1. notleia says:

    Welp, color is just a fun trick your brain plays on you (magenta is not real: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/224757837640301674/?fbclid=IwAR2EozdOWfir2rdnlTiyEaOIE4CuuY5uktgjk5bZ4JxEEwy5U1KMyIUOgB8) so I can at least see the outlines of the concept that time is also a fun trick your brain plays on you, but that’s it. IDK how that notion is supposed to interact with the rest of the world.

    But it does follow the basis of postmodernist thought: that we are all unreliable narrators pinging around this sandbox of a universe.

    • tt_perry says:

      According to Lanza, time is an illusion, space is another kind of illusion, and separation as a distinct individual (as opposed to part of the whole universe) is yet another illusion. He mentioned 3-D vision specifically as an illusion, but I’m sure he’d agree color is an illusion, too.

      The thingy with the foundation of science as a discipline was not the idea that humans are reliable narrators (the founders of modern science did not believe we are), but that with vigorous methodology we can overcome a lot of our bias and discover truth if we work at it hard enough. Actually, the old-time Protestants studying the Bible believed the same thing–if we study this thing, we can understand what it used to mean before the Catholics got a hold of it. (This perspective was shaped by the Renaissance realization that culture had changed since ancient times, something medieval people were not entirely aware of and which happened largely without a plan–though the Protestants held a distinct grudge against Catholics for changing things on purpose–which for the most part they hadn’t done.)

      This “if we study, we can understand” mentality is not, again, not saying people don’t tend to be unreliable. But postmodernism makes us all totally unreliable, or unreliable to the degree that it the question of objective truth doesn’t even matter anymore. Lanza’s view certainly is compatible with objective truth being unobtainable–even as he claims his theory answers riddles that people seeking objective truth have run into. Which you know, kinda annoys me.

      I am a believer in scientific realism. Also in a supernatural realm, one outside our experience, but also objectively real. Understanding reality may be bloody hard, but it isn’t impossible in my worldview. Because God is very subtle, but isn’t deliberately trying to mess with our minds…at least, I’m pretty sure He isn’t…

      So, I study. I don’t always know what is true, but I think truth is an obtainable goal. Truth is either the Holy Grail which I’ve had some glimpses at, or it is the windmill I tilt at, depending on how one narrates the story of my life.

      Would you classify yourself as a Postmodernist?

      • notleia says:

        I don’t think I’m a card-carrying postmodernist (I’d want to read all the fine print), but I definitely undress it with my eyes a lot lol

        And UGH I just noticed the Deepak Chopra blurb, which undermines any confidence I could have in this book. That may not be the author’s fault, but now I’m wondering how this topic would be handled by people who aren’t lumped in with Deepak Chopra (ugh).

        I don’t wanna commit to saying that it’s impossible to know things for real (whatever that means), but I think humans are riddled with enough biases and limitations of our meat-computers that it’s difficult to know for sure whether we know a thing for real or just enough for practical consistency. But practical consistency is a functional goal and that is pretty okay (maybe that is still very postmodern of me, IDK).

        Would it help to think of it as the secular version of Total Depravity? Except it’s not about morality but about whether and how humans are capable of knowing things, with our handicap of our emotionally driven brains. Even when we do science to a thing, it’s possible to still criticize the parameters the scientists gave when they designed the experiment/study or their definitions when they analyzed the results.

        Take CS Lewis’s quip about the food peep show that somebody referenced a couple posts ago. It makes my spidey-senses tingle and I was picking it apart at work while doing otherwise mindless tasks. And I just deleted the start of a long ramble about my pickings-apart since that’s way off topic and I totally deserve a gold star and praise for my restraint.

  2. I’ve kinda heard of viewpoints like this before, but didn’t know they were called Biocentrism. I don’t really agree with them, but they seem fun to unpack for the sake of philosophical discussion or at least story fodder.

    To an extent things ARE subjective and in our heads, but not in the way Dr. Lanza describes. I’d say it’s more like truth and reality are real and exist in a certain way regardless of what we believe, but subjectivity does lie in our PERCEPTIONS — the way we sense, interpret and react to the world around us. Using the tree as an example, the tree is a real, tangible thing that would exist regardless of what we believe. But that won’t matter much to us unless we can ‘see it in our minds’, so to speak… Meaning at least one of our senses perceives the tree and our brain decodes those sensory signals in a way that tells us it’s there and how to interact with it.

    Reality is also very complicated, and people all think and perceive a little differently. A lot of times they’re technically seeing the same thing but end up arguing anyway because their minds emphasize different aspects of the thing. One person could argue that the tree is hideous, and the other person could argue that it’s beautiful. They could argue for a long time, yet it may never come out that Person 1 thinks the tree is ugly because he’s looking at the shape of it and hates it. While Person 2 doesn’t care about the shape and only thought it was beautiful because of the tree’s color.

    Honestly, as much as I like philosophical stuff and exploring ideas, sometimes I see theories like the one Dr. Lanza describes and wonder why people act like it matters in terms of real life application. Some of what he says reminds me of those ‘we all live in a simulation’ theories. If we did live in a simulation it would be cool to know, but unless we’re in a horrible situation like The Matrix, we probably don’t NEED to know. It’d be very hard to prove, at any rate, and it wouldn’t matter if everything in the simulation was ‘fake’ because we don’t have much choice but to interact with it as if it truly was real. If we thought nothing was real we might be less inclined to treat each other or even ourselves very well.

    That said, I know I shouldn’t be casually brushing off ideas just because they don’t seem to have any direct real life use. I guess as I get older I just have less patience for certain things. At the very least thinking through this stuff can really help not just with storyworld building but also characterization. Mainly in the sense of learning to go beyond arguing about the ideas and actually learning to understand the people behind them. We can think a subject is crazy, but to realistically portray characters that capture the essence of why someone might adhere to Dr. Lanza’s theory? That takes a lot more skill and understanding and actually does have lots of real life benefits.

    As for Ethical Biocentrism, I’ve seen a decent amount of that because, for most of the time I’ve been on the internet, I’ve hung out in/observed several online communities revolving around anthropomorphic animal stories. Some people believe in Ethical Biocentrism because they’re super empathetic and want all life to be treated well regardless of what species it is. Other people use it in a way that shows clear hatred for humans, or at least resentment and a desire to look down on them.

    I sorta disagree with your statement that ‘all animal rights activists are biocentrists’, though. A person can hold human needs in the highest priority, but still be activists for animal rights because they don’t see any reason to mistreat a creature that is capable of feeling pain. Though of course there’s different types and levels of activism.

    • tt_perry says:

      Thanks for your comment.

      As for the practical weight of Lanza’s beliefs, the reason why I compared it to a combination of deadly viruses was because of my perception of this philosophy’s ability to isolate a person from saving faith in Jesus.

      Because at the wonder we feel at the universe because it is made by God, Lanza could say–“That wonder is real but is misplaced–actually the universe itself is the wonder, the great mind.” Then the holes we could poke in an atheist’s arguments for a random universe as not making sense, he can say, “Yes, the atheist doesn’t make sense, but you you don’t, either. There is no beginning.” If you talk about Christ’s work on the Cross, he could say, “Your dualistic idea of God is wrong–God does not judge nature, God IS nature and all of us, too. God judges nothing.” But if you talk about death and life after death and heaven and hell, he could say, “There is no such thing as death. We don’t die–that’s an illusion.” If a Neo-Pagan said, “I worship an ancient god,” he could say, “That’s a particular manifestation of a segment of the single divine mind–you are not quite right, but you’re close.” But he would absolutely shut down the idea of God being outside space and time. If an atheist mocks a Christian or anyone else for doubting evolution, Lanza can say to the atheist, “Oh, I’m quite with you–evolution happened.” But if challenged on how evolution happened when it’s so improbable in some aspects, he can say, “Because the universe wanted it to happen, but you are quite right about the science.” If you launch into how the worldview he holds doesn’t make sense because it logically self-contradicts at various points, he could say, “We didn’t evolve brains capable of understanding everything, just brains capable of surviving. Our logic is not able to understand everything, so if something seems a logical contradiction, it’s because human logic is inherently limited.”

      So at every turn, the philosophy gives a person a warm fuzzy feeling about life but also shields a person from listening to any disagreement, preventing a person from learning, shielding a person from coming to Christ. Which I find to be sinister.

      While it relates to stories, the most important reason to mention what I did to Christian people is so they will be aware of this philosophy as a potential danger to, say, their children. So I think this is a very practical topic. Even though I didn’t frame the discussion in those terms.

      As for your comment on animal rights activism, I suppose you are right. I overstated my case.

      • Autumn Grayson says:

        I was moreso questioning Lanza’s (probable) adamance in advocating his theory, because even if we lived in a mindverse thing like he claimed, it probably wouldn’t truly change much for us, or at least not for the better. I already understood your reasons for seeing his theory as harmful 🙂

        That said, I dunno. Even if I question the importance of Lanza like people pushing their theories, I can still come up with reasons why their arguments COULD be important. Like, if we were stuck in something horrible like The Matrix, shouldn’t we try to escape? Or the fact that if we understood the very fabric of reality, we could bend it to our will and escape extinction. Or going on and on about the theory could simply help people expand their problem solving skills and help them come up with other theories that actually DO have merit…

        But I do agree that his theory, taken as a whole with no filters, can definitely be harmful to some people.

        • tt_perry says:

          Interesting that you were looking at things from his perspective. Yeah, if he’s right, do we really need to know what he’s trying to show us? No, actually.

          But I imagine he thinks we will enjoy life more and be more fulfilled if we realize we are all part of one giant mind–we will find peace, harmony, joy.

          Of course there is joy to be found in a sense of harmony with nature. We were created to be in harmony with nature and we are part of the creation as opposed to separate from it.

          Lanza is in effect saying to enjoy our place as part of the universe–and there is real joy to be found there–without embracing the moral God who holds us accountable for the evil things we do. Dangerous stuff in my opinion. Like eating only desert and skipping the vegetables and thinking you’re smarter than the sap who does the opposite or who eats both.

          Though it is noteworthy that Lanza’s vision isn’t exactly spreading like wildfire. Not now anyway. Which is a good thing.

  3. Vic Mategrano says:

    Lanza describes “a particle’s wave function may spread over a vast realm of possible locations, but after we’ve made an observation, the wave function loses that wide range of freedom and automatically becomes closely concentrated around a specific position; after all, we just saw it. This transition from a wide to a narrow wave function is called wave function collapse”. So even if the universe is eternal doesn’t there have to be a “prime observer” that collapses the wave function that allows that universe to to be perceived”

What do you think?