The Discovery Institute Is Hosting A Darwin Day Event

Darwin Day is coming up soon and you can find an event celebrating Darwin’s birthday in your area through DarwinDay.org. I was curious to see what other events were happening in my state and I was horrified to discover that the Discovery Institute (the think tank devoted to spreading “Intelligent Design”) was also hosting a Darwin Day event. Some time in the last few days, the post was pulled from DarwinDay.org but the event is still listed on the group’s own website:

EINSTEIN VS. DARWIN: ONLY ONE CAN BE RIGHT

February 11, 2013 

Darwin Day Event with Renowned Tulane University Physicist Frank Tipler

Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin are often viewed as two of history’s most important scientists. Einstein is known for his theory of relativity and the development of the famous equation E=mc2, Darwin for his study of organisms on the Galápagos islands and elsewhere which led to his theory of evolution. Although the works of these revolutionary scientists lie in seemingly unconnected realms, renowned Tulane University physicist Frank Tipler claims that both of their theories cannot both be true – and Einstein isn’t the one who was wrong. Is there a fundamental discontinuity between Darwinian evolution and Einstein’s understanding of physics? Is Darwinian theory actually flawed?

Frank Tipler

Tipler wrote the book The Physics of Christianity and is best known for his writings about the “Omega Point” idea of cosmology. From Wikipedia:

The Omega Point is a term Tipler uses to describe a cosmological state in the distant proper-time future of the universe that he maintains is required by the known physical laws. According to this cosmology, it is required for the known laws of physics to be mutually consistent that intelligent life take over all matter in the universe and eventually force 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. This singularity is Tipler’s Omega Point. 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 alternate universes of our universe from its start at the Big Bang. Tipler identifies the Omega Point with a god, since, in his view, the Omega Point has all the properties claimed for gods by most of the traditional religions.

Put more simply: God did it. All of this is smoke and mirrors to support the dogmatic assertion that there is an Intelligent Designer.

Serious scientists and skeptics recognize his work for the pseudoscience that it is. Michael Shermer even devoted a whole chapter to Tipler’s logical errors in his book Why People Believe Weird Things.

Do you have a background in physics, live in the Seattle area, and have an itching desire to school some Intelligent Design pushers? Be sure to RSVP soon for this event because space is limited. And we need as many scientists and skeptics in the room as possible. I’ll be sure to write about how things go at the event.

If you’d prefer to go to a real Darwin Day event, you can join Seattle Atheists & Camp Quest Northwest on Feb. 10th.

About Ericka M. Johnson

As a lover of science and reason, Ericka M. Johnson has an affinity for evolutionary biology and is the president of Seattle Atheists. She revels in any opportunity for a thoughtful debate on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (especially over a pint.) Follow her on twitter @ErickaMJohnson

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    Bawuh? At usual speeds and sizes, Einstein’s work differs from Newton’s on a level that’s almost imperceptible. Unless there is life that normally has to deal with objects moving relative to each other at really high speeds, Quantum mechanics, as the basis for all known chemistry, is far more important to life than relativity. And of course, considering how Einstein reacted to QM, Tipler’s claim is just that more absurd.

    Although it sounds like Tipler’s talking about general relativity; on that, I’m out, as I’m still looking for a good tutorial on the mathematics of pseudoriemannian manifolds.

  • http://www.processdiary.com Paul Caggegi

    Uh… that poster makes no sense whatsoever. What is it with evangelical creationists/ID proponents always using Einstein as their poster boy? Did they miss the glaring fact that A: his field was not biology and B: he was a secular Jew?

    • Amakudari

      Because of this:

      Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

      He prefaces that remark helpfully with:

      A conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.

      And he spends the remainder of that letter bashing historical conceptions of God.

      But guess which part they read.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        If one bothers to read even the paragraph from which that quote was mined, one will know that Einstein was using a very strange definition of “religion.”

        • Amakudari

          Indeed. I was going to say something about the non-overlapping magisteria concept but decided against it, but you’re right. Einstein here uses “religion” irresponsibly; he calls a man religious who has “liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonalvalue … regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities.” What he calls religion is the sense of awe and wonder that an enlightened (and not merely technically competent) mind feels.

          Just think about how much more sense this quote makes:

          “Science without wonder is lame, wonder without science is blind.”

          And religion as typically defined falls in the latter clause easily.

    • Sven2547

      Some evangelical creationists, such as the loonies that run Conservapedia, claim that both Einstein and Darwin were wrong in their respective fields.

