Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The Onion takes a stab, so to speak, at design theory


File:A small cup of coffee.JPGAnd gets something right, too, with respect to Isaac Newton’s theories, in the new theory of Intelligent Falling:

“Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, ‘God’ if you will, is pushing them down,” said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: “Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, ‘I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.’ Of course, he is alluding to a higher power.” More.

A friend writes to say that , when Newton first proposed his theory of gravity, it aroused considerable opposition. Calculus co-inventor Leibniz resisted Newton’s account of gravity because it assumes that forces act at a distance. Which means that there is no apparent material cause. That made it look like the “hand of God” was directing things, as in “Intelligent Falling.” Woo-woo.

Newton, the first scientist to develop “a quantitative description of the force of gravity,” did not dispute the problem. He speculated at one point that particles roughly like the (theoretical) graviton may be behind it all. And what he actually said was

I wish we could derive the rest of the phenomena of nature by the same kind of reasoning from mechanical principles; for I am induced by many reasons to suspect that they may all depend upon certain forces by which the particles of bodies, by some causes hitherto unknown, are either mutually impelled towards each other, and cohere in regular figures, or are repelled and recede from each other; which forces being unknown, philosophers have hitherto attempted the search of nature in vain; but I hope the principles here laid down will afford some light either to that or some truer method of philosophy.

As it happens, his equations worked, not because they explained why attraction occurs (we still don’t know) but because they encapsulate its fundamental physics, in between the largest and smallest entities in the universe. Woo-woo to some. But certainly not just whatever woo-woo suits us.

See also: The Onion confutes Darwinists, endorsing design – but read the details

Onion story too much like actual cosmology today to qualify as spoof

I don't know why the OP makes the general we still don't know statement without specificity, about as useful as telling us we don't know everything, or that water is wet for that matter. Maybe the OP doesn't know that space-time is warped by mass, and how the linkage between space and time inevitably governs how objects and fields move and propagate. If she does know, she would be right to say that we don't ultimately know why space-time is warped by mass-energy. But to tell us simply we still don't know is kind of a slap at Einstein, Minkowsky, Wheeler and the rest, as if we know nothing from these guys' life work. As a kid, I felt privileged to know something that Newton could not have known, and even learned some, not all, of the mathematics required to probe the 20th century genius of the guys mentioned.groovamos
February 4, 2014
09:10 AM

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