Frank J. Tipler: The Laws of Physics Say The Singularity is Inevitable!

Frank-J-TiplerDr. Frank J. Tipler is a physicist and cosmologist perhaps best known for concepts such as the Omega Point or The Cosmological Singularity. He is a professor of mathematical physics at Tulane University and the author of books such as The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, The Physics of Immortality and The Physics of Christianity.

During our 1 hour conversation with Dr. Tipler we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: why he is both a physics imperialist and fundamentalist; the cosmological singularity, the technological singularity and the omega point; his personal journey from Christian fundamentalism through agnosticism and atheism and back to theism and Christianity; why most physicists are good atheists and bad scientists; immortality; determinism and whether God plays dice with the universe; mind-uploading and [Quantum] consciousness…

The most interesting quote that I will take away from this interview with Frank J. Tipler is:

“If the laws of physics be for us, who can be against us?!”

(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more episodes please make a donation!)

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Who is Frank J. Tipler? (in his own words)

I was born and raised in Andalusia, a small farming town in southern Alabama. At the age of five, while in kindergarten, I became fascinated by the work of Alabama only famous physicist, the rocket scientist Werner von Braun, and decided then that I wanted to be an astrophysicist. With this goal, I obtained by undergraduate degree in physics in 1969 at M.I.T., where I first learned of the Many-Worlds of quantum mechanics, and of the Singularity Theorems of Stephan Hawking and Roger Penrose. In 1976, I obtained a Ph.D. in physics for my proof, using the techniques of Hawking and Penrose, that creating a time machine would necessarily result in singularities in the laboratory. I was hired in 1979, as a post-doc by John A. Wheeler, the great physicist best known for his work on black hole theory, to extend my 1978 proof that in general relativity, time is not relative: a unique rest frame exists. I became Professor of Mathematical Physics in 1981 at Tulane University, where I have been ever since, working to draw the full implications of my earlier work: that quantum mechanics and general relativity require that the Cosmological Singularity – the Uncaused First Cause – consists of Three Persons but one Cause. I have now written up these results for a popular audience, and the book is The Physics of Christianity.

  • Matthew Fuller

    The evidence tipler uses is based upon language, which in turn depends on history, not physics.

    A major question about this discussion that really needs to be answered: why, if Tipler is an empiricist, doesn’t he follow the empirical fact that the bible does not contain any knowledge that is indicative of it being inspired by a deity that knew how to design our planet, let alone the laws of physics and the entire universe? Example: god doesn’t teach us agriculture, writing, or physics, nor even does the bible inspire a clear understand of where we are in the cosmos, its size, or its contents! A single instance of God inspiring man to write mathematical equations revealing fundamental physics would suffice so long as they were written thousands of years ago. Because we know for those equations to be accurate we must observe reality, but no human society could perform the requisite experiments 2000 years ago. Asking for any particular piece of knowledge isn’t my point, but instead the ancient texts make it appear that God doesn’t understand nature. So tipler says he knows what the bible truly means. It all depends on that interpretation! Wow. So lets test it? Not the physics, but God’s knowledge. But we can’t. Thus he isn’t an so empirical after all.

    In essence, the evidence is not there to even look to the bible as the correct source of any hypothetical deity. It is true he could be right anyway, but not by the empirical evidence.

  • http://ssrn.com/abstract=1974708 James Redford

    Hi, Matthew Fuller. Regarding the conformance and unique attributes of the Omega Point cosmology with Christianity:

    The Omega Point is omniscient, having an infinite amount of information and knowing all that is logically possible to be known; it is omnipotent, having an infinite amount of energy and power; and it is omnipresent, consisting of all that exists. These three properties are the traditional quidditative definitions (i.e., haecceities) of God held by almost all of the world’s leading religions. Hence, by definition, the Omega Point is God.

    The Omega Point final singularity is a different aspect of the Big Bang initial singularity, i.e., the first cause, a definition of God held by all the Abrahamic religions.

    As well, as Stephen Hawking proved, the singularity is not in spacetime, but rather is the boundary of space and time (see S. W. Hawking and G. F. R. Ellis, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973], pp. 217-221).

