Anglican Samizdat

August 2, 2009

The Simulation Argument and Christianity

Filed under: Christianity,Computers — David @ 5:40 pm
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Nick Bostrom, Department of Philosophy, Oxford University has written an interesting paper, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation.

This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

It is certainly the case that one of the 3 propositions has to be true, but the interesting one is (3) where, if it is true, Bostrom argues convincingly that most of us now are likely to be simulated minds.

The objection that actually being in a simulation undermines the simulation argument is addressed thus:

A. If we are in a simulation, then the underlying reality is such as to permit simulations, it contains at least one such simulation, and (3) is true.

B. If we are not in a simulation, then the empirical evidence noted in the simulation argument is veridical taken at face value, suggesting that a technologically mature civilization would have the ability to create vast number of simulations; and consequently, by the simulation argument, there is a very high probability at least one of the disjuncts in (1)-(3) is true.

Which seems an adequate rebuttal unless simulated reasoning is different from ground-zero reasoning – and nothing compels it to be the same; in this  case, the rebuttal only has meaning within the simulation, resulting in the possibility that A. may not be true outside the simulation, falsifying the rebuttal.

Going back to the 3 initial propositions, only (3) yields an interesting result; but is (3) possible? There are a number of problems. For (3) to be possible, “[a] common assumption in the philosophy of mind is that of substrate-independence” must be true. For it to be true, mind must be containable by the material: no part of the mind can be numinous. The Christian view is that a person, including the mind, is created in God’s image and, while it is dependant on the brain in this life, it will survive the decomposition of the brain in the next. From the Christian perspective, mind even though it uses the material, cannot be fully contained by it and  is, therefore, not substrate-independent in the sense used by Bostrom – it cannot be moved to a computer.

The second problem is found in the nature of computers themselves. If we take the non-Christian view that the mind has no existence outside of the material, could it be moved to a machine? In The Emperor’s New Mind, Roger Penrose makes the point that all digital computers now operate according to algorithms, rules which the computer follows step by step. However, there are things that cannot be calculated algorithmically. We can discover them and know them to be true but clearly we are using something – insight for example – other than calculation; they are so little understood that they cannot be duplicated by computers. In other words, current computers are elaborate adding machines with basic logic abilities; no matter how fast they run, they will be unable to create. A computer will never be able to algorithmically produce Bach’s Bm Mass or Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov without the works being part of the initial programming. It could be argued that, while ground-zero minds have creative ability, simulated minds do not but have been pre-programmed with the fruits of creativity and the ability to indulge in sufficient self-deception to believe they are the creative products of the simulated mind. If this is the case, though, the simulated minds would not be minds at all: they would be imitations, detailed simulacra unable to do anything other than follow their initial program.

So, although one of the three opening propositions must be true, it can’t be (3), even though (3) yields the best science fiction. Of the fiction noted on the simulation web site, Tad Williams’ Otherland series is  missing – it is one of the more entertaining series of novels to make use of this idea.

Perhaps the most pertinent conclusion one can draw from all this is that the preoccupations of modern philosophy are largely vanity.

Simulacra

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4 Comments

  1. Frank Tipler’s The Physics of Immortality essentially says that using computer simulations or uploads we can create an eternal afterlife which is in complete accord with those postulated by the world’s religions. As you can imagine, this has not been well received by either the majority of scientists or theologians.

    Of course, this is pretty tame stuff compared with The Physics of Christianity. Jesus walking on water and ascending into Heaven on neutrino beams, for instance.

    Comment by Tregonsee — August 2, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

  2. Hi, David.

    As physicist and mathematician Prof. Frank J. Tipler commented in an interview regarding the traditional Christian doctrine of the soul:

    “”
    Omni: What is your definition of the soul that’s resurrected?

    Tipler: Like the average person, I define a soul as the essence of the human being–the difference between a corpse and a living being. But unlike many, I use physics to tell me that the fundamental difference between a living being and a corpse is a particular program being run on the body, most importantly the brain.

    Omni: A robot could have a soul?

