired outcome: It is hoped that by destroying the immune system, the B-cells that are producing the antibody that is the causative agent of the Autoimmune disease are also killed. This can be likened to "rebooting" the immune system with the hope that the new incarnation doesn't haphazardly re-create the culprit B-cells. It IS a rather drastic form of treatment: if an autoimmune disease is likened to the immune system "cowboys" having a brawl in the "body saloon", chemotherapy would be likened to machine-gunning the entire clientele, hoping that later customers will be more civil. My conjecture is that the Holy Spirit should be able to cure autoimmune diseases caused by errant B-cells by selectively destroying them. To use our saloon analogy, this would be similar to the Holy Spirit yelling "KNOCK IT OFF!", then using a sniper rifle to pick off the ones refusing to obey.
It should not surprise us if there is a good side to an autoimmune disorder. Many cancer cells develop within protective sacs while becoming tumors that shield them from the immune system whose protein coats are not within the randomization space of B-cell produced antibodies. I conjecture that the Holy Spirit can initiate an autoimmune response by causing certain B-cells to be produced that targets the protein structure of the protective outer layers of cancer tumors. I also conjecture that, of all the cancers, lukemia would be the most easily curable. Finally, there is the option of the Holy Spirit destroying the cancer cells directly.
The previous paragraph page implied that the Holy Spirit has the capability of destroying cells within the body. This capability is isopistic to neurotransmitter secretion because both require the "controlled rupturing" of cellular organelles to cause the release of their contents. When it comes to neurotransmitters, the organelles are vesicles that are constructed to store the neurotransmitters that the cell produces. When it comes to destroying cells, the organelles affected are called lysosomes, which are responsible for destroying, via digestion, old and broken cellular proteins and structures. These vesicles are unique in that they have a different membrane structure that is capable of withstanding the powerful digestive enzymes attacking it from within. Cell death can occur if enough lysosomes within it rupture, causing the cell to digest itself in the same way that a stomach ulcer is the stomach digesting itself. This is not conjecture, but a logical capability if the ability to destroy vesicles is extended to lysosomes.
There is this interesting passage in Zechariah 14:12 that may be pertinent to this aspect of the Holy Spirit's capability in the area of lysosome rupture:
And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
This is exactly the effect that mass lysosome ruptures in these body parts would exhibit. The shape and integrity of these body organs is dependent on intact cell membranes and internal cell structures, which the powerful digestive enzymes within lysosomes can dissolve. The hebrew phrase "consume away" has "to rot" or "to rot away" as possible sub-definitions. Rotting is the natural process of cell membranes and cell structures losing integrity and falling apart. Thus, it is possible for the Holy Spirit to selectively kill cancer cells by rupturing their lysosomes in the same way that He generates and suppresses thoughts by rupturing selected neuronal vescicles. Those who think that the Holy Spirit would never kill anything, and certainly not the wicked, should really study their bibles more.
Rather chillingly, there are indications that this capability may prove useful with regard to increasing one's faith. However, my belief is that more research and thinking about the implications is required, so discussion of this isopistic capability will be deferred to the essay regarding increasing one's faith. [July 3, 2010 Edit: The hypothesis I was conjecturing here was that "doubt neurons" could be destroyed using Spirit-initiated lysolysis. This conjecture proved a dry hole after repeated attempts by a co-researcher, Glenn Davies, to implement it. In reviewing the circumstances, I was lead to realize that "doubt neurons" obviously have their proper place in the neurological environment since they obviously existed in Adam and Eve. The problem is not that doubt cells exist, for without them, we would be quite gullible creatures too wiling to believe everything, including falsehoods! Rather, the problem is that they have been trained to doubt the wrong things, just as Adam and Eve were tricked into doubting God rather than (properly) doubting the serpent. The re-education of doubt cells thus falls under Stage 2 (Illumination) capabilities. Thus, I direct my readers to the essay on tests and trials, whose writing lead to this deeper understanding, and apolgize for this misapprehension, asking for indulgence due to the necessarily contingent nature of early research when it is corrected and expanded by later findings.]
