The Physics of Christianity Hardcover – 1 May 2007
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A thrilling ride to the far edges of modern physics. --New York Times Book Review
A dazzling exercise in scientific speculation, as rigorously argued as it is boldly conceived. --Science
More readable than Roger Penrose s The Emperor s New Mind or Douglas Hofstadter s Gödel, Escher, Bach . . . an imaginative eschatological entertainment appropriate to the approaching end of the millennium. --New Orleans Times-Picayune --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
FRANK J. TIPLER is a professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University and the author of The Physics of Immortality. He lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Using the principles of five fundamental physical laws: quantum mechanics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum cosmology and the Standard Model of Particle Physics, he validates several 'Christian' contentions which were hitherto in the domain of miracles. Namely the Incarnation, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, and the Resurrection.
Using an arresting blend of scientific and mathematical logic, Tipler also throws profound light on the Omega Point, God as the cosmological singularity, the problem of evil, and the co-existence of divine determinism and human free will. Never before have I encountered such stunning implications of the multiverse paradigm that emerges from quantum mechanics.
An atheist since the age of 16, Tipler only again became a theist circa 1998 due to advancements in the OPT that came after his book The Physics of Immortality (1994; PoI), which concentrates on the OPT.
Physicist Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer and winner of the Institute of Physics' Paul Dirac Prize for his work) defends the physics of the OPT in his excellent book The Fabric of Reality (1997).
Tipler's present book (PoC) is a simplified exposition of his OPT, while giving an update to the latest findings of the OPT since Tipler's previous book, PoI. PoC is very much intended for a popular audience, and far less technical details are given than in PoI (which is quite technically advanced, particularly in the Appendix for Scientists, and is quite an intellectually rigorous treasure-trove in everything from the physics of Artificial Intelligence, perfect emulations of humans via computer, the inherent multiverse nature of quantum mechanics, and much more).Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
1) His main flaw, is the amount of certainty he gives to his sentences. When you research what he's talking about, you see that the facts, as they are, are much more questionable than what he leads you to believe.
For example, he says that the Shroud of Turin is consistent with XX males. IF the Shroud of Turin is the real burial shroud of Christ, and IF it is consistent with XX males (the only reference on the internet to this fact comes from Tipler), then, maybe, it gives us evidence. But he doesn't use correct qualifiers. (Qualifiers are words like "perhaps".) He states them as flat fact, which casts doubts on his entire book. A good scientist will always qualifies his statements with words indicating the degree of confidence he has in them.
2) He tries to gain a patina of scientific-ness by using big, complicated words, and, perhaps intentionally, explaining things in a confusing fashion. I took a quarter of quantum physics, and have read some books on it since I graduated from college, so I have a moderate understanding in the field, but even when Tipler is explaining things I already know, I find myself becoming confused by his explanations. He really needs to take a class on how to put together better analogies.
3) He has a very cockeyed idea of what his reader needs to have defined for him. For example, after the following line, "More precisely, the uncertainty principle says that the product of the uncertainty in the position of a particle multiplied by the uncertainty in its momentum must always be greater than Planck's constant divided by 4pi." he could have chosen to define a lot of different things. Planck's constant, or where the 4pi came from (or why its even important), or what uncertainty means. Instead, of all things, he defines *momentum* (the product of mass and velocity)! He's either intentionally being obtuse, or he's really got an odd idea of who is going to be reading his books.
4) His illustrations suck. He uses illustrations for things that don't need illustrations (like full page ones showing how waves constructively and destructively interfere), but doesn't show diagrams for much more complicated things that he tries to describe using convoluted sentences.
5) Quantum Physics is the new magic. I've noticed from hanging out on philosophy forums online, that Quantum Physics is the new magic. There's a quantum theory of consciousness, quantum this, quantum that. Everything can be proven with Quantum Physics. So some places have a sort of Godwin's Law that you can't use Quantum Physics as proof of anything -- unless you yourself have a strong background in the subject. Of course, this doesn't quite apply, as Tipler is a mathematical physicist, but his writings certainly remind me of all the Quantum Physics-as-magic posts I've seen written online.