    Tipler: Certainly. You only doubt it now because we don’t have a computer or program powerful enough. This concept of soul is not unfamiliar to Christians if they go back to original theology. St. Thomas Aquinas followed Aristotle in defining the soul as the form of activity of the body. By form Aristotle meant what we now call pattern. Activity means it’s in motion to distinguish it from a corpse. Activity is what I mean by pattern: information being coded in the body. The activity is, in essence, natural selection. A person is a program you can talk to, that can convince you it is like you.
    “”

    From Anthony Liversidge, “Frank Tipler–physicist–Interview,” Omni, Vol. 17, Issue 1 (October 1994), pp. 89 ff. http://geocities.com/theophysics/tipler-omni-interview.html

    In support of Prof. Tipler, theologian Prof. Wolfhart Pannenberg, D.D., D.D., D.D. stated that

    “”
    The decisive point concerning the identity of the risen ones with their former life is, as Saint Thomas [Aquinas] already emphasized in the line of Origen, the programme of our bodily existence that is contained in our soul (Summa Contra Gentiles. II, 58).
    “”

    From Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Modern Cosmology: God and the Resurrection of the Dead,” Innsbruck Conference, June 1997. http://geocities.com/theophysics/pannenberg-modern-cosmology.html

    Prof. Pannenberg elsewhere wrote that

    “”
    Tipler thinks that the information responsible for our individual existence now will be at the disposal of God so that he may decide to provide a new existence for his creatures. The identity with their former lives then is secured by the information that remains at God’s disposal even where the bodily existence of the creature has passed away. This reminded me of St. Thomas’ [Aquinas] idea that the programme of our bodily existence is contained in our soul and secures personal identity when it becomes the basis for a new form of bodily existence (ScT [Summa contra Gentiles] II, 58). The similarity with Tipler’s idea is surprising at this point, and this induced my judgment that here Tipler comes close to the Christian doctrine.
    “”

    From Wolfhart Pannenberg, “God and resurrection–a reply to Sjoerd L. Bonting,” Gamma, Vol. 10, No. 2 (April 2003), pp. 10-14. http://geocities.com/theophysics/pannenberg-god-and-resurrection-reply-to-bonting.html

    Regarding Prof. Roger Penrose’s assertions regarding the human mind versus algorithms, he’s violating the known laws of physics (specifically quantum mechanics) when he makes such claims. Penrose knows he’s violating physical law when he makes such claims, but his hope is for a new physics to appear within which his claim would be true. As Prof. Tipler points out:

    “”
    Even Roger Penrose, who does not accept the many universes, knows perfectly well that this rejection requires him to reject quantum mechanics [11] (at the level of the human mind). If any physicist asserts that quantum mechanics is correct but the other universes do not exist, then he is wrong. He has made a mathematical error, pure and simple. But maybe quantum mechanics is wrong. Maybe it is. This is a question of physics, not mathematics. However, until an experiment–and only an experiment–shows quantum mechanics to be wrong, I shall assume quantum mechanics to be right.
    “”

    Moreover, as the Bekenstein Bound demonstrates, the entire multiverse can be emulated (i.e., perfectly recreated, literally down to the last bit) on a computer, requiring at most a mere 10^123 bits (the number which Roger Penrose calculated) for our present universe, or at most a mere 2^10^123 bits for every different quantum configuration of the universe logically possible (i.e., the multiverse in its entirety up to this point in universal history), of which will be computationally trivial for the society of the far future.

    God has been proven to exist based upon the most reserved view of the known laws of physics. For much more on that, see Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s below paper, which among other things demonstrates that the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) require that the universe end in the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God):

    F. J. Tipler, “The structure of the world from pure numbers,” Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. http://math.tulane.edu/~tipler/theoryofeverything.pdf Also released as “Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything,” arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007. http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.3276

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler’s above paper was selected as one of 12 for the “Highlights of 2005″ accolade as “the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website.” (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, “Highlights of 2005,” Reports on Progress in Physics. http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/-page=extra.highlights/0034-4885 )

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal’s impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a “letter” as defined by the latter journal.)

