i n t e g r a l   c o u n s e l i n g   i n s t i t u t e

                        e n e r g i z i n g    t r a n s f o r m a t i o n    t  h r o u g h    i n q u i r y ,   i n s i g h t ,   a n d   i n t e g r a t i o n


                   April 2005 Book Review and Quotes Archive


                                            Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: 
                                              Intelligent Life Is The Architect Of The Universe

                                                                      James N. Gardner

                                                           Inner Ocean Publishing 2003


This book  poses the question—Why is the universe bio-friendly?  To provide an answer, James Gardner draws on a wide

range of scientific theories to form a synthesis: 

The essence of that synthesis is that life, mind and the fate of the cosmos are intimately and indissolubly linked in a

very special way.  To echo the insightful phrase of Princeton astrophysicist Freeman Dyson, it is my contention that

“mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of our universe in a way that altogether surpasses our comprehension.”[1] 

The answer to this question has usually been framed in one of two anthropic principles.  The weak version states the tautology

that since humans inhabit this universe, it must be life-friendly.  The strong version suggests that life and intelligence will

eventually be shown to be inherent in the laws of nature.  

But whereas the strong principle usually ends up floundering on the implication of a theistic creator, Gardner proposes a

naturalistic solution: 

The basic claim of this book is that the oddly life-friendly character of the fundamental physical laws and constants that

prevail in our universe can be explained as the predictable outcome of natural processes—specifically the evolution of life

and intelligence of tens of billions of years.[2] 

The way this evolution takes place forms the essence of his Selfish Biocosm hypothesis—that the cosmos replicates itself

and propagates itself in successive universes leading to universes that are bio-friendly.  

To develop his hypothesis, Gardner draws not just on cosmology, but on evolutionary biology, computer theory and complexity

theory.  He does this in a thorough but extraordinarily clear manner.  Though he has published his theory in scholarly journals,

this book form is done in a rich format of beautiful pictures, an excellent glossary and explanatory sidebars on various related

topics which are almost a book in themselves .  Perhaps the clarity of the writing is due to the fact that besides his scientific

interests and writings, Gardner is an attorney, a former state legislator and a lobbyist.

 The book can be seen as a response to the famous statement by the physicist Steven Weinberg that “the more the universe

seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless”: 

It is my fervent hope that those who consider seriously the speculative exercise in intellectual cartography presented in this

book will conclude that Weinberg’s assertion may eventually prove to be as mistaken as the flat-Earth orthodoxy espoused

with such strenuous but utterly misplaced confidence in a bygone age.[3] 

In the final chapter, Gardner moves from scientific theory and considers the practical implications of the theory, including the

ethical, legal and religious aspects.  He concludes with Freeman Dyson’s idea that a sufficiently evolved mind is indistinguishable

from the mind of God.  

The Selfish Biocosm hypothesis takes Dyson’s assertion of equivalence one step further by suggesting that there is a

iscernible and comprehensible evolutionary ladder by means of which mortal minds will one day ascend into the intellectual

stratosphere that will be the domain of superminds—what Dyson would call the realm of God.[4] 

By broadening our vision of the larger process, it provides a naturalistic and scientific basis for the search for meaning and for

other “Big Questions” of our past and our future. 

Review by John Parker (04/05)




                                             April 2005 Weekly Quotes    


"I wonder , once a person has quieted the self in meditation and thoughts drop away, is it a movement toward death or transcendence?"

Kate Morris, PhD (January 2, 2005)


"The painful thing is that when we buy into disapproval, we are practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we are practicing

harshness. The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become. How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to

ourselves and others. The trick then is to practice gentleness and letting go. We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity

and not make it such a big deal. Instead of struggling against the force of confusion, we could meet it and relax. When we do that,

we gradually discover that clarity is always there. In the middle of the worst scenario of the worst person in the world, in the

midst of all the heavy dialogue with ourselves, open space is always there."

When Things Fall Apart ~ Heart Advice for Difficult Times By Pema Chodron


"In a nondual approach to therapy, a therapist simultaneously identifies and disidentifies with a client's experience. The capacity to

identify is love. The capacity to disidentify is wisdom. Both arise simultaneously and without any conflict. Ideally, therapists experience

their client's immediate reality-thoughts and feelings-as intimately as our own."

Peter Fenner, from "The Sacred Mirror


"Put simply, the Selfish Biocosm perspective requires a drastic revision in traditional monotheistic concepts of a supernatural

deity as the sole creator of the cosmos. The new paradigm implies that the cosmos actually creates and renews itself as

an enormous self-organizing and self-renewing system, and, further, that each living creature, at each juncture in the cosmic life

cycle, is responsible for a small but possibly indispensable contribution to the overall process of cosmic growth, evolution, and

eventual renewal.  Most succinctly stated, it is an effort to boldly reconceive terrestrial evolution as a subroutine in an

inconceivably vast cosmological process of ontogenesis by means of which the universe becomes increasingly pervaded by ever

more complex forms of living matter and at the climax of which a living cosmos reproduces itself by propagating one or more

"baby" universes."

Biocosm by James N. Gardner





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