The Sciences

The Physics of Christianity

Cosmic VarianceBy Sean CarrollMay 30, 2007 3:29 PM


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It's only with some reluctance that I even mention Frank Tipler's latest book, The Physics of Christianity. But people keep telling me about it, so, it's like, my duty or something. Now, I'm all in favor of writing about the physics of imaginary things; it can be a very enlightening exercise to compare the laws of the actual world to ones that we make up for purposes of fiction. And The Physics of Christianity is such an obvious title that you knew someone would write such a book eventually. And Frank Tipler, in his youth, did some pioneering research on closed timelike curves in general relativity, so he has credentials as an honest physicist. But, if there remains an interesting book to be written about the physics of Christianity, this isn't it. And I say that in full confidence, not having actually read the book. Usually I like to defer judgment about crazy-sounding books that I haven't even looked at, but in this case I'll make an exception. Reviews by Vic Stenger or Lawrence Krauss tell you everything you need to know. From Lawrence's review:

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... Tipler, for example, claims that the standard model of particle physics is complete and exact. It isn't. He claims that we have a clear and consistent theory of quantum gravity. We don't. He claims that the universe must recollapse. It doesn't have to, and all evidence thus far suggests that it won't. He argues that we understand the nature of dark energy. We don't. He argues that we know why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe. We don't. I could go on, but you get the point... [Tipler] 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.

Not much motivation for reading further than that. I've said many times (even if people don't believe me) that I have a great deal of respect for intelligent and thoughtful religious people, even if I disagree with them on some deep truths about the universe. But man, those people don't seem to get a lot of press, do they? The crazy stuff is much bigger box office, which perhaps is not a surprise. Neutrinos and antineutrinos! That kills me. Everyone knows that Jesus shifted through the extra dimensions onto another brane, where he chilled for three days before coming back.

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