    See also the below resources for further information on the Omega Point Theory:

    Theophysics: God Is the Ultimate Physicist http://geocities.com/theophysics/

    “Omega Point (Tipler),” Wikipedia, April 16, 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omega_Point_%28Tipler%29&oldid=206077125

    “Frank J. Tipler,” Wikipedia, February 9, 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frank_J._Tipler&oldid=269587875

    Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science. His Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed physics and science journals in addition to Reports on Progress in Physics, such as Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world’s leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters B, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, etc.

    Prof. John A. Wheeler (the father of most relativity research in the U.S.) wrote that “Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics” on pg. viii in the “Foreword” to The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986) by cosmologist Prof. John D. Barrow and Tipler, which was the first book wherein Tipler’s Omega Point Theory was described. On pg. ix of said book, Prof. Wheeler wrote that Chapter 10 of the book, which concerns the Omega Point Theory, “rivals in thought-provoking power any of the [other chapters].”

    The leading quantum physicist in the world, Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics’ 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work), endorses the physics of the Omega Point Theory in his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). For that, see:

    David Deutsch, extracts from Chapter 14: “The Ends of the Universe” of The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes–and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997); with additional comments by Frank J. Tipler. http://geocities.com/theophysics/deutsch-ends-of-the-universe.html

    The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to resort to physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking’s paper on the black hole information issue which is dependent on the conjectured string theory-based anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, “Information loss in black holes,” Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005. http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507171

    That is, Prof. Hawking’s paper is based upon empirically unconfirmed physics which violate the known laws of physics. It’s an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory’s correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he’s forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

    Some have suggested that the universe’s current acceleration of its expansion obviates the universe collapsing (and therefore obviates the Omega Point). But as Profs. Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner point out in “Geometry and Destiny” (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459; also at arXiv:astro-ph/9904020, April 1, 1999 http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9904020 ), there is no set of cosmological observations which can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

    There’s a very good reason for that, because that is dependant on the actions of intelligent life. The known laws of physics provide the mechanism for the universe’s collapse. As required by the Standard Model, the net baryon number was created in the early universe by baryogenesis via electroweak quantum tunneling. This necessarily forces the Higgs field to be in a vacuum state that is not its absolute vacuum, which is the cause of the positive cosmological constant. But if the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by the inverse of baryogenesis, again via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as baryon number minus lepton number [B - L] is conserved), then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, cancelling the positive cosmological constant and thereby forcing the universe to collapse. Moreover, this process would provide the ideal form of energy resource and rocket propulsion during the colonization phase of the universe.

    Prof. Tipler’s above 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper also demonstrates that the correct quantum gravity theory has existed since 1962, first discovered by Richard Feynman in that year, and independently discovered by Steven Weinberg and Bryce DeWitt, among others. But because these physicists were looking for equations with a finite number of terms (i.e., derivatives no higher than second order), they abandoned this qualitatively unique quantum gravity theory since in order for it to be consistent it requires an arbitrarily higher number of terms. Further, they didn’t realize that this proper theory of quantum gravity is consistent only with a certain set of boundary conditions imposed (which includes the initial Big Bang, and the final Omega Point, cosmological singularities). The equations for this theory of quantum gravity are term-by-term finite, but the same mechanism that forces each term in the series to be finite also forces the entire series to be infinite (i.e., infinities that would otherwise occur in spacetime, consequently destabilizing it, are transferred to the cosmological singularities, thereby preventing the universe from immediately collapsing into nonexistence). As Tipler notes in his book The Physics of Christianity (New York: Doubleday, 2007), pp. 49 and 279, “It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. … This is somewhat analogous to Liouville’s theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity.”

    When combined with the Standard Model, the result is the Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics.

    Regarding the equivalence of God and the Omega Point, Prof. Tipler has published on this equivalence in a peer-reviewed academic science journal. See Frank J. Tipler, “The Omega Point as Eschaton: Answers to Pannenberg’s Questions for Scientists,” Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science, Vol. 24, Issue 2 (June 1989), pp. 217-253; doi:10.1111/j.1467-9744.1989.tb01112.x. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119442501/abstract

    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. 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 [London: Cambridge University Press, 1973], pp. 217-221). So the Omega Point is transcendent to, yet immanent in, space and time.

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

    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 multiverse in its entirety up to this point in universal history). 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.