    The Schmidt b-boundary has been shown to yield a topology in which the cosmological singularity is not Hausdorff separated from the points in spacetime, meaning that it is not possible to put an open set of points between the cosmological singularity and *any* point in spacetime proper. That is, the cosmological singularity has infinite nearness to every point in spacetime.

    So the Omega Point is transcendent to, yet immanent in, space and time. Because the cosmological singularity exists outside of space and time, it is eternal, as time has no application to it.

    Quite literally, the cosmological singularity is supernatural, in the sense that no form of physics can apply to it, since physical values are at infinity at the singularity, and so it is not possible to perform arithmetical operations on them; and in the sense that the singularity is beyond creation, as it is not a part of spacetime, but rather is the boundary of space and time.

    And given an infinite amount of computational resources, per the Bekenstein Bound, recreating the exact quantum state of our present universe is trivial, requiring at most a mere 10^123 bits (the number which Roger Penrose calculated), or at most a mere 2^10^123 bits for every different quantum configuration of the universe logically possible (i.e., the powerset, of which the multiverse in its entirety at this point in universal history is a subset of this powerset). So the Omega Point will be able to resurrect us using merely an infinitesimally small amount of total computational resources: indeed, the multiversal resurrection will occur between 10^-10^10 and 10^-10^123 seconds before the Omega Point is reached, as the computational capacity of the universe at that stage will be great enough that doing so will require only a trivial amount of total computational resources.

    Miracles are allowed by the known laws of physics using baryon annihilation, and its inverse, by way of electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model of particle physics, as baryon number minus lepton number, B – L, is conserved) caused via the Principle of Least Action by the physical requirement that the Omega Point final cosmological singularity exists. If the miracles of Jesus Christ were necessary in order for the universe to evolve into the Omega Point, and if the known laws of physics are correct, then the probability of those miracles occurring is certain.

    Additionally, the cosmological singularity consists of a three-aspect structure: the final singularity (i.e., the Omega Point), the all-presents singularity (which exists at the boundary of the multiverse), and the initial singularity (i.e., the beginning of the Big Bang). These three distinct aspects which perform different physical functions in bringing about and sustaining existence are actually one singularity which connects the entirety of the multiverse.

    Christian theology is therefore preferentially selected by the known laws of physics due to the fundamentally triune structure of the cosmological singularity (which, again, has all the haecceities claimed for God in the major religions), which is deselective of all other major religions.

    For much more on the above, see my following article:

    James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Sept. 10, 2012 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011), 186 pp., doi:10.2139/ssrn.1974708.

  • Matthew Fuller

    When Jesus was walking the earth and had a rather mundane conversation, you honestly believe he knew all of this because of metaphors drawn between different concepts that have yet to exist during his time. Indeed, God shares these properties, but no one knew them at the time. They came after, hence my skepticism. If I wanted to spend 20 years, I could come up with thousands of differences that metaphorically deny the logical consistency you built up. But, why do that? Its a metaphor.

    One single example that you didn’t address: Jesus didn’t know the natural world beyond what we knew. So how could we infer empirically that he was super-knoweledgeable, let alone omniscient since there is zero historical evidence to support this fact. One way out of this is to have Jesus explicitly explain concepts in science better than science can, but God doesn’t even seem aware of our ideas today.

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  • Steve Morris

    Omega Point cosmology may or may not be true – very few people here can understand the maths. As Matthew says, if God really existed and wanted us to believe in him, he didn’t do a very good job of revealing himself to us.

  • Matthew Fuller

    Yeah, that’s basically what I was saying. Kudos. Hardly a disproof though, so the arguments will just keep going on and on.

