An Evaluation of Astrology
There is a commonalty among all human beings. We all wonder who we are and where we fit into this world, and what is going to happen in the future. The uncertainty of the future is what scares most people. It is the source of worry and insecurity. We feel that if we knew what the future held for our lives, and for the course of the world, we would have control over everything. Astrology attempts to offer a solution to this desire to know the future. The practice of astrology is so widespread in our American culture and the world at large that it has become an accepted thing. Most newspapers will print a daily horoscope for its readers. Television is filled with advertisements propagating the practice.
The belief of astrology is that the position of the stars and planets have a direct influence upon the events of our lives. It is all based off of the time that you were born, and the position of the stars at that time. The horoscope is the chart used to determine one's destiny, as foretold by the stars. The way this is determined is explained by Rene Noorbergen:
For every personal horoscope, the moment of birth is the essential starting point. This, coupled with the latitude and longitude of the individual's birth-place, provides the initial package for the usual astrological chart. While this is elementary, it is not complete; a factor known as "true local time" must also be considered. This "true" time is arrived at by adding or subtracting four minutes for each degree of longitude that your birthplace lies to the east or west of the center of your time zone of birth. Once this has been accomplished, the next step is to convert this "true" time into "sidereal" or star time. This is done with the aid of an ephemerus, a reference book showing the positions of the planets in relationship to the earth. Checking this star time in an astrological table is the last formal move, for in doing so, the theme of the individual's "ascedant"-the astrological sign that is supposed to have been rising on the eastern horizon at the moment of birth-is revealed.
Once you have developed this data-these simple steps are no more difficult than solving a seventh-grade math problem-then you are ready to "chart" you horoscope. This means you align the "ascendant" with the nine-o'clock point on the inner circle of the horoscope, and from there you are prepared to "read" the various zodiacal "houses" that control your life and fortune.1
Astrology is justified by claiming that the universe is a Whole. They say there is a unity in all things. Any portion of the universe (micro) is the reflection of the Whole (macro). People, then, are part of the micro and thus are a part of that reflection. The position of the planets influences and produces corresponding reactions in man. This makes man a pawn of the universe, whose course and destiny are all pre-determined and unalterable. This takes away all responsibility from the individual because the stars determine what you say and do. It is fatalism. You are either born to succeed or born to lose.
There are many weaknesses with astrology. The first is its source of authority. The authority is the astrologer. If, however, everything is predetermined by the stars, how do the astrologists get out of the fatalistic course to observe the course. Were they destined to do so by the stars?
There are also different systems of astrology. Westerners have a different way of reading the horoscope than, say, a Chinese astrologer does. They have the same stars, but different interpretations. Who's right? There are even differences of opinion among astrologers as to how many signs of the zodiac there are. Some contend for eight over the traditional twelve, while others contend for fourteen or twenty-four. It is very likely that one could go to two different astrologers the same day and be told two completely different destinies for their lives.
Astrology is based upon faulty assumptions. It was based upon the belief that the earth was the center of the universe, and that the sun, planets, and stars revolved around the earth. This is called the "geocentric theory." Copernicus, however, proved that the earth and the other planets all revolve around the sun. This is called the "heliocentric theory." The basic assumption upon which astrology is based is false.
Astrology was also based upon the belief that there were only seven planetary bodies, including the sun and moon. In ancient times, when astrology was developed, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were unobservable with the naked eye. It would seem that if the astrological theory is true, that your life is determined by the position of the planets and stars, that the location of the three unknown planets would have an influence in one's life, yet these three are not included in the astrological system. They are necessary, however, to give a precise horoscope.
Twins have always been an embarrassment to astrologers because they are born at the same time and at the same place, having the same sign of the zodiac, but have two separate lives and two separate destinies. One may be successful while the other is not, but their life-course is never the same, although according to the astrological theory, they should be.
Astrology also has a limited perspective. It was born in the equatorial regions of the globe where all the signs of the zodiac could be seen year around. What they did not understand is that those living above the 66th latitude will at times have no planets visible to them for several weeks in a row. Would this mean that those living in the higher latitudes are unaffected by the cosmos? According to the astrological theory, the answer would have to be yes.
It is also true that the constellations have been shifting over time. Kenneth Boa commented on this when he said:
The twelve signs of the zodiac originally correspond with the twelve constellations of the same names. But due to precession, the constellations have shifted about 301[degrees] in the last 2,000 years. This means that the constellation of Virgo is now in the sign of Libra, the constellation of Libra is now in the sign of Scorpio and so on. Thus, if a person is born September 1, astrologers would call him a Virgo (the sign the sun is in at that date), but the sun is actually in the constellation Leo at that date. So there are two different zodiacs: one which slowly moves (the sidereal zodiac) and one which is stationary (the tropical zodiac). Which zodiac should be used?2
It would also seem that the zodiac that should be consulted would be the zodiac at the time of one's conception, not birth. If everything that makes us up is inherited at the conception, then it would seem that the position of the planets would begin exerting influence at that point.
The Bible warns us against astrological practices:
Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it (Isaiah 47:13-14).
Other warnings include that spoken by the Lord through Jeremiah when He said, "Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them" (Jeremiah 10:2). God warned the Israelites in the Law of Moses of being drawn into serving the stars: "And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which by the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven" (Deuteronomy 4:19). Although those who follow the horoscope may not actually worship the stars, they do serve them in that they allow them to dictate their lives.
The question that comes up is why people believe in astrology. Many believe it works. The question is, how does it work? I believe there are two major reasons why astrology seems to predict the future. The first is that the horoscopes are usually very broad in their terms and ambiguous. The more things predicted, the greater chance that one will relate to your life in some way. People only remember that which did pertain to them to some degree, but forget about all the things that had nothing to do with their lives. There was an experiment done where 100 people, representing all twelve zodiac signs, were mailed the exact same horoscope, being told that it was tailored exactly for their them. Many responded saying they were amazed at its exactness and pertinence to their lives. What it boils down to is that if enough information is given, and it is vague enough, it will fit everyone's life in some manner, no matter what their sign is.
The second, is that people who tend to follow horoscopes are pre-disposed to believe in them already. Their life then becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy. They look for in their lives what their horoscope said would happen. If it said love was around the corner, they will be flirtatious and might get a date. If it said there will be tensions in the family, they will be looking for the person who will cause it, and when something little happens, they will blow it out of proportion.
In conclusion, astrology must be rejected for three reasons. First, the Bible clearly condemns the practice. Secondly, it tries to predict the future, of the which only God knows. He has already told us all we need to know about the future in His Word. Other than that, the Bible teaches to trust God and His will for our lives every day. He will lead and guide us. We do not need to know or understand what the future holds for us. If God desires to do so, He can reveal it to us personally, but that is only if He so chooses. He would not do it through the stars, however, because the practice is clearly condemned in the Scripture. Finally, astrology takes away free choice, and makes man a pawn in the universe. Scripture teaches that we have a free-will, and that we are responsible for our own actions.
Boa, Kenneth. Cults, World Religions, and You. Victor Books, 1977.
McDowell, Josh and Don Stewart. Handbook of Today's Religions. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983.
Noorbergen, Rene. The Soul Hustlers. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976.
1. Rene Noorbergen, The Soul Hustlers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 176-177. <back>
2. Kenneth Boa, Cults, World Religions, and You (n.p.: Victor Books, 1977), 124-125. <back>
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