I write this on March 25, 2009 when Spring, and the allergy season, are in full swing. Pine tree pollen is everywhere, at times thick enough to show up as drifts of yellow "snow". The stuff is so thick in the air, I am having problems with clumps getting into my eyes, where my hard contact lenses amplifies the pain.
Yet, quite surprisingly, I do not have any allergies serious enough to warrant taking any medication, while there are people around me suffering from runny noses. I am very slightly aware that an allergic state of affairs is in the air, and that awareness sits so lightly that it is very easy to ignore. Even more surprisingly, I DO sometimes get into sneezing fits, but almost always when I mentally note to myself that I am NOT suffering from allergies! What's happening?
I should really have anticipated this: allergies are caused by an overreacting immune system that mistakes generally innocuous substances as dangerous intruders. I had concentrated so much in the above discussion about the positive manipulation of the immune system that I had not considered how to test the conjecture of a negative manipulation of the immune system. Such a negative manipulation would be necessary to combat the auto-immune disorders mentioned earlier on this page, as well as multiple sclerosis. I had not done so, hoping that sufferers of those disorders reading this page would undertake a suppressive campaign themselves. It had not occurred to me that allergies were caused by a similar mechanism, distinguished only by magnitude. Allergy control would be accomplished by a selective "turning down" (negatively manipulating) immune system production of the antigens sensitive to the allergens. This seems to have been the case with me.
The anomalous behavior, where I get symptoms when I think about it or see others having it, is not proof that I am merely imagining suppression, for to imagine suppression is to think about not having the allergy. It is to think "I do not have an allergy." The behavior's timing is all wrong, for I do not have the allergy symptoms while I am not thinking about it at all, positively or negatively. Also, the way hypochondria works is to imagine that one has a disease when one actually does not have it. It is a different matter to have a disease or condition that has symptoms, and one imagines that one doesn't have it: that is not hypochondria!
I believe the anomalous behavior is deliberate on the part of the Holy Spirit symbiote, for I would have blissfully cruised through the allergy season totally oblivious to this remarkably important work of His within me. Indeed, it appears that He is quite insistent on this being such a work of grace (totally unmerited favor) that any attempt on my part to "cooperate" is being met with deliberate cessation of said work.
Even the low level of "awareness of having an allergy" is easily explainable: I recently overheated myself and took off the long-sleeve gym shirt I normally wear in the house. I cooled off, then began to get cold, at which point I started violently sneezing from my allergy. I got the "thought" to put the shirt back on, and within a minute of doing so the sneezing fit ceased. I conjecure that the antibody that is initiating the reaction by attaching itself to the allergen I am sensitive is also responsible for attaching to a specific bacterium. The Spirit seems to be doing an exquisite balancing act of managing the antibody levels so that they are not so high that they would cause an allergic reaction in the presence of the allergen, but not too low to leave the body defenseless against the bacterium against whom the antibody is supposed to activate the immune system. I would doubtless have "cooperated" the antibody into total non-production, leaving me with a perfectly clear nose with no sense of any allergy at all, but defenseless against a specific infection. My allergy is not gone, merely greatly suppressed to a point where it is no longer a distraction.
This is a result of considerable importance: the current treatment for Muscular Distrophy is the administration of a compound that essentially ties up the antibody that treats the sufferer's nerve sheath as an allergen, and the treatment's side effects indicate that the antibody doesn't have a dual role like mine seems to have. Symbiotic suppression of production of the antibody seems quite feasable. However, I counsel those who want to pursue this avenue further for personal reasons to keep in mind that ceasing production doesn't suppress the existing inventory. That is, an immediate cessation of symptoms should not be expected. Rather, I conjecture that the magnitude and frequency of attacks, and the intensity of symptoms, will exponentially decrease as the existing inventory is burned out in a pattern similar to the decay of radioactive material.
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