The Shroud of Turin

I'm writing about the Shroud of Turin as evidence for Jesus. Is it? See also here.

Catholic physicist Frank J. Tipler, of the anthropic principle fame, has recently defended the Shroud of Turin as genuine in his newest book.

In his book, if I understand him correctly, he argues that a virgin birth of a male child has the probability of 1 and 120 billion from happening naturally. Given the fact that he calculates there have been 60 billion Homo sapiens who have populated the earth, such a thing becomes somewhat probable. Mary would have been an XXY chromosomal female (Klinefelter’s syndrome), except her womb would’ve been normal. The virgin born male child would have a XX chromosomal structure, just like females. This child might not have male genitals.

Now comes the Shroud. DNA evidence from the Shroud showed that the blood had an XY pair, but Tipler argues this might be from contamination. The full results of the DNA testing of the Shroud were published, he says, in an obscure Italian journal, which included "a computer output of the DNA analyzer." However, "there was no attempt to interpret the data.” As soon as Tipler saw the data he was able to interpret it "at once." He says, “They are the expected signature of the DNA of a male born in a virgin birth”--a double XX structure. (p. 184). Thus, “the DNA data support the virgin birth hypothesis,” and that the Turin Shroud “is genuine.”(p. 187).
----------------------

Blinded by Science?
by Lawrence Krauss

By the time I was halfway through Frank Tipler’s new book I scanned the table of contents and was disappointed to find there would be no explanation of the recently reported miraculous appearance of Mother Teresa’s image on a cheese Danish in Nashville. That was unusual, given that Tipler goes out of his way to provide convoluted physics justifications for key Christian miracles, including the image of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin, long debunked as a 14th-century forgery by many experts. Moreover, whenever conventional physics doesn’t provide a sufficient explanation for the phenomenon of interest, Tipler re-invents it.

As a collection of half-truths and exaggerations, I was first tempted to describe Tipler’s new book as nonsense, but I soon realized that that would be unfair to the concept of nonsense. These descriptions are far more dangerous than nonsense, because Tipler’s reasonable descriptions of various aspects of modern physics, combined with his respectable research pedigree, give the distinct illusion that he is honestly describing what the laws of physics imply. He is not. This book provides an object lesson in the dangers of pushing science beyond its domain of validity, and using various scientific approximations as if they are completely valid in all contexts.


---------------------------------
The Physics of Nonsense
Tim Callahan

Dr. Frank Tipler really, really — no, I mean really — needs to take a basic, freshman level, course in comparative mythology. He could also use a course in the development of Christian dogma. He could as well use a little knowledge of what the Bible actually says in the original Hebrew (for the Jewish Scriptures) and the original Greek (for the Christian Scriptures).

As is the case of previous works of this sort, Tipler’s attempt to shoehorn science into the Bible ignores the disciplines of biblical scholarship. There is an arrogance implicit in this. The author is saying, in essence, that his discipline should be respected, but that the disciplines of linguistics, biblical scholarship, comparative mythology, history, and archaeology are of no consequence.

In past exercises of this sort tsunami’s have been used as the explanation for the Exodus story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea dry shod — when the waters rolled out just before the tidal wave — and for the ensuing destruction of their Egyptian pursuers — when the tsunami proper hit. Earthquakes have been used to explain the collapse of the walls of Jericho, and a multitude of scientific causes have been proposed for the sun standing still at the command of Joshua (see my article “Sun Stand Thou Still” Skeptic Vol. 7, No. 3, 1999). Tipler plays fast and loose with translation of the biblical text and Christian dogma, ignores comparative mythology as an explanation for such things as the virgin birth, and makes bizarre demands on science itself to prove as literally true the Trinity, the Star of Bethlehem, the Virgin Birth and, of course, the Resurrection.

Tipler wades through well-trodden turf in the matter of the Virgin Birth, by trying to make the Immanuel Prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 fit the birth of Jesus, even though it was plainly misused by Matthew. Here is Is. 7:14 as rendered in the King James Version: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Here is the same verse as rendered in the Revised Standard Version: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Notice that the “virgin” of the King James Bible has transmogrified into a “young woman.” This is because the Greek of the New Testament and the Septuagint had one word, parthenos, that could be rendered both as “virgin” and “unmarried woman,” whereas the Hebrew scriptures used two words. One, bethula, means specifically “virgin.” The other, almah, means simply a young woman. The word used in Is. 7:14 is almah. Ergo, it is not a prediction of the Virgin Birth, Q.E.D. Yet Tipler rationalizes (pp. 156-157) that maybe the meaning of almah changed over time, and asserts, without supportive evidence, that there are numerous references to the Virgin Birth in Paul’s letters, as well as in Mark and John.

