The best of Fred Hutchison
A critique of Einstein
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
September 20, 2012

Originally published January 28, 2005

In September 2004, Discover Magazine had a special Einstein issue. Fifty-eight pages of glossy magazine space was devoted to Einstein! Einstein seems to be growing as an American cult hero. He is not only a dominating figure in the sciences, but he has a profound influence on the culture. His theory of relativity sends the message that all things are relative in the cosmos, with the strong implication that the realms of morality, truth, and culture are relative. I dissent. I disagree that morality, truth, and culture are purely relative. And I deny that the physical world is what Einstein says it is.

Who am I to question Einstein?

I claim to be able to criticize Einstein on grounds that do not require an advanced degree in physics. My grounds for criticism are: a) Einstein's theories were based on false presuppositions drawn from Enlightenment philosophy about the nature of the cosmos. b) Einstein said that he did not trust a scientific theory that could not be reduced to a simple elegant picture that a child can understand. Einstein himself started with such child-pictures and developed them through mathematics on the blackboard. The whole of his work consisted of imaginative mind exercises in his office. He left the empirical testing to others as a "mopping up." If I can show that Einstein's child-figures are self-contradictory, then the theories based upon those concepts must be false. c) Einstein uses plug figures to make the numbers balance. In short, Einstein cheats. d) The empirical proofs of Einstein's theories do not constitute a discovery of "laws of nature," as many people assume. Even scientists sometimes fall into this trap. The empirical proofs only establish that Einstein's mathematics are practically useful for a limited range of applications. They are useless for problems that are above or below the "radar range" of these applications. e) Einstein's ability to predict physical nature in a spotty way does indeed demonstrate the existence of orderly laws of nature we can count on, but does not demonstrate that he knows what those laws are. He has only found a technique to impersonate those laws in order to calculate predictable outcomes. A convincing impersonator of a celebrity might not have any clue to the inner psychology behind the quavering voice, blinking eyes, and nervous tic that mimics. Einstein's ability to mimic the measurable phenomena of nature (the exterior of nature) gives us no reason to believe that he understood the realities that lie behind the phenomena (the interior of nature).

Parallel lives

In 1929, Einstein said, "I believe in Spinoza's god who reveals Himself in orderly harmony that exists, not a God who concerns Himself with fates and actions of human beings" (Albert Einstein-Scientist, edited by Paul Schilipp, 1970. Source of Quote, New York Times 4/25/29). As we explore the outlines of Spinoza's philosophy, we find remarkable parallels to Einstein's cosmology. Even the lives of the two men have interesting parallels.

Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza (1632–1677) was born of Sephardic Jews who emigrated from Portugal to Holland because of the religious and intellectual tolerance of Holland. Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was born of Ashkenazi Jews living in Germany. Einstein emigrated to Zurich, Switzerland, to escape the authoritarian and regimented ways of Germany. Spinoza earned a living as a lens grinder as he developed his famous philosophy. (Some historians argue that Spinoza ground lenses for experiments in optics, and lived off an inheritance.) Einstein worked in the Swiss patent office while he developed his famous theories of physics. The young Spinoza was excommunicated by his synagogue because of his vague Deism involving an impersonal God and other heretical ideas. Einstein lost interest in Judaism and organized religion, but retained a vague Deism involving an impersonal God. Spinoza was influenced by the French philosopher Descartes and became a rationalist. Spinoza accepted Descartes' mechanist view of nature, but rejected Descartes' dualism and his transcendent God. Einstein became a rationalist after the example of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, and Kant. Spinoza developed a theory out of a fine tissue of logic that the cosmos is a closed deterministic system of cause and effect. Every idea and every object in this imaginary world is interrelated and interlocking. Everything is one. This "one" is the impersonal "god." Every particular thing is a "mode" emanating from god. Spinoza's god was a complex, eccentric intellectual version of pantheism. Einstein adopted Spinoza's god, and Spinoza's cosmos. Just as Spinoza created a world out of a tissue of logic, Einstein created a world out of a tissue of mathematics. Both men were determinists, and therefore both denied the existence of free will. Both men were rationalists and accepted reason, even though reason cannot exist in a deterministic system.

A false worldview

If reason and free will exist, then Einstein's cosmos is false. If a spiritual realm exists outside of a closed system of cause and effect, then Einstein's cosmos is false. If God is personal and transcendent, then Einstein's cosmos is false. If God is the creator and differs in quality from the creation, then Einstein's cosmos is false. If there is a discrete separation between elements of the creation (heaven-earth, light-dark, land-sea, species after their own kind, man/creature, man as an individual), then Einstein's cosmos is false.

Einstein claimed he was inspired by the beauty and harmony of the cosmos. But a picture of everything melting into every other thing is the epitome of ugliness and disorder, as we learn from surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali. A regimented, closed system is the barrenness of a prison. Order, yes. Beauty, no.

