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Gravity: It's Only a Theory

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Title: 
Gravity: It's Only a Theory
Author(s): 
Ellery Schempp
Volume: 
27
Issue: 
5–6
Year: 
2007
Date: 
September–December
Page(s): 
43–44
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

[Textbook disclaimers are down, but not out. This satirical look at "only a theory" disclaimers imagines what might happen if advocates applied the same logic to the theory of gravitation that they do to the theory of evolution.]

All physics textbook should include this warning label:

This textbook contains material on Gravity. Universal Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding the natural law of attraction. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

The Universal Theory of Gravity is often taught in schools as a fact, when in fact it is not even a good theory.

First of all, no one has measured gravity for every atom and every star. It is simply a religious belief that it is "universal".

Secondly, school textbooks routinely make false statements. For example, "the moon goes around the earth." If the theory of gravity were true, it would show that the sun's gravitational force on the moon is much stronger than the earth's gravitational force on the moon, so the moon would go around the sun. Anybody can look up at night and see the obvious gaps in gravity theory.

The existence of tides is often taken as a proof of gravity, but this is logically flawed. Because if the moon's "gravity" were responsible for a bulge underneath it, then how can anyone explain a high tide on the opposite side of the earth at the same time? Anyone can observe that there are two — not one — high tides every day. It is far more likely that tides were given us by an Intelligent Creator long ago and they have been with us ever since. In any case, the fact that there are two high tides falsifies gravity.

There are numerous other flaws. For example, astronomers, who seem to have a fetish for gravity, tell us that the moon rotates on its axis but at the same time it always presents the same face to the earth. This is patently absurd. Moreover, if gravity were working on the early earth, then earth would have been bombarded out of existence by falling asteroids, meteors, comets, and other space junk. Furthermore, gravity theory suggests that the planets have been moving in orderly orbits for millions and millions of years, which wholly contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Since everything in the Universe tends to disorder according to the Second Law, orderly orbits are impossible. This cannot be resolved by pointing to the huge outpouring of energy from the sun. In fact, it is known that the flux of photons from the sun and the "solar wind" actually tends to push earth away.

There are numerous alternative theories that should be taught on an equal basis. For example, the observed behavior of the earth's revolving around the sun can be perfectly explained if the sun has a net positive charge and the planets have a net negative charge, since opposite charges attract and the force is an inverse-square law, exactly as proposed by the increasingly discredited Theory of Gravity. Physics and chemistry texts emphasize that this is the explanation for electrons going around the nucleus, so if it works for atoms, why not for the solar system? The answer is simple: scientific orthodoxy.

The US Patent Office has never issued a patent for anti-gravity. Why is this? According to natural law and homeopathy, everything exists in opposites: good–evil; grace–sin; positive charges–negative charges; north poles–south poles; good vibes–bad vibes; and so on. We know there are anti-evolutionists, so why not anti-gravitationalists? It is clearly a matter of the scientific establishment elite's protecting their own. Anti-gravity papers are routinely rejected from peerreviewed journals, and scientists who propose anti-gravity quickly lose their funding. Universal gravity theory is just a way to keep the grant money flowing.

Even Isaac Newton, said to be the discoverer of gravity, knew there were problems with the theory. He claims to have invented the idea early in his life, but he knew that no mathematician of his day would approve his theory, so he invented a whole new branch of mathematics, called fluxions, just to "prove" his theory. This became calculus, a deeply flawed branch having to do with so-called "infinitesimals" which have never been observed. Then when Einstein invented a new theory of gravity, he, too, used an obscure bit of mathematics called tensors. It seems that every time there is a theory of gravity, it is mixed up with fringe mathematics. Newton, by the way,was far from a secular scientist, and the bulk of his writings is actually on theology and Christianity. His dabbling in gravity, alchemy, and calculus was a mere sideline, perhaps an aberration best left forgotten in describing his career and faith in a Creator.

To make matters worse, proponents of gravity theory hypothesize about mysterious things called gravitons and gravity waves. These have never been observed, and when some accounts of detecting gravity waves were published, the physicists involved had to quickly retract them. Every account of anti-gravity and gravity waves quickly elicits laughter. This is not a theory suitable for children. And even children can see how ridiculous it is to imagine that people in Australia are upside down with respect to us, as gravity theory would have it. If this is an example of the predictive power of the theory of gravity,we can see that at the core there is no foundation.

Gravity totally fails to explain why Saturn has rings and Jupiter does not. It utterly fails to account for obesity. In fact, what it does "explain" is far outweighed by what it does not explain.

When the planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, he relied on "gravitational calculations". But Tombaugh was a Unitarian, a liberal religious group that supports the Theory of Gravity. The modern-day Unitarian-Universalists continue to rely on liberal notions and dismiss ideas of anti-gravity as heretical. Tombaugh never even attempted to justify his "gravitational calculations" on the basis of Scripture, and he went on to be a founding member of the liberal Unitarian Fellowship of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The theory of gravity violates common sense in many ways. Adherents have a hard time explaining, for instance, why airplanes do not fall. Since anti-gravity is rejected by the scientific establishment, they resort to lots of hand-waving. The theory, if taken seriously, implies that the default position for all airplanes is on the ground. While this seems true for Northwest Airlines, it appears that JetBlue and Southwest have a superior theory that effectively harnesses forces that overcome so-called gravity.

It is unlikely that the Law of Gravity will be repealed given the present geo-political climate, but there is no need to teach unfounded theories in the public schools. There is, indeed, evidence that the Theory of Gravity is having a grave effect on morality. Activist judges and left-leaning teachers often use the phrase "what goes up must come down" as a way of describing gravity, and relativists have been quick to apply this to moral standards and common decency.

Finally, the mere name‚ "Universal Theory of Gravity" or "Theory of Universal Gravity" (the secularists like to use confusing language) has a distinctly socialist ring to it. The core idea of "to each according to his weight, from each according to his mass" is communistic. There is no reason that gravity should apply to the just and the unjust equally, and the saved should have relief from such "universalism." If we have Universal Gravity now, then universal health care will be sure to follow. It is this kind of universalism that saps a nation's moral fiber. It is not even clear why we need a theory of gravity: there is not a single mention in the Bible, and the patriotic Founding Fathers never referred to it.

Overall, the Theory of Universal Gravity is just not an attractive theory. It is based on borderline evidence, has many serious gaps in what it claims to explain, is clearly wrong in important respects, and has social and moral deficiencies. If taught in the public schools, by mis-directed "educators", it has to be balanced with alternative,more attractive theories with genuine gravamen and spiritual gravitas.

About the Author(s): 

Ellery Schempp c/o NCSE PO Box 9477 Berkeley CA 94909-0477

Ellery Schempp is a long-time NCSE member and defender of evolution education.