How Life And Consciousness May Lead Nowhere
Biocentrism How Life and Consciousness May Lead Nowhere
Should science search for a Theory of Everything among the laws of physics, or within the mysteries of life and consciousness? Robert Lanza presents biocentrism as the key to this question, which will focus on life and consciousness (the conscious observer?) to ultimately solve the major riddles of science. With the focus of biocentrism on life and consciousness for an all-embracing theory of the cosmos, Lanza may be chasing a rabbit trail.
Life, which evolved from biochemistry, struggles to exist on a minor planet in the vastness of the cosmos. And, conscious observation remains the byproduct of a purely physical neural pattern recognition process, inextricably linked to nerve cell processes. The competencies of consciousness reduce directly in proportion to the destruction of the related nuclei. Neither does consciousness have any verifiable links into cosmic mysteries. It can no more provide an explanation of quantum physical theories of the universe than a camera, which photographs the skies.
research into consciousness lead to solutions to the major riddles of
suggests that the cosmos is a mental construct observed by
200 exact physical parameters necessary for life appear within the
laws of physics, because it was central to the long sought Theory
mechanics suggests that measurement at the quantum level affects the
the competencies of consciousness are managed by the nervous system.
awareness may be an "emerging property."
merely mirrors the pattern recognition activities of the brain.
final analysis received by consciousness is not the source of the
disappears, when the neurons die. The transient mirror is not the
The subjective quality
of consciousness remains unexplained by science. Lanza draws a
parallel between consciousness and the role of the observer in
quantum physics. Deepak Chopra suggests that Lanza's insights into
the nature of consciousness is “consistent with the ancient wisdom
that consciousness conceives, governs, and becomes a physical world.”
Lanza views consciousness as a mystic force.
founded on the notion that the cosmos is a mental construct, observed
by consciousness. Since the cosmos exists within the mind, a search
for it must originate from the biological world. Biocentrism
suggests that the proof that life and consciousness are at the source
of the cosmos lies in the low probability that 200 odd precise
physical parameters could randomly combine to make life itself
possible. By bringing the observer into the equation, biocentrism
will hopefully enable unification of the laws of the universe into a
Theory of Everything.
Biocentrism – 200
Biocentrism stresses the pivotal
importance of life and consciousness, suggesting that it is
improbable that over 200 exact physical parameters necessary for life
could occur within the laws of physics, unless it was central to the
long sought Theory of Everything. Similar views have been
expressed in the Anthropic Principle. The strong Anthropic Principle
states that the Universe is compelled to evolve a conscious life,
since that is the only way it can be observed.
anthropic principle suggests that a universe, which was incapable of
supporting conscious life would merely go unobserved. According to
Douglas Adams, if a living puddle examines its own shape, the
universe may appear to fit it
perfectly, while the truth may be closer to the view that it fits the
universe perfectly. In fact, every element in the universe could
claim a pivotal role in a Theory of Everything,
since the laws of physics perfectly suits its existence.
Biocentrism – QM
Observer & The Uncertainty Principle
the role of the observer in quantum mechanics nor the uncertainty
principle point to a role for human consciousness in producing a
Theory of Everything.
Scientists have clarified that in some QM experiments even a single
electron proved sufficient as an "observer," without the
need for a conscious "observer." The QM Observer concept merely points to
inaccuracies in scientific measurements of the environment.
the concept of measurement in quantum mechanics, measurement causes a
discontinuous change into a non-quantum state, which ceases to
evolve. Alternately, for a particular wave function, a measurement
will yield a state of the quantum system of one of the many possible
values. Once measured, the current state stops it from being in one
of its other states. The type of measurement that we do on the system
affects the end state of the system. Another quantum state that
would decay if left alone, would not decay because of the process of
continuous observation. QM refers to the impact of measurement at
the quantum level.
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle
suggests that the precision in the simultaneous measurement of the
position and momentum of a particle at the same time – an increase
in the precision in measurement of one quantity reduces precision in
measurement of the other. Inaccuracies in measurement do not point
to a possibility that consciousness could be a mysterious observer,
who could alter or modify the universe it observes.
