Imagine if a God had created the universe and he had said: “I’m going to insert a fixed amount of energy into this universe of mine. I will let stars form and explode, and planets move in their orbits, and I will have people create great cities, and there will be battles that destroy those cities, and then I’ll let the survivors create new civilisations. There will be fires and horses and oxen pulling carts; there will be coal and steam engines and factories and even mighty locomotives and iPhones.

“Yet throughout the whole sequence, even though the types of energy that people see will change, even though sometimes the energy will appear as the heat of human or animal muscle, and sometimes it will appear as the gushing of waterfalls or the explosions of volcanoes; despite all those variations, the total amount of energy will remain the same. The amount I create at the beginning will not change. There will not be one millionth part less than what was there at the start.”

Expressed like this, it sounds the sheerest mumbo jumbo, like something Yoda would mysteriously speak in Star Wars; or like the popular superstitions that would drive Richard Dawkins into an apoplexy.

What’s extraordinary, though, is that it’s true (although the God part is contestable).

Gee – I wonder if the Associated Press will pick this one up?

  1. Janky-o says:

    And for fun, He also said “and the energy will be the same thing as mass, so when your muscles expend energy, that energy comes from a loss of mass in the body.” Utterly cool stuff. One might call it very intelligently designed.

  2. ECA says:

    And the only problems???


    solar is 1 neat source, and recently we FINALLY tap into Ultraviolet spectrum. Which has the most spectrum on planet.

    Creativity, come in the fashion of What we already have, and building to USE nature in the best fashion. The OLD ways worked very well, and we are heading back to the home designs of the past. Trees on the East and west, and a South facing wall, to gather heat during winter, and Awnings that cover the South face during summer.

  3. moss says:

    Don’t need awnings, bro’ – properly calculated overhang works just fine on my home.

  4. gregallen says:

    What’s amazing about the Jewish creation mythology is how much it got right.

    Other mythologies have the earth being created by a lightening bold hitting a gord, or whatever.

    Still, it’s a huge mistake to treat it as science… that’s not what I’m saying.

  5. RBG says:

    0. This is, at least, the Muslim viewpoint. That every single thing in this universe has been pre-ordained by God.

    1. Janky-o. We are nuclear powered? E=MC²


  6. Bryan Price says:

    As an agnostic deist, it makes absolutely complete sense.

  7. Glory be to God 🙂

  8. jim h says:

    It’s so easy, once you reach the limit of current theory and experimental technology, to say that everything beyond that point is simply the work of “God” – or the currently fashionable “Intelligent Designer”, who somehow started by designing himself, I guess.

    So maybe in a few years we find that the total energy content of the universe isn’t actually a constant. No problem, I guess the “Intelligent Designer” just moves back one step.

  9. brian t says:

    Is the same god behind thermonuclear devices? Still our most effective way of converting mass to energy. The c in e=mc² is a mighty big number, and that’s before we square it…

  10. Janky-o says:

    #5 RGB (great initials)… energy is equivalent to mass. Potential energy – including chemical – adds mass, converting it to kinetic (etc) energy reduces mass. So yeah, it’s just like nuclear powered…

  11. RBG says:

    Energy is needed to convert ingested protein, lipid and carbohydrate mass, etc into body mass; but of course energy itself isn’t made into mass & vice versa other than by Energy equals Mass x 8.98755179 × 10^16 m2/s2 (E=MC^2)to be a physics nerd about it.


  12. julieb says:

    When I read the 5th paragraph of the article I thought it had been plagiarized. I just read those same words in a book called E=MC2 A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation.

    Turns out the author is the same, David Bodanis.

    I highly recommend the book to everyone.

  13. Mr. Gawd Almighty says:

    And in the beginning, there was nuttin’. So I says,
    “Let there be light!” And holy shit !!! You could see for effen miles. In every freeking damn direction too.

    And ’cause that light was purdy good, iffen I say so myself, I decided to make some purdy flowers so I says,
    “Let there be rain!” Well shitten allosaurs !!! It just poured effen buckets all effen day.

    And then I planted a garden. But ’cause I don’t want no devil (aka Satin) to see it, I hid it. In fact, truth be told, I called it my ‘idden garden. Or just Iden for short. Well, a whole bunch of shit went down and I won’t bore ya to death about it so we’ll move along. (Kids stealing from my good apple tree too, fucking rotten little bastard fucktards. I learned ’em good.)

    Well then I call up Moses and say
    “Hey bro, come fourth.” But what do the fucken dude do? Comes in third !!! Whoa, was I pissed. That god damn son of a Nile whore Jewish Princess bitch cost me a bundle and that bundle didn’t come with no effen hard drive needder. I had the trifecta picked perfectly except for that idiot chariot jockey fucktard bastard.

    I got mine though. I made that ignorant republican donkey back door jockey walk around the desert for a few years. Then I made the asswipe climb the highest hill around and gave ‘im a couple o’ real heavy stone slabs with some self serving babbling carved on ’em. I made it real mean shit too. (Like no humping your fucking neighbor’s donkey, ha ha ha) And made ‘im carry ’em back down to the desert. And the fucktard did !!! Now all his little fucked up off spring worship me for that. Jesus H. Christ, oopps, that is anudder bullshit story, but anyways, iffen I had thought it through, I would have put on those stone slabs they should honor me with virgins and Apples. And some Jack Daniels.