There is an amazingly simple way to cut through all this rationalization and speculation, and that is to put the Immanuel Prophecy back in the context of Isaiah 7. King Ahaz of Judah is being attacked by King Pekah of Israel in alliance with Rezin, prince of Damascus. Isaiah assures Ahaz that God will protect him, saying that a young woman will shortly bear a child named Immanuel, meaning “God is with us.” After this prediction Isaiah says (Is. 7:16) that before this child knows how to refuse evil and choose good, that is, before he reaches the age of moral discrimination, 12 years old at the latest, the kingdoms of Israel and Damascus will be deserted. In other words, this prophecy dealt with the period of the Assyrian conquest of Israel and Damascus by Tiglath-pileser III ca. 732 BCE. There is simply no way to honestly stretch this to fit the Matthean Nativity and the Virgin Birth.

While Tipler’s attempt to use the Immanuel Prophesy as a prediction of Jesus being born of a virgin is both tired and tiresome, his attempt to make the Virgin Birth compatible with science is novel, if nothing else. He argues that parthenogenesis, whereby a female animal can reproduce without being fertilized by a male, could be a scientific way for a virgin to give birth. There are a number of problems with this. First, parthenogenesis has never been observed in mammals. Second, parthenogenesis results from the female egg not undergoing meiosis or reduction division, which produces a haploid cell that needs to unite with another haploid cell to produce a new individual. In parthenogenesis the egg keeps its full compliment of chromosomes, meaning, in mammals, two X chromosomes. Thus a parthenogenetic birth should only produce a daughter. How do we get Jesus? Tipler argues that Jesus was a double X male, an oddity that appears in one out of every 20,000 births. This might just be possible, though it’s still stretching things. However just when you think Tipler’s going to be rational, he brings in something weird. In the case of attempting to prove that Jesus had a double X chromosome genotype, it’s the Shroud of Turin, from which he hopes to find Jesus’ XX genotype in the DNA from the blood on the Shroud. Most people know that the Shroud was radiocarbon dated to the 14th century. Not so says Tipler:

The radiocarbon dating of the Shroud is known to be incorrect, first because bacterial contamination was not taken into account (bacteria add carbon of a later date than the actual Shroud material and thus make it seem younger than it is), and second, because the Shroud samples tested were apparently from a section that had been partially “repaired.” The chemist Raymond Rogers has done a careful chemical analysis of linen fibers taken from all areas of the Turin Shroud, and he is almost certain that the linen used to obtain the radiocarbon date was medieval in origin. That is, the particular sample taken from the Shroud to obtain its age by radiocarbon dating was not manufactured at the same time as the rest of the Shroud. This suggests that the linen from the radiocarbon sample was added at a later date, probably to repair the Shroud. The radiocarbon analysis yielded a date between A.D. 1260 and 1390 completely inconsistent with Rogers’s chemical analysis of the linen fibers from the radiocarbon area.


It is interesting that the argument that bacterial contamination corrupted the date could be used against accepting the radiocarbon dates of the wrappings of the mummy of Rameses the Great or the beeswax used to seal the paint on the bust of Nefertiti. Of course, it never is because no one is trying to make Egyptian archaeology fit into the narrative of a holy text.

As to the argument that the parts of the Shroud tested were either burned or were patches, consider that in an article on the carbon dating of the Shroud in the February 16, 1989 issue of Nature, P.E. Damon and colleagues reported that textile experts took pains to select samples of the cloth away from areas that were either charred or patched. This was done under the auspices of the Holy See and under observation of the local Roman Catholic archbishop. Not only were samples of the Shroud sent to three independent laboratories, as controls they also sent pieces of cloth that were not from the Shroud. The pieces of cloth were labeled A, B, C, etc., and the laboratories were not told which samples were controls and which were from the Shroud. Also, the three laboratories did not compare results until after they had been transmitted to authorities at the British Museum, which was coordinating the testing. In other words, the samples of the shroud were not charred, nor were they from later patches. Furthermore, rigorous steps were taken to insure that the three independent findings were as objective as possible, with the following results reported by Damon in the Nature paper:

The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated age range with at least 95% confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of AD 1260-1390 (rounded down / up to the nearest 10 yr.). These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is medieval.


