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IEET > Rights > FreeThought > Vision > CyborgBuddha > Futurism > Virtuality > Staff > J. Hughes

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Problems of Transhumanism: Atheism vs. Naturalist Theologies


J. Hughes
By J. Hughes
Ethical Technology

Posted: Jan 14, 2010

The dominant trajectory of Enlightenment thought over the last three hundred years has been towards atheism. Most transhumanists are atheists. But some transhumanists, like many of the original Enlightenment thinkers, are attempting to reconcile naturalism and their religious traditions. Some transhumanists even believe that the transcendent potentials of intelligence argue for a new form of scientific theology.


This article is part of a continuing series. See also:

Problems of Transhumanism: Introduction
Problems of Transhumanism: The Unsustainable Autonomy of Reason
Problems of Transhumanism: Liberal Democracy vs. Technocratic Absolutism
Problems of Transhumanism: Moral Universalism vs. Relativism
Problems of Transhumanism: Belief in Progress vs. Rational Uncertainty


Deism, Atheism and Natural Theology

A central theme of the Enlightenment was religious tolerance and skepticism about superstition and Biblical literalism. However, most of the Enlightenment philosophers of the 17th century through the 19th century were theists of some sort. In general they were attempting to reconcile belief in God with rational skepticism and naturalism.

One common theological stance of the Enlightenment thinkers was Deism. Deists rejected blind faith and organized religion, and advocated the discovery of religious truth through reason and direct empirical observation. Deists believed divine intervention in human affairs stopped with the creation of the world. They rejected miracles, the inerrancy of scripture, and doctrines such as the triune nature of the Christian God (trinitarianism). Deists like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine (1794), and Benjamin Franklin helped establish the separation of church and state in the new United States, arguing that doctrinal differences were irrelevant to good citizenship. 

Deism declined in the nineteenth century, gradually replaced by atheist materialism. But the engagement with Enlightenment values continued in liberal strains of Christianity such as Unitarianism and Universalism. Many of these attempts to root theology in Enlightenment rationalism fall flat on modern ears and consequently are seen today as transitional to atheism, or even as insincere covers for an underlying atheism that could not yet speak its name. Certainly many orthodox believers also accused the Enlightenment-influenced theologians of being closet atheists.

I grew up in the Unitarian-Universalist church, to which I still belong. Its attempt to run spirituality through the rationalist Enlightenment sieve removed God seventy years ago, leaving mostly vague affirmations. As a consequence UU-ism has grown only slowly, and is often a way station for families moving from traditional religions to atheism. Sociologically, the decline of liberal churches and the rise of fundamentalism has seemed to prove that liberal religion is incoherent, that one either needs to check one’s brain at the door or become an atheist.

I believe, however, that we need to take more seriously the effort of Enlightenment theologians to argue for a naturalist theology. Although their previous efforts to affirm some form of deity through the rational, scientific investigation of nature may have failed, naturalistic theology may finally have found solid Enlightenment footing in modern transhumanist speculations about the transcendent powers of superintelligent beings.


Transhumanists and Religion

Self-identified transhumanists today are mostly secular and atheist. In a survey conducted in 2007 of members of the World Transhumanist Association (Humanity+, 2008), 93% answered ‘yes’ to the statement “Do you expect human progress to result from human accomplishment rather than divine intervention, grace, or redemption?” Ninety percent denied “clear divinely-set limits on what humans should do,” and ninety percent affirmed that their “concept of ‘the meaning of life’ derived from human responsibility and opportunity, not than from divine revelation.”

When those transhumanists were asked for religious affiliations, two-thirds identified as atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, or non-theist. On the other hand, a quarter self-identified as religious of some sort, including Christian (8%), spiritual (5%), Buddhist (4%), religious humanist (2%), as well as pagans, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and other faiths. Echoing Goldberg’s 2009 thesis that transhumanism is itself a religious point of view, about 1% of transhumanists listed transhumanism as their religion.

So while transhumanism reflects the atheist trajectory of the Enlightenment for most of its adherents, for up to fifteen percent or so some concept of God is compatible with their transhumanism. (For a fuller parsing out of the religious views of transhumanists, please see my essay 2007 essay on the compatibility of religion and transhumanism.)


