Matter does not need a creator


Until early in the twentieth century, there were strong indications that one or more miracles were required to create the universe.

The universe currently contains a large amount of matter that is characterized by the physical quantity we define as mass. Prior to the twentieth century, it was known that matter could neither be created nor destroyed, just changed from one type to another. So the very existence of matter seemed to be a miracle, a violation of the assumed law of conservation of mass that occurred just once—at the creation.

However, in his special theory of relativity published in 1905, Albert Einstein showed that matter can be created out of energy and can disappear into energy. What all science writers call “Einstein’s famous equation,” E = mc2, relates the mass m of a body to an equivalent rest energy, E, where c is a universal constant, the speed of light in a vacuum. That is, a body at rest still contains energy.

When a body is moving, it carries an additional energy of motion called kinetic energy. In chemical and nuclear interactions, kinetic energy can be converted into rest energy, which is equivalent to generating mass. Also, the reverse happens; mass or rest energy can be converted into kinetic energy. In that way, chemical and nuclear interactions can generate kinetic energy, which then can be used to run engines or blow things up.

So, the existence of mass in the universe violates no law of nature. Mass can come from energy. But, then, where does the energy come from? The law of conservation of energy, also known as the first law of thermodynamics, requires that energy come from somewhere. In principle, the creation hypothesis could be confirmed by the direct observation or theoretical requirement that conservation of energy was violated 13.7 billion years ago at the start of the big bang.

However, neither observations nor theory indicates this to have been the case. The first law allows energy to convert from one type to another as long as the total for a closed system remains fixed. Remarkably, the total energy of the universe appears to be zero. As famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking said in his 1988 best seller, A Brief History of Time, “In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that the negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter.

So the total energy of the universe is zero. Specifically, within small measurement errors, the mean energy density of the universe is exactly what it should be for a universe that appeared from an initial state of zero energy, within a small quantum uncertainty.

A close balance between positive and negative energy is predicted by the modern extension of the big bang theory called the inflationary big bang, according to which the universe underwent a period of rapid, exponential inflation during a tiny fraction of its first second. The inflationary theory has recently undergone a number of stringent observational tests that would have been sufficient to prove it false. So far, it has successfully passed all these tests.

The only laws of matter are those which our minds must fabricate,

and the only laws of mind are fabricated for it by matter.

—James Clerk Maxwell

In short, the existence of matter and energy in the universe did not require the violation of energy conservation at the assumed creation. In fact, the data strongly support the hypothesis that no such miracle occurred. If we regard such a miracle as predicted by the creator hypothesis, then that prediction is not confirmed.


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