Friday, August 20, 2010

God Proof - Q.E.D. II

After reading the first few chapters of Frank Tipler's book, The Physics of Christianity, it is clear that he likes to mention lots of arcane theories, which he seems to do solely to convince us of his scientific prowess. One of the reviews for this book claimed that Tipler's writing style is approachable by experts and non-experts alike. Yet the writing was entirely obtuse and borderline jibberish. One of the fathers of modern physics, Ernest Rutherford, once said that any good theory should be understandable by an ordinary barmaid. I can assure you that based on this definition of a good theory, Tipler doesn't make the grade. He makes a sizeable number of dubious, tenuous, and subtle claims that he states are basic scientific tenets (as you will find in an introductory book on quantum mechanics), however, he is at once comical and frustrating. He loves to drop names of big-time, respected scientists and how their celebrated work clearly backs up his theories. I am sure they would feel more than a bit uneasy if they even knew that their good names were being "used" in this manner. Tipler indeed displays all of the tell-tale signs of a grade-A, first-class crackpot. Let me present a few quotes from Tipler's book:
  • After a treatize on quantum tunneling: "I shall use this to explain the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
  • "... so the Second Law of Thermodynamics can be regarded as a law governing the spiritual side of the material universe.
  • "The laws of physics suggest an end to human history in the "near" future - sometime in this century."
  • "There will indeed be a resurrection of everyone who has ever lived, and indeed we will have "spiritual bodies" - our resurrected bodies will be in the form of computer programs."
  • "Thus we come to the real reason why many modern physicists find standard quantum gravity unacceptable: it implies the existence of God."
  • "I accept the laws of physics, in particular quantum mechanics and relativity, which is why I accept not only the existence of God but His Trinitarian nature."
  • In guessing of Jesus' chromosome makeup, "Such males are normal in behavior and intelligence, but have smaller teeth, shorter stature, and smaller testes than normal males."
In spite of all of my issues with this work, there were still a few interesting and lucid nuggets that gave me pause to think through some of my personal confusions and, perhaps, to make some sense out of them. One thing that this book made me reconsider was my definition of a miracle. Tipler states that most people think that a miracle is a violation of physical law, but why would God violate his own laws? God never acts contrary to his own creation. His laws never change, just as his will never changes. His laws should necessarily include his physical laws of nature, thus God's miracles are wonders that must not violate his physical laws. I think this is a valid viewpoint. Of course, Tipler just had to add "Since His laws are His direct creation, studying His natural laws is as pious an act as studying the Bible." ... err ... so apparently going to college to study physics is just like going to seminary.

However, despite a few intriguing ideas, this book is overall too far out there and too unapproachable to be taken seriously. It seems to fulfill the very definition of pseudo-science - filled with far too much jargon to provide enough intellectual bullying to make it seem plausible and scientifically sound, but beyond your level of understanding and education. There is always a veneer of truth to the words that crackpots preach and push, but, in the end, even though it will take some time to understand what is really being said, it is untenable hogwash. I also don't believe that faith in God, the ultimate act of trust and submission, can be replaced by a few scientific theories and equations, ending in Q.E.D..

(Part 2 of 2)