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Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe Paperback – May 18, 2010


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Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe + Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness + The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books; 1 edition (May 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935251740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935251743
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“I found the attack on physics to be pretty compelling ... Lanza's theories [are] certainly worth debate.”
Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger, SciGuy blog

“What makes this book both interesting and worth the effort of reading it; is the unique perspective Lanza brings to the subject matter as a physician. ... From the way [Lanza] chooses to present his arguments, it's clear he has a solid grasp of esoteric disciplines like quantum theory, special relativity and particle physics. And what makes his presentation more compelling than other efforts I've encountered is his ability and willingness to weave personal experience into the thoughts and ideas presented. His style is conversational and warm which tends to pull you along through the exposition gently. And his sense of wonder and befuddlement at shop worn enigmas like the double slit experiment, Bell's theorem, non-locality and Schrödinger's cat is as infectious as it is delightful ... I very much like what Lanza has to say in Biocentrism.”
Midwest Book Review

Endorsements for Robert Lanza’s essay on which Biocentrism is based:
“For several days now I have read and reread your article and thought about it. Like ‘a brief history of time’ it is indeed stimulating and brings biology into the whole. Any short statement does not do justice to such a scholarly work. Almost every society of mankind has explained the mystery of our surroundings and being by invoking a god or group of gods. Scientists work to acquire objective answers from the infinity of space or the inner machinery of the atom. Lanza proposes a biocentrist theory which ascribes the answer to the observer rather than the observed. The work is a scholarly consideration of science and philosophy that brings biology into the central role in unifying the whole. The book will appeal to an audience of many different disciplines because it is a new way of looking at the old problem of our existence. Most importantly, it makes you think.”
E. Donnall Thomas
Thomas was awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington and Director Emeritus of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“It is genuinely an exciting piece of work. I am very familiar with some of the things you say. The idea that consciousness creates reality has quantum support, as you suggest, and also coheres with some of the things biology and neuroscience are telling us about the structures of our being. To put what you are doing in a larger context, it exhibits a dramatic new Copernican reversal. Just as we now know that the sun doesn’t really move but we do (we are the active agents), so you are suggesting that we are the entities that give meaning to the particular configuration of all possible outcomes we call reality. I think this is a great project.”
Ronald Green
Green is the Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, and Director of Dartmouth College’s Ethics Institute. Professor Green is a well-known religious studies scholar and former Chairman of the Department of Religion

“Robert Lanza, a world renowned scientist who has spanned many fields from drug delivery to stem cells to preventing animal extinction, and clearly one of the most brilliant minds of our times, has done it again. ‘A New Theory of the Universe’ takes into account all the knowledge we have gained over the last few centuries, and correlates them to our own beings, placing in perspective our biologic limitations that have impeded our understanding of greater truths surrounding our existence and the universe around us. This new theory is certain to revolutionize our concepts of the laws of nature for centuries to come.”
Anthony Atala
Atala is an internationally recognized scientist, and the W.H. Boyce Professor, Chair, and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

“As an astrophysicist, I focus my attention on objects that are very large and very far away, ignoring the whole issue of consciousness as a critical part of the Universe. Reading Robert Lanza’s work is a wake-up call to all of us that even on the grandest scale we still depend on our minds to experience reality. Issues of “quantum weirdness” do have a place in the macroscopic world. Time and space do depend on perception. We can go about our daily lives and continue to study the physical Universe as if it exists as an objective reality (because the probabilities allow that degree of confidence), but we do so with a better awareness of an underlying biological component, thanks to Dr. Lanza. I cannot speak for NASA or other NASA scientists, but personally I look forward to hearing a more detailed explanation of this biocentric view of the Universe from Dr. Lanza.”
David Thompson
Thompson is an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His contributions include the building and flying of prototypes of EGRET, which was launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1991. He is currently with the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory, and has received both the Goddard Space Flight Center & NASA Group Exceptional Achievement Awards.

“Yes, it is appropriate to ask whether our perception of space and time is a consequence of our particular neurophysiology. Yes, it is appropriate to ask how it happened that the conditions worked out to be just right for life to appear somehow on earth and then to evolve from the archaea through the eukaryotes to us. ... I’ll bet the book gets a good audience. And I like to see books published that challenge my own ideas and thoughts in ways that make me think, but not ones that simply throw dogma at me. The essay is definitely of the former kind.”
R. Stephen Berry
Berry is James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago. Professor Berry is a member (and recent Home Secretary) of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. He was also former Vice President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and MacArthur Prize “Genius” Fellow.

“Science has a token of freedom that motivates scientists to study all logical possibilities that may explain the world. Robert Lanza has come up with an innovative approach to investigate reality from the viewpoint of biology. His article demands an answer to the question of whether scientists have exhausted all possible tools for studying nature. Can science bring biology into grand unified theory? A solution is suggested that involves a new concept, biocentrism. Lanza goes beyond the individual human attribute calling for interconnectedness among all living creatures forming the fundamental basis for understanding reality. A book that expands upon this unique approach is warranted, not only to alert society, but to call on it to test this novel new hypothesis.”
Gunther Kletetschka
Kletetschka is a geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He is also a Research Professor of Physics at Catholic University of America and leading scientist working on the James Web Space Telescope.

