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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

October 09, 1994|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

THE PHYSICS OF IMMORTALITY: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead by Frank J. Tipler (Doubleday: $24.95; 517 pp.) The main purpose of this book, writes the author on Page 261, "has been to show that modern physics requires the God principle." Except Tipler doesn't call it God, he calls it the Omega Principle, the "completion of all finite existence." And this is supposed to make you feel better because it fills the need we have to avoid death. "Science now tells us," writes Tipler in his characteristically arrogant way ("In my previous publications on religion and physics, I have attempted to conceal this arrogance," he writes in the preface. "In this book, however, I have not bothered. . . .") " . . . how to go to Heaven." This is a noble cause, joining physics and religion in the popular mind, but some of his assumptions are unbearable: the idea that a "living being is any entity which codes information," the idea that "In the end, the Earth itself must be transferred from . . . ultimate reality into virtual reality," and the promise that in the afterlife, "the goods we enjoy today are magnified." Not to mention the idea of colonizing space with a Von Neumann probe, which places fertilized eggs created from the genes of a single cell in an artificial womb to recreate the human race. Call me old fashioned.

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