The Physics of Christianity by Frank Tipler
By Lawrence Krauss
HALFWAY through Frank Tipler’s new book, I scanned the table of contents and was disappointed to find there would be no explanation of the recently reported miraculous appearance of Mother Teresa’s image on a cheese Danish in Nashville, Tennessee. That was surprising, since Tipler goes out of his way to provide convoluted physics justifications for similar Christian miracles, including the image of Jesus on the Turin shroud, long debunked as a forgery by many experts. When conventional physics doesn’t provide a sufficient explanation for the religious phenomenon in question, Tipler reinvents it.
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. It is far more dangerous than mere nonsense, because Tipler’s reasonable descriptions of various aspects of modern physics, combined with his respectable research pedigree, give the persuasive illusion that he is describing what the laws of physics imply. He is not. This book provides an object lesson in the dangers of pushing science beyond its domain of validity and using scientific approximations as if they are completely valid in all contexts.
Indeed, while he complains several times that other physicists let their philosophical prejudices influence their conclusions, Tipler has clearly let his own desires get the better of him. Based on personal experience, I believe that Frank Tipler is an honourable man and I do not think that he intended to pervert reality to serve his goals – but nevertheless he has.