The Law of Universal Gravitation

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.

(1 Timothy 6:20-21) NKJV

Physical laws describe broad classes of observations. They’re a summary of what we know. They don’t define the universe, they’re defined by the universe.

If the universe was created, then the laws were defined by a creator. This is where the popular science freight train (SciPop) seems to have jumped the tracks. It got cause and effect wrong in its application of physical laws. Laws are an opportunistic rationalization of circumstantial evidence. Even though they may be shown to be consistent with all observations, they don’t reveal the underlying causes for the phenomena that they describe.

We all have the same evidence. Our choice of paradigm determines what we think it’s evidence of.

Matty’s Razor

Sir Isaac Newton wrote the law of universal gravitation. Here are the first two lines of what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force which is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. This is a general physical law derived from empirical observations by what Isaac Newton called inductive reasoning.

– Gravity, definition Wikipedia

As the definition states, this is derived from empirical observation. There are many experiments which have been carried out which confirm the basic truth of this statement. The problem is that whatever experiments we do or measurements we make, they’re circumstantial evidence because they don’t tell us the cause of gravity. Newton is famously quoted as saying:

No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.

– Sir Isaac Newton

Faith is believing in something that you can’t see, because of evidence.

– Faith, definition

The irony is that Newton didn’t make a great discovery, he made a bold guess and called it a discovery. In Newton’s case the bold guess was that mass is the cause of gravity. It must have seemed like a natural assumption to make. If the gravitational attraction of a body is proportional to its mass, then why wouldn’t mass be the cause of gravity? As straightforward as this may sound it’s wrong. It’s not a discovery, it’s the starting premise for a line of inductive reasoning. However it set the stage for the development of Newtonian Physics which is based on the idea that mass is the cause of gravity.

Inductive reasoning allowed Newton to design experiments which supported his premise. The results of the experiments are always going to support the premise, because the premise is based on observations of the phenomenon. It’s an example or circular reasoning.

  • A hypothesis is made about an observation,
  • The hypothesis is used as the premise of an experiment,
  • The experimental results confirm the hypothesis,
  • The observation now has an explanation which is consistent with the premise used to design the experiment,
  • The hypothesis is confirmed.

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