Biocentrism – The
Emergent Quality Of Consciousness
Lanza suggests that consciousness was seen to be the
principal entity by Descartes, Kant, Leibniz, Berkeley, Schopenhauer,
and Bergson. Consciousness is the quality or state of being aware
of an external object or something within oneself. The state
includes subjectivity, awareness, sentience, the ability to
experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and
the ability to make decisions.
Apart from subjectivity, all the
competencies attributed to consciousness are carried out by the
nervous system. The experiments of Benjamin Libet have demonstrated
that conscious awareness trails neural decisions by over 250
milliseconds. The nervous system makes decisions and consciousness
merely has an awareness of those decisions. Only the subjective quality of that
awareness remains unexplained by science.
awareness of the neural process has not been explained by science and
may be an emergent property. Libet's experiments have experimentally
isolated conscious awareness from the acknowledged pattern
recognition functions of the nervous system, including judgment,
emotions, decision making and the identification of self. In the
theory of complex systems, emergence is the effect, where new
patterns arise out of myriad simple interactions.
emerge at higher levels of complexity. Psychology emerges from
biology and biology from chemistry. The whole completely differs from
the sum of its parts. Consciousness may emerge into a non physical
knowledge dimension as the complexity of a neural network increases.
But, even then, the intelligent parts of the process are purely
physical. If a ghost does exist within the system, it is
inextricably tied the the material world.
Consciousness Is Not The Ghost Who Decides
may be the mystery concerning consciousness, there is experimental
evidence that it merely mirrors the pattern recognition activities of
the brain. Benjamin Libet studied subjects who voluntarily pressed a
button, while noting the position of a dot on a computer screen,
which shifted its position every 43 milliseconds. The noted moment of
depressing the button was the moment of conscious awareness; the
exact instant the subject thought the button was pressed.
Libet had also timed the beginning of motor neuron activity in the
brains of his subjects. He discovered that awareness occurred 350
milliseconds AFTER the beginning of motor activity. Clearly, the
decision to press the button had been made earlier by the nervous
system. The actual observer is merely a neural pattern recognition
entity, which evaluates sensory perceptions and makes a judgment.
Experimental evidence presents conscious awareness as just a mirror,
which reflects decisions made in a material network.
– The Nervous System Observes The Cosmos
the QM Observer concept and the Uncertainty principle suggest that
observation changes the measured object. There is evidence that
neural observation has virtually insignificant impact on the cosmos.
The human olfactory sense observes smells in the environment by
interacting with a few molecules in the air. About 50 million
primary sensory receptor cells in the two nasal cavities evaluate
these molecules to draw picture of the environment by distinguishing
between a practically infinite number of chemical compounds at very
The observation modifies those
molecules, which bind to receptor cells, causing further structural
changes occur within the cell. These changes generate action
potentials which send nerve impulses up through hierarchies of
analytical networks to finally identify the impact of an odor on the
objectives of the system. At the highest level of this
interpretation, the nervous system visualizes the cosmos and
consciousness receives that awareness. The observation of the cosmos
by the nervous system does not significantly alter it. The
suggestion that the final analysis received by consciousness is the
source of the cosmos is like suggesting that the Theory of Relativity
is the source of relativity. A search for a Theory
of Everything within
the concept of consciousness sounds far
Biocentrism – The
Ghost In The Machine
Biocentrism seeks to explain
the universe from the innate position that consciousness has mystic
powers. It is perceived to be a ghost in the machine, which
interfaces with an imagined cosmic intelligence. But, consciousness
merely reflects the complex thoughts and perceptions of an ordinary
human brain. Science has clearly established the links between
conscious awareness and the patterns of firing by function specific
neurons. Pattern recognition systems within it interpret sensory
inputs to arrive at a complex understanding of the world.
Consciousness is a part of a physical mechanism, which has
intelligently interpreted the physical world. Consciousness
disappears, when the neurons die. To suggest that the interpretation
created the original is to suggest that a photograph created the
landscape. The mechanisms of photography may not provide a key to
understanding the landscape.
This page was last updated on 27-Jan-2016.
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