Most people don't realize it, but in the 1920s, physicist E. Barclay Ekoj, Ph.D., posited that Isaac Newton was wrong in his theory that objects fall to the earth as the result of the attraction of gravity. He reasoned that rather than objects pulling at each other, they are pushed to the surface of the earth by an unknown force which he called "pushity" (to contrast it with gravity). I want to explore his thinking and why it may be more valid today than even fifty years ago.
When a scientist observes a natural phenomenon, e.g., objects falling to the Earth, it is appropriate for that scientist to develop multiple hypotheses to explain the observed phenomenon. These hypotheses are then tested repeatedly not only to confirm that one is true, but to disprove that others are true. Thus, if a scientist hypothesizes that objects fall to the Earth, he should be willing to test each and every one of his hypothesis by subjecting them to rigorous testing.
In the case of Dr. Ekoj, he had two hypothetical explanations for the fact that objects fall to the Earth; the first is that the object falls because something attracts them (called "gravity"), and the second is that the objects fall because something pushes them (which Dr. Ekoj called "pushity"). Dr. Ekoj strongly, and inexplicably, believed his theory of pushity to be true. He reportedly said "I know my theory of pushity is true because I see objects lying on the ground. They couldn't have gotten there if not for pushity."
Throughout his life, Dr. Ekoj working with his team of thirty scientists at Eastern Providence University sought scientific proof to support his theory of pushity. He spent much of his life's work attempting to prove that objects weren't attracted to the Earth, but were forced there by some unknown and previously unmeasurable force. Unfortunately, every test of his hypothesis failed. While he occasionally had interesting results from his experiments, he was not able to develop any test that conclusively established that pushity even existed, let alone was the cause of objects falling. Regardless of these setbacks, he remained firmly convinced of the truth of his hypothesis until his death in November 1982. In one of his last intereviews with The Scientific Theories Journal in January 1982, he stated:
Pushity is simply a theory whose time has not yet come. After years of testing, I am satisfied that it exists, but that it cannot presently be proven because we have not yet developed the scientific tools necessary to detect and measure the pushity effect. I expect that in fifty years, we will develop tools that will permit us to see into the true nature of falling objects, and then all these theories about gravity will be put in their righful place -- in the trash-heap already filled with ideas like the cosmological constant and aether. Mark my words, it's merely a matter of time.
Today, a small but devoted conclave of scientists at Eastern Providence University continue the work started by Dr. Ekoj, looking and hoping for the evidence that eluded the brillian scientist who was merely ahead of his time. These scientists point to the lastest scientific evidence from astronomy that seems to show that the universe is accelerating in its expansion as proof that pushity exists.
So, what lesson can we learn from Dr. Ejok? Is it really probable that pushity exists and that it will be proven given enough time and following new scientific discoveries? Personally, I have my doubts, and my doubts are the result of an application of the scientific method -- the idea that we test theories not only to prove some theories right, but to disprove others.
In Dr. Ekoj's case, he conducted many tests to try to establish that pushity was the explanation for objects falling. Yet, despite approximately 80 years of testing, neither he nor his fellow scientists have been able to establish that there was really any basis for his claims. Ordinarily, when a scientific theory lacks scientific evidence despite years of seeking to prove its existence, especially when an alternative theory exist that can also explain the phenomena observed, then it would be appropriate to "rule out" the unproven theory.
But I think that even though Dr. Ekoj failed to establish a reasonable probability that his theory was true, there is reason to believe that present day adherents to his theory have a scientific leg to stand on when they insist that their theory should be accepted. This support comes from an unlikely place: they can gain support for the scientific acceptance of the theory of pushity by comparing it to the present scientific theories for the origin of life on Earth.
In the nearly 150 years since Darwin first published his Origin of Species, hundreds, if not thousands, of scientists have sought to explain the origin of the first living cell through purely naturalistic processes. To this point, they have utterly failed. There have been some tantalizing discoveries, such as the fact that some chemicals seem to organize themselves, but nothing has come close, to this point, of establishing any proof as to what process caused life to arise naturalistically. In fact, as molecular biologist Michael Denton points out in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase, MD: Adler and Adler Publishers, Inc., 1986), p. 328, 342 (quoted here), continuing examination of the incredible complexity of the cell makes the naturalistic origin of life on earth much less probable than it would have been thought to be even twenty years ago.
Perhaps in no other area of modern biology is the challenge posed by the extreme complexity and ingenuity of biological adaptations more apparent than in the fascinating new molecular world of the cell… To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.
Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which—a functional protein or gene—is complex beyond our own creative capacities, a reality which is the very antithesis of chance, which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man? Alongside the level of ingenuity and complexity exhibited by the molecular machinery of life, even our most advanced artifacts appear clumsy…
It would be an illusion to think that what we are aware of at present is any more than a fraction of the full extent of biological design. In practically every field of fundamental biological research ever-increasing levels of design and complexity are being revealed at an ever-accelerating rate.
Thus, the evidence supporting a naturalistic explanation for life's origins seems remote, at best. Still, because of a newly developing definition of science which requires a naturalistic explanation for every observed phenomenon before it can be categorized as science, supporters of the purely naturalistic explanation for a rise of life can take great comfort in knowing that a "scientific" explanation for life's origins is forthcoming because, much like Dr. Ekoj, they can see living things and know that the only way they could have gotten there is by a naturalistic cause.
Yes, those who still adhere to Dr. Ekoj's theory can rest easily knowing that the very things that they rely upon -- the advancment of scientific knowledge will provide evidence for their hypothesis that has not yet been produced despite approximately 80 years of research -- is not only dismissed as proof that a theory should be rejected, their same level of proof and hope is embraced by scientists and society in the comparable area of scientific explanations for the origins of life on Earth.
As the result of the wide acceptance of this type of thinking due to the Darwinian evolutionary paradigm, it is quite clear that if Dr. Ekoj were to look in the mirror, he wouldn't see his theory as a joke.
Addendum: Obviously, this post is a parody. There was no Dr. Ekoj, nor was there ever a theory of pushity (at least, not that I ever saw). Also, I recognize that gravity is a well-estabished fact of science and it is not appropriate to compare the rising theory of Intelligent Design to the well-established law of gravity.
But it seems apparent to me that the reasoning that is laughable in Dr. Ekoj's fictional theory is somehow embraced when the same logic is used to claim that it is only a matter of time before we discover the naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. Yeah, it is possible, but to embrace it as all-but-proven fact is as silly as embracing the theory of pushity.