Things The Godly Say: The First Law Of Thermodynamics Disproves Evolution!

DNA EvolutionLast week I got a question from a reader. I’ll keep him anonymous, but let you know is Christian considers himself a skeptic. He said,

One scientific reason that I don’t accept the theory of evolution and believe there is a god is because of the First Law of Thermodynamics. The First Law simply states that matter cannot create itself out of nothing (it can only change forms) and evolution says matter is definitely being formed from nothing in a Big Bang. That’s just bad science.

There’s really so much wrong with this, I don’t know where to start. Honestly, it sounds like something you’ve heard said by your pastor and not really looked into it at all. Instead, you’re just regurgitating what you’ve heard because it sounds smart.

I mean, first, you are associating evolution with the big bang. Evolution has nothing to do with the big bang. Evolution does not attempt to explain the beginning of life or energy or matter. Rather, it explains the diversity of life on planet earth. It answers the question, “How did we end up with so many different species on earth?”. It doesn’t answer the question, “How did our universe come into being?”. Even if we found evidence that completely refuted the big bang, the theory of evolution would not be affected in any way.

The next problem you seem to struggle with is what exactly the big bang is. It’s not an explosion nor the claim that something came from nothing. It is, instead, how we describe the observation scientists make daily that our universe is expanding. We know it’s expanding, which means that everyday it gets bigger and in the past it was smaller. The big bang is simply the way we describe the universe expanding from its smallest point. All the energy in the universe was contained within that smallest point. We haven’t got a clear answer on how that energy got there or how it came to be. So, again, the first law of thermodynamics does not apply to this, because no one is claiming that this all came from nothing. We don’t know that yet – so far, we just have hypotheses, ideas and brilliant minds writing books on how it could actually be possible.

There is a reason the first law of thermodynamics and the big bang are equally accepted as scientific knowledge by the world’s scientists. It’s not that they’ve missed something that you have managed to catch – it’s because they know that the first law is compatible with the big bang, because the big bang does not claim that the universe came from nothing.

What the first law of thermodynamics actually does achieve in this argument, though, is total destruction of your claims that a god did it. If energy cannot be created or destroyed, and something cannot come from nothing, where did your god come from? Keep in mind, if you can claim your god was always here, I can claim our universe was always here in one form or another.

So, to reiterate, here are the problems present in what you’ve said in the quote above:

  1. Refuting the big bang does not refute evolution because they are very different things.
  2. The big bang does not claim that the universe came from nothing.
  3. If something cannot come from nothing, where did your god come from?
  4. If you can claim your god has always been there, I can do the same for the universe.

In the email, he goes on:

If you hold nothing in your hand for ten years, see what happens. Nothing will be there because matter cannot be formed from nothing. It’s a scientific impossibility. So the First Law assures us that the universe did not create itself. 

No one has claimed definitively that the Universe created itself. You’ve fallen into a trap here. You’re convinced there are only two possibilities: that the universe created itself/came from nothing or that a god did it. The fact is, answering where this all came from is a complex thing that has perplexed us for thousands and thousands of years – you act as though we’ve narrowed the answer down to just two options and that no other possibilities could possibly exist. I have to ask, why? What makes you so sure there is no other possible answer?

I think the biggest thing you’re missing here is that someone who accepts the body of knowledge that is “science” doesn’t claim to know where the universe came from. Instead, our answer is “I don’t know” because that is the truth. None of us know. You, on the other hand, have filled that gap in our collective knowledge with a story you think fits best. Rather than be honest and say you don’t know just like the rest of us, you’ve asserted a god did it. You have now closed yourself off to the answer when we do actually discover it. That makes me feel really sad for you.

Just for the sake of debate, let’s pretend none of these problems with your logic exist and the first law of thermodynamics does in fact disprove the big bang and evolution. You still haven’t provided evidence for your god, and that’s the reason why I (and my fellow atheists) do not believe in him.

The problems with your logic do exist, though, and I would suggest reading up on what the big bang, evolution and abiogenesis all are from scientific sources. The fact that you’ve conflated all three makes it very clear that you haven’t a grasp on what any of these things are as they are completely different things.

I would suggest starting here: The Greatest Show On Earth

I hope this answers your questions and thanks for the email!

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  • Darren Gibson

    Typo, point 4 — *god not got

    I enjoy your articles, keep writing!

  • Dr Z

    Actually, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, who I assume you’re very familiar with, states that the universe can *indeed* come from *nothing*. But I’m glad you didn’t mention it to that young fella. He seemed so confused to begin with, that this would’ve blown his head off. LOL

  • Stuart Taylor

    There’s always something rather amusingly desperate about the faithful turning to the science they normally reject just in order to make some unbelievably stupid ‘argument’ in support of their silly belief system

  • Angie Ishere

    Science is always changing. Something in science is presented as “Fact” for years until further science is done thus changing what once was considered “Fact” but now no longer is a “Fact”. One example…science once taught that the universe was static and eternal, having always existed and that it will always exist. The conventional wisdom in science today, has replaced the scientific wisdom of the past so that what was once considered “true”, is now considered “false”. This teaches us that in many instances, science isn’t always true or factual and most certainly nothing we can always depend on.