      • http://www.processdiary.com Paul Caggegi

        Yup, cos Einstein invented “moral relativism” and Darwin “social darwinism”.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        More frequently, Darwin is grouped with Freud and Marx, with the hope that he will turn out to be another 19th century thought leader who was wrong.

  • John

    I don’t understand why religious people dislike Darwin so much. He claimed to be a theist, and he said in Origin of Species that his theory was not intended to offend people. Darwin and atheism shouldn’t be celebrated at the same time.

    • http://www.processdiary.com Paul Caggegi

      Haven’t you heard? Darwin’s “theory” makes a literal reading of genesis obsolete, and leads to Hitler.

    • Daniel_JM

      While he was a theist in his early life, Darwin wasn’t really a theist in his later life. He mostly seemed to swing from vague deism to agnosticism, but was pretty clear that he thought that some observations about nature were inconsistent with a theistic god.

    • artiofab

      Atheists like Darwin for two main reasons.
      1) He followed evidence where it led, instead of letting culture dictate where it had to lead.
      2) The theoretical consequences of his work have provided the only actual explanation for where humans came from, making all prior concepts (which were predominantly religious in nature) null and void.

      That said… if somehow I could magically stop young-Earth creationism by having all atheists stop celebrating Darwin, I would. While it is true that YECs use our support for Darwin as one of their reasons for their claim that evolution and religion can’t mix, I believe, based on reasonable facts (namely, historical evidence) that fundamentalists would pick another target for their reason for why evolution is ungodly. Atheists are just an easy scapegoat; if we all disappeared tomorrow YECs would still disbelieve in evolution because of agnostics, or liberal Christians, or because of the Lady Hope lie, or blah blah blah.

    • Sven2547

      It’s the “God of the Gaps”. Religious folk love to inject gods into things that are / were unknown.
      In ancient times, people had no idea why the sun, stars, and planets move through the sky the way they do. So they assumed it was the work of gods. Seasons? Gods. Sickness? Gods. Where humanity came from? The handiwork of gods. Every time science clears one of things up, there is resistance from religion.

  • http://twitter.com/Ro542124 Gideon

    What does that description remind me of?…oh, right, extremely speculative fiction. Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question.

  • Crazy Russian

    For the love of life, what the HELL is he going on about? Intelligent life will take over all matter in the universe? Computational capacity diverges to infinity? Was he obliterated on some premium weed or is this crap generated by a Markov chain bot?

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Yeah it sounds like a combination random Star Trek technobabble generator and a random Deepak Chopra quotation generator.

      “The Higgs Boson expresses infinite quantum happiness.”

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    …renowned Tulane University physicist Frank Tipler claims that both of their theories cannot both be true…

    “renowned”? Renowned in whose opinion? People who listen to the Discovery Institute? I guess the standard for what makes someone renowned has dropped like the value of Beanie Babies. I’m renowned in my mom’s opinion, does that count?

    “…both of their theories cannot both be true…” Uh, there’s a double “both” problem here, isn’t there? It’s confusing. Is this kinda like a double negative sentence? Send in the Grammarians!

    It seems the only thing missing from that incomprehensible description of “the Omega Point” is the phrase “ionic tachyon phase disturbance,” or some similar Star Trek technobabble. Is this my ignorance of astrophysics, particle physics, and cosmology, or is this just recognizing the smell of bullshit?

    We often see IANAL in online conversations, meaning “I am not a lawyer” when someone speculates about the legality of some issue. It looks like we’re soon going to start seeing IANAP, meaning “I am not a physicist” when we’re talking about creationism.

    In nicer news, I will be helping to celebrate a (ahem) real Darwin Day celebration on Feb. 10 at SeekTech in San Diego, with my “renown” dinosaur show.

    http://darwinday.org/events/darwin-day-birthday-celebration-with-the-dinosaur-guy/

    • CultOfReason

      “renowned”? Renowned in whose opinion?

      Funny you should say that. I was just debating an ID proponent on another thread and, rather than answer my questions directly, they pointed me to a creationist website (posing as a scientific website) where they declared such ID stalwarts as Michael Behe and Guillermo Gonzalez as “eminent scientists” with “published articles in refereed journals.”

