Adapted from The Grand Biocentric Design, by Robert Lanza and Matej Pavsic, published by BenBella Books (2020).
“Who,” Loren Eiseley once asked, “whimsically conceived that the plot of the world should begin in a mud puddle and end—where and with whom?”
As a young boy growing up Catholic, I was taught that “God” did it. From some hidden celestial vantage point, I was being scrutinized and watched by the Supreme Creator, perhaps almost as narrowly as I, as a medical student with a microscope, would one day scrutinize the cells growing in a petri dish. If, indeed, God had made the world, then who made God?
Of course, science tells us the universe popped into existence one day in a huge explosion humorously called the “Big Bang.” After finishing college and medical school I began to ask, in my new sophistication, less naive questions: If, indeed, the universe arose from the Big Bang, then what happened before it?
In all directions, the current scientific paradigm leads to insoluble enigmas, to ideas that are ultimately irrational. But since World Wars I and II there has been an unprecedented burst of discovery. Although still unbalanced by this sudden growth, our worldview will soon catch up with the facts, and the old physiocentric paradigm will be replaced with a new biocentric one that can address some of the core questions asked since the beginning of civilization.
Growing up during this period, I encountered the opposition to such new ways of thinking. As a boy, I lay awake at night and imagined my life as a scientist, peering at wonders through a microscope. But the reality was far from this dream. My school was separated into three classes of opportunity -- A, B and C. I was placed in C-class, a repository for those destined for manual, trade labor. My best friend was in A-class -- why him and not me? It was a challenge, especially after an exchange with his mother. "Do you think I could become a scientist?" I asked. "If I tried hard, could I be a doctor " "Good gracious," she responded, explaining that she'd never known anyone in the C class to become a doctor, but that I'd make an excellent carpenter or a plumber.
The next day I decided to enter the science fair, which put me in direct competition with the A-class. My friend's parents took him to museums and created an impressive display for his rocks. My project—animals—included souvenirs from my various excursions: insects, feathers, and bird eggs. It won me second place behind my friend's project on rocks. Even in fifth grade I was convinced that life—not material and rocks—was the cornerstone of existence. It was a complete reversal of the natural scheme of things taught in our schoolbooks—that is, atoms and physics at the base of the world, followed by chemistry, and then biology and life.
Science fairs were a way to show up those who labeled me for my family's circumstances. Once, after my sister was suspended, the principal told my mother that she wasn't fit to be a parent. By trying earnestly, I tried to improve my situation. I applied myself to an ambitious attempt to alter the genetic makeup of white chickens and make them black. It was before the era of genetic engineering and my biology teacher said it was impossible; my chemistry teacher was blunter, saying, "Lanza, you're going to hell." Before the fair a friend predicted I'd win. "Ha-ha," the whole class laughed. When I won, the principal had to congratulate my mother in front of the whole school.
During my scientific career, I continued to encounter this kind of intolerance to new ideas. Can you clone a species using eggs from another? Can you generate stem cells without destroying embryos? Of course, scientists are no different from the rest of our species. We evolved in the forest roof to collect fruit and berries, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that this skill set hasn't served us well in understanding the nature of existence.
We open our eyes, and things appear to be magically hovering "out there" in some invisible matrix. In the nineteenth century, scientists called it the "ether," followed by the "spacetime" of Einstein, and then "string theory" with new dimensions blowing up in different realms. Indeed, unseen dimensions (up to a 100) are now envisioned everywhere, some curled up like soda straws at every point in space.
When science tries to resolve its conflicts by adding and subtracting dimensions to the Universe like houses on a Monopoly board, we need to examine our dogmas. We believe an external world exists independent of the perceiving subject. Philosophers and physicists from Plato to Hawking have debated this idea. Niels Bohr, the great Nobel physicist, said, "Not so." When we measure something, we're forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We're not "measuring" the world; we're creating it. At the legendary debates, Einstein presented ingenious ideas supporting the idea of a "real world out there," but Bohr shot them all down and gradually won over the physics community. But today most people still believe there's a real world out there.
