Why does an apple fall to the ground?
Many of you will be sitting there with your hands stretched eagerly into the air and the word “Gravity” waiting expectantly on the tip of your tongue.
Do you know what gravity is?
“A force” I hear you say. But what is a force? All you’ve done is switch one word that we don’t know the meaning of with another word we don’t know the meaning of.
“A force is something that does something”
And what is that “something” that does something?
The law of gravity isn’t an explanation of why things fall it’s a description of how they fall.
The Law of gravity – according to Newton – is this: F = G (m1m2/r2). This equation tells us how much force will be exerted between two bodies. The force is measured in Newtons. So essentially this equation tells us that if I was stood on an object (m1) that was placed at a distance (r) from another object (m2) then if I had one of those springy things for measuring newtons it would measure however many newtons the equation stated (F). So this just tells us how much one body is being effected by another and allows us to make predictions because we have noticed a pattern. It doesn’t tell us why it is effected in the way it is or why it doesn’t behave differently than it does. It doesn’t tell us why this particular pattern is there and not another.
Or more basically newton’s law states that objects of mass attract. So to answer “ Why do objects of mass attract?” with gravity is like saying “Objects of mass attract because objects of mass attract”. Which though true is not an explanation; it’s a tautology.
But why does this relationship hold? What actually is gravity? Just by slapping an equation on it doesn’t mean it’s explained. It is merely a description which though useful doesn’t answer the question “Why does the apple do what it does?”.
Even relativity doesn’t do much to help. Einstein said that instead of objects of mass pulling one another they fell towards one another. This is because they cause space/time to warp. But how do they cause space/time to warp? Why does space/time warp in exactly the way it does? See the same problems Newton had when he wanted to cape around in the cape of explanation are here when Einstein tries to wear it! Science is descriptive not explicative!!!
I hope you’re noticing a pattern here. For every supposed explanation there is always the annoying little kid who says “But, sir, why is it that particular way? How did that come about?” and the answer always complicates the picture.
The problem is that science is stuck in a loop. One of the main works of science is to explain phenomena. This is really impossible so really science should stick to what it is good at: Description and Discovery.
The reason is that science thinks that an explanation is when you refer phenomena to laws. But what about the question: “Why are the laws as they are? How did they come to be?”.
There is the idea I’ve heard recently that the laws are what they are now due to temperature variations at the big bang.
OK – I say to the religiously dogmatic scientist priest– Why do those specific temperature variations create the specific laws we have?
Why do any specific temperature variations at the big bang cause their specific effects and not a different effect?
All you have done is explain the laws we have now with another set of laws that describe the relationship between laws we have now and temperature variations at the big bang. Don’t you see that they require an explanation? Don’t you see that ultimately explication is impossible?
This isn’t me saying “Science stick your nose out of what doesn’t concern you”. I mean call descriptions explanations all you want but don’t come running to me when the kids wake up!