    So, what does this have to do with energy being a constant? Well, fucked if I know, but I thought it was a good story. Keep the peace y’all.

  14. May the farce be with you …

  15. AaronSTL says:

    What is that magic amount of energy in the universe? Physicists have actually calculated it.
    It’s zero. That’s right. Adding all the positive and negative energy together equals 0. It took absolutely no energy to create the entire universe therefore the universe existing uncaused breaks no laws of physics.

    My fellow atheists, may this news fulfill your intellect. Cuckoo banana believers, I’m sorry for your loss.

    God has been officially PWN3D.

  16. bobbo says:

    Anybody have a good link that explains to the abysmally ignorant like myself how “the balanced universe” works?

    Or even what the right term for that concept is?

    That train of thought that if the force of gravity was slightly stronger or weaker then stars could not form or solar systems would not spin etc.

    Same with all the other “forces” in the universe==they are all so “exactly right.”

    It makes me think that is evidence (or only an inference?) there have been or are millions of other universes that got it wrong and “we” are lucky enough to be in the one that works?

    Thoughts? References?


  17. amodedoma says:

    yeah right so these barely evolved simians think they know what ‘god’ means. OOOKKKAAAAAYYY. I got a test for you. Write everything you know about the protagonist from your favorite tv program on one sheet of paper, and everthing you know about god on another. Now check them out. If they’re even close to being the same length (doubtful) you’ll find one has a lot of second hand references and the other in depth opinions. The thing is most people have no interest in god. Just because you have no knowledge of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exsist. In fact, I don’t mean to sound condescending, but the human brain is too primitive to concieve of something that doesn’t exsist at some place or some time. Symbolic entities exsist too, go ahead and try to do the math without a zero and you’ll find out.

  18. bobbo says:

    #17–adonwhatever==I for one don’t think you sound condescending at all.

  19. julieb says:

    “I don’t mean to sound condescending, but the human brain is too primitive to concieve of something that doesn’t exsist at some place or some time.” -amodedoma

    Worst comment of the week. Read a book if you would like your brain to conceive of things that do not exist. Or better yet, write one.

    Don’t worry, ignorant comments never sound condescending.

  20. Mr. Gawd Almighty says:

    #19, julieb

    Don’t worry, ignorant comments never sound condescending.

    Have you met our resident troll, James Hill?

  21. Hmeyers says:

    Article: What’s extraordinary, though, is that it’s true

    We do not know it is true.

    “the total amount of energy will remain the same” <– this is an idea, not something that has been tested or demonstrated.

    It is what we scientifically believe to be true based on observation, but we’ve not even stepped on another planet and have no way to assert to test this, nor measure it.

  22. Hmeyers says:

    Human arrogance just pisses me off sometimes. I agree with #17 that we are just barely evolved simians that 100 years ago died from trivial diseases.

    Case in point: The 1st Law of Themodynamics is just an idea and although it is called a “law” by us humans, we can’t know it is true. We have never observed this law being broken, but evidence suggests it may not be a law at all.

    We don’t have scientific instruments sensitive enough to prove that, for instance, the Casimir effect doesn’t create (or destroy) energy on some level nor can we explain vacuum energy and we cannot define what “space” is exactly.

    Additionally, the whole idea that it appears the universe is accelerating in its expansion seems to defy everything we think we know and we can’t even account for a large bulk of matter in the universe (dark matter? dark energy? No one knows).

    I bet we don’t even make it to another star system in 1000 years and am skeptical we’ll be on Mars in the next 50.

    Yet we constantly overestimate how much we understand about everything, meanwhile sometimes police can even solve a simple crime 2 miles away that occurred 1 day ago.

    And we think we know everything about the whole universe? Cute!

  23. ECA says:

    and the problem??

    iIs that we cant TAP 1%

  24. amodedoma says:

    Ignorance, for some it’s a virtue, for others it’s a vice. For most it’s a merciful crutch holding up a limited intellect. For a few it’s an excuse. If you can concieve something in your mind it exsists, if only at a symbolic level. Limiting exsistence to the physical sounds like the crutch to me, imagine how little work Einstein would have got done if the symbolic did not exsist. For me the worst kind of ignorance is denial, like those poor fools who don’t understand global warming so it’s all a farce, they follow eachother like lemmings to the cliff.

  25. bobbo says:

    #25–amodedoma==The worst kind of ignorance is to use words incorrectly to build a premise that makes no sense at all. Whether for you that is a virtue, vice, or crutch I don’t know. It certainly is ignorance posing as insight.

    Lets limit existence to only sand. Einstein then would have died of thirst. Deep huh?

  26. RBG says:

    15. AaronSTL “As crazy as it might seem, the energy may have come out of nothing! The meaning of “nothing” is somewhat ambiguous here. It might be the vacuum in some pre-existing space and time, or it could be nothing at all – that is, all concepts of space and time were created with the universe itself…There could even be many other such universes, spatially distinct from ours.”

    “My fellow atheists, may this news fulfill your intellect. Cuckoo banana believers, I’m sorry for your loss.”

    I have to admire your faith in these things, but the corollary is that the net energy from religious and atheist wingnuts is equal to zero.



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