Gerardus D. Bouw, Ph.D.


Theistic Evolutionists generally argue that a billions-of-years old universe reveals a more powerful God than does a recent, 6,000-year-old universe. In this paper we refute that argument.

Power and Glory

The belief that power is to be identified with God's glory is an assumption which is not necessarily Biblical. Thus we read in I Kings 19:11-131 that God was neither in the strong wind that rent the mountains, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire; but he was in the “still, small voice.” In other words, God was not in the demonstrations of great power, but he was in the weakest form possible. Likewise, God was born in a manger and allowed himself to be crucified. True enough, he could have called 10,000 angels and delivered himself from the cross; but that was not where the glory lay. So in this first assumption, an evolutionist is only fooling him self if he thinks that the more power there is exhibited or used in the universe, that this means more glory is revealed for God. But there is more to the issue of power than this simple approach.

What is Power?

In physics, power (P) is defined as the amount of work performed (W) in some time (t). Placed in a formula, this reads:

P = W / t.  (1)

Likewise, work is the amount of force (F) which is exerted over some distance, (D). Again, as a formula this is written as:

W = F . D.  (2)

Actually, work and energy are related. Both have the same units of mass times length-squared times speed-squared (for example, gram cm2/sec2, witness E=mc2). The only difference is that power implies some flow of energy over time. To keep things simple, in what follows we shall assume that all energy created by God resides either in matter or else it resides in motion. This means that we view the situation at creation as if God did all the work necessary to create the universe; that he had no “outside” help. Such a view is entirely consistent with Scripture. In fact, as we shall shortly see, Scripture presents power as more fundamental to the physical realm than is energy. By contrast, modern physics views energy as the more fundamental of the two. Power, then, is the flow of energy over time.

There is one other aspect of power which we should consider when it comes to looking at the role of power in the universe. When God created the universe, he expended power doing so. Thus, although mass is one form of energy, the creation of that energy meant that God spent some power in its creation and that said power now resides in the material itself, independent of any motion that God might have imparted on the material at its creation.

Given that power is the flow of energy, we can rewrite equation (1) as:

P = E / t   (3)

or, rearranging terms:

E = P t  (4)

Now this last formula is the one which the theistic evolutionist has in mind when he claims that the evolutionary model displays a more powerful God. Here is how the evolutionist approaches the issue: “Consider how much longer 20 billion years is when compared to 6,000 years. The former is roughly 30 million times greater than the latter. This means that God expends 30 million times more power in an evolutionary universe than he would in a Special Creationist universe.” But is this correct? Types of Energy

Energy can be thought to exist in several forms. We have all heard of Einstein's famous E=mc2 formula which states that matter is nothing more than “frozen” energy: energy that is “frozen” into atoms instead of flying around in electromagnetic waves or some other form. This is called the “rest-mass energy” and is usually denoted by the symbol “E0.” In addition, matter can be in motion and so we can associate an additional energy: an energy of motion called Kinetic Energy, which is usually abbreviated to the symbol “T.” A third form of energy, too often ignored, is spin-energy (Es = Iw2/2, where I is the moment of inertia and w is the angular velocity or the rotation speed). Yet another form of energy is called Potential Energy,V,” which is not really energy which a body “has” but energy which it could pick up from its position. The total energy, E, is thus:

E = E0 + T + V + Es.  (5)

As an example of potential energy, consider: if I stand holding a book then relative to the floor under it, the book has no kinetic energy (since it is not moving with respect to the floor) but it does have a potential energy. In order to impart that potential energy to the book all I have to do is to let go of it. The book starts to fall, converting the potential energy into kinetic energy until it hits the floor at which point all the potential energy that it picked up as kinetic energy will be imparted to the floor as heat and sound and, possibly, damage to the structure of the book, floor, carpet, etc. In this entire process, the rest mass energy of the book remained unchanged.

