Experiments suggest that there are consequences to our actions that transcend our ordinary, classical way of thinking. Emerson was right: “Every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty.”
I remember a warm night in the summer, sitting out fishing in the pond. Now and then I could feel the vibrations along the line linking me with the life prowling about the bottom. At length I pulled some bass, squeaking and gasping into the air. It was an epistemological puzzle to feel a tug, and to be conscious at the same time of a part of me that, as it were, wasn’t a part of me, but scale and fin, circling the hook, slow to strike.
Surely this is what Spinoza meant when he contended that consciousness can’t exist simply in space and time, and at the same time is aware of the interrelations of all parts of space and time. In order to have knowledge of a pout or a pickerel, I must have somehow been identical with them.
How can this be, you ask? How is it managed, that for real experiments with electrons, that a single particle can be at two places at once? See the loon in the pond or the North Star? How deceptive is the space that separates them and makes them solitary. Aren’t they the subjects of the same reality that interested John Bell, the physicist who proposed the experiment that once and for all answered the question of whether what happens locally is affected by nonlocal events?
Experiments from 1997 to 2007 have shown that this is indeed the case; in one recent study, entangled particles were sent zooming along optical fibers until they were seven miles apart. But whatever action they took, the communication between them happened instantaneously (faster than the speed of light). This is what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” Today no one doubts the connectedness between bits of light or matter, or even entire clusters of atoms. They’re intimately linked in a manner suggesting there’s no space between them, and no time influencing their behavior.
Everything you experience is a whirl of information occurring in your head; according to Biocentrism, space and time are simply the mind’s tools for putting it all together. However solid and real the walls of space and time have come to look, there is a part of us that is no more human than it is animal – even the fish, sporting there in the pond, a part of us unwittingly tempted by a bunch of worms strung on a thread.
As parts of such a whole there is natural justice. The bird and the prey are one. This was the world that confronted me there by the pond that warm summer night. “Lanza and the modern anthropics,” a respondent once wrote, “like to imagine humans in the place of Berkeley’s God, using some smart quantum theory to bolster their opinions” (New Scientist, Feb 23, 1991). We’re sure we’re not connected to the fish in the pond, for they have scales and fin and we don’t have any.
The situation is not unlike the one Alice found herself in Wonderland. “‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar. Alice replied, “I—I hardly know, Sir… ‘Who in the World am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle! …‘I’m sure I’m not Ada,’ she said, ‘For her hair goes in such long ringlets, and mine doesn’t go in ringlets at all; and I’m sure I can’t be Mabel, for I know all sorts of things, and she, oh, she knows such a very little. Besides, she’s she, and I’m I, and—oh dear, how puzzling it all is!”
“Non-separability,” Bernard d’Espagnat said, “is now one of the most certain general concepts in physics.” There’s a part of us that’s connected to the fish in the pond. It’s the part that experiences consciousness, not in our external embodiments but in our inner being. We can only imagine and recollect things while in the body, for sensations and memories are molded into knowledge and thought in the brain. And although we identify ourselves with our thoughts and affections, it’s an essential feature of reality that we experience the world piece by piece, as, for instances, each of the fish that I caught that summer.
We think there’s an enclosing wall, a circumference to us. We suppose ourselves to be a pond; and if there’s any consequence to our actions, if there’s any justice, it must approach upon these shores. Yet that night, I sensed the union that the one man and creature has with the other. The fish and I, the criminal and the victim, are one and the same. Justice is built into the fabric of nature. Make no mistake about it: it’ll be you who looks out the eyes of the victim or the recipient of kindness — whichever you choose. Nature’s justice is inescapable and absolute.
This is therefore the indispensable prelude to justice, and its highest form; we’re forced to recall the words of John Donne, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Science is just beginning to grasp the non-linear dimensionality of nature. Heinz Pagels, the esteemed physicist, once stated: “If you deny the objectivity of the world, unless you observe it and are conscious of it (as most physicists have), then you end up with solipsism – the belief that your consciousness is the only one.”
This may not unsettle you, except perhaps on a warm moonlit night with a fish gasping for life at the end of your rod. I knew then, at that moment, that Pagel’s conclusion was right. Only it wasn’t my consciousness that was the only one, it was ours. According to biocentrism, our individual separateness is an illusion.
There’s no doubt; that consciousness which was behind the youth I once was, was also behind the mind of every animal and person existing in space and time. “There are,” wrote Loren Eiseley, noted anthropologist, “very few youths today who will pause, coming from a biology class, to finger a yellow flower or poke in friendly fashion at a sunning turtle on the edge of the campus pond, and who are capable of saying to themselves, ‘We are all one – all melted together.’”
Clearly, all life can be traced back to some single-celled organism in the early Archean sea. We’re all interrelated, part of single absolute being.
Yes, I thought, we are all one. I let the fish go. With a thrash of the tail, I disappeared into the pond.
“Biocentrism” (BenBella Books) lays out Lanza’s theory of everything.