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By God, it's Tipler!

THE PHYSICS OF IMMORTALITY Frank J Tipler . Doubledey (New York), 1994 Price: US $24.95

By Kiran Karnik
Published: Monday 15 January 1996

-- (Credit: Rustam Vania)"GOD is dead", had asserted Nietzsche, proclaiming the arrival of the age of rationality. It is true that for most people, "God" is the antidote to the fear of the unknown, a concept that accounts for all that is unexplainable. Therefore, it seems but natural that as science expands its frontiers and demonstrates its ability to explain what was incomprehensible, the need for God decreases.

It is, therefore, astonishing to see a scientist argue that theology should be a branch of physics. Even more astounding is his attempt to demonstrate the existence of God through physics. This is precisely what Frank Tipler, Professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University, USA, and a respected scientist and onetime atheist, attempts to do in The Physics of Immortality.

This presentation of his is a rigorously constructed argument, backed up by specific mathematical analysis. Tipler first establishes the feasibility of the "human" species engulfing the entire universe by sending out unmanned interstellar rocket probes. These will be powered by a laser and sail mechanism, or hydrogen and antimatter, and will travel at nine-tenths the speed of light.

Tipler has already established that intelligent machines are feasible (a human being is, he shows, only a finite state machine) which could code DNA sequences for humans and other life forms, and then use this information to create life forms in other star systems. Thus, the universe will be seeded, through a domino process, with probes reproducing and going from each point to many others.

Tipler argues that future universe-wide life can manipulate the processes, so that life can continue indefinitely. Despite his valiant efforts, he is unable to do away with "technicalese" in explaining the Omega Point theory which says that life near the Omega Point is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient - a Person; is this God ... ?

The book includes a description of life in heaven (yes, there will be sex in Heaven, says Tipler!). Hell luckily, may not exist! Tipler compares his Heaven with the after life predicted by various religions and the Omega Point Theory with Christianity. Finally, he concludes, "Religion is now a part of science."

Well, here is a book of astounding ideas, promising a major intellectual and philosophical revolution. One hopes that scientists will substantiate or contradict the theories on which the arguments are premised.

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