The creationist rants of Bill Tingley are pretty typical in their display of profound ignorance of science and, in particular, evolution. But we haven’t really managed to find much other information on this guy, so we’ll leave him alone in favor of one of creationism’s big fish.
Frank Jennings Tipler is a once-good scientist turned crackpot. He is still professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane, and in his early career Tipler published technical work on general relativity that were well received by the scientific community. His writings gradually morphed into eccentric pseudoscientific books on intelligent design and Christianity in an attempt to scientifically prove the existence of God. He has thus far failed.
His most famous contribution to pseudoscience is the Omega Point, a ghastly pseudo-scientific mix of cosmology and theology that supposedly proves God’s existence and the immortality of intelligence. His book on the matter, The Physics of Immortality, was described by George Ellis as a “a masterpiece of pseudoscience … the product of a fertile and creative imagination unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline.” In essence, the Omega point is a state in the distant proper-time future of the universe occurring after intelligent life has taken over all matter in the universe and eventually forced its collapse. During that collapse, the computational capacity of the universe diverges to infinity and environments emulated with that computational capacity last for an infinite duration as the universe attains a solitary-point cosmological singularity – the Omega Point, or God. With computational resources diverging to infinity, Tipler states that a society far in the future would be able to resurrect the dead by emulating all alternative universes from its start at the Big Bang – in other words, he thinks he has proved the immortality and resurrection of the Bible by physics alone. The whole thing is theological nonsense, of course, blithely misapplying the laws of probability, but made to sound “plausible” to laypeople (who don’t really understand the terminology) by using the technical language of physics. Martin Gardner dubbed Tipler’s “Final Anthropic Principle” (used to derive his results) the “completely ridiculous anthropic principle” (CRAP). Michael Shermer devoted a chapter of his book Why People Believe Weird Things to Tipler’s theory, and Lawrence Krauss described the book as the most “extreme example of uncritical and unsubstantiated arguments put into print by an intelligent professional scientist”.
But really, what qualifies Tipler as a loon isn’t so much his unsubstantiated ravings on theology and metaphysics, but how it affects his views on real science. At present Tipler is also a Fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, and a signatory to the Discovery Instititute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism; he also writes for Uncommon Descent.
And yes, his rants and ravings are utter crackpottery, complete with misuse of technical vocabulary, random capitalization and failure to understand how science works (a scientific theory is only truly scientific if it makes predictions “that the average person can check for himself,” says Tipler) – some examples are discussed by Sean Carroll here.
He also endorses global warming denialism: People say that anthropogenic global warming is now firmly established, but that’s what they said about Ptolemaic astronomy! Therefore, I am like Copernicus (Carroll’s paraphrasing). In other words, that a theory is established in the scientific community is no reason for me to accept it, even though I lack any expertise in the field. To back up the claim, Tipler engages in a lengthy description of the woes ofGalileo. His dismissal of global warming involves ranting about sunspots (apparently unaware of the literature, of course) and alleging that the data has probably been fabricated since it was very cold outside when Tipler was writing his rant. (Another example here.)
In addition to the already mentioned Physics of Immortality, Tipler’s books include The Physics of Christianity (2007) and The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986). The Physics of Christianity (reviewed here) attempts to give tortured explanations of the Shroud of Turin and various Christian miracles (desperately trying to avoid the obvious explanations). It is easily dismissed as profoundly silly, but as Lawrence Krauss points out: “As a collection of half-truths and exaggerations, I am tempted to describe Tipler’s new book as nonsense – but that would be unfair to the concept of nonsense. It is far more dangerous than mere nonsense, because Tipler’s reasonable descriptions of various aspects of modern physics, combined with his respectable research pedigree, give the persuasive illusion that he is describing what the laws of physics imply. He is not.” For instance, Krauss continues, “he argues that the resurrection of Jesus occurred when the atoms in his body spontaneously decayed into neutrinos and antineutrinos, which later converted back into atoms to reconstitute him. Here Tipler invokes the fact that within the standard model of particle physics the decay of protons and neutrons is possible, although he recognises that such decay would likely take 50 to 100 orders of magnitude longer than the current age of the universe: thus, the probability of such an occurrence is essentially zero. However, using a strange ‘Christian’ version of the anthropic principle, a subject he once co-authored a book about, he then claims that without Jesus’s resurrection, our universe could not exist – therefore, when one convolves this requirement with the almost, but not exactly zero, a priori probability, the net result is a near certainty.” Elements of the religious rightwing media were quite impressed, however.
Diagnosis: A crackpot’s crackpot. This guy is really a phenomenon. His (mis)use of scientific vocabulary in the service of sheer crackpottery may perhaps convince some, but I hope even the reasonably educated layperson will quickly understand, upon encountering his books, that they are in the presence of some serious gibberish. Yeah, right.