Defenders of the shroud’s authenticity also claimed that pollen in the cloth could only have come from Israel and that the red brown paint was actually blood. That the heightened defense of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin in response to the radiocarbon dating by the independent labs is rooted in pseudoscience fueled by faith, can be seen if one considers what the reaction from these sources would have been had the three independent labs found the cloth samples to be from the first century. Then there would have been nothing but praise for the radiocarbon process.

What about the fact that myths of virgin births, along with heroes and demigods rising from the dead, parallel the Christian accounts? Tipler abandons reason and empiricism in favor of what “rings” true to him:

Indeed they were common, but the Gospel accounts of the Risen Jesus have in my judgment (and Pannenberg’s and that of most other scholars who have studied the matter with open minds) a ring of reality unlike these myths. Similarly, the accounts of the Virgin Birth in Matthew and Luke have the ring of reality, unlike the equally common ancient myths of the conception of a god born of copulation between a god and a human female. Matthew and Luke describe the Virgin Birth as the result of the action of the holy spirit, not as the result of intercourse between God the Father and Mary.


It is curious that Tipler finds that the accounts in Matthew and Luke of the Virgin Birth “have the ring of reality,” particularly since these two accounts disagree with each other in nearly every particular. Matthew says Joseph and Mary were living in Bethlehem, and only left for Nazareth to escape persecution, first from Herod the Great, then from his son Herod Archelaus. Luke says they were originally living in Nazareth, but had to go to Bethlehem to be entered into an empire-wide Roman census (which, by the way, is fictional). Thus, they had to make the 70-mile trek to get to Bethlehem with Mary in the late stages of pregnancy. This piece of melodrama, along with other important details, are missing from Matthew. Missing from Luke are the star of Bethlehem, the Magi, the slaughter of the innocents, and the flight of the holy family to Egypt. As to the supposed differences between the Christian myths and those of the pagans, consider what the early church father St. Justin Martyr (ca. CE 100–165) had to say on the subject in item 21 of his First Apology, a philosophical defense of Christian belief addressed to Emperor Antoninus Pius:

And when we say also that the Word, who is the First-begotten of God, was born for us without sexual union, Jesus Christ our teacher, and that He was crucified and died and rose again and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing new beyond (what you believe) concerning those whom you call sons of Zeus. For you know of how many sons of Zeus your esteemed writers speak: Hermes, the interpreting Word and teacher of all; Asclepius, who though he was a great healer, after being struck by a thunderbolt, ascended into heaven; and Dionysus too who was torn in pieces; and Herakles, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his pains; and the Dioscouri, the sons of Leda; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though of mortal origin, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne and those who, like her, have been said to have been placed among the stars? And what of the emperors, whom you think it right to deify, and on whose behalf you produce someone who swears that he has seen the burning Caesar ascend to heaven from the funeral pyre?


That Justin compares the Christ myth to those of Greek mythology and even to the deification of emperors, saying, “we propound nothing new beyond what you believe,” indicates that he saw the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ in the same light as what he acknowledged to be already existing beliefs, only assuming that the Christian myth was the true one.

Tipler’s science behind the Immaculate Conception involves his theory that evil was implanted in our genes (his version of the Fall) in the distant past. Jesus and Mary would both, according to Tipler, be free of this genetic evil. Here Tiper returns to the Shroud of Turin:

Since Jesus and Mary would share the same genome on my XX male theory, if the genes were absent from Jesus’ genome, they would be absent from Mary’s. Jesus would indeed have been conceived immaculately. A DNA search of the Shroud for the X-chromasome gene just mentioned would be the first step. If this gene were indeed involved in our tendency to commit evil, we would expect to see this gene modified from the human norm in the Shroud DNA. In fact, if the evil gene is connected to bone generation, the amelogenin gene, which codes for the generation of teeth, might be entirely absent from Jesus’ genome both in its X form and in its Y form. If so, this gene would be absent from the DNA in the Shroud of Turin if this artifact is genuine. If the Christian tradition that the Fall affected the entire animal kingdom is correct, we would expect to see a similar evil gene complex present in all animals, presumably in the chromosome coding for the sex differentiation.


Moving on to the Resurrection, Tipler claims that skeptics haven’t made a strong case against it. One could also argue that skeptics haven’t made a strong case against the existence of giant sea serpents. The fallacy in both statements is that it is virtually impossible to prove a negative. Those arguing for the validity of either sea serpents or the Resurrection are the ones bearing the burden of proof. The skeptic’s job then is to examine the evidence to see if it can be either verified or falsified.

