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The Physics of Christianity Hardcover – May 1, 2007

2.9 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The relationship between science and religion has long been a tenuous one. Some have worked to put these disciplines in "dialogue" with each other, while others have dismissed any possibility of a collegial relationship. To his credit, Tipler, professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University, attempts the former. He proposes that Christianity can be studied as a science, and its claims, if true, can be empirically proven. "I believe that we have to accept the implications of physical law, whatever these implications are. If they imply the existence of God, well then, God exists." After a cogent description of modern physics, Tipler embarks on a crusade to prove that God exists, that miracles are physically possible and the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus do not defy scientific laws. The author's arguments are somewhat intriguing—his knowledge of science seems exhaustive and this may attract other scientists to consider the importance of religion. Many of his theological insights, however, are problematic. Dubbing Christianity a "science" does not automatically make it so, and Tipler seems to dismiss the centuries-old importance of the apophatic tradition in Christianity, that is, approaching the mystical nature of the Divine by positing what cannot be said about God. Tipler's interest in integrating science and religion is noble, but his method is uneven. (May)
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Praise for Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Immortality:

“A thrilling ride to the far edges of modern physics.” --New York Times Book Review

“A dazzling exercise in scientific speculation, as rigorously argued as it is boldly conceived.” --Wall Street Journal

“Tipler has written a masterpiece conferring much-craved scientific respectability on what we have always wanted to believe in.” --Science

“More readable than Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind or Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach . . . an imaginative eschatological entertainment appropriate to the approaching end of the millennium.” --New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Undeniably fascinating…” --Seattle Times

“Tipler’s brash announcements are challenging—and entertaining. Although written from the viewpoint of a Ph.D., anyone should be able to get a kick out of the professor’s big-bang ideas.” --Publishers Weekly

“A book that proves the existence of the Almighty and inevitably of resurrection, without recourse to spiritual mumbo jumbo . . . Tipler does it all.” --Mirabella

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385514247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385514248
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Erlandson TOP 50 REVIEWER on May 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Since other reviewers have furnished many of the details of why a significant number of Frank Tipler's explanations of the events recorded in Scripture or part of church tradition are implausible, I will focus my comments on why "The Physics of Christianity" does a disservice to both science and Christianity. The former is easier to explain. While Tipler has a detailed knowledge of physics , he has failed as a scientist because he has gone far beyond what the evidence warrants and engages in wild speculation. In many cases, his argument amounts to little more than the following: “X would explain Y (a surprising event, such as the Virgin Birth) if X were true. Hence, there is reason to believe that X occurred and therefore Y occurred as well.” The fallacy in this line of reasoning should be obvious. To argue, for example, that it is possible to give an explanation of the Assumption of Mary if it occurred, does not show that this explanation is a plausible explanation of the Assumption of Mary.

Some interpreters of Frank Tipler have argued that he is not claiming that his explanations of the apparently miraculous events of Scripture show that they occur, although, from the way in which he presents his explanations in the book, it is easy to assume that this is what he is arguing. But even if he is not making this stronger claim, he is claiming that his explanation is plausible. However, not all explanations of an event are plausible; Tipler hasn’t shown the plausibility of many of his explanations.

In what way does Tipler's book do a disservice to Christianity. The Christian faith is based on belief in a God who is the sovereign creator of the universe and who, if he so chooses, can intervene in the normal course of events.
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Format: Hardcover
Tipler's ideas are again mind-blowing, as they were with the Physics of Immortality. Some issues I have with it, though:

1) His main flaw, is the amount of certainty he gives to his sentences. When you research what he's talking about, you see that the facts, as they are, are much more questionable than what he leads you to believe.

For example, he says that the Shroud of Turin is consistent with XX males. IF the Shroud of Turin is the real burial shroud of Christ, and IF it is consistent with XX males (the only reference on the internet to this fact comes from Tipler), then, maybe, it gives us evidence. But he doesn't use correct qualifiers. (Qualifiers are words like "perhaps".) He states them as flat fact, which casts doubts on his entire book. A good scientist will always qualifies his statements with words indicating the degree of confidence he has in them.

2) He tries to gain a patina of scientific-ness by using big, complicated words, and, perhaps intentionally, explaining things in a confusing fashion. I took a quarter of quantum physics, and have read some books on it since I graduated from college, so I have a moderate understanding in the field, but even when Tipler is explaining things I already know, I find myself becoming confused by his explanations. He really needs to take a class on how to put together better analogies.

3) He has a very cockeyed idea of what his reader needs to have defined for him. For example, after the following line, "More precisely, the uncertainty principle says that the product of the uncertainty in the position of a particle multiplied by the uncertainty in its momentum must always be greater than Planck's constant divided by 4pi." he could have chosen to define a lot of different things.
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Format: Paperback
Many people on here have written fine reviews, covering more detail than I am willing. But there's one thing I'd like to point out. The bottom line is, I respect the guy for putting his controversial theories out there, probably fully aware that he was going to get crucified by scientists and non-scientist alike, but this book utterly fails in its goal. In attempting to reconcile Christianity and physics, in a way that describes all the miraculous phenomenon of Christian doctrine, Tipler ends up satisifying neither christians nor phyisicists. For example, in trying to explain the resurrection of Jesus, Tipler imagines some sort of de-materialization of Jesus' body into nuetrinos and then re-materialization back into His resurrection body. I mean, come on. Jesus' resurrection body was more than just physical. There was a supernatural spiritual reality to it that cannot be explained by the laws of physics, for it is not subject to such laws. And there's a whole lot more of this in the book. And to be honest, I found myself glossing over some areas that were so out there I felt that they weren't even worth the time reading. In the end, Tipler presents a far-fetched theory that neither christians nor physicists can accept.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
All mathematicians are at least a little crazy... Is Professor Frank Tipler an eccentric genius? Or has he completely lost the plot?

A wise old psychiatrist told me, during my medical training, that one of the signs of madness in a patient is that, while you are talking with them, you begin to fear that you yourself are losing your mind. This is exactly the feeling that Frank Tipler's book gives me: the fear that I am going stark, raving mad. Like the most elaborate delusions you hear in a psychiatric institution, Tipler's story is intricate, and follows perfectly logically -- so long as you grant the (completely loopy) premises.

The craziest idea in Tipler's thesis is equating the singularity at the Big Bang with the traditional God of religion. And, in a breathtaking leap, claiming that the Christian concept of a Trinity {a triune deity} follows from the physics because there are THREE singularities. These are the one at the conventional Big Bang, a postulated one at the final Big Crunch, and an over-arching singularity at the origin of the Multiverse {the infinite collection of universes often invoked to account for the incredible bio-friendliness of our observed reality without needing a designer God, but which Tipler believes is demanded by the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics}.

We need to think carefully about God and the singularity in the Big Bang. Many philosophers and cosmologists would concede that the peculiar state of the universe in the Big Bang before the Planck scale {20 orders of magnitude smaller than an atomic nucleus} might merge into a timeless state such as that explored by Hartle and Hawking in their 1983 paper, "Wave function of the Universe.
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