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How Does Einstein Identify “Downward”?

Most of us have seen illustrations said to represent Einstein’s theory of Gravity. If you haven’t, I’ve provided one above.

Einstein’s theory stated that gravity is not a “force” caused by one object pulling on another, but the affect of a depression in the “fabric of space-time” caused by the mass of a body. In the illustration above, we can see that the larger sphere (assumed to be of greater mass) causes a depression in the “fabric” and that this draws the smaller sphere, which also depresses the fabric, towards it.

This visual is pleasing, for sure, but I have a question:

What causes the larger sphere to depress the fabric in one particular direction?

What is this idea of “downward” in space?

This, to me, is the ultimate question.

If something else is draw the larger sphere”downard”, why is the smaller sphere not also drawn downward as well?

How is the smaller sphere able to continue moving tangentially, away from the larger sphere is there is a yet greater body drawing the larger sphere itself?

How would such a model continue in this order without collapsing on the heaviest object?

Moreover, if Galileo’s argument that objects fall at the same rate without the resistance of air, wouldn’t the larger sphere and the smaller sphere be falling “downward” at the same rate? Why would the smaller then be moving toward the greater?

Why isn’t the earth, as a sphere, “rolling” into the sun?

Here is a pathetic attempt to explain this, which fails terribly to prove the teacher’s theory.

As you watch this video, what is drawing the “sun” downward? What is the force of the hand pushing the smaller planet? The problems with these “demonstrations” are obvious. Nothing is being proven true. The kid is being made to memorize the theory, as fact, like a catechism answer. The demonstration proves absolutely nothing and raises more questions than it answers.

Moreover, if this is how objects in space move, that is, towards the greatest object, how is the universe said to be “expanding”?

If the expansion was caused by the initial force of the “big bang”, would that force not eventually be overcome by the “downward” force of bodies returning towards one another?

Wouldn’t the original substance that existed before the “big bang” eventually re-assemble?

None of this seems to come together in light of what modern Physics says of the universe.

Most importantly, is this really a more certain description of the activity of celestial bodies than was originally had in Aristotle’s or Ptolemy’s philosophy?

Is it really better to follow Einstein’s model than to simply accept a simple, philosophical model that attributes the movements of all bodies to their created “natures”?

Isn’t Einstein’s theory just leading us, eventually, back to the question we originally started with, namely, “Why?“?

And, lastly, even if we grant all of Einstein’s assumptions, will we not just be led back to either (a) an infinite series of causes and effects or (b) an eternal and immovable First Cause?

Isn’t this where we were before Einstein was born?

Isn’t this the only reasonable answer?

Isn’t this the teaching of Aristotle and Scholastic philosophy?


  1. Jared Haselbarth Jared Haselbarth April 11, 2024

    This raises so many questions.
    As for the Big Bang, the theory assumes that the ultra-dense initial object CONTAINED all space/time. There is nothing “outside” of it. If this is true, how can it be called “dense”? Dense relative to what? How do we know we are not currently in an ultra-dense spot right now? When we conceive of the Big Bang as it is proposed, we conceive all the current mass of the universe condensed into one single spot – RELATIVE to our current observed situation. But, in our minds, when we do shrink it all into that one spot, which contains all things, we would exist the same as now relative to the whole. From our perspective from within the universe, we cannot say the universe is dense or rare, because these are relatives.

    • William C. Michael, O.P. William C. Michael, O.P. Post author | April 11, 2024

      Yes, the need to ignore everything else when talking about these things is what I was asking about in this post. It’s assuming that there is something called “downward” and that objects are moving in that direction because they are “heavy”.

      The assumption is that objects are attracted to one another, but everything is apparently attracted to…something. What is that “something”?

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