Tipler goes back to the Shroud of Turin for actual proof. He then compounds this offense with a whole section devoted to the idea that the Shroud is the actual Holy Grail. This is simply nonsense. The Grail is the invention of medieval writers, specifically the French poet Chretien de Troyes, who wrote his Grail story ca. 1180, the Burgundian Robert de Borron and the German Wolfram von Eschenbach, both writing in the early 1200s. Tipler is really reaching to try to make the source of the Grail stories the Shroud of Turin, which wasn’t even known to exist until after the Grail stories had been written.

16 comments:

lowendaction said...

hasn't this already been sufficiently debunked on a number of discovery type channels and countless books?

In my opinion, if this is what a Christian uses as one of their "pillars of faith"...wow, scary.

ukexpat said...

Even if, and it's a big if, it is the shroud of Jesus, it is NOT, repeat NOT, proof of a resurrection.

Jennifer said...

Isn't the biblical description also inconsistent, with the wrapping being in strips and a head cloth?

It seems odd that physical evidence would be left if someone rose from the dead. Who would think of going back in and getting the cloth after seeing their dead friend alive again?

Bahnsen Burner said...

The image of the head on the shroud cloth does not exhibit what's called the "orb effect." If you wrap a cloth around your face and head and open it back up again, the areas on the cloth that came into contact with your face and head would be spread wide apart, completely distorting any image (sort of like a carnival mirror). Anyone can demonstrate this with a large piece of foil. The facial image on the shroud, however, is flat and narrow, almost misshapenly narrow. This suggests that whatever the cloth was laid up against was relatively flat, like a bas-relief sculpture rather than a human head. I've never seen a good response to this objection from the believer camp, even though it's quite damning IMO.

Regards,
Dawson

exapologist said...

Apologists like Gary Habermas think the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation of the facts that (a) the image on the shroud seems to be something like a scorch on the cloth, and (b) the image is "three-dimensional".

I remember reading an issue of Books and Culture (a more intellectual magazine put out by the Christianity Today folks), where a Christian rejected the authenticity of the Shroud, on the grounds that recent experiments demonstrated that the same sort of image can be gotten by laying a piece of glass on a cloth (there's a lot more to it, of course).

JR said...

There's some good info here Shroud of Turin

Lee Randolph said...

There's also Joe Nickells Skeptiseum
Joe Nickell is a professional paranormal investigator. He works for CSI. The shroud is on the front page.

Brad said...

I'm interested in what you have to write about. I recently (two weeks ago) went to a lecture at Trinity Western University on the topic - he was a fan of that Raymonds guy or whatever, believing that science could "prove" it is genuine. I found it interesting that this lecturer was a Philosophy prof at the private U, with a specialty in, oh what did he call it, evidence. He, of course, didn't touch on any opposing views.

What do you think of the pseudo-scientific investigations by freemasons, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas (Second Messiah), who have postulated that the image is Jacques de Molay? Is this far fetched?

Lee Randolph said...

on the subject of Joe Nickell, the shroud and Jesus,
here is an interveiw with him on Point of inquiry regarding his investigations of relics and artifacts of Jesus.

badger3k said...

Nickell also has a new book out on holy relics (which may be the reason for the interview). Considering that the weave (and style) of the shroud are inconsistent with 1st century Palestine, and the fact that the shroud was known to be a fraud since the Church investigated it in the 13th (?) century...well,I think Tippler needs to check his numbers. The more I hear of Tippler, the more of a crackpot he seems. I wonder how he gets his probability numbers (and population figures) - for some reason, I have suspicions that his numbers come from somewhere in the pants region, rear area.

Antonio Lombatti said...

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http://www.antoniolombatti.it/B/Blog/08060EC5-02F4-4E80-B69E-DA919F09CFA4.html

and here

http://www.antoniolombatti.it/B/Blog/B68FF6FA-A0BC-4512-B3AA-23C16F04956A.html

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Antonio

Martin Wagner said...

I've always thought one embarrassing blow against the Shroud is this: why isn't it mentioned in the Gospels? If such a shroud had been placed around Jesus, and if a flash-frozen image of him had been imprinted upon it and left behind in his empty tomb, you would think that it not only would have been talked about, but Jesus's disciples would have run around town, waving the damn thing like a banner and shouting about it from the rooftops. That Christians try to defend this relic as authentic is interesting, since nothing like it is mentioned anywhere in the Bible whose word they presumably revere.