    So to recapitulate:

    1.) The Omega Point (or, for that matter, the society near the Omega Point) can trivially perform the universal resurrection of the dead, upon which the people resurrected can live eternally in literal heaven, i.e., paradise.
    2.) The Omega Point is omniscient.
    3.) The Omega Point is omnipresent.
    4.) The Omega Point is omnipotent.
    5.) The cosmological singularity is a triune structure, of which the Omega Point is one component.
    6.) The cosmological singularity is transcendent to, yet immanent in, space and time.
    7.) The cosmological singularity is the only achieved (actually existing) infinity.
    8.) The Omega Point creates the universe and all of existence.

    Those are all the physical properties that have been claimed for God in traditional Christian theology. There are many other congruities between the Omega Point cosmology and Christianity. Below are listed just some of them:

    1.) We are gods: John 10:34 (Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6).
    2.) We are God and God is us: Matthew 25:31-46.
    3.) We live inside of God: Acts 17:24-28.
    4.) God is everything and inside of everything: Colossians 3:11; Jeremiah 23:24.
    5.) We are members in the body of Christ: Romans 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 6:15-19; 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:25.
    6.) We are one in Christ: Galatians 3:28.
    7.) God is all: Ephesians 1:23; 4:4-6.
    8.) God is light: 1 John 1:5; John 8:12.
    9.) We have existed before the foundation of the world: Matthew 25:34; Luke 1:70; 11:50; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Isaiah 40:21.
    10.) Jesus has existed before the foundation of the world: John 17:24; Revelation 13:8.
    11.) The reality of multiple worlds: Hebrews 1:1,2; 11:3.
    12.) God is the son of man: Matthew 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:18; 12:32; 12:40; 13:37; 13:41; 16:13; 16:27,28; 17:9; 17:12; 17:22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18; 20:28; 24:27; 24:30; 24:37; 24:39; 24:44; 25:13; 25:31; 26:2; 26:24; 26:45; 26:64. (This is just listing how many times Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man in the Gospel of Matthew, althought he refers to himself as this throughout the Gospels. It was the favorite phrase that he used to refer to himself.)

    How item Nos. 9 and 10 relate is that within Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory the universe is brought into being by the Omega Point, as the end-state of the universe causally brings about the beginning state, i.e., the Big Bang singularity (since in physics it’s just as accurate to say that causation goes from future to past events: viz., the principle of least action; and unitarity). Another way of stating it is that in the Omega Point cosmology, the Omega Point is the fundamental existential and mathematical entity, from which all of reality derives. Indeed, within the Omega Point Theory, the Big Bang singularity and the Omega Point singularity are actually just different functions of the same singularity. Further, anything which at any time will exist will simply be a subset of what is rendered in the Omega Point.

    Nor does the fact that God has been proven to exist according to the known laws of physics leave no room for faith. Recall that Jesus Christ in part defined Himself as the truth (John 14:6). Hence, truth, particularly scientific truth, confirms the existence of God and Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity.

    Faith in the Christian sense is trust in the truth (i.e., equivalently, trust in Jesus Christ), even when things seem hopeless. It does not mean a lack of rationality in coming to belief in Jesus Christ. Indeed, Paul appealed to reason when he wrote in Romans 1:19,20 that an understanding of the natural world leads to knowledge of God:

    “”
    because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, …
    “”

    After all, some form of reason must be used in order for a person to convert in belief from one religion to another; or from any belief to another belief, for that matter. It can either be veridical reason, or false reason–but some process of reasoning must be involved.

    Having faith in God is having trust in the truth, since the Godhead in all its fullness is the highest obtainment of truth: said state is the perfection of all knowledge.

