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Robert Lanza, M.D. Headshot

Biocentrism, The New Face Of The Cosmos

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Five hundred years ago people used to think the earth was flat. Evidence to the contrary was dismissed as absurd: "If the world was really a ball of rock," some claimed "people at the bottom would fall off." And before Galileo, it seemed stupid to think that we were whirling around the sun at 67 thousand miles per hour. It would have blown the hair off our head, right? Once again, puzzles of science are forcing a rethink of the world that goes far beyond anything people think is possible. Biocentrism explains how life is not a mere accident of physics, but rather is essential to the existence of the universe.

A string of new scientific experiments suggest the universe is not the dreary play of billiard balls that we've been taught since grade school. For all intents and purposes, our view of the world is the same as a chipmunk or a squirrel. The squirrel opens his eyes and the acorn is just miraculously there - he grabs it and scurries up the tree without further thought. We humans aren't any different: we wake up in the morning and- and voilà! -the world is just magically there. We think there are all these atoms 'out there' just bouncing around whether we're looking at them or not.

However, experiments have routinely shown just the opposite: Particles don't have real properties if no one is observing. Consider the famous two-hole experiment. When scientists watch a particle pass through two holes in a barrier, the particle behaves like a bullet and goes through one hole or the other. But if you don't watch, it acts like a wave and can go through both holes at the same time.

Bizarre, right? But these are real experiments that have been carried out so many times that no physicist questions them. In fact, the results have been described as impossible to comprehend. Richard Feynman, the Nobel physicist, once said: "I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, 'But how can it be like that?' because you will go 'down the drain' into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped." But biocentrism makes sense of it all for the first time.

Consider the color and brightness of everything you see 'out there.' On its own, light doesn't have any color or brightness at all. The unquestionable reality is that nothing remotely resembling what you see could be present without your consciousness. Consider the weather: We step outside and see a blue sky - but the cells in our brain could easily be changed so we 'see' red or green instead. We think it feels hot and humid, but to a tropical frog it would feel cold and dry. In any case, you get the point. This logic applies to virtually everything.

Consider space and time themselves. What are they? Wave your hand through the air. If you take everything away, what's left? The answer is nothing. So why do we pretend space is a thing? The same thing applies for time - you can't put it in a bottle like milk. Space and time are not objects. Look at anything - say the print on this page. You can't see it through the bone that surrounds your brain. No, everything you see and experience right now is an organized whirl of information occurring in your mind. It's all organized in your head in techicolor. That is, unless you're colorblind - then your brain weaves objects together without colors. In fact, with a little genetic engineering, you could probably make everything that's red vibrate or make a noise instead, or even make you want to have sex. Space and time are simply the mind's tools for putting everything together.

The structure of the universe itself is probably the best argument for biocentrism. It has a long list of traits that make it appear as if everything - from atoms to stars - was tailor-made just for us. For instance, if the Big Bang was just one part in a million more powerful, the cosmos would have blown outward too fast to allow stars and worlds to form. Result: No us. There are over 200 parameters so exact that it strains credulity to propose that they are random. Tweak any of them and you never existed. None of them are predicted by any theory -- they all seem carefully chosen, often with great precision, to allow for existence of life. The only scientific explanation (the so-called 'Anthropic Principle') says that we must find these conditions, because if we're alive, what else could we find? Of course, this isn't really an explanation unless you claim that there are an infinite number of universes and we just happen to be in the lucky-one. But there is no evidence whatsoever for these other universes anymore than there is for the existence of the Easter Bunny. The only real explanation is biocentrism, which explains how the universe is created by life, not the other way around.

According to biocentrism, space and time are not hard, cold physical objects, but rather forms of animal sense perception. When we speak of time, we inevitably describe it in terms of change. But change is not the same thing as time. Consider Heisenberg's famous 'uncertainty principle.' If there was really a world out there with particles just bouncing around, then you should be able to measure all their properties. But it turns out you can't - for instance, a particle's exact location and momentum cannot be known at the same time. They're like the man and the women in the cuckoo-clock - when one goes in the other comes out. This uncertainty is built in the fabric of the universe, but no one has a clue why. It only makes sense if we accept the fact that the universe is biocentric.

Consider a film of an archery tournament. An archer shoots an arrow and the camera follows its trajectory. Suddenly the projector stops on a single frame -- you stare at the image of an arrow in mid-flight. The pause enables you to know the position of the arrow with great accuracy, but it's going nowhere; its velocity is no longer known. This is the fuzziness described by in the uncertainty principle: sharpness in one parameter induces blurriness in the other. All of this makes perfect sense from a biocentric perspective. Everything we perceive is actively being reconstructed inside our heads. Time is simply the summation of the 'frames' occurring inside the mind. But change doesn't mean there is an actual invisible matrix called "time" in which changes occur. That is just our own way of making sense of things.

There is a peculiar intangibility to space, as well. We can't pick it up and bring it to the laboratory. Like time, space is not a thing or object. It is part of our mental software that molds sensations into multidimensional objects. We think of space as a vast container that has no walls. But this is false. Distances between objects change depending on conditions like gravity and velocity, so that there is no absolute distance between anything and anything else.

By treating space and time as fundamental and independent things, we pick a completely wrong starting point for understanding the world. In fact, new experiments are starting to confirm that quantum effects apply to the everyday world of human-scale objects.

Biocentrism unlocks the cage we have unwittingly confined ourselves. A new paradigm is usually considered nonsense from within the existing paradigm. But allowing the observer into the equation opens new approaches to understanding everything from the tiny world of the atom to our views of life and death. Above all, biocentrism offers a more promising way to bring together all of science as scientists have been attempting to do ever since Einstein. Until we recognize the universe in our heads, attempts to truly understand the world will remain a road to nowhere.

Adapted from Biocentrism by Robert Lanza with Bob Berman, published by BenBella Books.

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