  • Baktash Babadi

    Tipler claims to be a “physics fundamentalist” and accuses most of other scientists of being theists/atheist before being scientists. However, it is amazing that even in this interview, he violates soany physical facts to make his theology scientifically plausible. The examples are numerous, but I just mention a few:
    1) All contemporary cosmological evidence point to an ever-expandig universe, not one that ends in a singularity.
    2) The many world interpretation of quantum mechanics is only one of many competing interpretations, and not even the most accepted one.
    3) Hamilton-Jacobi formalism can be deduced from schrodinger equation, not the other way round.
    4) There is no physical law ever, that precludes the possibility of life in other stellar systems. If anything, modern discoveries of organic material in other stellar systems imply that life might be more abundant than what we thought before.
    5) It is not at all possible to deduce from physics that intelligent life and its immortality is “inevitable”. As Chomsky pointed out in a previous interview here, it was a miracle that we survived a nuclear war. No physical law can explain why something crazy didn’t go on in Khrushchev’s or JFK’s mind that could ignite a war. At its best, such inevitability claims are irresponsible, as they cause the believer not to see the imminent threats to life and human civilization such as nuclear warfares, global warming, viral epidemies, severe poverty , etc

  • http://ssrn.com/abstract=1974708 James Redford

    Hi, Matthew Fuller. As you had previously written, “A single instance of God inspiring man to write mathematical equations revealing fundamental physics would suffice so long as they were written thousands of years ago.” Parsing this statement into its components, your syllogism runs thus:

    Major premise: If God exists, then He would have given mankind a physics or mathematics theorem (or some such) which could only be confirmed later.

    Minor premise: God did not give mankind such a riddle.

    Conclusion: God does not exist.

    Here we see that is is the major premise of your syllogism which is false, as it’s a non sequitur.

    However, God’s existence is a mathematical theorem per the known laws of physics (viz., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics), of which have been confirmed by every experiment to date. Hence, the only way to reject God’s existence is to reject empirical science. As Prof. Stephen Hawking wrote, “one cannot really argue with a mathematical theorem.” (From p. 67 of Stephen Hawking, The Illustrated A Brief History of Time [New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1996; 1st ed., 1988].)

    For a great deal more on this, see my following article:

    James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Sept. 10, 2012 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011), 186 pp., doi:10.2139/ssrn.1974708.

  • http://ssrn.com/abstract=1974708 James Redford

    Hi, Steve Morris. Your foregoing statement is a non sequitur. However, God’s existence is a mathematical theorem per the known laws of physics. For more on this, see my previous reply to Matthew Fuller.

  • http://ssrn.com/abstract=1974708 James Redford

    Hi, Baktash Babadi. In answer to your numbered items, respectively:

    1.) Profs. Krauss and Turner point out that “there is no set of cosmological observations we can perform that will unambiguously allow us to determine what the ultimate destiny of the Universe will be.” (See Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner, “Geometry and Destiny”, General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [Oct. 1999], pp. 1453-1459.) While cosmological observations cannot tell us what the ultimate fate of the universe will be, the known laws of physics themselves can, as the universe is forced to end in finite proper time in order for unitarity to remain unviolated. By sapient life annihilating baryons in the universe via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as baryon number minus lepton number, B – L, is conserved), the Higgs field is forced toward its absolute vacuum state, canceling the observed cosmological constant and thereby forcing the universe to collapse.

    2.) If Quantum Mechanics is true, then the multiverse’s existence follows as a mathematically-unavoidable consequence. For the details, see Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1994), pp. 483-488.

    3.) The Schrödinger Equation is simply the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation with the constraint imposed that determinism is maintained, as the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation is indeterministic, because when particle trajectories cross paths a singularity is produced, thereby making it impossible (even in principle) to say what occurs afterwards. For further details, see my following post: James Redford, “Video of Profs. Frank Tipler and Lawrence Krauss’s Debate at Caltech: Can Physics Prove God and Christianity?”, alt.sci.astro, Message-ID: jghev8tcbv02b6vn3uiq8jmelp7jijluqk[at sign]4ax[period]com , July 30, 2013.

    4.) Actually, the mutual mathematical consistency of the known laws of physics (viz., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics) requires that a naturally-evolved sapient species develops roughly once every Hubble volume. For the details, see Frank J. Tipler, “Intelligent life in cosmology”, International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Apr. 2003), pp. 141-148.

    5.) On the contrary, the mutual mathematical consistency of the aforesaid known laws of physics requires sapient life to develop and to evolve to infinite intelligence. For the details, see p. 925 (cf. pp. 904-905) of F. J. Tipler, “The structure of the world from pure numbers”, Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (Apr. 2005), pp. 897-964; and see James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network, Sept. 10, 2012 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011), Sec. 3: “Physics of the Omega Point Cosmology”, Subsec. 3.1: “The Omega Point”, pp. 12 ff.

