Gemini. “You’re excellent when the pressure is up. There’s a snag at work. Make sure to do a thorough diagnosis of the problem before you ask for help.”
Capricorn. “Stick to the plan. On important matters, ask for proof. Your social life requires you to know when to keep quiet and when to speak up. It could be that what bugs you about a loved one is really your own problem!”
Are you into horoscopes? Do you check your horoscope in the newspaper before you head out the door in the morning? Perhaps you read your horoscope “just for fun,” or you might be one of the many people who take their daily horoscope seriously.
Do you believe that if an eagle appeared on your right side you would be blessed by the gods? Or if you heard thunder on your left, you were about to die? Would you believe you should act on the interpretation given to a mess of goat entrails? (Ugh!) Is it true that your future can be read in the tea leaves in the bottom of your cup?
Of course not, you say. Nobody believes in those methods of predicting the future anymore. Those superstitions were for the people of ancient civilizations, not for the twenty-first century.
But what if I ask about your horoscope? Who doesn’t know what sign he was born under? And is there anyone who can honestly say that she has never read or heard her horoscope for the day? References to astrology, on which horoscopes are based, are everywhere—in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV, and all over the Internet.
Reliance on astrology is becoming more and more popular. A 2009 Pew Research Center poll found that about one in four Americans believe in astrology, and a 2013 poll from Harris Interactive showed that 29 percent of people believe in astrology. And when it comes to reading their horoscopes, the figure is much higher than that. Recent figures indicate that 20 million books on astrology are sold every year. Many people today live their lives with both eyes firmly fixed on their star charts and predictions.
What makes horoscopes credible when their origin is as ancient as other ways of predicting the future that we now consider to be “old superstitions”?
The basic theory of astrology is that the orbits and alignments of the sun, moon, and planets control our destiny. Even though we live in a skeptical and highly scientific age, many believe it. When asked for evidence, people report that the predictions on their horoscopes were accurate. When citing fulfilled predictions, people often ignore the ease with which believers can help to “make” their horoscopes come true after they find out what’s “supposed” to happen. For example, if you’re told that you’ll meet a stranger, then you’ll likely look out for one. If “love is in the air,” then you’ll be more open to romance. Horoscopes can come true by our making them come true.
People also overlook the fact that most horoscopes are so generalized that one can easily find at least partial accuracy. “There’s a snag at work.” How many people wouldn’t find at least one “snag” during a workday? “Your social life requires you to know when to keep quiet and when to speak up.” To whom would that prediction not apply?
What’s the truth?
But what are the facts? Is the theory of astrology at least possible? Consider these points:
1. No scientific evidence whatsoever has been found to indicate that the changes in position of the planets relative to the earth have a direct effect on human beings. This idea is completely unscientific and goes against all we know about the natural world.
2. Why should one particular combination of planetary positions mean one thing and another position mean something else? Why is the planet Mars associated with violence and Venus with love? How does anyone know what the positions of the planets mean in terms of character or feelings or the future? Who decided what meant what?
3. Why should there be 12 divisions or signs of the zodiac? Why not 13 or 10 or 20? And why is each person linked to a particular sign just because of when they were born? Why should the exact time of our birth limit us for the rest of our lives?
4. Astrology is based on the understanding that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun, moon, and planets all revolve around the earth. Why? Because that’s what the ancients believed. But today we know that that this belief is completely unscientific. Why should we assume that predictions based on inaccurate science can produce accurate conclusions?
Mistakes and deliberate ignorance
Then there’s the fact that star positions relative to our planet have changed since astrological calendars were created. The zodiac, created more than 2,000 years ago, no longer matches what we see in the night sky. The signs are no longer valid, and their error increases year by year. If the actual alignments no longer match the calendars, how can their predictions be accurate?
On top of this, astrology doesn’t recognize other more recent astronomical findings. The ancient planetary system used by astrology and horoscope readers has six planets, including our own. But the three planets of our solar system that have been discovered since 1781 are disregarded. Now if the alignment of the six planets affects us, what influence do these more recently discovered planets have? Why wouldn’t they influence us too? After all, they aren’t new planets; ancient astrologers just didn’t know about them. But because modern astrologers don’t know what to do with these other planets, they conveniently ignore them. One has to ask the logical question: If five of the solar planets affect us, why wouldn’t the other three?
If scientific evidence and logic are lacking, why do people still believe in astrology?
Why people believe
Human beings have an insatiable desire to know their destiny. Since religious belief has been abandoned by many, people need another kind of “faith” to live by. Astrology seems to answer questions they have about life and especially their questions about the future.
“Your fate is written in the stars.” If a person’s behavior and destiny are determined by cosmic alignment, then no one has to take personal responsibility for his or her behavior. It wasn’t your fault that you acted in a certain way. If you feel misunderstood, have personal problems, or are unhappy with your character, it’s due to your star sign, so you just can’t help it! According to astrology, you aren’t personally responsible for what you are or what you do. If one’s destiny is predetermined, then life change is impossible.
You can see why astrology is so popular. It gives people something to believe in instead of God, and it also tells them not to spend the effort to improve themselves because they can’t help themselves anyway.
Where did astrology come from?
Astrology is based on a pagan religious system. It began with the priests of ancient Babylon, who first assigned the planets godlike powers and eventually worshiped planets as gods, each ruling over certain areas of life. The Babylonians already used a 12-month calendar based on phases of the moon. That’s why, when they divided the sky into equal parts, they gave each month an equal slice, each supposedly containing a major constellation. It’s interesting to note that the Babylonians actually recognized 13 major constellations, so they chose to leave out the constellation Ophiuchus. Then there was the problem that the 12 constellations didn’t always fit tidily into their assigned twelfth of the sky, because some spilled over into the neighboring sections. Those inconsistencies notwithstanding, the astrologers then interpreted the pattern of stars and planets to advise kings and rulers of “auspicious times” and to make predictions about the future.
Because astrology gives guidance based on heathen religion rather than looking to the Creator God for guidance, the Bible gives numerous stern warnings against dabbling in astrology. Through the prophet Isaiah, God pointed out the futility of following astrology: “Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. . . . They cannot even save themselves” (Isaiah 47:13, 14). He sent the prophet Jeremiah to give another warning: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. For the practices of the peoples are worthless” (Jeremiah 10:2, 3). The prophet Daniel recorded how the Babylonian astrologers were not able to interpret the king’s dreams. Only people who worshiped the Creator God could interpret the dreams (Daniel 2:1–11).
So what is the difference?
Since astrology’s base is in heathenism, we shouldn’t be too surprised if its theories contradict what we know the Bible teaches about God and His relationship to His Creation:
- The Bible says God is in control of this world.
Astrology says the stars—the planets—are the controlling factors.
- The Bible says we’re responsible to God for what we are and do.
Astrology says we aren’t responsible.
- The Bible says we should focus our attention on helping and caring for others.
Astrology says we should think only of ourselves.
- The Bible says we should worship God and look to Him for guidance and advice.
Astrology says nothing about God and directs attention to human interpretations for the way to live.
Christianity says God can save you and give you eternal life. Why rely on advice provided by people who have a worldview that’s at odds with God’s Word?