Pantheist Cosmotheologies

Intriguingly, 1% of respondents to that survey offered “pantheist” or “scientific pantheist” as either a religious or secular philosophy. Pantheism appears to have become popular because of the belief among some transhumanists in panpsychism, the idea that all matter in the universe partakes of consciousness (Goertzel, 2004; Rucker, 2007). This conjecture emerges out of the ideas that consciousness is an emergent property of matter, and that matter is a form of computation, articulated for instance by Stephen Wolfram.

Even if all matter in the universe is not currently suffused with consciousness, the transhumanist belief in the inevitable progress of intelligence and the ability of science to ultimately control all matter generates its own form of teleological theology similar to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s notion of humanity’s evolution into an Omega Point (de Chardin, 1955, 1959; Steinhart, 2008). One early example of such transhumanist theological teleology or “cosmotheism” was Frank Tipler’s (1995) argument for a resurrection of the dead at the universe’s end. Tipler assumed the universe would eventually stop expanding and end in a Big Crunch, allowing subjectively eternal supercomputation within the accretion ring of the Crunching black hole. One of the things that could be accomplished at that point would be the “resurrection” of every intelligent creature, or even every living thing, that had ever existed. In the last decade it has become clear that the universe is likely to continue expanding and dissipate in heat death. Nonetheless, smaller versions of these simulated heavens could be created in the matter around the black holes at the centers of galaxies.


Simulation Hypothesis

A more minimalist version of cosmotheology is found in Nick Bostrom’s (2003) “simulation hypothesis.” Bostrom proposes that if the universe generates vast superintelligences with billions of years to amuse themselves, one of their activities might be the creation of simulated civilizations. Given the vast numbers of potential simulators, their vast computing resources, and the vast numbers of years to entertain themselves, and therefore the vast number of simulations they will likely run, the likelihood is that there are a vastly larger number of simulations of lived realities than actual lived realities. Therefore we are probably living in a simulation.

Many people have pointed out the similarity between this skeptical view of sense data and earlier theological views. For instance Rene Descartes begins his meditations with three reasons to doubt our senses: (a) that we could be dreaming; (b) that we could be living in a deceptive reality created by God; and (c) that we could be living in a deceptive reality created by an evil demon. Similarly, Bishop Berkeley prefigured the quantum observation effect by proposing that reality doesn’t exist unless it is perceived by a mind, and that the reason that our reality persists around us when we aren’t looking is because it all is being perceived within the mind of God. David Hume grappled with these skeptical challenges to epistemology and concluded there was no way to prove we were actually in reality, so we might as well ignore the question. (See the excellent Wikipedia page on Simulism for more discussion of these parallels.)

Bostrom disputes the similarity between his argument and these prior theological and epistemological arguments.

It has no direct connection with religious conceptions of a literally omniscient and omnipotent deity. The simulation-hypothesis does not imply the existence of such a deity, nor does it imply its non-existence.

The simulators who created us in this naturalistic theology would be importantly different from the traditional Creator of Christianity. Our Simulator(s)

would be naturalistic entities, subject to the laws of nature at their own level of reality; they would not be strictly omniscient or omnipotent, and they might well be finite.

On the other hand, they

would be able to monitor everything that happens here, and they would be able to intervene in ways that conflict with the simulated default laws of nature. Moreover, they would presumably be superintelligent (in order to be able to create such a simulation in the first place). An afterlife in a different simulation or at a different level of reality after death-in-the-simulation would be a real possibility. It is even conceivable that the simulators might reward or punish their simulated creatures based on how they behave, perhaps according to familiar moral or religious norms (a possibility that gains a little bit of credibility from the possibility that the simulators might be the descendants of earlier humans who recognized these norms)….

So the simulation hypothesis, working from naturalistic assumptions to naturalistic conclusions, ends up as an argument for a kind of naturalistic God that may perform miracles, reward and punish behavior, and grant an afterlife or reincarnation.


The Order of Cosmic Engineers

Another version of transhumanist cosmotheism is found in the “Order of Cosmic Engineers” (OCE). The OCE describes itself as a transhumanist spiritual movement that foresees a future in which intelligence engineers the universe and becomes godlike. They distinguish between belief in a “supernatural” god, and belief in inevitable natural superintelligent, superpowerful gods.

