New Book Claims There Is No Death

This is exceedingly strange, so it’s good weekend material. We found an article about a book that doesn’t belong in our collection of Self-Published Geniuses, because it appears to have a genuine publisher. The book is Beyond Biocentrism: Rethinking Time, Space, Consciousness, and the Illusion of Death (Amazon listing), by Robert Lanza (Wikipedia write-up).

Before discussing the book, we need to know that Lanza wrote an earlier book that Wikipedia describes in Biocentric universe. They say, with our bold font:

[Biocentrism] is a concept proposed in 2007 by American doctor of medicine Robert Lanza, a scientist in the fields of regenerative medicine and biology, which sees biology as the central driving science in the universe, and an understanding of the other sciences as reliant on a deeper understanding of biology. Biocentrism states that life and biology are central to being, reality, and the cosmos — consciousness creates the universe rather than the other way around. It asserts that current theories of the physical world do not work, and can never be made to work, until they fully account for life and consciousness. While physics is considered fundamental to the study of the universe, and chemistry fundamental to the study of life, biocentrism claims that scientists will need to place biology before the other sciences to produce a theory of everything.

Wikipedia also discusses criticism of the idea, such as:

[S]ome physicists have commented that biocentrism currently does not make testable predictions. Arizona State University physicist Lawrence Krauss stated, “It may represent interesting philosophy, but it doesn’t look, at first glance, as if it will change anything about science.” Daniel Dennett said that he did not believe that the idea meets the criteria of a theory in philosophy. In USA Today Online, theoretical physicist and science writer David Lindley asserted that Lanza’s concept was a “vague, inarticulate metaphor” and stated that “I certainly don’t see how thinking his way would lead you into any new sort of scientific or philosophical insight. That’s all very nice, I would say to Lanza, but now what? I [also] take issue with his views about physics.” … New Age guru Deepak Chopra stated that “Lanza’s insights into the nature of consciousness [are] original and exciting” and that “his theory of biocentrism is consistent with the most ancient wisdom traditions of the world which says that consciousness conceives, governs, and becomes a physical world. It is the ground of our Being in which both subjective and objective reality come into existence.”

We learned about Lanza’s new book in Voices of Faith: Does death even exist?, which appears in the Times Union of Albany, New York. They have a comments section, but there aren’t any yet. The article was written by Bob Berman, Lanza’s co-author, described at the end as “the astronomy editor of the Old Farmers Almanac and an editor of Astronomy magazine.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Does death even exist? Science actually says — no.

Here’s why. First, experiments since the 1920s reveal that space and time have no independent existence. They can’t be examined like cucumbers. That’s because they arise within ourselves as observers, as the mind’s algorithms organize the brain’s ongoing electrical signals. In other words, we carry around space and time like turtles with shells. This may be science’s most under-publicized revelation.

This is news to us, so we had to keep reading. We’re told:

Second, and equally central to appreciation of the cosmos or reality, is that “external” phenomena depend on whether anyone’s watching. Much quantum evidence like the famous double slit experiment shows that consciousness and perception are not trivial byproducts of the cosmos, but central to it. Turns out, awareness is something deep rather than idiosyncratic. It is basic and permanent, not transient and dispensable. One happy consequence of properly demoting time and space while acknowledging the role of consciousness and life is clarifying the nature of death. Obviously, if time is unreal, the idea of experience grinding to a permanent halt is seen to be one more illusion.

Death is an illusion? [*Sigh*] Quantum mechanics can have a strange effect on some people. Get this:

Since neither space nor time is real except as tools of the mind, anything that seems to occupy space (like the brain or body) or endures in time (again, the brain and body) has no absolute reality, but only an apparent one created by the mind. So there is no “after death” except the death of your physical body in someone else’s now. In reality, everything is just nows. Because there’s no absolute self-existing space-time matrix for your energy to dissipate, it’s impossible to “go” anywhere. You — the real you, which is awareness — will always be alive and continuous.

Skipping a bit, the last line tells us:

You who exist as awareness, will never cease to be.