    Unfortunately, most modern physicists have been all too willing to abandon the laws of physics if it produces results that they’re uncomfortable with, i.e., in reference to religion. It’s the antagonism for religion on the part of the scientific community which greatly held up the acceptance of the Big Bang (for some 40 years), due to said scientific community regarding it as lending credence to the traditional theological position of creatio ex nihilo, and also because no laws of physics can apply to a singularity itself. The originator of the Big Bang theory, circa 1930, was Roman Catholic priest and physicist Prof. Georges Lemaître; and it was enthusiastically endorsed by Pope Pius XII in 1951, long before the scientific community finally came to accept it. As regards physicists abandoning physical law due to their theological discomfort with the Big Bang, in an article by Prof. Frank J. Tipler he gives the following example involving no less than physicist Prof. Steven Weinberg:

    “”
    The most radical ideas are those that are perceived to support religion, specifically Judaism and Christianity. When I was a student at MIT in the late 1960s, I audited a course in cosmology from the physics Nobelist Steven Weinberg. He told his class that of the theories of cosmology, he preferred the Steady State Theory because “it *least* resembled the account in Genesis” (my emphasis). In his book *The First Three Minutes* (chapter 6), Weinberg explains his earlier rejection of the Big Bang Theory: “Our mistake is not that we take our theories too seriously, but that we do not take them seriously enough. It is always hard to realize that these numbers and equations we play with at our desks have something to do with the real world. [b]Even worse, there often seems to be a general agreement that certain phenomena are just not fit subjects for respectable theoretical and experimental effort.[/b]” [My emphasis--J. R.]

    … But as [Weinberg] himself points out in his book, the Big Bang Theory was an automatic consequence of standard thermodynamics, standard gravity theory, and standard nuclear physics. All of the basic physics one needs for the Big Bang Theory was well established in the 1930s, some two decades before the theory was worked out. Weinberg rejected this standard physics not because he didn’t take the equations of physics seriously, but because he did not like the religious implications of the laws of physics. …
    “”

    For that and a number of other such examples, see:

    Frank J. Tipler, “Refereed Journals: Do They Insure Quality or Enforce Orthodoxy?,” Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (PCID), Vols. 2.1 and 2.2 (January-June 2003). http://www.iscid.org/papers/Tipler_PeerReview_070103.pdf Also published as Chapter 7 in Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing, edited by William A. Dembski, “Foreword” by John Wilson (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2004).

    Prof. Stephen Hawking reinforces what Weinberg and Tipler wrote about concerning the antagonism of the scientific community for religion, resulting in them abandoning good physics. In his book The Illustrated A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1996), pg. 62, Hawking wrote:

    “”
    Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention. (The Catholic Church, on the other hand, seized on the big bang model and in 1951 officially pronounced it to be in accordance with the Bible). There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang.
    “”

    On pg. 179 of the same book, Hawking wrote “In real time, the universe has a beginning and an end at singularities that form a boundary to spacetime and at which the laws of science break down.”

    Agnostic and physicist Dr. Robert Jastrow, founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, wrote in his book God and the Astronomers (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1978), pg. 113:

    “”
    This religious faith of the scientist [that there is no First Cause] is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized.
    “”

    For more quotes by Robert Jastrow on this, see:

    John Ross Schroeder and Bill Bradford, “Science and Discomfiting Discoveries” in Life’s Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? (United Church of God, 2000) http://www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/GE/discomfitingdiscoveries.htm

    http://www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/GE/GE.pdf

    For more quotes by scientists along the above lines, see the below article:

    Mariano, “In the Beginning … Cosmology, Part I,” Atheism’s Assertions, February 20, 2007 http://lifeanddoctrineatheism.blogspot.com/2007/02/in-beginning-cosmology-part-i-see.html

    Again, the only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to resort to physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking’s paper on the black hole information issue which is dependent on the conjectured string theory-based anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, “Information loss in black holes,” Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005. http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507171

    That is, Prof. Hawking’s paper is based upon empirically unconfirmed physics which violate the known laws of physics. It’s an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory’s correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he’s forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

    Contrast that ad libitum approach to doing physics with that of Prof. Frank J. Tipler, who bases his Omega Point Theory and the Feynman-Weinberg quantum gravity/extended Standard Model Theory of Everything (TOE) strictly on the known laws of physics, and that of Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics’ 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work). They both believe we have to take the known laws of physics seriously as true explanations of how the world works, unless said physics are experimentally, or otherwise, refuted.

    Comment by James Redford — August 3, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  3. James,

    Thanks for the post; it is remarkably – long.