“It’s a masterpiece—truly a magnificent essay. Bob Lanza is to be congratulated for a fresh and highly erudite look at the question of how perception and consciousness shape reality and common experience. His monograph combines a deep understanding and broad insight into 20th century physics and modern biological science; in so doing, he forces a reappraisal of this hoary epistemological dilemma. Not all will agree with the proposition he advances, but most will find his writing eminently readable and his arguments both convincing and challenging. Bravo.”
Michael Lysaght
Lysaght is Professor of Medical Science and Engineering at Brown University and Director of Brown’s Center for Biomedical Engineering.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Robert Lanza's essay "A New Theory of the Universe," on which Biocentrism is based:

"Like A Brief History of Time, it is indeed stimulating and brings biology into the whole.... The book will appeal to an audience of many different disciplines because it is a new way of looking at the old problem of our existence. Most importantly, it makes you think." ―E. Donnall Thomas, 1990 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine

"It is genuinely an exciting piece of work.... The idea that consciousness creates reality has quantum support ... and also coheres with some of the things biology and neuroscience are telling us about the structures of our being. Just as we now know that the sun doesn't really move but we do (we are the active agents), so [it is] suggesting that we are the entities that give meaning to the particular configuration of all possible outcomes we call reality." ―Ronald Green, director of Dartmouth College's Ethics Institute

"Robert Lanza, a world-renowned scientist who has spanned many fields from drug delivery to stem cells to preventing animal extinction, and clearly one of the most brilliant minds of our times, has done it again. `A New Theory of the Universe' takes into account all the knowledge we have gained over the last few centuries ... placing in perspective our biologic limitations that have impeded our understanding of greater truths surrounding our existence and the universe around us. This new theory is certain to revolutionize our concepts of the laws of nature for centuries to come." ―Anthony Atala, internationally recognized scientist and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

Very interesting and thought provoking book.
Bill Adkins
The only function of the utterly useless and blatantly repetitive "principles" of biocentrism seemed to be to make it seem like a more legitimate theory.
Niltiac
It will certainly make you think and see things from a different perspective, which I believe is always a good thing.
Douglas Kings

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

321 of 341 people found the following review helpful By Free Thinker on June 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Challenging assumptions is always excellent mental exercise. In this book Robert Lanza takes on one of the key tenets of modern thinking: that all scientific disciplines ultimately reduce to physics. In its place he offers the provocative thesis that biology is primary, and the Universe literally flows from the conscious perceptions of living creatures.

On its face this sounds absurd, which demonstrates all the more just how brilliant this man is. He draws on findings from quantum physics and anatomy studies to establish a series of foundational principles for his biocentric theory, which he then elaborates on and defends.

He begins by reminding us of something we all know but rarely think about: that reality is literally "all in our heads." We don't see the sunset, we see the interpretation of it our brain creates. We don't smell the rose, we experience the sensation of a scent created by a neural network.

We believe that these impressions are imposed on us by what Stephen Hawking calls the RWOT (Real World Out There). But our evidence for this belief amounts to subjective internal experiences! In pointing this out Lanza shifts the burden of proof to the physicalists, who assert that the outside world is what is truly real, while our qualia are illusory.

He expands on this thought by citing evidence from quantum physics.
The famous two slit experiment, observations of split photons switching spin directions simultaneously, and observations of true backwards causation (the present determining the past) are all cited. Einstein once asked a colleague if he truly believed that the moon wasn't in the sky if no one was looking at it. Lanza would reply "of course it's not!
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179 of 191 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Kings on July 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've just finished reading the book and there is still a lot I need to process. The comments I have read (not so much here but on other sites) have been, not surprisingly, mostly negative. Personally I do think Lanza is on to something important. Reading the many criticisms of his ideas, however, makes me aware that evaluating biocentrism is going to be very difficult because it is a proposal for a paradigm shift. By definition, a new paradigm always appears to be nonsense from within the established paradigm. A proposal to change from one paradigm to another is very different than a proposal to replace one idea with another within a paradigm. Most of biocentrism's critics, it seems to me, are treating it as if it's the latter rather than the former.

It's been a long time since I read Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions but this is, I think, one of its most profound insights. For example,from the Ptolemaic perspective Copernicus and Galileo were crazy. Their critics and persecutors were not unreasonable. What Copernicus and Galileo were proposing, however, was a change in reason. As Kuhn shows, the shift from one paradigm to another is inevitably messy and chaotic. In the end, a new paradigm is finally adopted for very pragmatic reasons: it works, or at least works better than its predecessor.

For this reason, I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of what Lanza is proposing. He is being critiqued from within the assumptions of the paradigm he is seeking to replace, which is understandable and even inevitable, but nonetheless very confusing. For example, traditional Christianity and modern science have debated whether God created the universe or whether it originated spontaneously in an event like the Big Bang.
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124 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Rose on June 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must concur with all of the thoughtful reviews so far presented that Robert Lanza and Bob Berman have crafted a beautifully written account of a potentially revolutionary idea. Where as most current cosmological theories represent life and consciousness as emergent, and even accidental, properties of an otherwise lifeless universe. Dr. Lanza proposes, to the contrary, that life and consciousness are actually fundamental properties of the universe and all that it represents, so much so that the universe cannot possibly exist without life to give it reality.

From this simple idea, some might immediately assume that Dr. Lanza is seeking to justify a form of Intelligent Design or Creationism, but that would be a huge mistake. Dr. Lanza is a consummate scientist who fully embraces the latest knowledge that science has brought us, from evolutionary theory to relativity and quantum mechanics. His biocentrism, in fact, proposes to make sense of some of the most perplexing discoveries that quantum mechanics has revealed together with Einsteinian relativity, and he does this in the most engaging, patient (to this layman), and conversational style, with a minimum of mathematics. He even takes the time to explain the little math that he uses for the most innumerate among us to understand.

Basically, he contends that any unobserved universe can only exist in a state of probability that requires living observation and measurement to give it any certain reality. Some have assumed that Lanza refers only to human consciousness and question the idea on this very basis: what gave the universe reality before humans arrived? However, it is clear that he is referring to consciousness as it exists, to one degree or another, in all forms of life, known and unknown.
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