Life Creates the Universe

November 12, 2010 - astronomy / Biocentrism / emergence / physics / quantum

Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe,” by Robert Lanza and Bob Berman, argues for a theory of everything built on biology, not physics.  Lanza writes “according to biocentrism, it’s us, the observer, who create space and time.”  On the surface, Lanza appears to be applying the post-modern turn to the traditional empirical methods of positivist sciences.  It would seem he’s calling for these “hard” sciences to adopt a centering of the observer, that focus on positionality we find in contemporary approaches to interpretation in the social sciences.

Nasa photo

Lanza privileges life and consciousness over physics and takes on the “big questions” that we all ask when presented with the current view of the universe: What was there before the big bang? and  What’s past the edge of the universe?  Lanza’s work is also taking sides in an old debate between Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein about whether there is a “reality” external to our observation and perception.  Einstein said yes, Bohr said:

When we measure something we are forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We are not ‘measuring’ the world, we are creating it.

Lanza is challenging some of the fundamental ideas of current science, ideas that have (in my view) become scientific dogma.  And as a result it would appear that he’s (perhaps unintentionally) building an understanding of the universe wherein science, consciousness, religion, physics and perception are at home together.  And unlike the theories that only attempt to resolve against scientific dogma, one that takes consciousness and culture into consideration would truly be a theory of everything. The most profound conclusion of his theory is that life is not a product of the physical processes of the universe, but quite the opposite: that life creates the universe.

Wikipedia’s summary of the main points of Biocentrism:

  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.