  • Matthew Fuller

    I agree with everything you said, except I would not say it that way.

    Jesus walking the Earth nearly 2000 years ago wasn’t a mathematical equation that He understood. Show me this; you win.

    Basically, my point is I disagree with you because you have the order wrong.

    Basically what evidence is there that Jesus knew he was math? The fact that you believe you can derive amazing truths after the fact isn’t important. What is important is that you only knew the truth independent of the bible and Christian culture as it existed circa 1500 years ago. Erase those details, and you can see why you can no longer know Jesus is math. Jesus didn’t know he was math is my point. But not only that, he really didn’t know much of anything if going by the bible only.

  • Baktash Babadi

    Hi, James.

    Thank you for taking time and answering my points, however I don’t think I am convinced with the answers which mostly refer me back to the book “Physics of Immortality”. I read the book two years ago. Although I found many brilliant ideas in the book, the big picture provided there did not persuade me.

  • Steve Morris

    More non sequiturs for you then. Was it necessary for Jesus to die in order for the Omega Point to happen? Is there one Jesus for every Hubble volume? Do they all need to be crucified?

  • Knotanumber

    While I appreciate Prof. Tipler’s unique perspective and am willing
    to concede that, if not disallowed by physical laws, we cannot rule his
    theories out, I am very skeptical of grand unified explanations of everything,
    especially those that interweave religion. They tend to come off sounding too
    much like the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and
    Everything from “The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

    Prof. Tipler tossed around phrases like “the only correct
    interpretation” and “Einstein got it right—all these other scientists got it
    wrong.” I think the conviction of absolute certainty is an impediment to
    scientific discovery; a healthy dose of humility and skepticism often serve as
    a better guide. After all, an interpretation is just that, a particular way of
    making sense of a set of facts. But interpretations are based upon supposition
    and carry a lot of baggage and ambiguity. The first century astronomer, Ptolemy,
    accurately described the movement of the planets in the sky, but his interpretation
    of those facts was constrained by the prevailing Earth-centric worldview. It
    can be said that any interpretation, whether it be the Copenhagen or
    many-worlds interpretations of quantum physics, is equally valid so long as it
    does not contradict the set of known and provable facts. As in Ptolemny’s case,
    only through falsifiable tests can we discount this one or that one. And we
    have to always be on the alert for various biases that may creep into our
    thinking; we’re only human, after all.

    No disrespect to Prof. Tipler, but I fundamentally disagree
    with his premise that we basically know all there is to know about physics. We
    don’t even know what dark energy is made of or why some of the fundamental
    constants of physics have the values they do. How can we claim to have already
    solved the destiny of the universe and leap to the conclusion that it is a
    foregone inevitability? I don’t think the goal of science is to provide THE
    EXPLANATION for everything—certainly not at our nascent stage of development. Rather,
    I see science as an ongoing PURSUIT of ever better explanations, leading to
    ever more incisive questions and deeper levels of understanding. But when we
    elevate a particular interpretation to the level of established, even
    religious, dogma, we cut off other lines of scientific inquiry before we have a
    chance to discover what they may reveal.

  • Greg

    Only 144000 physically survive the 7 actual days when the rest of universal time being 2.85728142 billion years “rolls up” also called the rolling up of the heavens in scripture. The rest shall not be resurrected until after the 1000 years ( a thousand years is as a day being Dec. 31= the last day of judgement and new years day represents the new heavens and earth. Prior to the last days on December 25 the ungody symbolically celebrate the manchilds departure sending gifts or congladulations to each other. During this 7 days the elect have a 7 days marriage (supper) feast in which all matter (woman pricinple) becomes their bride and together become One with it gaining control of the old universe (the Kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of christ into His hand. The 8th (new) which is infinity overlaps the 7th period of 2.85728142 billion years ( the 8th is also of the 7th).