So why did I give it four stars? Because it *is* interesting, and if you can work through the above issues, it will make you think, whether you agree with him or not, and many of his points do seem to be right. I've long considered the singularity that started the big bang to be the First Cause which philosophers have long talked about, even in arguments predating Christianity.
After reflecting on the book, I'm less happy with it now. Essentially, his argument is incoherent. His claims contradict themselves and each other. For example, he claims the following:
1) Multiple universes is true -- in fact, there are infinitely many universes, containing all randomly possible events.
2) A certain law of physics requires actions on the parts of intelligent life to hold true.
3) We have free will
4) The universe was designed to support life.
I've written a longer discussion on this, but suffice it to say that the four statements above are obviously in contradiction. If we have free will, then how can a law of physics require us to perform a certain act (destroying baryons in the universe)? Indeed, it implies we have to do it. But if the many worlds hypothesis is true, then in some universes we *don't* perform the action. But that means his interpretation of a law of physics is only true in some worlds, but not in others. But something which is logically true must be true in all universes (it's actually the definition of logical). Therefore, by definition, his interpretation is illogical. How can he say our universe was designed to hold life, when he claims with the many worlds hypothesis that there are an infinite number of universes, all randomly rolled? We just happened to end up in one suitable for holding life. It's the direct opposite of the strong anthropomorphic principle. How can he say we have free will, when we're really just randomly doing deterministic behaviors (which is determinism, not free will)? How can his interpretation of a law of physics even make sense when it requires intervention on the part of intelligent beings to hold true?
The list of contradictions in his arguments I put together is actually quite long. As a result, I think it's better as 3 stars than 4. It is still mind expanding to read, for atheists and theists alike.
Some interpreters of Frank Tipler have argued that he is not claiming that his explanations of the apparently miraculous events of Scripture show that they occur, although, from the way in which he presents his explanations in the book, it is easy to assume that this is what he is arguing. But even if he is not making this stronger claim, he is claiming that his explanation is plausible. However, not all explanations of an event are plausible; Tipler hasn’t shown the plausibility of many of his explanations.
In what way does Tipler's book do a disservice to Christianity. The Christian faith is based on belief in a God who is the sovereign creator of the universe and who, if he so chooses, can intervene in the normal course of events. Believers consider such interventions as miracles. (The majority of Christian theologians and philosophers past and present regard miracles as events that set aside the normal workings of nature in such a way as to be inexplicable through the laws of physics as we know them. If everything happens in accordance with natural law,there are no true miracles, simply events for which we have not yet discovered the natural explanation.)
To try to show that Christian miracles are simply extremely unusual occurrences that have a non-supernatural explanation, is to render belief in a supernatural being unnecessary. To say this in another way: To the extent that Tipler succeeds in showing that the events described in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures have a non-supernatural explanation (whether we're talking about an event such as the Virgin Birth or the origin of the universe) he has succeeded in showing that belief in a creator and sustainer of the universe is unnecessary. And so, if what he is doing is in fact good science (which it isn't) and he has shown that what is found in the Bible is scientifically explicable, there is no need to believe in a transcendent divine being. Undoubtedly, this is not his intent. But this conclusion follows from the success of his project.
Why, then, does Tipler engage in this project? One possibility is that Tipler has a nonorthodox view of the deity. Some have seen his view as close to that of process philosophy (in which God is a process immanent in the universe and developing along with the universe). He certainly has a right to hold this view. However, this view is not consistent with that of historical Judeo-Christian theism and its belief that God is an eternal, immutable being who has eternally ordained all events in the universe, including those that defy human explanation. The historically orthodox Christian, who grounds his or her views on the biblical testimony concerning the deity, will find Tipler’s concept of the deity (assuming that he holds a process view) to be unpersuasive.
A few good ideas, but be aware that you will have to pick through some strange unorthodoxy to find them.