Biocentric universe

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This article is about an idea postulated by Robert Lanza. For the politico-ecological concept, see Biocentrism (ethics).

Biocentric universe (from Greek: βίος, bios, "life")—also known as biocentrism—is a concept proposed in 2007 by American doctor of medicine Robert Lanza, a scientist in the fields of regenerative medicine and biology,[1][2] 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.[3]

Critics have questioned whether the concept is falsifiable, which can raise questions whether it falls more in the range of science or pseudoscience. Lanza has claimed that future experiments, such as scaled-up quantum superposition, will either support or contradict the theory.[4]


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.[5][original research?] 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.[6]

Biocentrism argues that the primacy of consciousness features in the work of Descartes, Kant, Leibniz, Berkeley, Schopenhauer, and Bergson.[5] 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.[7] 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.[6][page needed] 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.”[8]

Seven principles form the core of biocentrism.[6][page needed] 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.”[6]:23 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.[6]:39, 59 The fourth principle suggests that consciousness must exist and that without it “matter dwells in an undetermined state of probability.”[6]:81 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.[6]:93 Finally, the sixth and seventh principles state that space and time are not objects or things, but rather tools of our animal understanding.[6]:110, 127 Lanza says that we carry space and time around with us “like turtles with shells."[6]:127

Lanza claims that biological observers actually create the arrow of time.[9] In 2016, Lanza and Dmitriy Podolskiy published a paper in the physics journal Annalen der Physik.[10] 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[edit]

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.[6]:2 Biocentrism states that there is no independent external universe outside of biological existence.[6]:17 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.[6]:93 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.


The reception to biocentrism has been mixed.[11] Physician and Nobel laureate E. Donnall Thomas said of biocentrism, "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."[12] However, some physicists have commented that biocentrism currently does not make testable predictions.[12] Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss stated, “It may represent interesting philosophy, but it doesn't look, at first glance, as if it will change anything about science."[12] Daniel Dennett said that he did not believe that the idea meets the criteria of a theory in philosophy.[12] In USA Today Online, theoretical physicist and science writer David Lindley asserted that Lanza’s concept was a "vague, inarticulate metaphor" and stated that "I certainly don't see how thinking his way would lead you into any new sort of scientific or philosophical insight. That's all very nice, I would say to Lanza, but now what? I [also] take issue with his views about physics."[13] Stephen P. Smith conducted a review of the book, asserting that Lanza is actually describing a form of idealism. Smith found Lanza's claim that time is an illusion to be unfounded since the premise was that time was not understood fully. He concludes that, while lacking in scientific and philosophical rigor, "Lanza has a colloquial style that is typical of good popular books, and his book can be understood by non-experts".[14]

New Age guru 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 our Being in which both subjective and objective reality come into existence."[15] Jacquelynn Baas, Director Emeritus of the University of California Berkeley Art Museum, wrote that a major challenge confronting modern times is whether “all questions can be answered by means of the scientific method of objective observation and measurement.” She cites Lanza's book, saying that it casts this perspective into doubt.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Claire Ainsworth (January 29, 2002). ""Functional" kidneys grown from stem cells". New Scientist. Retrieved April 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Dan Vergano (February 15, 2004). "Don't expect a cloned baby anytime soon". USA Today. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ Aaron Rowe (2007-03-08). "Will Biology Solve the Universe?". Wired. Retrieved 2009-03-15. 
  4. ^ Eric Berger (2009-08-23). "Book Spotlight: Biocentrism". Houston Chronicle Blogs. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  5. ^ a b Lanza, Robert (March 1, 2007). "A New Theory of the Universe -". The American Scholar. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lanza, Robert; Berman, Bob (2009). Biocentrism : how life and consciousness are the keys to understanding the true nature of the universe. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc. ISBN 978-1933771694. 
  7. ^ Lanza, Robert; Berman, Bob (16 June 2009). "'Biocentrism': How life creates the universe". MSNBC. 
  8. ^ Berman, Bob; Lanza, Robert (May 1, 2009). "The Biocentric Universe Theory: Life Creates Time, Space, and the Cosmos Itself". Discover Magazine. 
  9. ^ Stockton, Nick (September 26, 2016). "Time Might Only Exist In Your Head. And Everyone Else's". Wired. 
  10. ^ Podolskiy; Lanza. "On Decoherence in Quantum Gravity". Annalen der Physik. Retrieved 4 December 2016. 
  11. ^ Boyle, Alan (June 16, 2009). "The universe in your head". Cosmic Log Blog at MSNBC. 
  12. ^ a b c d Herper, Matthew (9 March 2007). "A Biotech Provocateur Takes On Physics". Forbes. 
  13. ^ Lindley, David (March 9, 2007). "Exclusive: Response to Robert Lanza's essay". USAToday. 
  14. ^ Smith, Stephen (June 2010). "Review of Robert Lanza & Bob Berman's Book: Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe". Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research. 1 (4): 468–470. 
  15. ^ Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (Aug 13, 2009). "Press Release: Dr. Robert Lanza is Featured Guest on Deepak Chopra's SIRIUS XM Stars Radio Show". PR NewsWire. 
  16. ^ Baas, Jacquelyn. "Before Zen: The Nothing of American Dada". East–West Interchanges in American Art: A Long and Tumultuous Relationship. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 

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