Do you realize that from virtually every standpoint, you should not exist? Philosophers debate the question of, “Why is there somethinginstead of nothing?” However, the physics of your existence is much more of an issue than a philosophical debate. Modern scientific discoveries have added to the evidence that you should not exist. We know that matter and energy are directly related. We can turn matter into energy, as evidenced by the atomic bomb. Scientists have now shown that energy can be turned into matter. Einstein’s equation E = mc2 can work forward and backward.
The complicating factor is that two kinds of matter are always produced when energy is turned into matter. In addition to the ordinary matter we are made of, there is also a mirror image of it called “antimatter.” Antimatter consists of positively charged electrons (positrons) and negatively charged protons (antiprotons). When matter and antimatter are combined, they destroy each other, reverting to the energy from which they came. The cosmic creation event should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter. How did they not destroy each other?
Another physics principle that says you should not exist is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It says that in a closed system, things tend to move to disorder. This law allows diffusion to happen. It is why we, and everything else, fall apart with age. The cosmos, by definition, is a closed system. Carl Sagan used to say, “The cosmos is everything that is or ever was or ever will be.” The physical world is slowly dissolving, and disorder (called entropy) is increasing. The stringent conditions needed for you to exist are becoming less and less likely. The Bible writers recognized this fact. Isaiah wrote, “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the Earth beneath. The heavens will vanish like smoke, the Earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die like flies, but my salvation will last forever…” (Isaiah 51:6). The spiritual realm is not affected by entropy, but the physical realm is. We exist because God created us. How He separated matter and antimatter is a mystery to science. How life came into being with the massive increase of order can only be explained because God designed our existence for a purpose.
When you take the position of the atheist, you should not exist. Existence is a vast mystery that philosophers and scientists can’t answer. From a biblical perspective, we are major players in the struggle between good and evil. (Read the book of Job.) We have a purpose, and we exist to fulfill that purpose. Being created in the image of God answers many of our questions. COVID, climate change, and the struggles between good and evil in our world remind us that our existence is temporary. There is a new existence coming that will verify why we exist in the present.
In 41 years of teaching high school physics, I learned that the hard part of teaching is getting kids to work on understanding concepts. The concepts are easy if the students can see some application to their daily lives. But if they did not understand the relevance of the subject, they were not going to work on understanding. To that end, I titled the unit on thermodynamics “Break the Thermo law and You Don’t Survive!” The three laws of thermodynamics are fundamental truths that apply to all of science, and theories that break those laws do not survive.
The laws of thermodynamics have a great deal to do with cosmology and questions about creation. We want to state these laws and try to point out their application to issues related to life, death, and how we live our lives.
THE FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS: The Total Increase in Thermal Energy of a System is the Sum of the Work Done on It and the Heat Added to It.
I used to tell my classes that this law says, “You don’t get something for nothing.” What does it take to run your car? One student said, “$2.00 a gallon.” They had learned how to calculate how much energy a gallon of gasoline produces, so I would show them how to calculate how far you ought to be able to drive your car on a gallon of gas. The answer usually came out to be something close to 1,000 miles. “He can’t get that crate of his out of the parking lot on a gallon of gas,” another student volunteered.
“What’s the inconsistency?” I would ask. Then I answered my own question by screaming, “The First Law of Thermodynamics!” The point is that the total thermal energy added to the car (the burning gasoline) will never be equal to the work done by the engine. There will always be energy lost to heating the engine, to friction, to incomplete combustion, and a variety of other energy-consuming problems.
This principle is simply a thermal statement of the Law of Conservation of Energy, and it applies to everything in life. We will never have cars, motors, or heating systems that are 100 percent efficient. Perpetual motion will never happen. There is always a price to pay for any energy that you use. Planet Earth, the solar system, the galaxy, and in fact, the cosmos all operate in conformance to the First Law.
If the cosmos started with a massive singularity of energy, then that total energy is equal to the work that has been done in the cosmos and the energy that still exists within it. Proposing that something can “pop into existence out of nothing” is not a possibility. Energy systems can change, but the First Law will still apply. Quantum mechanics may show us new ways in which energy systems change, but the total energy of the cosmos has not changed even in quantum reactions. The fact that there are newly understood mechanisms of change does not invalidate the First Law. They change how the laws of thermodynamics are applied, sometimes in remarkable ways, but you still do not get something from nothing.
In the beginning, an incredible concentration of energy was created at the point when time and space were created. We know from Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2 that this energy can appear as mass. Those of us who believe in God believe that “God is light” applies to this situation. God just took some of his own essence and produced the singularity that led to the cosmos. Those who reject God’s existence have to believe that some extra-dimensional entity did the same thing, but without wisdom, intelligence, or design.
While we can argue about what that entity is. We cannot argue about the laws of thermodynamics that describe how that initial singularity became the physical world in which we live–and became us as well. The first law of thermodynamics profoundly describes that, and it gives our world order, function, and predictability.
Tomorrow we will look at the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
The notion of God as the creator has escaped our world today. We have not understood that there was a beginning, that God caused the beginning, and that His imprint is on all we see around us. We have been told that evolution explains all these things, but in reality, evolution doesn’t address the question. Evolution does not explain creation.
Evolution assumes that time has been created. Evolution assumes that space has been created and that matter/energy has been created within space/time. Evolution assumes that forces we are just beginning to understand shaped the matter/energy in space/ time so that stable physical matter came into existence. It assumes that the properties of matter/energy caused it to become organized into galaxies, and stars, and solar systems.
Evolution further assumes that within one of those solar systems a planet was created within the Goldilocks zone where water could exist as a liquid. On that planet, carbon and oxygen and heavy metals were produced to allow tangible matter to exist for long periods of time. Then evolution assumes that within a limited time these materials came into existence in an environment and with a catalyst that could produce life.
This post was adapted from “First-Century Athens and the 21st-Century World” by John N. Clayton. We encourage you to read the complete article which appears in the third quarter 2018 DOES GOD EXIST? Journal. If you subscribe to the printed version, you should have received it in the mail. Otherwise, you can read it online at THIS LINK.
Why are plants green? The answer to this is some pretty basic physics.
The colors of light that we receive from the Sun have different energies. Red is the lowest of these energies followed by yellow, green, and blue. The sunlight with the highest energy that actually reaches the surface of the Earth is green. Blue light, which is more energetic, is refracted away by Earth’s atmosphere and scattered as it interacts with molecules in our upper atmosphere. That’s why the sky is blue.
When you look at an object, the color you see is the color reflected by that object. A red ball is red because it reflects red and absorbs all other colors. A green leaf is green because it reflects green and absorbs all other colors. If the highest energy of light reaching the surface of the Earth is green, and if the leaf reflects green, what does this do for the leaf? The answer should be pretty obvious – it keeps the leaf from absorbing too much energy and getting cooked. In the fall of the year when the leaves lose their chlorophyll A, which gives them the green color, what happens? The leaf gets cooked, falls off the tree, and we have to scrape it off the yard.
If a planet had a different atmosphere so that a different energy of light reached its surface, its plants would have to be a different color. To quote Kermit the Frog “It’s not easy being green.” Why are plants green? They are green because green is essential to life on Earth.
This explanation is greatly oversimplified. Obviously, not all plants have green leaves. Some plants live under a canopy of other trees and have to use a different system. The design of life on Earth is incredible, and the green trees and grass around us testify to the wisdom of God in making a place for life to exist.