  • Matthew Fuller

    rolling of the heavens = a vague description. This is why I am skeptical. The more details you add, the harder it is to get every detail right. The more vagueness, the easier it is to make the descriptions fit.

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Thanks for your compliments and good words friend – really appreciate it!

    As per how I am able to swallow this or that comment I have to say that I have not always been like that but have learned (and continue learning) to respect my guests and try to give the podium primarily to them and their points of view rather than what I do or do not agree with myself.

    You yourself, just like the rest of my fantastic audience are very smart and capable of discerning the facts from the rest of it all. So I just focus on the questions and try to bring out the best in them and hope that then by exposing them and their ideas in a such a way you are in the best possible position to judge ;-)

  • http://ssrn.com/abstract=1974708 James Redford

    Hi, Socrates. Thank you for this interview with physicist and mathematician Prof. Frank J. Tipler.

    For those who would like more information on Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point cosmology and the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model Theory of Everything (TOE), which are mathematically required by the known laws of physics (viz., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics), see my following article. This article also examines the societal implications of the Omega Point cosmology.

    James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Sept. 10, 2012 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011), 186 pp., doi:10.2139/ssrn.1974708.

    Additionally, in the below resource are six sections which contain very informative videos of Prof. Tipler explaining the Omega Point cosmology and the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model TOE. The seventh section therein contains an audio interview of Tipler. I also provide some helpful notes and commentary for some of these videos.

    James Redford, “Video of Profs. Frank Tipler and Lawrence Krauss’s Debate at Caltech: Can Physics Prove God and Christianity?”, alt.sci.astro, Message-ID: jghev8tcbv02b6vn3uiq8jmelp7jijluqk[at sign]4ax[period]com , July 30, 2013.

    The foregoing resource also provides details regarding the point Prof. Tipler made in his present interview about how modern physics (i.e., General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) are simply special cases of classical mechanics (i.e., Newtonian mechanics, particularly in its most powerful formulation of the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation), and how Quantum Mechanics is actually more deterministic than Newtonian mechanics.

    I find it interesting that Prof. Tipler mentioned (58:56 min:sec ff. of the video) Julian Jaynes in this interview and Jaynes’s book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976). A footnote is provided to Jaynes’s said book in Ch. 7: “Quantum Mechanics and the Anthropic Principle” of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1986) by John D. Barrow and Tipler, but I don’t recall Tipler elsewhere having mentioned Jaynes.

    I myself have written on Jaynes and the implications of his theory of the bicameral mind vis-à-vis the widespread belief among the ancients circa three millennia ago and before that they actually directly interacted with the gods. The type of unconsciousness which Prof. Tipler mentioned in his interview in the works of Homer and Chinese writers from the era can also be found very strongly in the Tanakh, particularly the Torah. Jaynes’s theory can also explain the superhuman longevity found in the Tanakh as deriving from a time when people would hear the voices of their dead ancestors and pass on the memory (and preserved bodies) of them to their descendants; and the near-lack of a concept of an afterlife in the Tanakh until the Latter Prophets (e.g., Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2).

    I haven’t heard supporters of Jaynes mention this as an item in Jaynes’s favor before, but muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonists, such as scopolamine, provide strong evidence for Jaynes’s theory–indeed, perhaps the strongest, since it makes the voice-command state Jaynes wrote about completely reproducible. Lloyd deMause’s work on psychohistory also fits well the Jaynes theory.

  • http://www.LimitlessMindset.com/ Jonathan Roseland

    I loved his optimism… This episode makes me reconsider the religion I left about a year ago… This guy had a great accent!

  • Wholewitt

    Dr. Tipler quickly runs off the road with his conclusions that a god exists and there is life after death. An uncaused first cause in the creation of the universe is not evidence of a god. Can you imagine that billions of people are praying to a singularity and many say it answers them? People torment themselves about why god did this or that, well there is a “theory” of everything that fits very well and that is, there is no god. Talking of a god that is not a entity (which Tipler thinks is an entity) which interacts with humans, is not talking of a god that means anything. He seems to have been brainwashed in his belief and spends his time trying to justify it by using the bible to provide “proof”. Good luck with that whole life after death thing, Houdini couldn’t do it and you won’t either.