Physicists argue that their field is the most fundamental science. After all, every other science – biology, engineering, chemistry and so on – depends on the substances, energies and interactions of physics.
But Robert Lanza, a US doctor and eminent scientist, believes this is upside-down, and that biology is the central driving science in the Universe. He calls his theory ‘biocentrism’.
Lanza first set out his ideas in a 2007 article that appeared in The American Scholar, and later expanded them in a 2009 book titled Biocentrism: How Life And Consciousness Are The Keys To Understanding The True Nature Of The Universe. In both works, he argues that consciousness creates the Universe, not the other way around. “Biocentrism is a new theory of everything,” he says. “In this view, life and consciousness are central to any true understanding of the Universe.”
Take the classic double-slit experiment, one of the mysteries in quantum mechanics. If you fire a beam of electrons at two parallel slits onto a screen, the electrons travelling through one slit interact with those travelling through the other to produce an interference pattern. However, the pattern is still produced even if the electrons are fired through one at a time. They seemingly interact with themselves. But that’s not all. If we observe which slit each particle travels through, then the pattern isn’t formed. The particles no longer appear to interact with one another. It’s like they ‘know’ they’re being watched. Physicists are yet to solve this problem, but Lanza thinks he has the answer.
“How can a particle change its behaviour depending on whether you watch it or not? The answer is simple – reality is a process that involves our consciousness,” he says.
The same logic holds for entangled particles: the phenomenon that the specific quantum states of particles are seen to remain connected regardless of the distance between them. “How can a pair of particles possibly be instantaneously connected on opposite sides of the Galaxy? Because they’re not – space and time are simply tools of our mind,” Lanza says.
Reception to these ideas has been mixed. Some have questioned whether biocentrism can ever generate testable predictions, while others have argued that it is more of a philosophical than a scientific theory.
Lanza disagrees.“They are incorrect,” he says. “Even the entanglement of living beings might soon be scientifically testable.”