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Posted by Philip on 27 March 2014, 1:07 pm in , , , , ,

Biocentric humanism — are you ready for it?

Man lying with blue glow around himIn the last week I've come across two new (to me) socio-scientific theories: biocentrism and humanism. I like them both, because they fill gaps in some pretty big scientific and social dilemmas that I grapple with, that many others do and even more should, in my humble opinion.

Let me defer to good ol’ Wikipedia to define each, for a start:

Biocentric universe — also known as 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 — life 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.

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith.

I like biocentrism because it explains things like the change of behaviour of electrons when observed, which, until now, has been scientifically proven but the reason has not been understood. Phenomena such as this make far more sense given the premise they are created by our biology, rather than the other way around.

I can also see how the expansiveness of the universe is similar to the expansiveness of our minds. If, as Lanza says in the video below, we can go anywhere and be anything in our imaginations, it would explain that we could mirror this externally with our observations of the universe.

Humanism offers a space in between atheism (lacking belief in anything God-like) and agnosticism (believing there is nothing known about the existence or nature of anything God-like). It takes an agnostic precept, but rather than leading to a possible lack of meaning or purpose, it brings them into existence simply by the mere fact that we do exist. Furthermore, it puts the responsibility for acting in principled ways squarely on us, rather than deferring to a higher entity, or the lack there of, as a reason or excuse to act or not act responsibly, as the case may be.

What the two have in common is that they both call heavily on the need for humans to accept that we are not simply another level of mammal or animal. They insist that the human brain is fundamentally different to every other other species on the planet. We have the capacity for not only self-reflection but reflection, observation and perception of reality itself. We also have the capacity for moral and ethical reasoning and to moderate our behaviour based on these things, rather than mere instinct.

No other species can do these two things except humans; yet how often do we fool ourselves that we can’t?

Because of these commonalities, I like the concept of them together — biocentric humanism or, if you like, humanistic biocentrism. Coupled they suggest two things:

  1. An understanding that the world and everything in and beyond it exists because we create it in our human brains
  2. That we are completely responsible for — and able to — change the reality that we create and experience, both individually and collectively.

I don’t mean to sound like an elitist or megalomaniac. In fact it humbles me to think this way. It also reminds me of the huge responsibility we have to look after the planet and its environment, other cohabiting species and, most importantly, ourselves and each other.

Sometimes, we do this very, very well. But, so often and now, I think, more and more frequently, we fail so miserably. None of the problems we face these days — climate change, poverty, violence, suicide, inequality, you name it — need to exist. They are simply the result of our greed, irresponsibility and unwillingness to accept that we lie in the bed that we make.

Biocentrism has been dubbed as possibly as significant a paradigm shift as realising the Earth is round. The British Humanist Association describes humanism as a trust in “the scientific method, evidence, and reason to discover truths about the universe and [people’s ability to place] human welfare and happiness at the centre of their ethical decision making.” Stephen Fry sums it up brilliantly in the second video.

A biocentric humanist movement on this planet is sorely needed. Are you ready?



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