    A few brief observations:

    Tipler’s view still has the limitation imposed by a dependence on the material and denial of the numinous: by saying mind is programming he has limited it to algorithms and made it sub-human.

    Multiverses are a speculation, unproved – indeed, uprovable.

    To say God has been proven to exist is plain silly; much as I may like to believe such a proof exists, it doesn’t.

    Quantum computing doesn’t exist in any practical sense; if and when it does, there is nothing to demonstrate that it will not be algorithmic. Even if it were not, human creativity is not sufficiently understood to be able to say that it could be reproduced in a quantum computer.

    The ideas behind the Omega Point originated with Teilhard de Chardin and really have little acceptance either by theologians or physicists.

    You have placed interpretations on the scripture passages you reference that fly in the face of 2000 years of Christian understanding; when you do that it needs a little more to bolster its credibility than a simple fiat.

    Finally, Tipler’s work has been described as a masterpiece of pseudoscience.I fear that is an accurate assessment.

    Comment by David — August 4, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  4. Hi, David. I’ll here respond to your statements in order.

    You say that “Tipler’s view still has the limitation imposed by a dependence on the material and denial of the numinous: by saying mind is programming he has limited it to algorithms and made it sub-human.”

    Actually, given infinite computational resources, one is able to overcome such algorithmic problems as the halting problem. That is, God knows which programs halt and which ones do not, as God has infinite computational resources. So likewise with any of the other mathematical/computational problems that are insoluble without infinite computer power. It’s amazing what one can do when one has infinite computational resources.

    But your statement here speaks to the ineffable: to the supernatural, to the mystical. My previous paragraph gave examples of how the Omega Point is able to transcend what are commonly thought of as hard limits of what is possible. Yet moreover, the Omega Point is supernatural to the hilt. It has all the ineffable qualities you’re looking for, and more (indeed, because it’s God).

    Let me now explain that.

    Pertaining to the supernatural: traditional Christian theology has maintained that God never violates physical law, as God, in His omniscience, knew in the beginning all that He wanted to achieve and so, in His omnipotence, He formed the laws of physics in order to achieve His goal. The idea that God would violate His own laws would mean that God is not omniscient. In traditional Christian theology, miracles do not violate natural law–rather, they are events that are so improbable that they can only be explained by the existence of God and His acting in the world.

    Although God is transcendent to the laws of physics, as physical values are at infinity at the cosmological singularity, and hence it is not possible for any form of physics to apply to the actual singularity since one cannot perform the arithmetical operations of addition or subtraction on infinity.

    In general relativity, singularities are unavoidable with realistic energy conditions (i.e., given any universe with enough matter to contain life): for the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems proving that the universe began in the Big Bang singularity, see S. W. Hawking and R. Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London; Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Vol. 314, No. 1519 (January 27, 1970), pp. 529-548. http://www.jstor.org/pss/2416467

    So it’s been known for some time that physical law proves the existence of something to which no form of physics can be applied, i.e., something which is transcendent to any form of physics. As Prof. Stephen Hawking wrote in his book The Illustrated A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1996), p. 179, “In real time, the universe has a beginning and an end at singularities that form a boundary to spacetime and at which the laws of science break down.”

    Thus if the term “supernatural” is taken to mean something which transcends any form of physics, but which does not violate physical law, then physical law proves that the supernatural necessarily exists.

    *****

    You say that “Multiverses are a speculation, unproved – indeed, uprovable.” There exists only one multiverse. And you here fall prey to the fallacy of assuming too much.

    First, do note that the Omega Point isn’t dependant on a multiverse conception.

    Second, there exists only one interpretation of quantum mechanics, and that is the many-worlds interpretation. All other so-called “interpretations” either make no attempt to actually explain quantum phenomena (such as the Statistical interpretation), or they are merely the many-worlds interpretation in denial (such as David Bohm’s pilot-wave interpretation).

    Anything that acts on reality is real and exists. Quite strange then that quantum phenomena behave exactly as if the other particles in the multiverse exist if in fact they don’t exist. If the actual physical nature of the “wave functions” and “pilot waves” are not the other particles in the multiverse, then new physical entities with their own peculiar physics are being invoked: for if these aren’t the other particles in the multiverse interacting with the particles in this universe, then we will do well to ask what is their actual physical nature? Pinball flippers, bumpers and ramps? What is their actual physical form, and why do they behave exactly as if the other particles in the multiverse exist?