The First Law of Thermodynamics

Now given that energy is viewed by modern physics as a fundamental property of nature, how can we reconcile that with these different types of energy, some of which, like potential energy, seem to be a bit arbitrary? (For example, if there were a table under my book, in the above illustration of potential energy, then the potential energy is lowered, even though the position of the book is unchanged as far as the floor is concerned.) The reason why energy is considered fundamental is because energy can neither be created or destroyed. This principle, called ”conservation of energy” (before the ecologists misappropriated the term to mean fuel conservation), is also known as the first law of thermodynamics . In particular, if we take all of the energy in the universe—rest-mass, kinetic, spin-energy and potential—and represent it with the symbol EU, then the first law of thermodynamics states that:

EU = constant. (6)

The only problem is that we do not know what the exact value of that constant is.

The First Law in Terms of Power

All of the above is good and well, but how does it relate to the theistic evolutionists' claims that the old universe reflects a more powerful image of God?  It turns out that we can restate the first law in terms of power instead of energy.  If we take the derivative of EU over time, we end up with the statement:

dEU/dt = 0. (7)

But by equation (3) we see that dE/dt is the definition of power, so that formula (7) is really is a statement about power.  The first law of thermodynamics can also be viewed as stating that the amount of power in the universe is constant: that power can neither be created or destroyed. In other words, there is no new power flowing into the universe or being newly-created. This can be stated as:

PU = constant.  (8)

Now this is a surprising result and absolutely fatal to the theistic evolutionists' arguments; for it says that the amount of power in the 20- billion year old universe is exactly the same as exists in the 6,000-year old universe!  The conclusion drawn by the evolutionist from equation (4) actually violates the first law of thermodynamics because it assumes that the expenditure (flow) of power is the same as the creation of power!

Creative Power

Let us now return to the issue of that other aspect of the power debate between creationist and evolutionist, the amount of power needed to create the universe. One might think, for example, that since the young universe model requires that God expand the universe (he does say that he “stretched out the heavens,” after all,) far in excess of the speed of light, that the power needed to create it is infinite. After all, the reasoning goes, doesn't it take an infinite amount of energy to push matter beyond the speed of light? Since the various models of the big-bang do not need an infinite amount of energy, it would superficially seem that the Special Creationist model is the more powerful. So the creationist might argue that the intervening billions of years do not begin to make up for the infinite power needed to create the universe to its full extent 6,000 years ago.

In this, the creationist would be mistaken. One can construct an inflationary model of the universe which could inflate to its present size in one week or one day. For example, the first inflationary universe model developed around 1972 had the universe expanding to its present state in only 100,000 years: far too short for evolution to have taken place. As a result it was considered an oddity. It was not until the initial conditions and various parameter could be fudged to stretch it out to 15 billion years that the model gained wide-spread interest among astrophysicists and cosmologist. Surely the effort could have been spent to go in the other direction, toward a younger age. After all, 100,000 years to 10,000,000,000 years is 5 orders of magnitude, whereas going from 100,000 to 10,000 years is only one order of magnitude.

The upshot is that in the creationist model, since God is omnipresent he needed only to have expended an average of about 10-8 ergs/cm3 to create the universe. This is the same as in the evolutionists' model, and so arguments of this nature are made moot.

But Hebrews 1…

If power is neither being created nor destroyed, merely flowing from one point to another in the universe, then does this not violate Hebrews 1:3? In that verse we read of Jesus:

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power….

Note that the verse says that he is “upholding all things by the word of his power,” not by power. True, the “upholding” indicates an on-going action; but it is by fiat. The text could just as well be taken to mean that God distributes power as he wills. This is clearly indicated by Christ's answer to Pilate when he said: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11). Likewise, the creation is said to be finished. So God still works,2 and the Bible reports that he is still creating new things, but he is not creating any new power, at least not on a continuing basis. Now this requires that we take a finer look at the role of power in the Bible.

