This article gives an overview of the history and methodology of astrology and examines the problems with it. By Jerry Thomas and Liny Jerry
A Very Brief History of Astrology
Astrology, with its methodology, is at least as old as 5000 years. Babylonian priests were one of the earliest astrologers. The oldest existing astrological document is the work called "Namar-Beli" composed for King Sargon I (end of the third millennium B.C.) and contained in the cuneiform library of King Asurbanipal (668-626 B.C.). Astrology then spread throughout the world including India often as a privileged discipline of the priestly class with the patronage of the Kings. Aryans introduced it in India through their scriptures such as Rig Veda where nature is worshiped (Rig Veda 1:1, 8-10).
It made inroads into Greece and Rome and was accepted as a discipline even among scholars like Plato and Aristotle. Though the Jewish Scripture (Old Testament of the Bible) unequivocally condemned astrology, it was the rise of Christianity that marginalized astrology in a major way among the scholars. Church fathers like St. Augustine refuted the ideas of astrology. It was an illegitimate discipline in the West and Middle East (though not in East) until the Caliph Al-Mansur, the founder of Baghdad brought it back along with astronomy. (A Digression: This is not to imply that Islam supports astrology. However, it shows that Caliphs of the ‘golden age of Islam’ were not following Koran and the progress they made cannot be attributed to Islam.) Thereafter, until the modern science, inspired by the Bible, astrology regained its status.
With the rise of modern science, astrology again became an ephemeral practice. However, now, many universities particularly in India are offering courses on astrology and are arguing that it should be considered as a part of science.
Very Brief Introduction to Astrological Chart
Astrological chart has three components: planets, zodiac signs and constellation of stars. Traditionally, the ‘planets’ which were considered are: Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. However, after the discovery of Uranus, and Neptune in 1781 and 1846 respectively, they were included in the Western astrology but not in the Indian astrology. In Indian astrology, two non existing planets supposedly moving in the orbit of moon, Rahu and Ketu are considered. Zodiac is the belt in which these ‘planets’ move. And in this belt, there are twelve signs in equi-distance with each 30 degrees and together 360 degrees. Though there are thirteen signs, Babylonian astrologers ignored Ophiuchus as thirteen was considered as an unlucky number. There are also constellations of 27 clusters of stars overlapping into these signs. Each star has 21/4 of clusters. Some of the astrologers include another cluster known as Abhijit which then will shift the positions other clusters.
According to astrology, the position of all these determine (to some it only influences and to a few it is only an indicator) of a person’s destiny.
What is Wrong with Astrology?
It must be observed from the above that there are many errors in the very design of astrological chart. Therefore it cannot be considered as a science.
1. Were all the astrological predictions wrong before the inclusion of Uranus and Neptune? Is the Indian astrology still wrong as it does not include Uranus and Neptune?
2. How can the inclusion of two non existing planets Rahu and Ketu give an accurate prediction of one’s life?
3. How can astrologers exclude one sign from the chart and still arrive at the exact prediction?
4. Astrology does not take into account of the distance between one planet and the other into calculation. Why? If the distance is not important, then why are the distant constellations of stars in the universe not taken in to account?
5. The chart that is being used by the astrologers was drawn by the Babylonian astrologers almost 3000 years ago. The signs have moved their position due to the varying speed of planets. Why are the astrologers not updating their chart?
6. In the chart, earth is being considered as the center and static? Can we still hold this view as scientific?
7. How can there be different methods (e.g., updated chart in the West and traditional chart in the East) of astrology be followed and each claim to give correct predictions about future?
8. How can astrologers go wrong most of the times if astrology is a science? For example: Virgo and Aries are incompatible signs according to astrology. There should be more divorces between these two signs. Editor of the Astro Society points out in an article that:
“Psychologist Bernard Silverman of Michigan State University looked at 2,978 marriages and 478 divorces for 1967 and 1968 to see if "compatible'' astrological signs were more likely to get and stay together. He found that there was no correlation — compatible and incompatible signs got married and divorced equally often. In another test, staff members at the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed 240 earthquake predictions by 27 astrologers and found that they were less accurate than one could be by simply guessing! And so each of the tests has gone. In addition, astronomers Roger Culver and Philip Ianna tracked the specific published predictions of well-known astrologers and astrological organizations for a period of five years. Out of over 3000 specific predictions (including many about politics, film stars, and other famous people) in their sample, only about 10% came to pass.”
1. St. Augustine had asked this question: If astrology is right, how can twins have different destinies as we observe? How can people born in the same time have different fortunes?
2. Why are astrologers considering only the birth time and not the time of conception? Is it because it is easy to find the birth time and not the time of conception?
From all these, it must be concluded that astrology is not a science as it claims to be. Astrology is not even from God. God does not make imprecise and incorrect statements. God has strictly prohibited astrology in all its different varieties in His Word (in Deut. 18:9 – 12 and Daniel 5:7). Neither has He left man at the mercy of impersonal stars. If astrology still works in your life, beware: It is from another source that astrology does not explicitly tell you- Satan. Submit yourselves to God who came down into this earth and gave His life for you. Your life is safer and prosperous in His hand- Jesus Christ.