Selfish biocosm hypothesis
The selfish biocosm hypothesis is an evolutionary and developmental universe hypothesis originally proposed by complexity scholar James N. Gardner in 2000.
Intelligent life as the architect of the universe
In articles beginning in 2000, and in the books Biocosm (2003) and The Intelligent Universe (2007) Gardner has developed the hypothesis that there is a cycle of cosmic creation in which highly evolved intelligences with a superior command of physics spawn baby universes engineered to be able to give birth to new, intelligent life. In this hypothesis the ability of our present universe to support intelligent life as well as it does is not an accident, but the result of a succession of increasingly "bio-friendly" universes emerging within the multiverse, in a process of both (evolutionary) intelligence-guided experiment and engineered (developmental) design. Like a few other scholars, such as Andrew S. Friedman (2002), Gardner compares the fundamental constants (and perhaps laws) of nature to DNA in living organisms, and he speculates that life and intelligence must statistically emerge in universes with our constants.
Intelligence as an explanation of the anthropic universe
Gardner's hypothesis was motivated by an attempt to provide a naturalistic explanation for the fine-tuning problem, our apparently anthropic universe. He argues that the (developmental) destiny of highly evolved intelligence (perhaps our distant progeny, should our civilization persist) is to infuse the entire universe with life, and eventually engage in cosmic reproduction by spawning one or more new universes, which will themselves be endowed with life-generating properties. He further argues that values of existing constants constitute a 'biosignature,' a message which will be increasingly readable as being intelligently influenced as science advances.
While not always clear in his discussion of this point, Gardner's hypothesis remains fully naturalistic as he does not posit that these universe-creating intelligences are omniscient, omnipotent, or possess supernatural capacities. Thus the SBH is within the research themes of the EDU community, which exclude such topics as non-naturalistic orthogenesis or teleology, intelligent design, supernaturalism, and theology.
Like a number of antecedents, such as Guy Murchie (1978) and Freeman Dyson (1985), Gardner sees the evolutionary development of life on Earth as a part of a universal struggle of order against entropy. He proposes that our local contribution to developing intelligence and life influences future lives and intelligent entities throughout time and that intelligence applied collectively throughout the cosmos largely determines its structure and dynamics. He proposes the SBH provides a foundation for a new set of ethical imperatives that are more cosmically-aware, sustainable, and foresighted than those commonly held today.
- Dyson, F. (1985/2004) Infinite in All Directions (Amazon), Harper Perennial. ISBN 0060728892
- Friedman, A. (2002) Fundamental Constants of Physics: The Genes of the Universe, Guest Lecture at the Summer Science Program, Ojai, CA, 2002.
- Gardner, James N. (2000) The selfish biocosm: Compexity as cosmology. Complexity 5(3):34-45.
- Gardner, James N. (2003) Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution (Amazon), Inner Ocean Pub. ISBN 1930722222
- Gardner, James N. (2007) The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos (Amazon), New Page. ISBN 1564149196
- Murchie, G. (1978/1999) The Seven Mysteries of Life (Amazon), Mariner Books. ISBN 0395957915