Q/A with Frank J. Tipler

Video Q/A with Frank J. Tipler

Yesterday Micah Redding and I spent a few hours in a fascinating online discussion with Prof. Frank J. Tipler, covering Tipler’s ideas, papers, books, physics (a lot of that) and theology. Watch the full video below.

I wish to thank 3D ICC for providing the awesome Terf, an immersive 3D online collaboration environment with instant live audio and video and plenty of groupware tools.

Q/A with Frank J. Tipler

Also read Micah’s article on The Omega Point Theory and listen to The Christian Transhumanist Podcast, Ep. 19: Frank Tipler & The End of the Universe. This discussion is a continuation and a complement, more focused on physics (but there is a lot of theology as well).

As he mentions at the end, Prof. Tipler will give a talk at the India Awakens Conference in Kolkata on February 12, 2017.

I am working on a transcript. In the meantime read the questions below, and watch the video to hear Prof. Tipler’s answers.

Q/A with Frank J. Tipler

Questions (watch the video to hear Prof. Tipler’s answers):

Questions (books):

Most physicists loved your first book (The Anthropic Cosmological Principle), your second book (The Physics of Immortality) got mixed reviews, and most physicists hated your last book (The Physics of Christianity). Why?

What changed in your thinking between the first and second book, between the second and third book, and after the third book?

Are you writing another book? If so, can you say something about it? If not, are you thinking of a next book?

Questions (physics)

In which sense is Feynman’s quantum GR (as described in Lectures on Gravitation) a viable theory of quantum gravity? Others seem to consider it as valid only for weak fields, an “effective field theory” to be superseded by new theories.

In which sense is the Core Theory (SM plus quantum GR) a ToE? Again, others seem to consider it as valid only for weak fields, an “effective field theory” to be superseded by new theories.

What boundary conditions must be added to the Core Theory to make it consistent and usable?

You seem to think that we already have a final ToE. Don’t you think future developments could revolutionize current physics, just like GR and quantum mechanics revolutionized previous physics? You seem to think that the GR and quantum mechanics revolution wasn’t that big…

Could you try to explain as simply as possible what is the Wheeler-DeWitt equation and why it’s important? What does solving the Wheeler-DeWitt equation mean?

What is “dark energy”? How does it relate to Einstein’s cosmological constant? Can the measured cosmological constant be explained?

What should our descendants do to steer the universe toward a good outcome, and how?

Could super-advanced alien civilizations be doing that right now, and how could we detect their efforts?

Is there any alternative scheme that could work in an ever-expanding universe, for example as in Freeman Dyson’s article Time without end: Physics and biology in an open universe?

Do you still consider your “time travel machine” idea (Tipler cylinder) as valid, and could one be conceivably engineered?

What’s your best argument for Everett’s interpretation of quantum mechanics? Don’t you think “Many-Minds” is more accurate than “Many-Worlds” and closer to what Everett had in mind?

Questions (theology):

In The Physics of Immortality, intelligent life at the end of time plays the role of God. But in The Physics of Christianity you introduce a more traditional concept of God, outside (or at the edge of) space-time. What’s the relation between the two?

Is God a Deist God or the Theist personal and loving God that believers pray to?

Who engineered the resurrection of Jesus as described in The Physics of Christianity? Or did it happen “spontaneously”?

Could you comment on Pannenberg (Systematic Theology Vol. 2): “[The] divine reality, according to Tipler, does not come into being only at the omega but is to be thought of as free from all the restrictions of time at the omega. Therefore, in terms of the eschatological future, this divine reality is present at each phase of the cosmic process, and hence as already the creative origin of the universe at the beginning of its course.”

  • spud100

    Can’t wait to view this, Dr. Prisco. Looks excellent.


    • Giulio Prisco

      It is !

  • I thank Giulio Prisco and Micah Redding for their interview with physicist and mathematician Prof. Frank J. Tipler. For those who would like more information on Tipler’s Omega Point cosmology, which is a proof (i.e., mathematical theorem) demonstrating that sapient life (in the form of, e.g., immortal superintelligent human-mind computer-uploads and artificial intelligences) is required by the known laws of physics (viz., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics) to take control over all matter in the universe, for said life to eventually force the collapse of the universe, and for the computational resources of the universe (in terms of both processor speed and memory space) to diverge to infinity as the universe collapses into a final singularity, termed the Omega Point, see my following article, which also addresses the societal implications of the Omega Point cosmology:

    * James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011 (since updated), doi:10.2139/ssrn.1974708, https://archive.org/download/ThePhysicsOfGodAndTheQuantumGravityTheoryOfEverything/Redford-Physics-of-God.pdf .