James Redford said...

John W. Loftus, you misquote Prof. Frank J. Tipler with "is genuine." What Tipler wrote on pg. 187 of The Physics of Christianity (2007) is "The DNA data supporting a virgin birth also support the hypothesis that both the Turin Shroud and Oviedo Cloth are genuine."

Prof. Lawrence Krauss in his review of Prof. Frank J. Tipler's book The Physics of Christianity ("More dangerous than nonsense," New Scientist, Issue 2603, May 12, 2007 http://genesis1.phys.cwru.edu/~krauss/Tiplerreview.pdf ) doesn't give anyone any reason for thinking he (Krauss) is correct. Instead Krauss merely makes imperious bare assertions that one is supposed to take on faith

Krauss gives no indication that he followed up on the endnotes in the book The Physics of Christianity and actually read Prof. Tipler's physics journal papers. All Krauss is going off of in said review is Tipler's mostly non-technical popular-audience book The Physics of Christianity without researching Tipler's technical papers. Krauss's review offers no actual lines of reasoning for Krauss's lording pronouncements. His readership is simply expected to swallow whole what Krauss proclaims, even though it's clear that Krauss is merely critiquing a popular-audience book which does not attempt to present the rigorous technical details. Krauss's bare assertions and absence of reasoning in his review have no place in actual science.

Whereas Tipler gives detailed arguments for the existence of the Omega Point and the Feynman-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model Theory of Everything which refute Krauss's bare assertions. See 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

The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to invent tenuous 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 dependant on the conjectured 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, Hawking's paper is based upon proposed, unconfirmed 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.

Quite ironically, Krauss actually has published a paper that greatly helped to strengthen Tipler's Omega Point Theory. See Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner, "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 ), which demonstrates that no amount of cosmological observations can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

This isn't the first time that has happened to critics of Tipler's Omega Point Theory. There was a previous paper published by Prof. George 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), but in the same paper 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 (the latter in Ellis's case, since Ellis is a theist who thinks that physics cannot be capable of explaining human consciousness), 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.)

So never say that God doesn't have a profoundly keen sense of humor.

Tim Callahan in his review "The Physics of Nonsense" (eSkeptic, August 1, 2007) disputes Tipler's theology contained in The Physics of Christianity. One of the world's leading theologians, Prof. Wolfhart Pannenberg, defends the theology of the Omega Point Theory (Omega Point Theory) in the below articles:

"Modern Cosmology: God and the Resurrection of the Dead," Innsbruck Conference, June 1997 http://www.geocities.com/theophysics/pannenberg-modern-cosmology.html

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

Callahan errs in claiming that Prof. Frank J. Tipler's writings on the Omega Point Theory are motivated by Christianity. Tipler has been an atheist since the age of 16, yet only circa 1998 did he again become a theist due to advancements in the Omega Point Theory which occured after the publication of his 1994 book The Physics of Immortality. And Tipler even mentions in said book (pg. 305) that he is still an atheist because he didn't at the time have confirmation for the Omega Point Theory. Yet Tipler's first paper on the Omega Point Theory was in 1986 ("Cosmological Limits on Computation," International Journal of Theoretical Physics, Vol. 25, No. 6 [June 1986], pp. 617-661).

What motivated Tipler's investigation as to how long life could go on was not religion--indeed, Tipler didn't even set out to find God--but Prof. Freeman J. Dyson's paper "Time without end: Physics and biology in an open universe" (Reviews of Modern Physics, Vol. 51, Issue 3 [July 1979], pp. 447-460 http://www.aleph.se/Trans/Global/Omega/dyson.txt ).

Further, in a section entitled "Why I Am Not a Christian" in The Physics of Immortality (pg. 310), Tipler wrote, "However, I emphasize again that I do not think Jesus really rose from the dead. I think his body rotted in some grave." This book was written before Tipler realized what the resurrection mechanism is that Jesus could have used without violating any known laws of physics (and without existing on an emulated level of implementation--in that case the resurrection mechanism would be trivially easy to perform for the society running the emulation).

So Callahan gets the motivational causation wrong. Tipler's present Christianity derives from following the known laws of physics. Christian theology is preferentially selected due to the fundamentally triune structure of the Omega Point cosmology and due to existence having come into being a finite time in the past, hence deselecting the other sometimes-triune religion of Hinduism.

