Author(s): Gerard Zwier
The traditional model of how the universe and life came about has some very serious gaps in it which many scientists of all persuasions tend to ignore. In my view, the idea of a physical reality being created out of nothing is a bizarre notion. Instead, I suggest that in contrast to an understanding of the world in which the evolution of Homo sapiens is almost incidental to `the way things really are', knowledge is always the product of a living entity and its perceived environment. This means that awareness, thinking and knowing things are not just the prerogative of human beings, but of all beings, whether they are micro-organisms or plants, trees, insects, fish or mammals. My conclusion is that all living beings have the ability not only to grow, metabolise nutrients and reproduce, but also to know the appropriate responses to problematic situations. We are all `knowing beings' within our own reality.
About the author Born in 1948 on a small island off the coast of Sumatra to Dutch colonial parents, Gerard Zwier left Indonesia as a toddler and grew up in Holland. As a young man he was fascinated by nature and the natural sciences but also loved travelling and adventure which led him to explore the world from a very early age. This led to his emigration to Australia in 1969 where he worked in jobs which enabled him to explore the outback of Australia and meet people of many different cultures. In his spare time he was an avid reader of philosophy, psychology, anthropology and Eastern religions. After several years, Gerard travelled back to Holland in an overland, five month long journey (`I'm Going Home', a travel journal published by Awanui press). However, 12 months later, and no longer able to resist the many attractions of the world `down-under', he emigrated to New Zealand in 1974. Supported by part time employment which allowed him to finance his course and library fees, Gerard studied at Auckland University, attained a MA First Class Honours and was awarded three scholarships, resulting in a PhD in Psychology in 1987. (Published in the European Journal of Social Psychology). The subject of both his MA and PhD theses concerned social psychological aspects of scientific progress drawing heavily on the sociology and philosophy of science. However, his main passion in life has always been to better understand the nature of reality and the universe at large. Gerard now lives with his wife Diane in Matakana, north of Auckland, where he spends much of his time reading and writing on his favourite subject.
PREFACE 5 INTRODUCTION 16 1. THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE 27 THE CURRENT THEORY OF HOW THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE CAME INTO BEING 28 SOME PUZZLING QUESTIONS 30 THE MEANING OF SPACE AND TIME 31 WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE TIME BEGAN? 32 WHERE DID THIS ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF MATTER AND ENERGY COME FROM? 33 WHERE IN SPACE WAS THE SINGULARITY THAT GAVE RISE TO THE BIG BANG? 34 WHY IS LIFE EXACTLY AT THE CENTRE BETWEEN THE LARGEST AND THE SMALLEST? 36 WHY DOES THE UNIVERSE APPEAR TO BE FINE-TUNED TO ALLOW LIFE TO EXIST? 37 WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH MATTER? 39 HOW PLAUSIBLE IS THE CURRENT EXPLANATION OF THE BIRTH OF THE UNIVERSE? 