Robert Lanza proposed biocentrism in a 2007 essay A New Theory of the Universe published in The American Scholar. Later in 2009 Lanza and Bob Berman coauthored the book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe.
Both his essay and the book serve to propose and discuss the concept of biocentrism, essentially a new way of explaining the fundamentals of the universe we all exist in. In this post, we’ll take a quick glance at the most significant arguments of the theory of biocentrism from a very layperson perspective and try to learn where it stands in the world of scientific research and our progress as a race toward a wholesome understanding of the universe.
What is biocentrism?
Biocentrism is a hypotheis that proposes that the universe exists within our consciousness – it is a subjective product of animal (including humans) brains that ceases to exist at the moment of death or innertia of the consciousness.
It places biology at the center of the universe and challenges the predominance of physics as the primary science of the universe. And it proposes that physics and the physical understanding of the universe remains incomplete without the inclusion of life. It undermines the thought that the universe is outside and we are just miniscule and ineffective participants in the larger scheme of things.
On the contrary, Lanza credits life and consciousness for the creation of a universe that is meticulously designed to support life, rather than attributing the formation of a perfectly balanced universe to a set of coincidences as the Big Bang Theory would suggest.
The key aspects of biocentrism
“It is the biological creature that makes the observations and creates the theories”, therefore, it is imperative that such creatures, in this case humans are considered as active participants while discussing the universe.
Matter achieves formation through the neural and retinal mechanisms extant in the human brain.
Biology is the key science that can explain the existence of the universe when studied in a symbiotic relationship with Physics.
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What is the scope of biocentrism?
“Natural areas of biocentric research include the realm of brain-architecture, neuroscience, and the nature of consciousness itself.” Biocentrism focuses on studying the origin of consciousness as a way of studying the origin of the universe. Just like we are yet to uncover how something came out of nothing in the big bang, we are yet to uncover how consciousness is form out of matter. Or is it the consciousness that forms matter?
Biocentrism, in a way, challenges theoretical physics and its exponents. Lanza writes, “It’s one thing to acknowledge that theoretical physicists are brilliant people even if they do tend to drip food on themselves at buffets. But at some point, virtually everyone has thought, or at least felt: This really doesn’t work. This doesn’t explain anything fundamental, not really.”
He explains, “Scientists have discovered that the universe has a long list of traits that make it appear as if everything it contains — from atoms to stars — was tailor-made just for us.”, as such, biocentrism tries to explain that life itself has devised the environment where it can thrive.
The science behind biocentrism
Nobel laureate in medicine E. Donnall Thomas acknowledged Lanza’s work saying, “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.” Lanza’s arguments are based on scientific principles and experiments like the two-hole test.
Research since the 1920s has shown, “The observer critically influences the outcome. An electron turns out to be both a particle and a wave but how and, more importantly, where such a particle will be located remains dependent upon the very act of observation.”
Emerson wrote in his essay Experience, “We have learned that we do not see directly, but mediately, and that we have no means of correcting these colored and distorting lenses which we are, or of computing the amount of their errors. Perhaps these subject-lenses have a creative power; perhaps there are no objects.”
Based on this, biocentrism, proposes that it is the animal’s creative prowess that gives form and existence to the universe and “the universe and its parameters simply reflect the spatio-temporal logic of animal existence.”
Is biocentrism pseudoscience?
Does biocentrism have empirical proof? No. It is impossible to empirically prove the hypothesis of biocentrism unless we crack the origin of consciousness. Has biocentrism offered any testable predictions? Not yet.
But can it be completely disproved? Not really. While it does have incongruities and Lanza’s work creates more questions than it provides solutions, it doesn’t necessarily confirm that there is no merit in the perspective itself. More research may yet open new vistas. It’s a new way of thinking and surely deserves its fair share of research.