The First Law of Thermodynamics is widely accepted by scientists. Although written in technical terms, it essentially states that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed.1 But what about the Big Bang Theory?
A common misconception by non-scientists is that everything was created by the Big Bang. However, not even secular scientists believe the Big Bang created anything. On the contrary, according to the theory, matter and energy were already in existence in some form before the Big Bang, and all of it was concentrated in one spot. At some point in time it began to rapidly spread out in all directions. This theoretical rapid expansion is what is known as the Big Bang. The theory does not attempt to explain how matter and energy originally came into existence.
Notes for Chapter 14:
1. Although matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, they can be changed into each other. Matter and energy are two forms of the same thing, somewhat analogous to water and ice. Whenever matter is changed into energy, or energy is changed into matter, it is done in accordance with Einstein’s famous formula E = mc2, where “E” is energy, “m” is mass, and “c” is the speed of light. (Mass is a measurement of matter.)
When scientists say matter (or energy) cannot be “destroyed” they mean matter cannot be changed into “nothing” (i.e. cease to exist in any form or capacity). Consider a log burning in a fireplace. The log may “go up in smoke” but every atom that was originally in the log is still in existence somewhere. No part of the log was destroyed in a scientific sense since no part of the log was changed into nothing. Another example is an atomic bomb: A small amount of matter is changed into energy (in accordance with E=mc2), but again, no matter (or energy) is changed into nothing.