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Why Do We Exist?

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Why in the world do we exist? What sustains us in and above the void of nothingness?

What sustains us in and above the void of nothingness? We can’t see the laws that uphold the world, and that if they be removed the Universe would collapse to nothing.

A series of experiments hold the answer. I recall an ordinary day that made this obvious. Everyone was already at the hospital making morning rounds. “It doesn’t matter,” I thought as I scraped a patch of ice crystals off the window. “I’m already late.” Through the clear area I could see the underlying apparatus of the trees lining the road. The early morning sun slanted down, throwing into gleaming brightness the bare twigs. There was a feeling of mystery contained in that scene, a powerful feeling that something was veiled behind it that wasn’t accounted for in the scientific journals.

I put on my lab coat and set on my way to the university. As I strolled toward the hospital I had a curious impulse to detour round the biology pond. Perhaps I preferred to avoid harsh-etched things before my eyes at morning: the sight of the stainless-steel machines perhaps, or the stark lights in the operating room. It was this that had brought me to pause at the edge of the pond, in undisturbed quiet and solitude. Thoreau would have approved. “Poetry and art,” he wrote “and the fairest and most memorable of the actions of men, date from such an hour.”

It was comforting to overlook the pond, and watch the photons dancing on its surface like so many notes from Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. For an instant my body was beyond affection by the elements, and my mind merged with the whole of nature as much as it has ever been in my life. In that unassuming calm I saw nature, naked and unclothed, as she was for Eiseley and Thoreau. I headed back to the hospital, where morning rounds were nearly finished. A dying woman sat on the bed before me. Outside a songbird had its trill, sitting on a limb over the pond.

Later on, I thought of the secret denied me at dawn when I peeped through that little ice-crystal hole into the morning. “We are too content with our sense organs,” Eiseley once said. “It’s no longer enough to see as a man sees — even to the ends of the universe.” Our radiotelescopes and supercolliders merely extend the perceptions of our mind. We see the finished work only. We don’t see how we are part of the whole, save for a space of perhaps five seconds on some glorious winter morning when all the senses are one.

We scientists have looked at the world for so long that we no longer challenge its reality. Here is the Universe: our sense organs perceive atoms and galaxies to some 14 billion light-years, although we can’t see with the eye of reason, that the world is for us merely a bundle of sensations unified by laws which exist in our understanding. We can’t see the laws that uphold the world; and that if they be removed, the trees and the mountains, indeed the whole Universe, would collapse to nothing.

According to biocentrism, time is the key. Physicists find that almost all models for reality from Newton’s laws through Einstein’s field equations, have no need for time. Time is a biocentric fabrication. To understand this, consider a movie of an archery tournament. If the projector stopped on a single frame, you’d know the position of the arrow with great accuracy — its 20 feet just above the grandstand. But you’ve lost all information about its momentum. It’s going nowhere — its velocity is no longer known. This is the fuzziness described by the uncertainty principle: sharpness in one parameter causes blurriness in the other.

Experiments show that such uncertainty is built into the fabric of reality. This only makes sense from a biocentric perspective: Time is the inner form of animal sense that animates events — the still frames of the spatial world. The mind animates the world like the motor of a projector, weaving spatial states into the “current” of life. It’s happening to you right now. Your eyes can’t see through the cranium; everything you perceive — even this page — is being reconstructed inside your head.

At each moment we’re at the edge of a paradox described by the Greek philosopher Zeno. Since an object can’t occupy two places simultaneously, he contended an arrow is only at one place during any given instant of its flight. To be in one place, however, is to be at rest. The arrow must therefore be at rest at every instant of its flight, and motion is impossible. But is this really a paradox? Or rather, is it proof that time [motion] isn’t a feature of the outer, spatial world, but is rather a conception of thought?

Experiments confirm that Zeno was right. Scientists proved what in the world of quantum physics is equivalent to demonstrating that a watched pot doesn’t boil. This behavior — the “quantum Zeno effect” — turns out to be a function of observation. “It seems,” said Peter Coveney, “that the act of looking at an atom prevents it from changing.” Theoretically, by the tenets of the Zeno effect, if a nuclear bomb were watched intently enough, it wouldn’t explode, that is, if you could keep checking its atoms every million trillionth of a second.

Bizarre? It’s hard to believe the Zeno effect is real. The problem lies not in the experiments, but in our way of thinking, in our failure to accept the evidence. While it’s true Zeno’s paradox can be “explained” through the application of sophisticated mathematical concepts, mathematics is just a way to quantify phenomena and shouldn’t be considered a replacement for it. The Zeno effect is a fact. The uncertainty principle is a fact. Biocentrism is the only humanly comprehensible way to explain them (quantum phenomena are only ‘weird’ in the context of the existing paradigm).

Time is the glue that holds the world together. Without rules to relate one frame (the “past”) with the next frame (the ‘present’) there could be no motion — indeed, life couldn’t exist. When asked if he believed in God, Einstein replied “There must be something behind the energy.” Indeed, that something is the mind. At the most irreducible level, space and time are defined by electromagnetic energy (E=mc2 tells us that all matter is made up of energy). The electric component generates a magnetic field, leapfrogging through space (at the speed of light) via a mathematical relationship that infuses temporal information into the bottom of the world.

This isn’t, you understand, an illusion. Spinoza’s genius sensed this back in the 17th century. To be conscious of space and time, he explained, is to transcend space and time. The mind transcends space and time in the sense that they are for it and it’s not in them. This is why, in real experiments with entangled particles, it appears that things are instantaneously connected behind the physical world as if there’s no space or time between them. This is also why, in yet other experiments, particles seem to spring into existence only when they’re observed. However, this is — the critics will charge — on the one hand, old news; on the other, headline-simplified.

For myself, five seconds on a winter’s morning is the most convincing evidence I should ever need. One can’t but come closer to God or Heaven than to merge oneself with the universal order of things. To become, as it were, part of nature. As Thoreau said of Walden Pond:

“I am its stony shore,
And the breeze that passes o’er;
In the hollow of my hand
Are its water and its sand…

Biocentrism” (BenBella Books) lays out Lanza’s theory of everything.

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Tags: Albert Einstein, Biocentrism, Existence, Henry David Thoreau, Human Existence, Newton, Physical World, Quantum Physics, Quantum Theory, Reality, Space, Spinoza, The Universe, Time, Zeno, Zeno’s Arrow