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How Life And Consciousness May Lead Nowhere

Biocentrism Is Life and Consciousness The Foundation?
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.

  • Can research into consciousness lead to solutions to the major riddles of science?
  • Biocentrism suggests that the cosmos is a mental construct observed by consciousness.
  • The 200 exact physical parameters necessary for life appear within the laws of physics, because it was central to the long sought Theory of Everything.
  • Quantum mechanics suggests that measurement at the quantum level affects the end state.
  • All the competencies of consciousness are managed by the nervous system.
  • Subjective awareness may be an "emerging property."
  • Consciousness merely mirrors the pattern recognition activities of the brain.
  • The final analysis received by consciousness is not the source of the cosmos.
  • Consciousness disappears, when the neurons die. The transient mirror is not the original landscape.

Biocentrism –What Is The Biocentrism Theory?
Consciousness can be imagined as a mere component of the nervous system, a self willed attention mechanism.  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.

Biocentrism is 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 –Do 200 Physical Parameters Imply Proof?
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.

The weak 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 – What Is The Role of The Observer?
Neither the role of the observer in quantum mechanics (QM) 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.

In the concept of measurement in QM, 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.

Biocentrism – What Is The Uncertainty Principle?
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 Is Experiential Consciousness Real?
But, 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. 

Imagine that the subjective feelings of people come from the progressive integration of information by the brain. Increasing meaning can be derived from information as it flows from sensory perceptions to the final stages of evaluation. The primary areas of the cortex receive sensory information. This information proceeds to secondary areas, which coordinate binocular vision and stereophonic sound. That enables the brain to link three dimensional spaces to light, sound, smell and touch. This integrated information travels to the association regions, which enable the brain to recognize objects and events.

The consolidated information from all functional regions travels to the prefrontal brain.  The nervous system is an  extraordinary mechanical device, which generates sense perceptions - qualia.  A process that makes sensory perceptions into subjectively recognized qualia is a physical and material phenomenon.  
Just like subjectivity, all the experiential competencies attributed to consciousness are carried out by the nervous system.

Biocentrism – Does The Conscious Mind Decide?
Whatever 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. 

Each time, 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. If a ghost does exist within the system, it is inextricably tied to the material world.

Biocentrism – Does the Nervous System Observe, or Create?
Both 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 low concentrations.

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 fetched.

Biocentrism – Is There A 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 25-Sep-2019.