    • http://ssrn.com/abstract=1974708 James Redford

      Prof. Frank J. Tipler is by far the most erudite physicist on Earth today. Tipler is Professor of Physics and Mathematics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of Global General Relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in quantum field theory (i.e., Quantum Mechanics combined with special-relativistic particle physics) and computer theory. His Omega Point cosmology–which is now a proof (i.e., mathematical theorem) of God’s existence per the known laws of physics (viz., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics)–has been peer-reviewed and published in a number of prestigious physics and science journals, such as Reports on Progress in Physics (the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional organization for physicists), Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world’s leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics (a journal Physics Nobel Laureate Prof. Richard Feynman also published in during the 1980s), etc.

      Prof. John A. Wheeler (the physicist who gave black holes their name and the father of most relativity research in the US) wrote that “Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics” on p. viii in his “Foreword” to The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986) by cosmologist Prof. John D. Barrow and Tipler, which was the first book wherein Tipler’s Omega Point Theory was described. On p. ix of said book, Prof. Wheeler wrote that Chapter 10 of the book, which concerns the Omega Point Theory, “rivals in thought-provoking power any of the [other chapters].”

      In his aforesaid Reports on Progress in Physics paper, Prof. Tipler has also shown that we already have the Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics in the form of the the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model TOE, of which the Omega Point cosmology is an inherent component.

      For much more on physicist and mathematician Prof. Tipler and his Omega Point cosmology, and the Feynman-DeWitt-Weinberg quantum gravity/Standard Model TOE, see my following article:

      James Redford, “The Physics of God and the Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything”, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), Sept. 10, 2012 (orig. pub. Dec. 19, 2011), 186 pp., doi:10.2139/ssrn.1974708. http://archive.org/details/ThePhysicsOfGodAndTheQuantumGravityTheoryOfEverything

    • faithiest

      There Is SCIENTIFIC Dissent From Darwinism. It deserves to be heard.
      The arguments that ultimately unravel the Darwinian synthesis aren’t
      terribly difficult to grasp. Anyone who remembers the rudiments of logic
      they learned in freshman composition can follow the essentials of the
      argument. Below are three articles to get started:

      Fact Sheet: Microevolution vs. Macroevolution
      Fact Sheet: The Cambrian Explosion
      The Survival of the Fakest

  • Sven2547

    This physicist clearly doesn’t understand much about evolution. Evolution makes no predictions about the long-term state of the universe. It’s actually pretty common among creationists to overstate what evolution predicts.
    “Evolution says that life began in a puddle of slime!”
    No, evolution only says that modern species descended from common ancestor species.
    “Evolution says that ducks will eventually evolve into humans!”
    No, evolution only says that modern species descended from common ancestor species.

    • Reginald Selkirk

      This physicist clearly doesn’t understand much about evolution.

      If you were familiar with his material, you would know that even his interpretation of physics is suspect. Wacko. Loony Tunes. Bordering on certifiability.

  • LesterBallard

    “Spreading” Intelligent Design. Like Syphilis and Gonorrhea and crabs.

  • Edmond

    Ericka, is the Seattle Atheists event free, or is there a charge? The site doesn’t seem to say. Also, it looks a bit like it might appeal more to children, or families with children. Would it be appropriate or entertaining for adults to visit without any children?

    • ErickaMJohnson

      The event is free, as are most of our events. And it’s geared for everyone. We’ve put extra emphasis on our marketing kids room because it’s going to be pretty involved this year. But the main room will me targeted for a late teens to adult audience.

  • Dan Crane

    I’m just wondering how long it’ll be before Tipler’s self-appointed defender J. Redford shows up to yammer on about how physics proves god.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      The answer is apparently 11 days, given the response above.

  • David McNerney

    Einstein * Darwin * Tipler
    One of them must be wrong

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.bowyer.75 Matt Bowyer

      And it’s not the first two.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The Tipler talk might be interesting just on the grounds that I don’t know what he’s going to say. I don’t know where he’s going with the whole Einstein vs. Darwin thing. From previous knowledge of his material, I can confidently predict that what he says will be wrong and insane, but I don’t know the content of it yet.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

    Thanks for the background information, Ericka.

    I went to Tipler’s presentation tonight. I don’t think I’ve seen such a mismatch between the intellectual level of the audience (moderate) and the presentation (graduate-level physics).

    I’ve heard his fine-tuning book referenced many times by apologists as a backstop to their fine tuning claims–they don’t understand the physics, but Tipler does, so that’s good enough for them. But with this presentation (physics proves God, for starters), I have much less respect for Tipler and will no longer take his arguments on faith.