One interesting thing about the internet is that it can facilitate the reemergence of arguments that have been thoroughly rebutted in the past. This particular objection that atheists make to God is one of those arguments that faded out of existence, but has recently popped back up in online discussions. Another interesting observation that I have made is that arguments that atheist use tend to “trend.” What I mean by “tend to trend” is that when these arguments resurface, a lot of atheists suddenly started using them.
What is the 1st Law of Thermodynamics?
Simply put, the first law of thermodynamics states that matter and energy can not be created or destroyed.
What is the Objection the Atheist is Making Concerning the 1st Law of Thermodynamics?
The atheist will typically assert that because matter and energy can’t be created or destroyed, that God himself can not create the universe because it would defy the 1st law of thermodynamics.
The Problems with this Objection
The first problem is that the laws of nature are descriptive, not prescriptive. What that means is that the laws of nature do not determine how the universe behaves, rather, it is a description of how the universe behaves. What this means is that the laws of nature are a description of how the universe operates when there isn’t an intervention in these descriptive laws by God. So, all things being equal, when God is not creating the universe, then the 1st law of thermodynamics applies.
The second issue is that if we were to follow the implication of the objection where it leads, then it would mean that the universe could not be created.(Be it by God or not by God.) The only option we would have is that the universe must be eternal. In this article I explain why the universe can’t be eternal.
The third problem is that it straw mans the Christian concept of God. God himself exists outside of space, time, and matter. God would be what we humans would consider by definition to be a supernatural being. Genesis 1 and 2 clearly describe the creation of the universe to be a direct act by God.(Who is omnipotent, or “all powerful.” This means that the creation of the universe is supernatural. Once the creation was complete, all things were equal and the laws of nature then applied because it was a description of how the natural universe worked. Since the creation event described in Genesis was clearly supernatural, there is no issue in Christianity with the creation of the universe and the 1st law of thermodynamics.
Therefore, Christians are consistent in their worldview when they accept that the creation of the universe was a supernatural event and thus, not subject to the descriptive laws of nature. However, when the atheist raises a straw man and attempts to arbitrarily assign limiting properties to God who is described in The Bible as all powerful and all knowing then the atheist is not being logical. For the very notion that an all powerful God is subject to the limitations of the natural world is not consistent with the Christian God.