Frank Tipler makes a startling statement in his book The Physics of Christanity:
I have a salary at Tulane… some 40 percent lower than the average for a full professor at Tulane as a consequence of my belief.”
He’s referring to his belief in God, which he says he does not share with his colleagues.
And I’m not sure how university salaries work… but I thought you got paid by how credentialed you were, and how many published papers you wrote, and so on.
In any case, sounds like Tipler’s statement needs some backing up, but we don’t get that in Bryan Appleyard’s review of the book.
You get get much out of the book itself, either. Atheists without much scientific knowledge may have a problem with the following passage from Chapter 1 of the book (emphasis mine):
Contrary to what many physicists have claimed in the popular press, we have had a Theory of Everything for about thirty years. Most physicists dislike this Theory of Everything because it requires the universe to begin in a singularity. That is, they dislike it because the theory is consistent only if God exists, and most contemporary scientists are atheists. They don’t want God to exist, and if keeping God out of science requires rejecting physical laws, well, so be it.
There are some atheists who wouldn’t want God to exist because they see God as a malevolent being. But on the whole, if there was someone who could actually answer prayers and give you real hope, what atheist wouldn’t want God to exist? It’s a horrible, inaccurate statement to make. And it’s just a moot point.
You can ask an atheist a similar question: Why don’t you want to believe in Heaven? And the truth is I would love to believe in Heaven. I just don’t see any evidence that Heaven actually exists. It’s not a question of “wanting” it to exist.
Tipler get even better at the end of the first chapter:
Christians claim that Jesus will come again, at the end of human history. Two developments in physics suggest that human history will end in about fifty years: computer experts predict that computers will exceed human intelligence within fifty years, and the de-materialization mechanism can be used to make weapons that are to atomic bombs as atomic bombs are to spitballs. Such weapons and super-human computers would make human survival unlikely, and in his discussion of the Second Coming, Jesus said he would return when human would face a “Great Tribulation” of such magnitude that we would not survive without his direct intervention. We will face such a Great Tribulation within fifty years.
He says the world is going to end in 50 years. Which many Christians have been saying for the past… oh… more than 50 years. And they’ve always been wrong.
You can read that whole first chapter by going here, by the way.
Appleyard mentions a few other nuggets we get from the book, including the idea that miracles “happen through known physical processes.” Do we have any examples? Here’s one:
Walking on water is accomplished through a particle beam and dematerialization through the multiple universe model implied by quantum theory.
I put that through Google Translate and came up empty.
Still, I’m sure someone with more background in Physics (or just a better background in science) could rip Tipler’s book a new one within minutes.
I am surprised by Appleyard’s last paragraph:
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.
Just from the first chapter alone, I have no idea what Tipler’s actually contributing to the field, in which case, the salary review would seem unnecessary.
(Thanks to Diana for the link!)
[tags]atheist, atheism, Frank Tipler, The Physics of Christanity, Tulane, God, Bryan Appleyard, Theory of Everything, Heaven, Jesus, Great Tribulation, Christian[/tags]