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Biomedical researcher Robert Lanza has been on the frontier of cloning and stem cell studies for more than a decade, so he's well-acclimated to controversy. But his book "Biocentrism" is generating controversy on a different plane by arguing that our consciousness plays a central role in creating the cosmos.
"By treating space and time as physical things, science picks a completely wrong starting point for understanding the world," Lanza declares.
Any claim that space and time aren't cold, hard, physical things has to raise an eyebrow. Some of the reactions to Lanza's ideas, first set forth two years ago in an essay for The American Scholar, brand them as "pseudo-scientific philosophical claptrap" or "no better than any religion."
Lanza admits that the reviews haven't all been glowing, particularly among some physicists. "Their response has been much how you'd expect priests to respond to stem cell research," he told me Monday.
Other physicists, however, point out that Lanza's view is fully in line with the perspective from quantum mechanics that the observer plays a huge role in how reality is observed.
"So what Lanza says in this book is not new," Richard Conn Henry, a physics and astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University, said in a book review. "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!"
The weird twists in our view of the cosmos are hinted at in the scientific speculation over quantum teleportation, experiments in reverse-time causation, the idea that time has no independent existence, and physicist Stephen Hawkings' suggestion that the universe as we know it is generated through quantum interference involving all possible universes.
Lanza and his co-author, astronomer/columnist Bob Berman, try to assemble all those weird little twists into a larger theory. Rather than laying out the big picture here, I'll let them do it in an exclusive online abridgment:
The authors contend that their view of the cosmos can help resolve all the head-scratching over unifying the fundamental forces, or coming up with a "theory of everything" that covers the submicroscopic world of quantum effects as well as the grand workings of gravity.
There are potential pitfalls, of course. If you merely accept that reality works the way it does because that's how our senses and neurons are structured to perceive it, you could run the risk of shrugging off the search for deeper, truer descriptions of that reality.
One route would be to write off the still-mysterious aspects of our universe (e.g., what dark energy is, or how consciousness arises) as an expression of the anthropic principle. In effect, you're saying, "It's that way just because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to observe it." Another route would be embracing intelligent design ("God did it").
Neither of those routes can be navigated very well using the scientific method, and Lanza and Berman point that out in their book. However, they don't lay out a detailed road map showing how a "biocentric" view of the universe might affect the course of science - other than to say that neuroscience needs more attention and string theory needs less.
Theoretically, one avenue might be to study how our brain organizes the incoming electrical impulses to create the matrix beyond - and tweak that circuitry in different ways. "With a little genetic engineering, you could probably make anything that's red move, or make a noise instead, or even make you feel hungry or want to have sex," Lanza said.
Lanza acknowledges that the step-by-step, objective approach to solving scientific puzzlers is still the way to go when you're focusing on a specific research project, such as turning the medical promise of embryonic stem cells into reality. He knows he's not making all this up.
"Day to day, yes, I can put x number of ml [milliliters] in a Petri dish, and I can predict exactly what the behavior is going to be," he told me.
But Lanza said quantum effects as basic as the two-slit experiment tell us that there's more to life, the universe and everything than milliliters of solution in a dish. "We have this way that we think of space and time on the street. It's day to day, paying your bills," Lanza said. "But when you look at these experiments, that's not what they're telling us. In fact, they're telling us quite the reverse."
According to Robert Lanza biocentrism has seven principles.
A First Principle of Biocentrism: 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.
A Second Principle of Biocentrism: Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.
Third Principle of Biocentrism: 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.
Fourth Principle of Biocentrism: Without consciousness, "matter" dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.
Fifth Principle of Biocentrism: 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.
Sixth Principle of Biocentrism: Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.
Seventh Principle of Biocentrism: 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.
Originally posted by symmetricAvenger
Its not so much that the universe is inside your head but they are both constructs of the same thing IE your MIND..
Now i know that sounds strange but lets look at 2 simple reasons for why and how this is possible..
Does your mind have a shape?
Does the Universe have a shape?
interesting do you think?
do not need some twit with a PHD to work that little cracker out now do we?
that is why we have pattens its a self replicating system.. we are one of the same thing
only that our body is the thing that holds our mind and the universe is just a question
if you can understand that.. you do not know how you formulate a question you only predict its outcome by giving the answer correct?
The universe is a question