    Furthermore, all wave phenomena are nothing more than particle phenomena: there is no particle-wave duality. A wave is simply a collection of particles interacting with each other. It is the particles that actually exist; the wave is simply an action by particles interacting with each other. We see this with waves through, e.g., liquids: the individual molecules are jostled about via interacting with the other molecules. Likewise, a single photon in this universe behaves as a wave because it’s interacting with the ocean of its parallel photons in the multiverse.

    Prof. Frank J. Tipler points out on pg. 95 of The Physics of Christianity (New York: Doubleday, 2007), “if the other universes and the multiverse do not exist, then quantum mechanics is objectively false. This is not a question of physics. It is a question of mathematics. I give a mathematical proof of [this] in my earlier book …” For that, see Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead (New York: Doubleday, 1994), Appendix I: “The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics,” pp. 483-488.

    As well, experiments confirming “nonlocality” are actually confirming the existence of the multiverse: see Frank J. Tipler, “Does Quantum Nonlocality Exist? Bell’s Theorem and the Many-Worlds Interpretation,” arXiv:quant-ph/0003146, March 30, 2000. http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0003146

    See also David Deutsch, “Comment on Lockwood,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 47, No 2 (June 1996), pp. 222-228; also released as “Comment on ‘”Many Minds” Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics by Michael Lockwood,'” 1996. http://www.qubit.org/people/david/Articles/CommentOnLockwood.html

    Quantum mechanics is strictly deterministic across the multiverse. If one does away with causation then one also does away with the possibility of explanation, as all explanation is predicated on explicating cause-and-effect relationships. So if by “interpretation” it is meant explanation, then Prof. Deutsch’s point in his above paper about there actually only being one known interpretation of quantum mechanics is again found to be inescapable.

    And as Deutsch writes in The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes–and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997), Chapter 9: “Quantum Computers,” pg. 217:

    “”
    The argument of Chapter 2, applied to *any* interference phenomenon destroys the classical idea that there is only one universe. Logically, the possibility of complex quantum computations adds nothing to a case that is already unanswerable. But it does add psychological impact. With Shor’s algorithm, the argument has been writ very large. To those who still cling to a single-universe world view, I issue this challenge: *explain how Shor’s algorithm works*. I do not merely mean predict that it will work, which is merely a matter of solving a few uncontroversial equations. I mean provide an explanation. When Shor’s algorithm has factorized a number, using 10^500 or so times the computational resources that can be seen to be present, where was that number factorized? There are only about 10^80 atoms in the entire visible universe. So if the visible universe were the extent of physical reality, physical reality would not even remotely contain the resources required to factorize such a large number. Who did factorize it, then? How, and where, was the computation performed?
    “”

    See also the below paper by Prof. Tipler:

    Frank J. Tipler, “Testing Many-Worlds Quantum Theory By Measuring Pattern Convergence Rates,” arXiv:0809.4422, September 25, 2008. http://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4422

    And most leading physicists do accept the Many-Worlds Interpretation as true. The political scientist L. David Raub conducted a poll of 72 leading quantum cosmologists and other quantum field theorists regarding their view on the truth of the Many-Worlds Interpretation. The possible answers were: (1) “Yes, I think the MWI is true”; (2) “No, I don’t accept the MWI”; (3) “Maybe it’s true, but I’m not yet convinced”; and (4) “I have no opinion one way or the other.” The results of the poll were: 58% said yes; 18% said no; 13% said maybe; and 11% said no opinion. In the “yes” category were Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman, and Murray Gell-Mann, while the “no” answers included Roger Penrose.

    *****

    You say “To say God has been proven to exist is plain silly; much as I may like to believe such a proof exists, it doesn’t.”

    The only way to avoid the conclusion that the Omega Point exists is to reject the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics), and hence to reject empirical science: as these physical laws have been confirmed by every experiment to date. That is, there exists no rational reason for thinking that the Omega Point Theory is incorrect, and indeed, one must engage in extreme irrationality in order to argue against the Omega Point cosmology.