40 2. THE BIOCENTRIC PARADIGM 43 WHAT, EXACTLY, IS LIFE? 49 REALITY IS DEPENDENT ON OBSERVATION 52 THE EVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT OF REALITY 54 LIFE IS AWARE 58 LIFE MADE THE WORLD COME INTO BEING 59 THE FIRST MURMURS OF LIFE AND THE CREATION OF A REALITY 61 THE NOTION OF A PHYSICAL WORLD IS AN OBSTACLE TO OUR UNDERSTANDING 63 A NOTE ABOUT ANTHROPOMORPHISM 66 LIFE BELONGS TO AN ENTITY MOVING THROUGH TIME 67 LIFE BELONGS TO AN ENTITY THAT MOVES THROUGH SPACE 70 SENSING, SIGNALLING AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NERVOUS SYSTEM 72 LIFE INTRODUCES CAUSALITY 76 LIFE INITIATES ACTION 78 LIFE IS BUILT ON COMPETITION AND COOPERATION AMONG SPECIES 80 THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE IS DEATH 82 AN EXPLANATION OF THE DISCREPANCY REGARDING THE TIME-SCALE. 84 OUR UNIVERSE IS A HUMAN UNIVERSE 88 IN ITS BROADEST SENSE, LIFE IS AWARE AND HAS MEANING 91 3. BIOCENTRISM IS A SCIENTIFIC THEORY 94 REALITY IS A FUNCTION OF BEING IN THE WORLD 99 A PHYSICAL UNIVERSE COULD NOT HAVE EXISTED BEFORE LIFE APPEARED 101 THE UNIVERSE IS FINE-TUNED FOR LIFE BECAUSE LIFE CREATED IT 103 OUR POSITION IN SPACE IS DUE TO LIFE HAVING CREATED THE UNIVERSE 105 THE SIZE OF THE HUMAN CELL LIES AT THE GEOMETRICAL MEAN BETWEEN THE SMALLEST AND THE LARGEST SIZE THAT CAN EXIST 106 A HOMOCENTRIC BIAS HAMPERS OUR UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE 109 THE QUEST TO FIND OTHER LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE 111 THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF TIME TRAVEL 114 4. THE HUMAN BEING'S DEVELOPMENT OF REALITY 117 THE EARLY HUMAN ENVIRONMENT. 117 WHEN THINGS GO WRONG 123 COMMON SENSE REALITY IS NORMAL. 126 MULTIPLE REALITIES. 128 COMMONSENSE REALITY CHANGES WITH TIME. 129 OUR INTERPRETATION OF REALITY IS DEFENDED WITH VIGOUR. 131 INSTITUTIONS ENDORSE AND RATIFY COMMON-SENSE REALITY. 132 DIFFICULT TO STEP OUTSIDE IT. 134 ACCEPTANCE OF EVERYDAY LIFE NEGATES THE NEED TO QUESTION EXISTENCE. 135 SECURITY IS ACHIEVED BY IDENTIFYING WITH OTHERS 136 INTERNALISING THE VALUES OF THE IN-GROUP AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF IDENTITY 137 ON SOCIETAL CONTROL OVER THE INDIVIDUAL. 139 5. ALTERED REALITIES 143 SPATIAL AND AUDITORY ABERRATIONS 144 SLEEP DEPRIVATION 144 DREAMS AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE 145 MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES 149 `DISEASES OF THE MIND' 149 DRUG ALTERED REALITIES 150 HOLOGRAMS, AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITIES 151 PARANORMAL AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA 153 PRESCIENCE AND PREMONITIONS 156 DEJA VU 160 PRECOGNITION AND THE PECULIAR HYPNAGOGIC STATE OF BEING 161 CRITIQUE OF THE EXISTENCE OF SUPERNATURAL EVENTS 167 A CRACK IN THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM 171 DEATH 176 6. BIOCENTRISM REQUIRES A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO SCIENCE 180 NORMAL SCIENCE AND SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS 181 DISCOVERY OR BRINGING WORLDS INTO EXISTENCE? 183 LIFE NEEDS TO BE AT THE CENTRE OF OUR RESEARCH 184 INJECTING HUMANITY IN THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES 186 7. BIOCENTRISM REQUIRES A RETHINKING OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND NATURE. 188 ARE PLANTS AND TREES AWARE? 188 WHAT DO INSECTS KNOW? 191 THE WORLD BENEATH THE SEA 194 BIRDS 196 MAMMALS 200 WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN RE THE REALITY PERCEIVED BY DIFFERENT LIFE FORMS? 202 REVERENCE FOR LIFE. 206 ANIMAL WELFARE: A RIGHT TO LIFE 206 WHERE ARE WE HEADING? 208 IN TODAY'S SOCIETY ANIMALS ARE MALTREATED AS A MATTER OF COURSE 210 MORE APPALLING WAYS IN WHICH ANIMALS ARE ABUSED 212 8. PRESCRIPTION FOR A BIOCENTRIC-INSPIRED SOCIETY 216 THE RESISTANCE TO A NEW PARADIGM 216 IMPROVE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF OTHER LIFE FORMS 218 ADDRESSING THE ARROGANT ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE ENVIRONMENT 220 REPLACING ORGANISED RELIGION WITH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF WELL-BEING. 223 EPILOGUE 228