Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Physics of Christianity

Well, Frank Tipler's latest book has just been published, and one can find the opening chapter reproduced here. It's hilarious stuff. Lawrence Krauss reviews the book in last week's New Scientist:

As a collection of half-truths and exaggerations, I am tempted to describe Tipler's new book as nonsense - but that would be unfair to the concept of nonsense. It is far more dangerous than mere nonsense, because Tipler's reasonable descriptions of various aspects of modern physics, combined with his respectable research pedigree, give the persuasive illusion that he is describing what the laws of physics imply. He is not.

For example, he argues that the resurrection of Jesus occurred when the atoms in his body spontaneously decayed into neutrinos and antineutrinos, which later converted back into atoms to reconstitute him. Here Tipler invokes the fact that within the standard model of particle physics the decay of protons and neutrons is possible, although he recognises that such decay would likely take 50 to 100 orders of magnitude longer than the current age of the universe: thus, the probability of such an occurrence is essentially zero. However, using a strange "Christian" version of the anthropic principle, a subject he once co-authored a book about, he then claims that without Jesus's resurrection, our universe could not exist - therefore, when one convolves this requirement with the almost, but not exactly zero, a priori probability, the net result is a near certainty.

1 comment:

James Redford said...

Prof. Lawrence Krauss in his review of Prof. Frank J. Tipler's book The Physics of Christianity ("More dangerous than nonsense," New Scientist, Issue 2603, May 12, 2007 http://genesis1.phys.cwru.edu/~krauss/Tiplerreview.pdf ) doesn't give anyone any reason for thinking he (Krauss) is correct. Instead Krauss merely makes imperious bare assertions that one is supposed to take on faith

Krauss gives no indication that he followed up on the endnotes in the book The Physics of Christianity and actually read Prof. Tipler's physics journal papers. All Krauss is going off of in said review is Tipler's mostly non-technical popular-audience book The Physics of Christianity without researching Tipler's technical papers. Krauss's review offers no actual lines of reasoning for Krauss's lording pronouncements. His readership is simply expected to swallow whole what Krauss proclaims, even though it's clear that Krauss is merely critiquing a popular-audience book which does not attempt to present the rigorous technical details.

Whereas Tipler gives detailed arguments for the existence of the Omega Point and the Feynman-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model Theory of Everything which refute Krauss's bare assertions. See F. J. Tipler, "The structure of the world from pure numbers," Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. http://math.tulane.edu/~tipler/theoryofeverything.pdf Also released as "Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything," arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007. http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.3276

The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to invent tenuous physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking's paper on the black hole information issue which is dependant on the conjectured anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, "Information loss in black holes," Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005. http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507171

That is, Hawking's paper is based upon proposed, unconfirmed physics. It's an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory's correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he's forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

Quite ironically, Krauss actually has published a paper that greatly helped to strengthen Tipler's Omega Point Theory. See Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner, "Geometry and Destiny" (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459; also at arXiv:astro-ph/9904020, April 1, 1999 http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9904020 ), which demonstrates that no amount of cosmological observations can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

This isn't the first time that has happened to critics of Tipler's Omega Point Theory. There was a previous paper published by Prof. George Ellis and Dr. David Coule criticizing Tipler's Omega Point Theory ("Life at the end of the universe?," General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 26, No. 7 [July 1994], pp. 731-739), but in the same paper Ellis and Coule gave an argument that the Bekenstein Bound violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics if the universe collapses without having event horizons eliminated. Unwittingly, Ellis and Coule thereby actually gave a powerful argument that the Omega Point is required by the laws of physics!

So when Tipler's critics actually do real physics instead of issuing bare assertions and mystically nebulous cavils (the latter in Ellis's case, since Ellis is a theist who thinks that physics cannot be capable of explaining human consciousness), they end up making Tipler's case stronger! I find that deliciously ironic. (Ironic though it is, it's the expected result, given that the Omega Point is required by the known laws of physics.)

So never say that God doesn't have a profoundly keen sense of humor.