Callahan accuses Tipler of using "straw man arguments to dismiss those who might disagree with him," i.e., "those nasty atheists" (Callahan's words). But such is not the case, as Tipler does not dismiss his colleagues. Tipler is merely pointing out the fact that many in the field of physics abandon physical law when it produces results they're uncomfortable with. He even gives a number of examples of this, of which two follow:

""
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: "[O]ur 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. Even worse, there often seems to be a general agreement that certain phenomena are just not fit subjects for respectable theoretical and experimental effort."

... 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. ...
""

And,

""
This past September, at a conference held at Windsor Castle, I asked the well-known cosmologist Paul Davies what he thought of my theory. He replied that he could find nothing wrong with it mathematically, but he asked what justified my assumption that the known laws of physics were correct. ...
""

For those and many more such examples, see 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

Callahan suggests that the universe's current accelerating expansion seems to obviate the Omega Point. But as Profs. Lawrence Krauss and Michael Turner demonstrate in their aforesaid paper "Geometry and Destiny," cosmological observations cannot tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

Callahan also calls the multiverse an "untested and highly theoretical concept." (Although note that the physics of the Omega Point itself are not dependant on a multiverse formulation.) As Tipler points out on pg. 95 of The Physics of Christianity, "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 [The Physics of Immortality, pp. 483-488] ..." As well, experiments confirming "nonlocality" are actually confirming the MWI: 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 ). Regarding Callahan's theological dispute on this matter, see Hebrews 1:1,2; 11:3.

For much more information on Prof. Tipler's Omega Point Theory, see the below website:

Theophysics http://geocities.com/theophysics/

John W. Loftus said...

James, thank you for your thoughtful response. I cannot debate the physics involved since I know little about the subject compared to Tipler, or you it seems. But what should I do when I have very strong reasons for doubting the virgin birth story as told in the gospels?

Look at the results of scholarship on the Nativity stories.

Jesus was not from the lineage of David.

Prophecy does not point to Jesus.

Jesus was not born in Bethlehem.

The dating of the Nativity contradicts the evidence.

And I have some serious doubt about miracles as evidence.

I suspect smart people can defend dumb ideas.

Am I supposed to believe or be damned if I can't debate Tipler's arguments? I can only know and believe what I can understand. Does that mean ignorant people on such issues will be damned? That would be completely unfair. I maintain the proliferation of geographical diversity means that people believe what they do based upon when and where they were born, which means as smart as Tipler is he might be able to defend Buddhism if he were born in parts of Asia.

And the Christianity Tipler defends does NOT seem to accord with how most Christians have understood their faith as seen in the Biblical passages listed at the link you provided. Most Christians would argue against the implied understanding of them as listed:

Biblical Scripture which Gives Evidence of Tipler's Omega Point Theory

- We are gods: John 10:34 (Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6).
- We are God and God is us: Matthew 25:31-46.
- We live inside of God: Acts 17:24-28.
- God is everything and inside of everything: Colossians 3:11; Jeremiah 23:24.
- We are members in the body of Christ: Romans 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 6:15-19; 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:25.
- We are one in Christ: Galatians 3:28.
- God is all: Ephesians 1:23; 4:4-6.
- God is light: 1 John 1:5; John 8:12.
- 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.
- Jesus has existed before the foundation of the world: John 17:24; Revelation 13:8.
- The reality of multiple worlds: Hebrews 1:1,2; 11:3.
- 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, although He refers to Himself as this throughout the Gospels. It was the favorite phrase that He used to refer to Himself.)

Doppelganger said...

James,

XX male syndrome produces an effeminate infertile male with shrivelled testes and abnormal penis development.

Is that how YOU want to think of your Lord and Savior?

Anique said...

Haha. This one got the atheists in a tight spot. Now all they can do is bark "unfair" like they're doing here.
This thing and some other relics have given out the same sort of blood samples and now there is sufficient evidence that Jesus is the son of God.

@Doppelganger
Where are ur facts now. What u said is untrue.lol.And u just showed how pissed off u are at finding the truth and forcing urself to deny it.

@all
Don't flame in anger that all ur life as an atheist was a lie because i wont be returning to view the flaming.

BTW, The Bible is a history book. Christians just use it as a reference. Since it is written by humans, it can have omissions and mistakes. The Bible itself says that u have to search for the truth yourself. Christians believe in Jesus as the son of God and as of yet there is no evidence to disprove it.

Now u can flame: