|In the eye of the beholder|
What follows is part one of a three-part series. I thought about keeping the subject matter limited to a single post of 1,000 words but the topic of Biocentrism is simply too grand to comply with such arbitrarily enforced restrictions/constrictions. The first part will describe the theory of Biocentrism in all its majestic glory and experimental evidence cited in support of the theory. In subsequent posts, I’ll consider the theory's implications for our conception of reality and look at some of the objections raised against Biocentrism.
The flaxen haired one is not averse/adverse to considering and discussing weird stuff. Once in a while however I come across an idea so strange, and on the first inspection, so asinine, that I’m willing to dismiss it without undue contemplation. Remember the dictum: ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’. Usually, the ideas originate with the swivel-eyed conspiracy brigade but on this occasion, the idea comes from a respected and eminent scientist. Now, it wouldn’t be the first time a scientist has gone rogue or maverick and started to spout utter and complete bollocks. But in this instance, the scientist in question cites the behaviour of the quantum world to support the thrust of his thesis. The scientist is Dr Robert Lanza and his theory is called Biocentrism. Dr Lanza is a highly respected medical doctor and stem cell researcher. He was the first researcher to elicit stem cells from adult cells using somatic cell nuclear transfer. He has been described as a genius and considering his intellectual credentials it behoves serious individuals to seriously review his speculations. For those who seek a deeper knowledge of Dr Lanza’s theories, I suggest reading his two volumes on the subject, ‘Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe’ and ‘Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death’; they make a riveting read.
Biocentrism in a nutjob, er I mean nutshell: Life is the centre and ultimate meaning of the universe. For the universe to exist consciousness must exist to contemplate it. The universe is without form or organisation unless contemplated by the conscious mind which imparts form and order to the universe. The conventional view, held by the majority of scientists, is that the universe was formed by the big bang and once the universe cooled, stars and planets formed. On our planet, the conditions were conducive to life formation and evolution to higher organisms. Thus, Biocentrism overturns and reverses this commonly accepted paradigm. Instead of seeking a theory of everything based on physics (Grand Unified Theory). A theory of everything should be based on biology instead. Heady stuff indeed.
Dr Lanza argues that Biocentrism is a logical development of established and widely accepted notions. Firstly, the universe is finely fine-tuned for the existence of organised matter. And without organisation, there could be no life. Consider that there are over 200 physical constants. If the value of any one of these constants varied by just a small amount the universe would be unable to exhibit order and therefore the existence of life would not be possible. Another point concerns our sense perception. Our view of the world, 'our reality', is conditioned by how our sensory apparatus works and how our brain interprets the data it receives from our sense organs. Therefore, what we consider ‘reality’ depends on our subjective interpretation of wave data. Dr Lanza would argue that objective reality does not exist without the biological observer. Still with me? This idea is not entirely new and echoes the words of the great physicist, Niels Bohr: “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”.
Dr Lanza cites observations of the quantum world that appear to have bewildering and disturbing outcomes not easily explained by conventional models of the universe. Behold the double slit experiment first performed by Thomas Young in 1801. In this experiment, light is passed simultaneously through two slits and the resultant light pattern is viewed on a piece of white card. When this experiment is performed we observe the classic wave diffraction pattern consistent with light existing as a wave. More sophisticated versions of the experiment have subsequently been performed using lasers and electron beams. For convenience, I’ll consider the experiments performed with electrons. Firing electrons through two slits will show a typical diffraction pattern expected for a wave. However, if only one slit is open the resultant pattern on the card is what we would expect if the electrons were acting as particles (wave/particle duality). A bit strange you might think but is going to get worse. If we now open the second slit to allow electrons to pass through we observe a refraction pattern consistent with a wave. Let us now fire the electrons one at a time through both slits. This time the electron will pass through either the left slit or the right slit. And indeed when electrons are passed multiple times through the slits we observe a pattern again consistent with the wave model. In the next experiment, a detector is placed next to the slits to determine which slit the single electron will pass through. This is where it starts to get spooky strange. The result: instead of a wave interference pattern we detect a particle pattern! The act of detection appears to have changed the result. It is as if the electrons are aware of being observed or not. Other, more sophisticated experiments (see Quantum Eraser Experiment), confirm these findings. Why we obtain this result is a fundamental problem in quantum mechanics known as the ‘Measurement Problem’ and a Noble prize awaits the person who can come up with a coherent scientific solution. This rather thorough exposition of the experiment is necessary in order to continue our discussion of Biocentrism.
|Classic experiment showing light as waves|
So what has this got to do with the theory of Biocentrism? If consciousness is formulating reality and the universe then the bizarre results obtained in the above experiments can be readily explained. This in no way ‘proves’ the theory, but merely shows that the results are consistent with the theory, or at least with certain interpretations of the theory. The following posts on this topic will consider the theory in more depth and will involve a discussion and critique of the salient philosophical and scientific ramifications of the theory. Hold on to your hats it is going to be a rough ride.