Creation Insights

Revealing the empirical case for
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The First Law of Thermodynamics and the Supernatural Creation of the Universe

Patrick R. Briney, Ph.D.

The following is based on an email I sent to parties following debate points between Doug Krueger, co-founder of the Fayetteville Freethinkers, and myself. The development of obvious points was for the purpose only to satisfy the tactics of argumentative distraction used against my argument.

The fall semester has begun and classes are in session once again. For many of you, the debate over God’s existence is still fresh on your minds. Prior to the end of spring session, Doug Krueger and I debated the topic of God’s existence at the University of Arkansas. A follow up debate ensued via numerous emails, which, thankfully involved others than myself. These communications led down many paths, so I introduce the main point of contention once again.

Krueger attacked my presentation for the existence of God by attempting to discredit my description of scientific laws and definition of words. Following is a justification of my claims.

The first law of thermodynamics

I represent the first law of thermodynamics (FLT) as claiming that “energy cannot be created by natural means.” Krueger claims that this is not what the first law of thermodynamics says (recorded on video during the spring 2002 debate). He objects to the use of “natural means,” claiming that the statement of the first law of thermodynamics must conform to a “word for word” definition, and further that the first law of thermodynamics does not apply to origin of energy. Of course there is no "word for word" definition of the FLT, so this is a ridiculous objection. Thus, I offer first the meaning of “natural means” (arguments 1-3), second I deal with the complaint that there is no “word-for-word” quote that states the first law of thermodynamics the way I do (argument 4), third I show how "natural means" is accurately and appropriately associated with the first law of thermodynamics (arguments 5-6), and fourth I show why the supernatural origin of the universe is the rational conclusion (arguments 7-10).

Argument for the meaning of “natural means.”

Argument one (I).

  1. Science derives conclusions based on physical and chemical properties of the material world.
  2. Physical and chemical properties of the material world are referred to as natural phenomena.
  3. Therefore, science derives conclusions based on natural phenomena.

Argument two (II).

  1. Natural phenomena are caused by natural processes and properties of the material world.
  2. Natural processes and properties of the material world are sometimes referred to as natural means.1
  3. Therefore, natural phenomena are caused by natural means.
1A correct definition of natural according to Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.: “2. Conformed to the order, laws, or actual facts, of nature; consonant to the methods of nature; according to the stated course of things, or in accordance with the laws which govern events, feelings, etc.; not exceptional or violent; legitimate; normal; regular; as, the natural consequence of crime; a natural death.” “3. Having to do with existing system to things; dealing with, or derived from, the creation, or the world of matter and mind, as known by man; within the scope of human reason or experience; not supernatural; as, a natural law; natural science; history, theology.” “I call that natural religion which men might know . . . by the mere principles of reason, improved by consideration and experience, without the help of revelation. --Bp. Wilkins.” A correct definition of means according to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company: “5. To have as a consequence; bring about: Friction means heat.”

Argument three (III).

  1. Scientific laws are based on recurring natural phenomena.
  2. Natural phenomena are caused by natural means. (II, 3)
  3. Therefore, scientific laws are based on recurring natural phenomena caused by natural means.

Argument for stating a generalized truth of a scientific law rather than a word-for-word quote.

Argument four (IV).

  1. Scientific laws are generalizations based on recurring facts or events.2
  2. Generalizations based on recurring facts or events are expressed in a variety ways rather than formulated into official, single, word-for-word quotes.
  3. Therefore, scientific laws are expressed in a variety ways rather than formulated into official, single, word-for-word quotes.

Note: One needs only to look up the definition of the First Law of Thermodynamics to discover the many different ways to describe it.

2According to WordNet Dictionary ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University: a law of nature is “a generalization based on recurring facts or events (in science or mathematics etc): ‘the laws of thermodynamics.’”

Argument for generalized claim of the first law of thermodynamics as it relates to "natural means."

Argument five (V).