..(in the) very far future one or more natural entities—i.e. entities existing within our present universe—are highly likely to come into being—plausibly resulting from the agency of our and other species—which will to all intents and purposes be very much akin to “god” conceptions held by theist religions. We refer to conceptions of personal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent super-beings, “deities” or “gods”. (OCE, 2009)

These natural gods might in fact already exist, produced by prior civilizations, or might be able to reach back from our future to influence the past. Religious beliefs in gods, the OCE contends, might simply be a primitive apperception of these superbeings. 

The OCE, following Gardner (2007), Lanza and Berman (2009), also suggest that these superbeings might have the power to shape our universe, or create new universes specifically designed for life. They may then have dissolved themselves or diffused themselves into our universe at the moment of creation. The perfusing of intelligence into the universe will therefore lead to the re-connection with or (re-)creation of these godlike beings.

The OCE views as its ultimate, very long-term aspiration—its cosmic-scale mission if you like—the permeating of this universe—by means of cosmic engineering interventions such as so-called ‘computronium’—with benign intelligence. We see the perfusing of our universe with benign intelligence as a step towards the (re-)constitution or (re-)integration of (possibly hive-like) “societies of mind” or “global brains”. These in turn would ultimately evolve into—a possibly new and ever so slightly improved version of—these ‘original’ god-like super-beings.


Is Naturalistic Trans-Spirituality Compatible With New Atheism?

The IEET, like the transhumanist movement, tilts towards atheism. IEET Fellow Russell Blackford and IEET Managing Director Mike Treder argue passionately that advocating for atheism is a central responsibility for partisans of Enlightenment values today. Nonetheless we also embody some of these contradictory tendencies. Our Chair Nick Bostrom articulated the simulation hypothesis. IEET Fellow and Humanity+ Chair Ben Goertzel is a self-identified panpsychist. IEET Trustee Martine Rothblatt and IEET Board member Giulio Prisco are stalwarts of the Order of Cosmic Engineers. IEET Board members George Dvorsky, Mike LaTorra, and I are atheist Buddhists, pursuing our “Cyborg Buddha” project of trying to integrate neurotechnologies with a spirituality grounded in naturalism, an effort that we share with New Atheist Sam Harris.

Do any of these positions represent a backsliding towards irrationalism, a compromising of the core Enlightenment commitment to scientific naturalism? In principle, no. Naturalist predicates and arguments, coupled with an openness to transhumanist conclusions, are leading to new scientific theologies and spiritualities. Since this tension between the atheist, anti-spiritualist wing and the natural theology wing is already three hundred years old, however, it seems like it will probably not be resolved any time soon.


References

Bostrom, Nick. 2003.” Are You Living In a Computer Simulation?Philosophical Quarterly, 53(211): 243-255.

de Chardin, Teilhard. 1950. The Future of Man. Trans. N. Denny. New York: Doubleday.

____. 1955. Le Phénomène Humain (The Human Phenomenon). Trans. B. Wall. New York: Harper Collins.

Gardner, James. 2007. The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos. New Page Books.

Goertzel, Ben. 2004.  “Patterns of Awareness: A Pattern-Theoretic, Panpsychist Solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness”.

Goldberg, Steven. 2009. “Does the Wall Still Stand? The Implications of Transhumanism for the Separation of Church and State.” Workshop on Transhumanism and the Future of Democracy, Templeton Research Lectures at the Arizona State University Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, April 24, 2009. 

Humanity+. 2003. Transhumanist FAQ.

____. 2008. Report on the 2007 Interests and Beliefs Survey of the Members of the World Transhumanist Association. Humanity+.

Lanza, Robert and Bob Berman. 2009. Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe. Benbella Books.

Order of Cosmic Engineers. 2009. Prospectus.

Paine, Thomas. 1794/1807. The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology.

Rucker, Rudy. 2007. “Everything is Alive.”

Steinhart, Eric. 2008. “Teilhard de Chardin and Transhumanism.” Journal of Evolution and Technology 20(1):1-22.

Tipler, Frank. 1995. The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead. New York: Anchor.

 


James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut USA, where he teaches health policy and serves as Director of Institutional Research and Planning. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)
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COMMENTS


I’d like to rephrase the question to “Is blue afro wig compatible with epilation?”