    Said Omega Point cosmology is also an intrinsic component of the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics, of which TOE is itself mathematically forced by the aforesaid known physical laws. Tipler’s Omega Point cosmology has been published and extensively peer-reviewed in leading physics journals.

    • Giulio Prisco

      Thanks James. In this interview Tipler shows a knowledge and understanding of physics that is nothing short of awesome, and gives very good and understandable (well, almost) explanations of subtle topics.

      Though I am a theoretical physicists by training and claim a good understanding of modern physics, I am hopelessly outclassed by Frank’s brilliance. I am writing a long essay with edited and expanded transcripts from this video, assisted by a good reading list that Frank kindly recommended.

      Tipler’s framework is so coherent and consistent that it doesn’t leave much room for flexibility: every assumption is strictly necessary (see for example the discussion on alien civilizations). A key assumption, from which all the rest follows, is that we already know all the physics that we really need, and better mathematical techniques will enable future scientists to achieve more and more detailed understanding (and mastery) of the universe in the essentially known framework of general relativity, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory and the standard model.

      I tend to disagree with this key assumption, not on the basis of specific arguments (Frank would destroy my arguments in no time), but rather for aesthetic reasons. Also, many top physicists have said that throughout the ages and they have always been wrong.

      Therefore, I don’t buy Frank’s proof that his scenario must be correct as an inevitable outcome of the known final theory. However, he has demonstrated that – even if physics doesn’t have big surprises and radically new theories in store – currently known physics is already good enough to support the Christian concept of God and the promise of universal resurrection in a new world.

      I do enthusiastically buy Frank’s ideas as a project for the future of our species. Our descendants in the far future will master space-time, steer the universe toward a “good outcome” (states favorable to intelligent life), bring back the dead, and physics show that we can do all that. By all means, let’s go out there and do all that!!!


      • I very much look forward to your essay, Mr. Prisco.

        Regarding the existence of sapient extraterrestrials, per Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s below paper (see especially p. 147, or p. 8 of the arXiv version), they do exist, but roughly one every Hubble volume. Thus, we are only likely to make contact with such during the collapse phase of the universe.

        * Frank J. Tipler, “Intelligent life in cosmology”, International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Apr. 2003), pp. 141-148, doi:10.1017/S1473550403001526, bibcode: 2003IJAsB…2..141T.

        I have given a write-up on Prof. Tipler’s December 11, 2011 presentation for the Turing Church Online Workshop 2 in my following post (it is located toward the end of the post):

        * James Redford, “Video of Profs. Frank Tipler and Lawrence Krauss’s Debate at Caltech: Can Physics Prove God and Christianity?”, alt.sci.astro, Message-ID: jghev8tcbv02b6vn3uiq8jmelp7jijluqk[at sign]4ax[period]com , July 30, 2013, https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.sci.astro/KQWt4KcpMVo .

        • Giulio Prisco

          Thanks James for transcribing so much of Tipler’s lecture at the Turing Church online workshop in 2011! My (less complete) transcript and summary is here:

          The essay I am writing is part of a chapter of my forthcoming book dedicated to Tipler’s ideas. Can I have your permission to include your transcript above (with attribution of course)?

          Your sci.astro post, as well as your book and website, provide a lot of useful references difficult to find elsewhere. In particular, I was finally able to download Tipler’s talk at the Terasem GN1 workshop in 2005. I am asking Terasem permission to upload it to YouTube, which has better streaming.

          • You may most definitely use anything I write, Mr. Prisco. The latest version of it can be found within the “Media and Articles Featuring Prof. Tipler and the Omega Point Cosmology” section of my website.

          • Giulio Prisco

            Thanks James! Please feel free to transcribe as much of this interview as you like, and share it!

  • magnus

    Tipler ‘s work is for me still something deeply fascinating and to hear him talk always interesting.
    If to agree completely or not I couldn’t deside because I don’t know that much physics.
    But, the vision is HUGE and extremly impressive. Forcing the universe to collapse in order to get diverging computational power! And to collapse in the right way…That is what I call a vision.
    If someone likes a bit theory about infinite computations you could google “Abstract geometrical computation signal machines accumulations.” It is purely theoretical work, generalized from one dimensional CAs.

    Heading for eternity is an amazing goal. But if that is not possible let us at least head for resurrection of as many sentient beeings for as long as possible. Waking up with a few thousend extra years wouldn t be bad…And then with this extra time more possibilities could be investigated and created.


    • Giulio Prisco

      Don’t worry Magnus, (I like to think that) I know a lot of physics, but I don’t yet understand Tipler’s theory as fully as I would like. I am doing a lot of reading to catch up and understand it better.

      According to Tipler, everyone is resurrected at the far end of the future near the Omega point, but I think universal resurrection could start happening much before.