  1. The first law of thermodynamics is a scientific law.
  2. Scientific laws are based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means. (III, 3)
  3. The first law of thermodynamics is a scientific law based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means.

Argument six (VI).

  1. The first law of thermodynamics states, among other things, that energy cannot be created.3
  2. That energy cannot be created is based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means.
  3. Therefore, the first law of thermodynamics stating that energy cannot be created is based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means.

Thus, it is correct to say that according to the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created by natural means.

3Dr. Robert H. Gowdy, Associate Professor, Chair of the Physics Department at Virginia Commonwealth University states on his web site at http://www.people.vcu.edu/~rgowdy/mod/022/imp3.htm [accessed 7/23/2002] that, “Although energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can be converted from one form into another.”
At http://www.unlv.edu/courses/ENS100/devine/03chap/tsld014.htm [accessed 7/23/2002], sponsored by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Dr. Darren Devine states the 1st Law of Thermodynamics as, “In any physical or chemical reaction, energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another.”
From Dr. Richard B. Hallick at The University of Arizona at http://www.blc.arizona.edu/courses/181GH/rick/energy/energy.html [accessed 7/23/2002], he describes the first Law of Thermodynamics as, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; different forms of energy are interconvertible.”

Argument for applying the first law of thermodynamics to the origin of the universe

Argument seven (VII).

  1. The universe is a system of energy.
  2. All known systems of energy conform to the FLT.
  3. Therefore, the universe conforms to the FLT.

Argument eight (VIII).

  1. The universe as a system of energy conforms to the FLT.
  2. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created by natural means.
  3. Therefore, the universe as a system of energy cannot be created by natural means.

The first law of thermodynamics describes that energy is conserved, thus detecting new forms of energy is not the result of natural creation but rather a change in form of existing energy. Because we are dealing with a physical phenomenon under physical conditions, the first law of thermodynamics is understood to apply only to natural conditions. The question posed is, “How did energy begin to exist without violating the first law of thermodynamics?”

Krueger responds saying that the first law of thermodynamics did not exist at singularity. This is explained by others, who rationalize that under such conditions there were probably no laws or matter as we know them today during the singularity. However, this begs the question of energy origin. At issue in this discussion is not the origin of the singularity, but the origin of the energy from which the singularity came into existence.

Krueger claims that something can come from nothing, hence the singularity originated from absolutely nothing. He cites his authority as Dr. Bill Harter, physics professor of the University of Arkansas. I talked with Dr. Harter, and he confirmed that he told Krueger essentially that the demonstration of something from nothing occurred in the 1930’s. However, he erroneously cited an experiment to support the claim that something can come from nothing, which in fact was a demonstration only of energy transition from radiation to particle energy in a vacuum. I asked for a relevant reference that indeed supported the claim that something can come from nothing, but none has been offered--and for good reason. There has never been a demonstration of something coming from nothing. The transition of radiation energy inside a vacuum into particle energy is something from something.

Krueger claims that the first law of thermodynamics does not apply to the origin of energy. He erroneously implies that energy originated from the singularity.

Citing the vacuum experiments of radiation to particle energy, it is argued that if particles can originate from radiation in a vacuum, then a singularity of massive proportion could arise from a quantum fluctuation of energy in the same way. Put into perspective, the appearance of the singularity that resulted in the formation of this present universe (estimated to be a total mass of about 3 x 1051 kg), is claimed to be no different than the appearance of effervescent particles (estimated to be a minute mass of about 9 x 10-31 kg) in a vacuum (Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time, 1994).

Noteworthy, is that this line of reasoning shows admission on the part of physicists that (i) quantum fluctuation experiments apply current conditions and laws to explain the appearance of the singularity, and (ii) that the singularity appeared from pre-singularity energy (something from something rather than something from nothing). This reasoning of (i) is only justified if the laws of energy today are assumed to be the same as those prior to the appearance of the singularity. It is hypocritical to claim that the laws of today did not apply prior to the singularity and then cite current evidence of something from nothing (sic) to justify that claim. The fact is that it is consistent and appropriate to apply current conditions and laws (such as the first law of thermodynamics) to the energy existing prior to the singularity. It is the only available data that we have.