I find it best to treat all theologies—including atheism, simulism, and other ingenuities—to treat these all as stories. I love a well told story, and each can teach something about existence and experience.  Science is also perhaps a story, one I often prefer as a platform because it has seemed to work well for me during my experiences.  Each theology may give opportunity to verify or test or disprove.  I love this stuff.





I don’t know if you intended to equate them, but most pantheists are not panpsychists. The largest organization of pantheists—the World Pantheism Movement—is explicitly naturalistic: www.pantheism.net





I dunno James, the trouble is that once you’ve gotten on the slippery slope of starting to believe just a little something above and beyond what science says (however minor), you can quickly end up sliding all the way down the slope and believing anything you want.  I’m known for making all sorts of crazy stuff up - I know for a fact that imagination’s an amazing thing and you can convince yourself of almost anything if you’re creative enough.

If rational theologies can avoid making factual assertion and instead focus entirely on values, emotion and the social side of things they might work. Trouble is, as I said, it’s very hard to resist the temptation to start making factual assertions.  For instance if you think a simulation is possible, you’re free to assert that the simulation overlord likes penguins and you should be nice to penguins or whatever.. as I say, a slippery slope to wishful thinking. 

I’m very sympathematic to panpsychism myself, I think that old Ben is quite likely correct.  I think *consciousness* is simply identical to *complexity* of information processing in some as yet undefined manner (not Kolmogorov complexity, but some other kind of complexity).  This also places me very much in the camp of Tononi and his information integration theory.  Since everything has some degree of complexity, everything has some degree of consciousness.

But this is a factual assertion and so any theology based on this rests on a factual assertion, which could be mistaken.  And of course there’s no definite evidence for it yet.  Which proves the point that any attempt at ‘rational theology’ seems to quickly slide into making stuff up.





Thanks for this great article James.

Spirituality and transcendence are not incompatible with Enlightenment values. On the contrary, they meet in the Cosmist vision of a physical reality re-engineered by intelligent life.

I prefer not to speculate too much on how intelligent life may be(come) able to resurrect the dead, build natural gods, and spawn baby universes. This is very far from current scientific understanding, and must be left to future generations. But modern science shows that reality is full of unexplored possibilities in the sense of Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and the immortal words of Shakespeare: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

On the basis of these vague glimpses of a future powered by Clarke’s magic technology, I allow myself to contemplate possibilities similar to those proposed by religions. And this, for me, is a fusion of Enlightenment and spirituality.





J. Hughes “I believe, however, that we need to take more seriously the effort of Enlightenment theologians to argue for a naturalist theology.”

the⋅ol⋅o⋅gy 
:noun, plural -gies. 1. the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity

Naturalistic theology appears at least to me, to be an oxymoron. A naturalistic study of the supernatural? If god has a naturalistic explanation then he ceases to be god. If you are advocating a study of the unknown, we already have that, it’s called science.





Fascinating !  I found you on Reddit.
I just posted something on philosophy categories.
I will have to add some that you have in this article.
I tend to agree with some of the Pantheist positions but have not read much about them in philosophical Western terms.
Thanx for the article.
—Sabio





@Marc: I think a simulation is possible, but I don’t presume to know enough about the simulation overlords to guess their attitude to penguins, zebras, or humans;-)

once you’ve gotten on the slippery slope of starting to believe just a little something above and beyond what science says (however minor), you can quickly end up sliding all the way down the slope and believing anything you want.

You will always find a way to believe anything you want. And this, as William James thought, is not necessarily a bad thing: measured suspension of disbelief can have a positive effect on one’s well-being. On the other hand, for persons with a scientific culture it is difficult and painful to suspend disbelief on ideas which are evidently against science. This is why it is important, in my opinion, to develop natural theologies compatible with science, in the sense of above-and-beyond rather than against.





I disagree with mjgeddes that any of these views are particularly dangerous in that they deviate from science because none of them really assert an ethical or moral framework any different from that of atheism and secular humanism. Really, that has me asking why any of these ideas matter. Whether it’s panpsychic or OCEs or a simulation, it doesn’t alter our ethical or moral decision calculus. Pragmatically, the debate seems to be a moot point.





