This article was originally published on Sep15, 2015
image by Conor Grebel
In order to understand the true nature of reality, science must first recognize the importance of consciousness, says Dr. Robert Lanza, a stem-cell biologist whose work has earned him high acclaim. He also sees a greater role for consciousness in the quest for a “Theory of Everything,” larger than even physics.
According to Lanza, everything that we experience—including Newtonian physics and quantum physics—is a system created by our consciousness. Even space and time are just tools used by the mind to piece together all the information of the universe.
“Reality involves your consciousness,” said Lanza in a talk on biocentrism (see below) at the Science and Nonduality Conference 2010. “It could not be there without your consciousness.”
Biocentrism is the term that Lanza gives to this concept—that the universe arises from life, not the other way around. He writes more about this radical idea in his 2010 book, Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, co-written with astronomer Bob Berman.
In his book, Lanza explores famous paradoxes of quantum physics, such as the double-slit experiment and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Both of these show that the behavior of particles changes when we observe them. But why should particles care if you are watching them? Lanza says they don’t; it’s just that we are creating the reality that we are observing.
Or as Neils Bohr said: “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.”
Lanza also questions why life exists in the first place. According to what is known as the Goldilock’s Principle, hundreds of parameters in the universe are in the exact right range for life to survive. If you change one or more of these factors—such as the strong nuclear force or the gravitational constant—life would have never arisen.
Some possible explanations for this include that God created the universe, or that among a multitude of possible universes we happen to live in the one where life is possible. Lanza, though, says that the main reason our universe can support life is that consciousness created the parameters that have made the universe so hospitable to our existence.
The old theory of the universe has yet to sufficiently answer these fundamental questions. Lanza says that in order for science to move forward, it needs to venture into new territory.
“Science hasn’t confronted the one thing that’s most familiar and most mysterious, and that is, of course, consciousness,” he said.