Argument for natural to supernatural

There are three possible causes for the origin of energy: 1) from nothing, 2) from something natural, and or 3) from something supernatural. The supernatural choice is the most rational. Why? First, there are no experiences or justifications for concluding that something comes from nothing. The FLT was formulated to state this fact. Second, something from nothing is contrary to the first law of thermodynamics of science. Such a claim contradicts the established law of thermodynamics, which, as shown above (VI, 3), is justifiably applied to the origin of energy. Reasonable explanations must have some rational basis for the interpretation. Credible explanations do not contradict laws of science. Claiming that something can come from nothing is a serious violation of common sense, experience, and scientific law.

The second possible cause for the origin of energy is just as incredible as something coming from nothing. Observations demonstrate that, without exception, new energy is not naturally created from other forms of energy. It can change form, but net energy is conserved.

In the following arguments, I refer to the context of “natural means” to clear up misrepresentation by creation critics and to emphasize that from the field of science we are dealing with natural conditions. The laws that exist today show that energy cannot be created by natural means. Krueger erroneously equates the contradiction of law with lack of understanding. Thus, he wrongly represents me as saying that because the natural origin of energy is not known, the supernatural is a reasonable conclusion. What I actually claim is that because the laws show that a natural origin of energy cannot occur, a supernatural origin of energy is the logical conclusion.

Argument nine (IXa). Energy is created supernaturally.

  1. The creation of energy is an event that occurs contrary to natural laws.
  2. Events that occur contrary to natural laws are supernatural.
  3. Therefore, the creation of energy is supernatural.
Another way of arguing this point is as follows:

Argument nine (IXb). Energy is created supernaturally.

  1. The existence of energy cannot have originated by natural means. (VI, 3)
  2. Existence by means other than natural means requires supernatural means.
  3. Therefore, the existence of energy requires supernatural means.
Of the three possible causes for the origin of energy, the supernatural is the most credible. The explanations that the energy came from nothing or from “something by natural means” are not plausible due to conflict with scientific laws.

Argument ten (X). The universe cannot originate from something natural.

  1. The origin of the universe requires the creation of energy.
  2. The creation of energy cannot occur by natural means. (VI, 3)
  3. Therefore, the origin of the universe cannot have occurred by natural means.

It has been stated that the conclusion that a supernatural event was responsible for the creation of energy is based on lack of knowledge. However, this explanation wrongly equates lack of knowledge with contradiction of laws. The natural laws as they are known today are violated by explanations requiring natural means of creation (contradiction). A supernatural cause for the origin of energy does not suffer this dilemma.

It has also been argued that the supernatural must be proscribed because we have no way of determining its mechanisms. This thought is seriously flawed because (i) it confuses what happened with how it happened as though they are one and the same thing, (ii) it requires that in order for something to exist, understanding its mechanism of operation is necessary, (iii) it forces the conclusion to be a natural explanation by prejudicially excluding the possibility of a supernatural cause from consideration, and (iv) it forces acceptance of an explanation in spite of its violation to the first law of thermodynamics.

Summary

In summary, the first law of thermodynamics requires an explanation involving a supernatural creation of energy and thus, the entire universe. Thus, the following points are true.

  1. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created by natural means.
  2. The universe exists as energy.
  3. Therefore the first law of thermodynamics states that the universe cannot be created by natural means.
  4. If the universe was not created by natural means, then it was created supernaturally.

 

"I must confess to a feeling of profound humility in the presence of a universe which transcends us at almost every point. I feel like a child who while playing by the seashore has found a few bright colored shells and a few pebbles while the whole vast ocean of truth stretches out almost untouched and unruffled before my eager fingers." -Sir Isaac Newton