# Abstract

According to the standard interpretation of Einstein’s field equations, gravity consists of mass-energy curving spacetime, and an additional physical force or entity—denoted by Λ (the ‘cosmological constant’)—is responsible for the Universe’s metric-expansion. Although General Relativity’s direct predictions have been systematically confirmed, the dominant cosmological model thought to follow from it—the ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) model of the Universe’s history and composition—faces considerable challenges, including various observational anomalies and experimental failures to detect dark matter, dark energy, or inflation-field candidates. This paper shows that Einstein’s Equivalence Principle entails two possible physical interpretations of General Relativity’s field equations. Although the field equations facially appear to support the standard interpretation—that gravity consists of mass-energy curving spacetime—the field equations can be equivalently understood as holding that gravitational effects instead result from mass-energy accelerating the metric-expansion of a second-order spacetime fabric superimposed upon an absolute, first-order Euclidean space, resulting in the observational appearance of spacetime curvature. This alternative interpretation of relativity is shown to be empirically equivalent to the standard interpretation of relativity, albeit with a changing value for Λ (which is similar to how Λ is understood in the conception of Λ as ‘quintessence’, but in this case takes Λ to be gravity). The reconceptualization is then shown to potentially resolve major observational anomalies for the ΛCDM model, including recent observations conflicting with ΛCDM predictions, as well as failures to directly detect dark matter, dark energy, and inflation field/particle candidates.