Saturday, May 24, 2008
Galileo vs Aristotle
By Richard E. Noble
Aristotle first observed that a body at rest tends to remain at rest, and that it will not move unless acted upon by some external force. For example, a rock will remain on the ground unless somebody picks it up and throws it; or a bullet will remain in a gun, an arrow in a quiver, or a canon ball in a canon. Everybody seemed to like this type of thinking until Galileo came along.
Galileo, being an astronomer, concluded from his observations that a body in motion tends to remain in motion and will not be stopped or diverted from its course unless some sort of external force was brought into play. Scientists now claim that Galileo was correct and Aristotle was wrong.
In observing the planets and stars out in space Galileo does seem correct, but in observing this situation here on earth Aristotle seems to be doing fine.
The planets in space seem to be in constant motion. But the question persists, how did they originally get moving? If you say that they are in motion and have always been in motion, and that their motion is the product of mutually compensating, perpetually infinite initiatives. You are an atheist, or a pantheist or at least stating the Divinity or Eternity of the Universe. And I dare say you would agree with Galileo's observations, and the notion that a body in motion tends to remain in motion, and will forever do so.
If you say that the Universe was initiated by a Big Bang, then you still must explain where the energy from the "Big Bang" originated. But the very fact that you postulate a Big Bang presupposes that you are really an Aristotelian. You are suggesting that bodies in motion need a start or an external force in order to get them into motion. You therefore must believe as your basic tenet that a body at rest tends to remain at rest and will only be put into motion by some sort of external force acting upon it. So then if Aristotle and Galileo are truly in opposition, your Big Bang stance suggests that you believe Aristotle and not Galileo.
Isaac Newton suggested that there was a force acting upon all bodies in the Universe called Gravity. He further stated that this force could be calculated, and he did so. But when asked how everything got moving in the first place, he suggested that everything was first tossed into movement via the hand of God. God started motion by tossing the stars and the planets out into space, then instituted gravity and whatever other forces of nature to keep everything "floating."
To the followers of Newton, the world will end whenever God decides to remove his force or his hand in the matter.
To the proponents of the Big Bang, the Universe will end when the energy expended in the Big Bang expires.
But, if Galileo speaks the truth, and "a body in motion tends to remain in motion" is the first principle of the Universe, then there was no Big Bang and there is no God, and just like "a country boy" the Universe will survive.