Did Einstein build all his theories on the presuppositions of Spinoza's pantheism? Yes. When he said, "God does not throw dice with the universe," he was referring to the seeming disorder of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the realm of atoms and molecules. If there are nooks and crannies in the cosmos where things can happen that are incongruent with other parts of the cosmos, then the cosmos cannot be an interlocking, closed system. Einstein rejected this out of hand, not because of evidence or logic, but because of his faith in Spinoza's pantheistic cosmos. The second half of Einstein's career was wasted with the futile search for a "Unified Field Theory," which would reconcile Quantum Mechanics with his Theory of Relativity. The motive of his quest was to vindicate his vision of the cosmos. He did not pause to consider whether that vision was wrong or whether the facts led away from the direction he was going.

The Theory of Relativity and other theories of Einstein always have one thing melting into another thing. Matter and energy are the same thing. (Remember Spinoza's notion that everything is one.) Matter can melt into energy and energy can be precipitated as matter. Time and space are also relative. A mass of matter warps the space-time continuum which causes gravity. Time is relative to speed. Time slows down in a rocket as it approaches the speed of light. All of these ideas were conceived in Einstein's youth and all emerged out of Spinoza's pantheism — a fantasy of a young excommunicated Jewish heretic who dreamed up a pantheistic prison system and called it god. It is a monstrosity that we now call science, thanks to the mind experiments of the young Einstein, who is now a cult hero.

Contradictions about moving objects

Einstein said that movement is relative. If one is on a train pulling out of a train station, the train is moving relative to the station and station is moving relative to the train. However, when Einstein tried to prove that movement and time are relative, he ignored his dictum about the relativity of the movement of two objects. Einstein proposed that if one twin brother took off in a spaceship flying near the speed of light and the ship returned fifty years later, the twin who stayed on earth would be old and the twin in the spaceship would still be young. But this is nonsense. The twin on the earth was moving away from the twin on the ship at nearly the speed of light. Why would not the twin on the ship get old and the twin on the earth stay young? Scientists call this the twin paradox.

Some scientists think they resolve the twin paradox by noting that the rocket twin reversed course, first flying away from the earth and then flying towards earth. Since the rocket twin did not travel with constant relative velocity, the two viewpoints are not the same. Hence, the rocket twin can age slower than the earth twin. But this is nonsense. Just as both the twins moved away from each other at nearly the speed of light, both changed course relative to the other. The twin in the rocket ship changed course in relation to the twin on earth, and the twin on earth changed course in relation to the twin in the rocket ship. Notice how Einstein's relativity principles do not work unless you apply them selectively.

Mistakes concerning gravity

Einstein claimed that gravity is not the attraction of two bodies containing mass as Newton said. Einstein claimed that gravity is caused by a warp in the time-space continuum. For example, if a beam of light passes earth within the zone of warping, the beam will bend. During an total eclipse of the sun in 1919, Einstein predicted that when the sun peeked out from behind the moon, the first rays of light could be observed from a point on the globe that would lie beyond the horizon if the sun's rays are straight. Einstein predicted that the rays would bend when they passed near the earth so that they could be seen over the horizon. Not only did the light rays curve, but they curved nearly the amount Einstein predicted. This proof made Einstein famous.

But wait a minute! Einstein said that light sometimes behaves as a wave and sometimes as a particle. If light behaves as a particle, why could not the sunlight bend when it passes through earth's atmosphere, like light refracting as it passes through water or through a lens?

Both Einstein and Newton had a model for predicting the revolution of moons around a planet and planets around the sun. But Einstein's calculations are more accurate for calculating the orbits of space stations or the movement of spaceships through the solar system. For NASA, Einstein rules. However, Newton is more practical and makes more sense when his theory is applied to the human scale, to falling bodies and flying baseballs. Einstein's theory of gravity cannot explain why falling bodies near to the earth fall straight downwards.

Einstein's gravity has an oblique effect on moving bodies. A spaceship flying near a planet will enter the "warp in the space-time continuum" surrounding the planet. The pilot will think he is maintaining a fixed course, but his movement relative to the planet will curve. If the ship does not change course and enters a rotation that spirals towards the planet, his movement will resemble a whirlpool. The standard illustration of Einstein's illustrates a whirlpool effect, not a falling body. Imagine a gigantic mattress with a heavy weight placed in the center which warps the center down a few inches. A rolling pool ball on the surface of the mattress will curve downward in a whirlpool trajectory. Water going down the drain forms a whirlpool. Why? Because water molecules are attracted to one another and move in fluid sheets. Water is just like Einstein's universe: everything is connected and everything moves in sheets, vortexes, and whirlpools. Indeed, our galaxy looks like one big whirlpool. Great minds like da Vinci, Descartes, and Einstein were obsessed with whirlpools and vortexes. Da Vinci, Descartes, Spinoza, and Einstein were obsessed with the behavior of light. Descartes thought that the whole cosmos moved in vortexes in clockwork fashion. Like Einstein, who lived two and a half centuries later, Descartes thought that planetary rotation was vortexes.