Biblical Power

Most of Christianity today assumes that God created the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. If by that we mean that God did not form the universe out of pre-existing matter, then that is correct. If we mean, on the other hand, that God changed nothing into the creation, then we are mistaken. The Bible tells a different story.

First of all, in the Bible we find that God's power is invisible for we read in Romans 1:20—

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

.Likewise, we read in Romans 9:22—

What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.

The first reference says that both the eternal power of God and the Godhead are invisible. The second reference tells us that the revelation of his power is one of the reasons why God created the universe: “to make his power known.”  (Be sure to read verse 23 for the rest of the reasons for the creation). So though it be a fine point, it seems more correct to claim that the universe was created from and by God's power, (which is not “nothing,”) than it is to say God created the universe out of nothing.

In addition to power's role in the creation, we note that nowhere in the Bible is the word “energy” to be found. The word “power,” though, occurs over 270 times. So it is clear that to the Bible, power is more fundamental than energy, that God is the originator of the power and that he channels power where he will and when he wills it. The Biblical concept of power is more general than is the physicist's concept, but there is still a relationship as noted in Romans 1:20.

Power and Salvation

Anyone who has studied the Bible or who has read it through carefully knows that the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace, not of works. In the above formulations we see that this fact is imprinted in the creation itself. All attempts to “better” ourselves and to make us “worthy” of salvation—to gain power with God—amount to a hoarding of power for ourselves at the expense of others in general and God in particular. This concept is abhorrent to God.

By the same token, we can deal with salvation-by-works in terms of work and energy. It is a fundamental fact of physics that any amount of work (any expenditure of power) increases the entropy of the universe. Now entropy is, in part, an increase in the disorder of the universe. Entropy is also related to death and sin, as has been noted by numerous creationists. The greater the entropy in human affairs, the more death and sin. Thus to try to work one's way to heaven is totally futile, for our works end up defiling the entire creation. The more we work, the greater the defilement and the more death and sin there is in the world. True, the Bible does encourage us to do “good works,” but it defines those works as doing the will of the Father. According to the Bible, we are created unto good works, but we are not created for good works.3 The distinction is crucial. It means that only a saved man can do good works. The unsaved can not. One would think that feeding the poor would qualify as a ”good work,” regardless of the state of one's soul. Not so, according to Proverbs 21:4, for there we find that “the plowing of the wicked, is sin.” No exception is made for motive: it is sin, period.


We have found arguments dealing with the question of which takes more of an expenditure of power on God's part, the big-bang and subsequent evolution of the universe, or the creation of a fully-mature universe within one week some 6,000 years ago, to be meaningless. The amount of power God needed to expend in both models is the same, namely the existing energy density. We noted that this is so because of the first law of thermodynamics, that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This was discovered by reformulating the first law in terms of power in which case it says that the amount of power in the universe is fixed and that all work done in the universe amounts to nothing more than a rearrangement of that finite, fixed amount of power.

In connection with the discussion of power we looked at the Bible's usage of the word and discovered that the power of God is reckoned as one of God's invisible attributes which is revealed in his creation. Nowhere in the Bible is the conservation of power contradicted, and nowhere is the word “energy” to be found. Since energy and power are related, and since nothing ever truly stands still, we concluded that power is a more basic constituent of the creation than is energy.

So the next time an evolutionist tells you that the evolutionary model is more glorifying to God because it requires a greater expenditure of energy on his part, tell him to check that statement against the first law of thermodynamics. Or else, show him this paper.


1 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
And it was so, when Elijah heard it that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

2 By the way, since Jesus reported that the “Father still worketh hitherto” in John 5:17, he contradicts the day-age theistic evolutionist who maintains that we are presently in the seventh “day” of creation, the day in which “God rested” (Genesis 2:1). Note, too, that the evolutionist must insist that “rested” there be read as “is resting.”

3 Ephesians 2:10—For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Updated on 28 December, 1999 by GDB