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Gardner, James N.

Gardner, James N.

PERSONAL: Married Lynda Nelson (in business). Education: Yale University, B.A.; Yale Law School, J.D.

CAREER: Writer, complexity theorist, attorney, senator, and science writer. United States Supreme Court, Washington, DC, law clerk for Associate Justice Potter Stewart, 1975; Oregon State Senate, Portland, state senator, 1978-84; cofounder, with Lynda Nelson Gardner, of law and government affairs firm, 1992.


Effective Lobbying in the European Community, Kluwer Law and Taxation Publishers (Boston, MA), 1991.

Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life Is the Architect of the Universe, Inner Ocean Publishing (Makawao, HI), 2003.

Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos, New Page Books (Franklin Lakes, NJ), 2007.

Contributor of technical articles and scientific papers to periodicals, including Complexity, Acta Astronautica, and Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Contributor of popular science articles to Wired, Nature Biotechnology, Wall Street Journal, and World Link. Former feature editor, Yale Scientific Magazine; former drama critic, Yale Daily News; former article editor, Yale Law Journal.

SIDELIGHTS: Trained in philosophy and theoretical biology, James N. Gardner is an attorney, science writer, and complexity theorist who has written widely on issues related to cosmology, law, philosophy, evolution, and other topics. In Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life Is the Architect of the Universe, Gardner proposes a new mechanism for the complexity of the cosmos that he calls the “Selfish Biocosm”—the “struggle of the creative force of life against the disintegrative acid of entropy, of emergent order against encroaching chaos, and ultimate power of mind against the brute intransigence of lifeless matter,” as he puts it on his home page.

Though life as it is known occupies only an infinitesimally small fraction of the universe, Gardner notes that if some major characteristics of the greater physical world were only slightly different, life would have had no chance to develop or continue. A universe expanding at a greater rate, for example, would not be favorable to life. Minor differences in the gravitational constant, the charge of an electron, or the speed of light would create a universe inimical to life. Gardner’s theory posits that it is not random chance that the physical laws of the universe favor the emergence of carbon-based life. Instead, he believes that a superintelligent race living in a “mother universe” created and designed the universe humans live in, carefully adjusting all the fundamental physical laws to make them favorable to life. Once established, the force of life itself becomes dedicated to its propagation. Much as humans have a biological imperative to pass on their DNA to new generations, life itself seeks to propagate, expand, and perpetuate itself in all areas of the universe. Evolution, to Gardner, is not a random Darwinian event in which prominent characteristics are favored; instead, evolution has a purpose, and that purpose is to continue the expansion and development of life in the universe. Eventually, this universe will grow to develop its own form of superintelligence, giving it the ability to create “baby universes” of its own, and continuing the ongoing cosmic cycle.

Gardner does not suggest the influence of a deity as understood in religious terms, though his theory does have some characteristics in common with notions of intelligent design. Instead, the “selfish biocosm” deliberately expands and propagates intelligent life within itself, and will continue to do so on a grand, almost unimaginable scale. For those who do not “favor an explanation for the creation of life that involves a deity of some sort, then Gardner’s theory seems a plausible alternative” to theories of both divine creation and intelligent design, noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. In a Harper’s review of Biocosm, John Leonard wrote: “This is the best popular account I’ve seen of the argument for ‘intelligent design’.... [Gardner] speculates himself into a radiant evolutionary future.” In stating his argument, noted a reviewer on the Deep Change Web site, Gardner offers an “eloquent and lucid synthesis of the most recent advances in physics, cosmology, biology, biochemistry, astronomy, and complexity theory.”



Harper’s, October, 2003, John Leonard, review of Biocosm: The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life Is the Architect of the Universe, pp. 75-76.

Publishers Weekly, July 21, 2003, review of Biocosm, p. 184.


Biocosm Online, (December 20, 2006).

Deep Change Web site, (December 20, 2006), biography of James N. Gardner and review of Biocosm.

International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, (December 20, 2006), biography of James N. Gardner., (December 20, 2006), biography of James N. Gardner.

Scientist Errant Web site, (April 15, 2006), Michael J. Corey, review of Biocosm; (April 29, 2006), Michael J. Corey, review of Biocosm; (May 30, 2006), Michael J. Corey, review of Biocosm.

Seti League Web site, (December 20, 2006), David Ocame, review of Biocosm.*

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