Biocentrism (from Greek: βίος, bios, “life”; and κέντρον, kentron, “center”) — also known as the biocentric universe — is a theory proposed in 2007 by American scientist Robert Lanza, which sees biology as the central driving science in the universe, and an understanding of the other sciences as reliant on a deeper understanding of biology. Lanza believes that life and biology are central to being, reality, and the cosmos—consciousness creates the universe rather than the other way around. While physics is considered fundamental to the study of the universe, and chemistry fundamental to the study of life, Lanza claims that scientists will need to place biology before the other sciences to produce a “theory of everything”
Critics have questioned whether the theory is falsifiable. Lanza has argued that future experiments, such as scaled-up quantum superposition, will either support or contradict the theory.
Biocentrism was first proposed in a 2007 article by Robert Lanza that appeared in “The American Scholar,” where the goal was to show how biology could build upon quantum physics. Two years later, Lanza published a book with astronomer and author Bob Berman entitled “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe”, which expanded upon the ideas that Lanza wrote about in his essay for the “Scholar”.
Biocentrism argues that the primacy of consciousness features in the work of René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Gottfried Leibniz, George Berkeley, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Henri Bergson. He sees this as supporting the central claim that what we call space and time are forms of animal sense perception, rather than external physical objects.
Lanza argues that biocentrism offers insight into several major puzzles of science, including Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the double-slit experiment, and the fine tuning of the forces, constants, and laws that shape the universe as we perceive it. According to Lanza and Bob Berman, “biocentrism offers a more promising way to bring together all of physics, as scientists have been trying to do since Einstein’s unsuccessful unified field theories of eight decades ago.”
Seven principles form the core of biocentrism. The first principle of biocentrism is based on the premise that what we observe is dependent on the observer, and says that what we perceive as reality is “a process that involves our consciousness.” The second and third principles state that “our external and internal perceptions are intertwined” and that the behavior of particles “is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer,” respectively. The fourth principle suggests that consciousness must exist and that without it “matter dwells in an undetermined state of probability.” The fifth principle points to the structure of the universe itself, and that the laws, forces, and constants of the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life. Finally, the sixth and seventh principles state that space and time are not objects or things, but rather tools of our animal understanding. Lanza says that we carry space and time around with us “like turtles with shells.”
Lanza claims that biological observers actually create the arrow of time. In his papers on relativity (also published in Annalen der Physik), Einstein showed that time was relative to the observer; in their paper, Podolskiy and Lanza argue that quantum gravitational decoherence is too ineffective to guarantee the emergence of the arrow of time and the “quantum-to-classical” transition to happen at scales of physical interest. They argue that the emergence of the arrow of time is directly related to the way biological observers with memory functions process and remember information. They cite Lanza’s American Scholar paper on biocentrism, stating that the “brainless” observer does not experience time and/or decoherence of any degrees of freedom.
Synopsis of Lanza’s book “Biocentrism”
According to Lanza’s book, “Biocentrism” suggests that life is not an accidental byproduct of physics, but rather is a key part of our understanding of the universe. Biocentrism states that there is no independent external universe outside of biological existence. Part of what it sees as evidence of this is that there are over 200 physical parameters within the universe so exact that it is seen as more probable that they are that way in order to allow for existence of life and consciousness, rather than coming about at random. Biocentrism claims that allowing the observer into the equation opens new approaches to understanding cognition. Through this, biocentrism purports to offer a way to unify the laws of the universe.
David Thompson, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that Lanza’s “work is a wake-up call.” Nobel laureate E. Donnall Thomas said, “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.” Wake Forest University scientist and professor of medicine Anthony Atala stated, “This new theory is certain to revolutionize our concepts of the laws of nature for centuries to come.” Richard Conn Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, pointed out that Lanza’s theory is consistent with quantum mechanics: “What Lanza says in this book is not new. 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!” Indian physician and writer Deepak Chopra stated that “Lanza’s insights into the nature of consciousness [are] original and exciting” and that “his theory of biocentrism is consistent with the most ancient wisdom traditions of the world which says that consciousness conceives, governs, and becomes a physical world. It is the ground of Being.