Atheism Hits a Brick Wall:
The First Law of Thermodynamics

Chuck Missler

(From his Book "The Creator Beyond Time and Space")

The First Law of Thermodynamics asserts that matter or its energy equivalent can neither be created nor destroyed under natural circumstances.1 One of the logical outcomes of this law is that there is no new matter or energy appearing anywhere in the universe, nor is there any matter being annihilated. All matter and energy in the universe is conserved. Consequently, this law is often referred to as the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy. Although matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be converted from one state to another, i.e. from a liquid to a gas, liquid to solid, solid to gas. The overwhelming experience of experimental physics confirms this First Law to be a fact. As we shall see, this law has enormous implications regarding the origin of matter in our universe.

Proton Decay

Protons are positively charged particles which reside in the nucleus of every atom. Each proton consists of a least three quarks. For decades it was assumed that protons were eternally stable. However, physicists now believe that quarks decay into antiquarks, pions and positive electrons, and electromagnetic radiation.2 This decay process occurs at a rate of only once per proton per 1032 years. Consequently, since this process is irreversible, all the atoms in the universe will eventually decay into irretrievable matter. Even though this process of decay will take an enormously long period of time, it is not infinite.

Evolution and the First Law

Skeptics often scoff at the biblical creation account because it invokes a supernatural event for the origin of time, space, and matter. Yet, if we search the field of cosmology in the last one hundred years we find that the theories on the "natural" (as opposed to supernatural) origin of matter are few and far between. There are only two options for the origin of matter: it is either eternal or it appeared at a finite point in the past. With the elucidation of the First Law of Thermodynamics the implications of this debate, as we will see, have been clearly defined.

Faced with the evidence of a finite, expanding universe, cosmologists began to look for a way to salvage the existence of an eternal universe. In the 1940's Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle proposed a mechanism that would allow the expanding universe to still be infinitely old3,4 This model for the universe, called the "Steady State Model," asserts that as the universe expands, hydrogen atoms arise spontaneously from nothing in the deep recesses of space. The result is that the universe appears about the same (in a "steady state") in all ages.

In the last forty years this model for the universe has been discredited by a number of scientific discoveries. The first of these has to do with the age of the galaxies. If the universe is infinitely old then we should expect to find galaxies of all ages. However decades of observations reveal that all the visible galaxies in our universe are "middle aged." Secondly, there is no physical (natural) mechanism for the spontaneous origin of hydrogen atoms. In fact, hydrogen atoms have never been observed to appear spontaneously anywhere in the universe.5 Thirdly, Isaac Newton's Law of Inertia declares that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. In the Steady State Model there is no mechanism to explain the motion of the galaxies.

The First Law of Thermodynamics is called a "law" because within the bounds of scientific observation it has been proven true beyond all reasonable doubt. In effect, the First Law states that you and I can neither create nor destroy matter. Therefore, it follows that if something which exists (you and I) cannot create matter, then something which doesn't exist cannot create it either!

Matter cannot create itself and, in the real world, cannot arise from nothing. Within the bounds of natural law all effects must have a cause.6 Because of this fact, the spontaneous appearance of hydrogen atoms out of nothing (ex nihilo creation) is a definite breach of the First Law of Thermodynamics which asserts that matter, under natural circumstances, can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, since it is not a natural event, it is by definition a supernatural event-a miracle! This is, we believe, a rather weak starting point for a materialistic scenario to begin.

To avoid this conclusion, a number of physicists have proposed that the laws of physics are different elsewhere in the universe.7 However, this assertion is not supported by even a shred of scientific evidence. Such appeals reveal the lengths that some will go to avoid a finite beginning for the universe.

Since matter is not eternal, we are left with only one option- it arose out of nothing at a finite point in the past! Ironically, the scientific materialist who argues that all matter in the universe arose out of nothing is in agreement with the biblical creationist. However, biblical creationists readily admit that the appearance of matter out of nothing was a miracle, performed by a "First Cause" that transcends the physical universe. The scientific materialist, who believes, as Carl Sagan does, that "the Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be," is forced to conclude that the Cosmic egg arose from nothingness apart from any causal agent.

The atheist immediately protests, "If God made the universe then who made God?" The Bible indicates that God is an eternal, transcendent Spirit.8 Consequently, because time is itself a physical property of the universe which God created, then questions about God's origin are meaningless. This is because God existed before time and He is, therefore, not subject to time-bound concepts such as birth and death. He is outside of time!

Furthermore, because God always existed prior to the creation of the universe and the laws by which it is governed, He is not subject to them either. This means that God was never "young" nor is He aging as dictated by the Second Law. He is outside of our space-time domain and outside of the aging effects altogether.

At the beginning of the atheist's scenario, there is an equally difficult question. "Who or what made that ball of matter that exploded in the Big Bang?" The answer is that the Cosmic Egg made itself, which is impossible on the basis of natural law.

So at the beginning of each model of origins we have unanswerable questions. Atheists may then argue that they are equal starting points. But are they?

The creationist's model begins with an infinitely intelligent, omnipotent, transcendent Creator who used intelligent design, expertise or know-how to create everything from the sub-atomic particles to giant redwood trees. Was it a miracle? Absolutely!

Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning (time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)."

The atheist's model begins with an even more impressive miracle - the appearance of all matter in the universe from nothing, by no one, and for no reason. A supernatural event. A miracle! However, the atheist does not believe in the outside or transcendent "First Cause" we call God. Therefore, the atheist has no "natural explanation" nor "supernatural explanation" for the origin of space-time and matter. Consequently, the atheistic scenario on the origin of the universe leaves us hanging in a totally dissatisfying position. He begins his model with a supernatural event. This supernatural event, however, is accomplished without a supernatural agent to perform it.


Missler, Chuck, Eastman, Mark, M.D. "The Creator Beyond Time and Space", The Word for Today 1996, p.12-17

Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman M.D. references:

-1. As opposed to supernatural circumstances

-2. James S. Treifel, "The Moment of Creation", Scribner's and Son. p 141-142

-3. H. Bondi and T. Gold, "The Steady State Theory of the Expanding Universe," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 108:252-270 (1948).

4. Fred Hoyle, "A New Model for the Expanding Universe," Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 108:372-382 (1948).

-5. For a detailed discussion see Gerald Schroder, "Genesis and the Big Bang, Chapter 4. Bantam Books, 1990.

-6. In the realm of quantum mechanics some particles have apparently arisen spontaneously as a result of a "quantum fluctuation." However, they quickly annihilate themselves.

-7. Fred Hoyle proposed that the continuous creation of matter be considered a natural law itself. He included a creation constant in Einstein's theory of relativity.

-8. This is developed further in later chapters.

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