Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
While opinions about the existence of heaven or hell are firmly entrenched in the public consciousness, a Wake Forest stem cell scientist has put forward a theory that says death is just a construct of the human mind.
In his theory, called biocentrism, Dr. Robert Lanza claims the universe is created by life, not the other way around. The theory posits that a person’s consciousness determines the appearance and behavior of objects in the universe.
For example, if someone looks up at the sky, they may think the color they are seeing is blue. However, the cells in a person’s brain could be changed to make the sky look green or red.
“Bottom line: What you see could not be present without your consciousness,” Lanza said. “Our consciousness makes sense of the world.”
And according to Lanza this also applies to space and time, which he says are “simply tools of the mind.”
If this idea of ‘perception is reality’ is extended to life, then death as we know it “cannot exist in any real sense” because there is nothing to define it, Lanza said on his website.
The Wake Forest professor compares biocentrism to theoretical physicists’ theory of parallel universes, in which every possibility is occurring simultaneously across an infinite number of universes.
To support his theory of human perception shaping the universe, Lanza cited the so-called double-slit experiment in which physicists send a single light particle through a multi-holed barrier. When directly observed, the particle acts like a bullet and passes through a single slit. However, when not directly observed – the particle passes through multiple holes like a wave.
“Life is an adventure that transcends our ordinary linear way of thinking,” Lanza mused. “When we die, we do so not in the random billiard-ball-matrix but in the inescapable-life-matrix.”
Reaction to Lanza’s theory has been mixed. In an email to USA Today, astrophysicist and science writer David Lindley rebutted many of Lanza’s assertions.
“The view that consciousness creates reality ends up contradicting itself,” Lindley wrote. “Lanza says that ‘the trees and snow evaporate when we’re sleeping. The kitchen disappears when we’re in the bathroom.’ If he’s referring solely to our state of awareness about these things, then yes, he’s right. But are we really supposed to imagine that the kitchen goes away when we’re not in it, and returns in the exact same form when we come back in?”
“To answer this, Lanza asks us to imagine putting a DVD in a player and getting a picture out,” Lindley continued. “You only get the picture when the DVD is in the machine, but we all get the same picture no matter who’s watching. ‘Your brain animates the universe,’ [Lanza] says.
“But in this analogy, if your brain is the DVD player, then what plays the role of the DVD itself? Lanza says that our consciousness creates reality – but to do so, our perceptions have to bounce off something, so to speak,” Lindley wrote. “We have to conclude that there’s something out there that our brains are interacting with, and that something has to be pretty much the same for all us, so that we all ‘construct’ a similar-looking reality. In other words, something outside of us, independent of us, still has to exist.
“Finally, I can’t help thinking that there’s an enormous exercise of vanity in Lanza’s argument – the universe only exists, he says, because we’re here to observe it and be part of it,” Lindley concluded. “I would go the opposite extreme. I think the universe was a real physical thing long before we came on the scene, and we humans are just crumbs of organic matter clinging to the surface of one tiny rock. Cosmically, we are no more significant than mold on a shower curtain.”