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
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
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
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
But whereas the strong principle usually ends up floundering on the implication of a theistic creator, Gardner proposes a
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.
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.
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.
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
Biocosm by James N. Gardner