So what is my problem? Gravity on earth has nothing to do with vortexes, whirlpools, or warps in the space-time continuum. A dropped baseball falls straight down. If there were a deep enough hole in the ground, it would fall to the center of the earth. It would steadily accelerate (if there was a vacuum in the hole) until it reached the center. After it passed the center, it would lose velocity because it would be pulled back to the center. This is a simple straight line attraction between two objects. It has nothing to do with a warp in the space- time continuum which works obliquely upon moving objects in space.

Einstein's gravity has no effect on the atomic level, and negligible if any effect on a baseball because other nearby forces overwhelm it. A baseball on the ground or flying through air is bound up with the elements of earth and is not free to move in spirals like objects in space. A baseball is attracted straight down toward the earth with Newton's gravity, not with Einstein's gravity. Different principles are at work at the atomic level, the human scale, and in outer space. The creation is not an integrated system neatly packaged as the tidy-minded Einstein supposed. His cosmological pantheism is false.

Einstein cheats!

The "cosmological constant" is a term Einstein coined in his theory of general relativity. The constant represents the theoretical possibility of density associated with empty space. Einstein's numbers indicated that the force of gravity would cause the cosmos to collapse. Since the cosmos is not collapsing, there must be a balancing force. Einstein introduced the "cosmological constant" to supply that countervailing force. As a CPA, I would say that this is the equivalent of supplying a plug figure to make the books balance. Einstein's mathematics did not work. He made up a number to make his equations balance and called it the cosmological constant. Einstein cheats! But he got away with it because of his great prestige. "Einstein's mathematics could not be wrong. There must be something we are missing in the cosmos to vindicate his numbers."

Years later, when Edwin Hubble discovered that the cosmos is not in equilibrium, but the galaxies are moving away from us, Einstein said that the cosmological constant was the biggest mistake of his career. Yes, cheating is a "mistake."

Modern cosmologists are still cheating. They cannot understand why the universe is not flying apart. The mathematics does not work for the big-bang theory, a theory built upon foundations laid by Einstein. The mathematics cannot be wrong, of course. There must be "dark matter" out there which we cannot detect. Hmmm. Our calculations indicate that 90% of the cosmos is dark matter. (Some calculations put it at 99%.) Most of the equation is a giant plug figure. 90% cheating and 10% mathematics based upon real data.

Some scientists claim that they can infer the presence of dark matter by observing gravitational forces (Einstein's vortexes) in space. I do not know enough about their math and the data it is based upon to say if this is true. However, I do know that scientists have never empirically verified the existence of "density" that Einstein assumed must be in space to support his cosmological constant. I also assume that the computations of the imaginary dark matter must be going poorly because scientists are talking about bringing back the cosmological constant. "Dark matter is not enough. There must be more stuff out there. We need another plug figure. Hey, remember Einstein's quaint old idea of the cosmologic constant...." Sounds like the cosmologists are floundering.

May I offer a suggestion? Maybe there is something wrong conceptually with Einstein's theory of gravity when you extend it to galaxies. It does not work at the atomic or the human scale. It does work with spacecraft and planets. It does not work with galaxies. It is a niche theory, not a unified theory.

One more suggestion. Get out your supercomputers and do more mathematical work on the forces within vortexes. Misunderstanding the dynamics of a vortex is the sort of thing that can throw the mathematics off by a factor of ten or one hundred.

Final comments

I have shown that Einstein is a niche scientist whose math only works within a limited range. Therefore, we should use Einstein when he is useful, but not regard him as our teacher about the nature of the physical world. This satisfies point d) under the heading Who Am I to Question Einstein?

Question e) concerns why Einstein's work should not be counted as "laws of nature," but as practical engineering techniques for the space program. Newton observed the patterns of gravity and could predict the trajectories of bodies moving through the air with mathematics. But he humbly confessed that he did not know what gravity is and why it works that way. He correctly insisted that he was in the dark about the laws of nature. He said that he was like a small boy sitting on the seashore playing with a pretty shell, but oblivious to the great ocean of truth all around him. The same is true of Einstein's knowledge, but he mistakenly thought that he understood the cosmos because of his faith in Spinoza's philosophy.

Einstein reminds me of a science fiction story about a scientist who built an android that convincingly mimics human behavior. The scientist claimed he had discovered the secrets of human biology by observing his android. A medical doctor came into the room, opened the chest cavity of the android to reveal wires, computer chips, gears, motors, and gauges. The doctor said, "I see no blood vessels, digestive system, muscles, bones, nerves, or lungs. You know nothing about human biology. Your android is merely a mimic, a programmed parrot." Einstein's mathematical models, developed entirely at the blackboard, are like the android. They can predict certain natural events as a mimic. But they cannot tell us about the laws of nature, just as the android could not tell the scientist anything about the circulatory system.

It is high time for physics to outgrow Einstein. He has served his short term purpose, but has become an historical dead end. I suspect that when a critical mass of physicists get up the nerve to defy Einstein, science will make a great leap forward.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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