This something-nothingness issue is ancient, and of course predates biocentrism, which explains why one view and not the other must be correct. Take the seemingly undeniable logic that your kitchen is always there, its contents assuming its familiar forms whether or not you're in it. At night you leave for the bedroom. Of course, the kitchen is still there, unseen, all through the night. Right? But consider: the refrigerator, stove and everything else are composed of a shimmering swarm of matter/energy. Quantum theory tells us not a single one of those particles actually exists in a definite place. Rather, like Bohr said, they merely exist as a range of probabilities that are unmanifest. In the presence of an observer—that is, when you go back in to get a drink of water—each one's wave function collapses and it assumes an actual position, a physical reality.
According to the "many-worlds" interpretation of quantum physics, there are an infinite number of universes—known as the multiverse—associated with each possible observation. Biocentrism extends this idea, suggesting that life has a non-linear dimensionality that encompasses the multiverse. Experiments show that measurements an observer makes can even influence events that have already happened in the past. Regardless of the choice you make, it'll be you (the observer) who experience the outcomes and histories that result.
Ideally, our concepts of nature should adapt to this evolving scientific knowledge. What happened before the Big Bang? Or if god made the world, then who made god? According to biocentrism, these are ultimately irrational questions, because space and time are simply tools of our understanding and don't exist in any absolute sense. Before and after are relative concepts tied to us, which includes the totality of existence in the multiverse. Imagine what might be possible, especially if we're able to recreate information systems to generate any consciousness-based reality fathomable.
What does it all really mean?
First and foremost, biocentrism shows that the fundamental ground-state of the universe is not empty space, nor dumb, random colliding particles that proceed purely by random accident. It replaces that view with the knowledge that the basis of the universe is conscious life. And it’s infused with exquisite underlying intelligence. So it means that the cosmos is not dumb, and if this isn’t good news, what is?
It also means that the supposed yawning endless emptiness of the cosmos is not real. We can easily accept this development too. Who among us is attached to nothingness?
So the Lonely Hearts Club aspect of the cosmos vanishes. And the Big Bang, that classical-science “explanation” for the genesis of everything, defaults to a hollow, meaningless oddity, a non-clarification, since the notion of everything arising mysteriously from “nothing” was never a thesis for which your Middle School teacher would have given you a passing grade. Eiseley once said that scientists “have not always been able to see that an old theory, given a hairsbreadth twist, might open an entirely new vista to the human reason.” Cosmic evolution turns out to be the perfect case in hand. Amazingly, it all makes sense if you assume that the Big Bang is the end of the chain of physical causality, not the beginning. The observer is the first cause, the vital force that collapses not only the present but the cascade of spatio-temporal events we call the past. Stephen Hawking was right, “the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.”
Next, Mind or consciousness become the essence or matrix of the cosmos, which, again, means that life is central to everything. Talk about “beginnings” loses all appeal, since time never existed outside of consciousness to begin with. If we must inquire about origins, we might think of consciousness as being eternal.
Speaking of which, if consciousness is everywhere and never discontinuous, then there’s no death to experience. Sure, that dead dog in the road isn’t going to get back up and again put his muddy paws on your pants. But in terms of awareness, you have never NOT experienced consciousness and its myriad sense experiences, nor will the parade of experiences ever cease. You can count on this. So biocentrism has handed you the “no death” card. It’s not likely you’ll ever want to trade it in for anything else. If you’re bummed out by the fact that experiences may not always unfold as witnessed through your present eyes in your present body, well, you get what you pay for.
Another possible bonus is that, once you’ve clearly realized that all experiences occur strictly in the Mind, so that the blue skies and pretty flowers are not physically located “out there” but strictly inside your skull, the ensuing sense of Oneness produces a profound peace and serenity. Whether “peace of mind,” is something you’ve coveted or not, is another story, but many attest that it is a worthy endpoint of itself.
Future possibilities also perform their alluring hula dances. With time and space now firmly seen as being “internal” properties of your own perceptions, technological biocentric developments may well allow travel through time, or in ways that would be impossible if those dimensions were true external barriers.
But above and beyond all this, we will finally have a worldview that not only unites all of us more intimately than could be achieved by any government program, but a scientific model that – given the centuries of hard-won breakthroughs outlined in The Grand Biocentric Design– finally makes sense.
Lanza’s new book “The Grand Biocentric Design” lays out his theory of everything.