Starting with, say, Friedrich Schleiermacher, many Christian theologians have been interested in constructing theologies which do not incorporate a notion of the “supernatural.”

I’d also like to note that many theologians—including myself—view the work of interpreting Christian doctrine as a consciously constructive hermeneutical task—as opposed to “discovering” and re-articulating the one great coherent universal absolute system of dogmatic Truth.

I’m therefore sympathetic to Russ’s comment above regarding story.





P.S. Love the Dinosaur Comics-relief. smile





I contend that, in spite of its antiquity, Buddhism as originally espoused by Gautama, should more properly be listed under the “secular, atheist” heading in your tabulation rather than the “Religious or Spiritual” heading. Indeed, Gautama’s search for “enlightenment might be considered an early form of transhumanist thought. In support of my contention I offer the following.

(The following is excerpted from http://www.humanistictexts.org/buddha.htm) which appears to follow the thoughts of the (admittedly few) Buddhist scholars that I encountered while living in Thailand. The extracts rely on translations of Theravada Buddhism (the Doctrine of the Elders) from texts in Pali.

When Gautama argues that there is no permanent self, and that questions of its existence after death or its rebirth are therefore meaningless, it suggests that any passages in the voluminous “Buddhists” texts affirming reincarnation and eternal life are later additions to the earliest accounts of Gautama’s philosophy.

The early accounts suggest that Gautama explicitly stated:
(from The Path to Enlightenment)
“...

2   I have not elucidated, Malunkyaputta, that the world is eternal; I have not elucidated that the world is not eternal; I have not elucidated that the world is finite; I have not elucidated that the world is infinite; I have not elucidated that the soul and the body are identical; I have not elucidated that the soul is one thing and the body another; I have not elucidated that the good person exists after death.

3   And why have I not elucidated this? Because this profits not, nor has to do with the fundamentals of the way of truth, nor tends to aversion, absence of passion, cessation, quiescence, the supreme faculties, supreme wisdom, and ultimate attainment of disinterested wisdom and compassion.
...

5   In this world are three wrong viewpoints. If one clings to these viewpoints, then all things in this world are but to be denied.

First, some say that all human experience is based on destiny; second, some hold that everything is created by God and controlled by His will; third, some say that everything happens by chance without having any cause or condition.

If all has been decided by destiny, both good deeds and evil deeds are predetermined, happiness and sorrow are predestined; nothing would exist that has not been fore­ordained. Then all human plans and efforts for improvement and progress would be in vain and humanity would be without hope.

The same is true of the other viewpoints; for, if everything in the last resort is in the hands of an unknowable God, or of blind chance, what hope has humanity except in submission? No wonder people holding these conceptions lose hope and neglect efforts to act wisely and to avoid evil.

In fact, these three conceptions or viewpoints are all wrong: everything is a succession of appearances whose source is the accumulation of causes and conditions.
...”
I contend that these writings are evidence that Gautama’s philosophy was atheistic.

(From At the End of Life)

“33 Vaccha, suppose a fire burning in front of you were to die out, and some one were to ask, “In which direction has that fire gone:east, or west, or north, or south?” What would you say, Vaccha?

The question would not fit the case, Gautama. For when that fuel has all gone and there is no more, the fire which depended on fuel of grass and wood, being without nutriment, is said to be extinguished. To say that the fire has gone east or west would not fit the case. To say that the fire has not gone east or west but gone north or south would not fit the case.

In exactly the same way, Vaccha, all the modalities by which one could have predicated the existence of a good person who has died, at death all those modalities have been abandoned, uprooted, pulled out of the ground like a palmyra tree, and become non-existent and not liable to spring up again in the future. ...”

Again, these passages suggest that Gautama saw life as a chemical reaction analogous to fire which simply ceases at death suggesting that his philosophy was essentially atheistic.





I agree with Charley Earp and would suggest that the main reason transhuamnists might be attracted to Naturalistic/Scientific Pantheism is precisely beause it is 100% compatible with atheism and the scientific method.  See http://www.pantheism.net





>Whether it’s panpsychic or OCEs or a simulation, it doesn’t alter our ethical or moral decision calculus.

