Matter = Energy

The following is from a discussion I’m having with a very nice guy who
is an atheist. He had asked me to give him my reasons for believing in
God. I gave him the First Cause and First Mover arguments, as I
understand them from Aquinas.

Then I threw in something I pieced together from various sources, the
gist of which is, that matter and energy are the same thing in different
states (as expressed in E=mc2), and that both ultimately are not
composed of any “thing”: matter is energy in a highly compressed form,
and energy when you boil it down is not really any thing, it’s just what
things do or how they act. So really it seems to be “nothing in
action”. More fully explained below. What this leads to, of course, is
the conclusion that matter is ultimately made from nothing.

Anyone who knows better is welcome to correct me, although I’m not
promising you won’t get an argument from me.

>You write, ‘I wouldn’t say energy = nothing. I would say energy =
force. And I would say force is separate from nothing.’

>I agree that “force” is another way of saying “energy”: energy=force,
force=energy. But that doesn’t answer the question, when you boil it
down, what *is* energy?

>Consider the fact that energy can take multiple forms: Heat, light,
motion, etc. Motion energy is converted into heat energy when you hit
the brakes on your car: The car loses motion but the brake disks get
hot. So precisely what *is* it that is being transformed from motion
into heat? The answer is, there is no *thing* that is being
transformed. What’s changing is only the action of matter: First
matter is moving forward, then matter is getting hot.

>But notice that it’s not even the same matter: When the car is in
motion, the front bumper is moving, but when you hit the brakes, the
bumper doesn’t get hot, only the brake disks get hot (and possibly the
wheels). So the motion energy of the bumper gets converted into the
heat energy of the disks. What’s happening here? Is something
traveling from the bumper to the disks? No, nothing is traveling.
They are connected in a sense, since the bumper and the disks are
both attached to the frame. But no electrons are traveling from the
bumper to the disks, like electricity. Yet the action of the bumper
(motion) is converted into the action of the disks (heat). Action is
converted from one piece of matter to another, yet nothing — no
*thing* — is moving from the one to the other. The only thing
“moving” is is the matter’s *behavior*.

>Therefore energy is “how matter behaves”. In which case energy is
“behavior”. And what else is “behavior”, but “what things do”? And
what else is “what things do”, but action? Therefore energy is
action, or in other words, motion.

>If energy is motion, then it’s the motion of what? Well, of matter.
But that goes back to the question, What is matter? Matter is
compressed energy. Therefore energy is, ultimately, the motion of

>Ergo, energy is what energy does. Energy itself (and matter) is pure
action. But you cannot point to a “thing” that performs the action,
because if you do, you go around in circles: Matter performs the
action, but matter is composed of energy. Therefore ultimately
*nothing* performs the action; energy is *nothing* in *action*, but
it’s still nothing.

2 thoughts on “Matter = Energy

  1. Agellius,

    I did not know you had a blog. Anyway, if you never have, may I suggest the movie “What The Bleep Do We Know?”.
    It is not Christian in it’s perspective, but it goes in some detail into what you were talking about in this post. I watched it with the other people in a college psychology class and found the science behind the movies discussion to be fascinating. There are one or two scenes that you may want to screen before you let the kiddos watch, and there are some outrageously blasphemous things said by one woman in particular; but for the information it is worth the wactch.


  2. “I did not know you had a blog.”

    Not much of one. : )

    Thanks for the recommendation, that sounds good. I am also in the middle of a book called “The Fabric of the Cosmos” which is opening my eyes to a lot of things I never “got” before.


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