Friday, June 22, 2007

Book I am currently reading: Frank Tipler's Physics of Christianity

In a relatively sympathetic review (for a reviewer I would expect to be unsympathetic), Bryan Appleyard says of Tulane professor Tipler, author of Physics of Christianity:

'I have a salary at Tulane," says Frank Tipler, "some 40 percent lower than the average for a full professor at Tulane as a consequence of my belief."

Physicists today, he says, are not supposed to believe in God. But he does, though I suspect that in itself would not reduce his salary. What may well do, however, is his belief that the Cosmological Singularity is God. In other words, he believes that contemporary physics has found God and that physics explains Christianity. In fact, it is probably true to say that Tipler does not believe at all. There is no need, for he feels he has proved Christianity through physics.

finishing with
I doubt this book will make many converts. Believers will continue to believe, perhaps with a little more confidence, and skeptics will continue to doubt, perhaps with a little less. But Tipler should not be ignored by anybody. His great virtue is that he dramatizes the possibility that there is a deep and so far unknown connection between our faiths, our intuitions and our knowledge. He is due, at the very least, for a salary review.

I haven't got far enough into Tipler's book to comment, except to say this:
1. Tipler is a devout Christian who accepts the concept of the multiverse (that is, the concept that there are many universes, not just ours). That is one interpretation of quantum theory, and an unpopular one among Christians. It is more popular among atheists because they hope it will dispose of the fact that our universe is elaborately fine tuned for life. ("Oh yeah, but what about all the millions of universes that flopped?")

2. Don't bother to write to tell me that some of Tipler's ideas are strange. Yes, I see that. I agree with Appleyard, however, that he should not be dismissed. By the way, Tipler is also the author of The Physics of Immortality, critically reviewed here, here, and here. When both the Internet atheists and the Christian ministries to scientists agree on not being able to say enough bad about Tipler, I can reasonably suspect he has a few things to say that are worth hearing.

3. I would be happy to hear about other Christians/theists who are obviously sincere in their views and think that the multiverse is a reasonable idea. I will need to write something about that soon.

Tipler’s Physics of Christianity is also reviewed here, here, and here. Usual stuff. Read the first chapter here.

My other blog is the Post-Darwinist, detailing events of interest in the intelligent design controversy.

Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary ( is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), anoverview of the intelligent design controversy, and of Faith@Science. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).

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