Actually, it does.  Any theology ends up having its own unique decision calculus.  For instance if some form of panpsychism were true (consciousness was identical to complexity and there was some in everything) it would mean you can’t have general intelligence without consciousness and that would completely revise deicision theory and (for instance)  the Singularity Institute would have to completely throw out their current approach (CEV).

It seems theology is unavoidably tangled up with ethics and values.





@ mjgeddes: “It seems theology is unavoidably tangled up with ethics and values.”

That would be nice, wouldn’t it?  From what I’ve seen though it’s more about dogma than ethics or values.





Hi, Dr. James Hughes. 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://theophysics.chimehost.net , http://theophysics.host56.com , http://theophysics.ifastnet.com , http://theophysics.110mb.com

“Omega Point (Tipler),” Wikipedia, December 25, 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omega_Point_(Tipler)&oldid=333970973

“Frank J. Tipler,” Wikipedia, December 25, 2009 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frank_J._Tipler&oldid=333892940

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://theophysics.chimehost.net/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.





Thanks for this very comprehensive comment James.

I am very fond of Tipler’s high level insight: Future technology may be able to resurrect the dead of past ages by some kind of “copying them to the future”.

At the same time I don’t think we know enough physics to even begin speculating on how this may be done. So I think the mechanism proposed by Tipler is but one of perhaps many possible ways to do it. Who knows, we might even be able to achieve resurrection much before a Big Crunch. Let’s continue to study physics, and leave to future scientists the development of a theoretical framework for resurrection.

I would change your first statement God has been proven to exist based upon the most reserved view of the known laws of physics. into a weaker Modern physics shows that, under certain conditions, our universe may be compatible with the future existence of “natural gods”, and with the possibility of achieving resurrection through very advanced engineering.

This is the approach I call Soft Tiplerianism:
http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/1727/

I am more critical of Tipler’s The Physics of Christianity:
http://giulioprisco.blogspot.com/2008/12/review-of-physics-of-christianity-by.html





Hi, Giulio Prisco. 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 Prof. Tipler’s below 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper and the following resources:

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

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

Theophysics: God Is the Ultimate Physicist http://theophysics.chimehost.net , http://theophysics.host56.com , http://theophysics.110mb.com , http://theophysics.ifastnet.com

——-

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 made known, and within their operating 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.





Re: Frank Tipler

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2009/01/05/the-varieties-of-crackpot-experience/





Hi James,

What you are saying here is that Tipler deserves respect, and is respected by many leading scientists including the professional physicists charged with refereeing his papers. I agree with this, and I have a lot of respect for Tipler.

At the same time, I consider Tiplar’s Omega Point as one of many possible scenarios in our big universe, and I don’t think he has actually proven his theories. Please correct me if I am wrong.

As I said, I liked The Physics of Immortality much more than The Physics of Christianity:
http://giulioprisco.blogspot.com/2008/12/review-of-physics-of-christianity-by.html

...I think the second part of the book is “not in the same universe” as the first one, and much less interesting. I find it off-topic like, say, describing in detail the provincial geography of the Earth in a cosmology essay on the large scale structure of the universe. I am very interested in Tipler’s cosmic vision and interpretation of the fabric of reality, but I just don’t find “details” like the virgin birth interesting enough.





Hi, Justin Templer. See my response to Sean Carroll within the thread of the Discover Magazine Blog URL that you gave.





Hi, Giulio Prisco. In response to your last post to me, no, I only mention the fact that Prof. Frank J. Tipler is the most able and knowledgable physicist in history in order to catch people’s attention, in order to impress upon them that this is something very important that they need to take seriously; and to provide an explanation as to why it is very natural that it is Tipler who would be the one to physically prove the existence of God (i.e., according to physical law) and to give the quantum gravity Theory of Everything (TOE). That is, I provide such supporting information merely in an attempt to overcome cognitive dissonance. It would be a logical fallacy if I were to suggest that this fact somehow makes him right.

Rather, my point is that if the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) are true, then the Omega Point exists apodictically. Since the known laws of physics have been confirmed by every experiment to date, to reject them would be to reject empirical science.

If said physical laws are true discriptions of how the world works, then the Omega Point Theory is apodictically true, as the only way to avoid the Omega Point is to violate one or more of those physical laws (e.g., such as unitarity being violated, or entropy decreasing).





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