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Biocentrism (cosmology)

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Biocentrism (from Greek: βίος, bios, “life”; and κέντρον, kentron, “center”) — also known as the biocentric universe — is a theory proposed in 2007 by American scientist Robert Lanza. In this view, life and biology are central to being, reality, and the cosmos — life creates the universe rather than the other way around. Biocentrism asserts that current theories of the physical world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness.

Lanza’s biocentric theory builds on quantum physics. While physics is considered fundamental to the study of the universe, and chemistry fundamental to the study of life, biocentrism places biology before the other sciences to produce a theory of everything. Critics have questioned whether the theory is falsifiable. Lanza has argued that future experiments, such as scaled-up quantum superposition, will either support or contradict the theory.

Theory

Lanza argues that the primacy of consciousness features in the work of Descartes, Kant, Leibniz, Berkeley, Schopenhauer, and Bergson. He sees this as supporting the central claim that what we call space and time are forms of animal sense perception, rather than external physical objects. Lanza argues that biocentrism offers insight into several major puzzles of science, including Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle principle, the double-slit experiment, and the fine tuning of the forces, constants, and laws that shape the universe as we perceive it. According to a Discover magazine article adapted from Lanza’s book, “biocentrism offers a more promising way to bring together all of physics, as scientists have been trying to do since Einstein’s unsuccessful unified field theories of eight decades ago.”

Lanza’s theory of biocentrism has seven principles:

  1. 1. What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness. An “external” reality, if it existed, would by definition have to exist in space. But this is meaningless, because space and time are not absolute realities but rather tools of the human and animal mind.
  2. Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.
  3. The behavior of subatomic particles, indeed all particles and objects, is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves.
  4. Without consciousness, “matter” dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.
  5. The structure of the universe is explainable only through biocentrism. The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around. The “universe” is simply the complete spatio-temporal logic of the self.
  6. Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.
  7. Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space is another form of our animal understanding and does not have an independent reality. We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.

Reception

David Thompson, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that Lanza’s “work is a wake-up call.” Nobel laureate E. Donnall Thomas said, “Any short statement does not do justice to such a scholarly work. The work is a scholarly consideration of science and philosophy that brings biology into the central role in unifying the whole.” Wake Forest University scientist and professor of medicine Anthony Atala stated, “This new theory is certain to revolutionize our concepts of the laws of nature for centuries to come.” Richard Conn Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, pointed out that Lanza’s theory is consistent with quantum mechanics: “What Lanza says in this book is not new. Then why does Robert have to say it at all? It is because we, the physicists, do NOT say it––or if we do say it, we only whisper it, and in private––furiously blushing as we mouth the words. True, yes; politically correct, hell no!” Indian physician and writer Deepak Chopra stated that “Lanza’s insights into the nature of consciousness [are] original and exciting” and that “his theory of biocentrism is consistent with the most ancient wisdom traditions of the world which says that consciousness conceives, governs, and becomes a physical world. It is the ground of our Being in which both subjective and objective reality come into existence.”