    Additionally, we now have the quantum gravity Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics: of which inherently produces the Omega Point cosmology. So here we have an additional high degree of assurance that the Omega Point cosmology is correct.

    Bear in mind that Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of the world’s leading peer-reviewed physics journals.[1]

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler’s 2005 Reports in Progress in Physics paper–which presents the Omega Point quantum gravity Theory of Everything–was selected as one of 12 for the “Highlights of 2005″ accolade as “the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website.” (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, “Highlights of 2005,” Reports on Progress in Physics. http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/-page=extra.highlights/0034-4885 )

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal’s impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a “letter” as defined by the latter journal.)

    For much more on these matters, see either my first July 10, 2009 post in this thread or my below post:

    “God Proven to Exist According to Mainline Physics,” TetrahedronOmega, December 26, 2008 http://www.armleg.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=122&mforum=libertyandtruth

    —–

    Note:

    1. While there is a lot that gets published in physics journals that is anti-reality and non-physical (such as string theory, which violates the known laws of physics and has no experimental support whatsoever), the reason such things are allowed to pass the peer-review process is because the paradigm of assumptions which such papers are speaking to has been declared, and within their declared paradigm none of the referees could find anything wrong with said papers. That is, the paradigm itself may have nothing to do with reality, but the peer-reviewers could find nothing wrong with such papers within the operating assumptions of that paradigm. Whereas, e.g., the operating paradigm of Prof. Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper is the known laws of physics, i.e., our actual physical reality which has been repeatedly confirmed by every experiment conducted to date. So the professional physicists charged with refereeing this paper could find nothing wrong with it within its operating paradigm, i.e., the known laws of physics.

    *****

    You say that “The ideas behind the Omega Point originated with Teilhard de Chardin and really have little acceptance either by theologians or physicists.”

    Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory is not an expansion of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s omega point concept. Tipler used Teilhard’s term “omega point” for his own Omega Point Theory to mean “end point,” since in Tipler’s Omega Point cosmology, the universe ends in a final singularity (i.e., a true physical geometric point).

    *****

    Lastly, you write that

    “”
    You have placed interpretations on the scripture passages you reference that fly in the face of 2000 years of Christian understanding; when you do that it needs a little more to bolster its credibility than a simple fiat.

    Finally, Tipler’s work has been described as a masterpiece of pseudoscience.I fear that is an accurate assessment.
    “”

    Actually, the God decribed in the Bible is none other than the Omega Point. See my previous post for many of the details on that.

    The person who described Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory as “a masterpiece of pseudoscience” is Prof. George F. R. Ellis.

    Prof. George Ellis’s review in Nature of Prof. Tipler’s book The Physics of Immortality (New York: Doubleday, 1994)–which you cite–doesn’t bother to state any error on Tipler’s part. Ellis merely therein resorts to the logical fallacy of bare assertion.

    Prof. Ellis is a theist who takes a fideist position. His fideist Weltanschauung also extends to other areas, e.g., he maintains that physics cannot be capable of explaining human consciousness, which is a mystical position known as vitalism: in effect that human-level sapience amounts to some type of soul that is beyond the study and description of science. Hence, Ellis dislikes Prof. Tipler’s work because it abrogates the type of mystical theism that Ellis desires to believe in; Ellis doesn’t want science demystifying his conception of God.

    In a paper published by Prof. Ellis and Dr. David Coule criticizing Tipler’s Omega Point Theory (“Life at the end of the universe?,” General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 26, No. 7 [July 1994], pp. 731-739), Ellis and Coule gave an argument that the Bekenstein Bound violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics if the universe collapses without having event horizons eliminated. Unwittingly, Ellis and Coule thereby actually gave a powerful argument that the Omega Point is required by the laws of physics.

    So when Tipler’s critics actually do real physics instead of issuing bare assertions and mystically nebulous cavils, they end up making Tipler’s case stronger. I find that deliciously ironic. (Ironic though it is, it’s the expected result, given that the Omega Point is required by the known laws of physics.)

    Comment by James Redford — August 5, 2009 @ 12:01 pm


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