We don’t know what to make of this. It appears to be an extreme version of Subjectivism. It’s a rejection of the existence of objective reality, which we always thought was a fundamental premise of science. If you have any opinions, dear reader, we’d like to hear them.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “New Book Claims There Is No Death

  1. I’d have thought the Deepak Chopra seal of approval would be the kiss of death for any consideration of the book as an exercise in actual science.

  2. Richard Bond

    I started to consider a response, but there is so much wrong that I did not feel inclined to waste my time. One point, however, caught my attention: the idea that an “observer” is necessary to resolve quantum indeterminacy. This is the source of unquantifiable oceans of woo. How did the universe emerge for 13.8 billion years when “we” were not around to observe it? Any intereaction beteen a couple of sub-atomic particles resolves indeterminancy; admittedly often only to set up a new indeterminate state.

  3. So we’re just existing, so to speak, in a matrix? Red pill or blue?

  4. DavidK says: “So we’re just existing, so to speak, in a matrix?”

    Don’t ask me. I’m just a figment of your mind.

  5. Scarlett Johansson in Lucy (2014) also does not explain this concept clearly.
    Also one apparently must be riding in a car going 100 mph the wrong way on a Paris street to hear her discuss this topic. I’ll ask her tonight over dinner.

  6. This is wonderful news! For it must follow that birth is also a temporal illusion; not only will our consciousness “never cease to be”, it has always been! I can’t wait to tell a Creationist that the world wasn’t created 6,000 years ago–and I should know, because I was there!

    …But personally, I prefer to stick with my ardent faith in Fungus Man, the guide to true bliss.

  7. @Megalonyx
    How can the YECs deny your claim? Were they there? The Bible doesn’t say anything about “Megalonyx wasn’t there!”

  8. “Much quantum evidence like the famous double slit experiment shows that consciousness and perception are not trivial byproducts of the cosmos, but central to it.”
    Nope. the famous double slit experiment does not show that.
    Further what Realthog writes.

  9. Very much reminds me of George Berkeley, one of the British empiricists in the 17th/18th century. He claimed that the real world is only a reflexion of the mind of God. Robert Lanza calls it consciousness.

  10. Any sufficiently accurate model of the four-dimensional universe contains a cluster of events which make up the entity jimroberts. Within each such model, there is a time beyond which no events constituting that entity exist, but the models still exist. Not only am I immortal, I am immortal in multiple copies.
    What a pity that this form is immortality is completely useless to me.

  11. I wonder what this will do to my Chakra, though I can’t seem to ever remember if it is good or bad.

  12. I seriously doubt I’ll be able to test the famous regenerative medicine doctor’s prediction that I’ll be alive when I’m dead.

  13. I asked Olivia about Curmie’s “figment” and she muttered something about “small hands” before going back to sleep.

  14. I’m getting worried about you, docbill1351.

  15. You foolish materialists are missing all the practical benefits arising from Lanza’s breakthrough discovery.

    F’rinstance,in the UK, there’s a 7-year rule on Inheritance Tax applied to gifts of money or property to ones children or grandchildren: any such gifts given within 7 years of your demise are subject to 40% tax–so the trick is, give your offspring money more than 7 years before you intend dying.

    But if there is no death, how can their be any Inheritance Tax? Ha ha, Revenue Man, gotcha!!!

    P.S. I am getting rather worried about docbill1351 as well…

  16. Richard Bond posted:

    I started to consider a response, but there is so much wrong that I did not feel inclined to waste my time. One point, however, caught my attention: the idea that an “observer” is necessary to resolve quantum indeterminacy. This is the source of unquantifiable oceans of woo. How did the universe emerge for 13.8 billion years when “we” were not around to observe it? Any interaction between a couple of sub-atomic particles resolves indeterminacy; admittedly often only to set up a new indeterminate state.

    He’s correct, but creationists would interpret this differently–as proof of God’s existence, as the First Observer.

  17. So the intelligent designer is now reduced to an observer (blessed be his/her/its name). Sounds like a LifeLock add: “I’m not a Creator, I’m just a Creation Monitor”.

  18. I suggest the couple of limericks quoted at the entry for Ronald Knox in Wikiquote.org, beginning “There once was a man who said ‘God'”.