A Talk on Gravitation, Part 1
What is gravitation?
We are told a that gravitation exists throughout the universe is the reason why the smallest things fall down, such as a pebble to why planets remain in their orbits. Yet, scientists say we know very little about it. So, let’s explore this subject of gravitation in more detail.
But a difficulty meets one at the outset. How am I to write “something” about nothing? I cannot create, as some erroneously suppose the world was made, out of nothing. Paul says the things which are seen were not made out of “phenomena,” or things which do appear; but he nowhere teaches that they came out of absolutely nothing, except invisibility. Now, “Gravitation” has been created, not only out of invisibility, but out of nothing, except the vain imaginations of astronomical minds. I t was not “discovered,” but invented; and I shall proceed to prove that there is no such thing as the “attraction of Gravitation” in God’s universe, and that the phenomena supposed to countenance the theory are capable of other and more natural interpretations.
Of course, I speak of “Gravitation” in the astronomical sense of a universal power in all bodies, celestial and terrestrial, to attract, or pull one another together, with forces directly in proportion to their masses, and inversely as the squares of their distances. So that terrestrial attraction and phenomena will be seen to be only a small part of this question of Universal Gravitation. The former we may explain by weight and currents; but the latter we utterly deny. Let us try, in the first place, to realize what is meant by, and implied in the astronomical theory of gravitation, and its Universal Attraction.
According to this idea, every body in the universe, however large or small, has the power, by some means or other, to attract, or pull towards itself, every other body in the universe, however near or distant. Yea, not only is every body supposed to have this power, but the power is said to be in actual operation every moment of time for ever. So that, if I hold an apple in my hand, it is connected with, and pulling at all the apples in the world; all the pears and plums, all the trees, gardens, walls, houses, all the stones, rocks, rivers, and mountains; yea, and every separate drop of water in the ocean, and every grain of sand on the sea shore. And these are all pulling at the apple. Yet it remains passively on my hand, while I study gravitation, or decide whether I will eat the apple now, or leave it for further experimentation. This apple ought to dance about, or at least to show some symptoms of the awful internal struggles going on within it. Perhaps it has learned the art of appearing passive, an art which some astronomers seem to acquire, and to keep a quiet and serene countenance, while internally tortured with ten thousand doubts and pangs. Ten thousand! Yea, ten thousand times ten thousand gravitating cords or strings are pulling at it! For we must remember that sun, moon and stars, and supposed millions of millions of “ other worlds than ours ” are each and all interested in that apple; and they send out their innumerable long and filamentous fingers to clutch it out of my open hand. Yet it remains outwardly unmoved in serene and blushing passivity. I shall have to eat it, threads and all, with whatever tentacles, or other attractive matter may be attached to it! What a mission! But there is such an attractive force, either in the apple, or in the natural taste God has give us for common fruit, as well as for common sense, that I take all risks and disappoint the sun and stars. I am glad that Newton was led to muse over an apple falling to the ground by its own weight, when the stalk was rotten. He would have mused more had it “fallen” upwards.
(Why should an apple, or any fruit for that matter, fall from the tree it came from? Since the tree is a bigger mass, and the bigger mass attracts the smaller – as we are told – then no fruit should fall at all!)
To be continued.