Consider for a moment the greatest decisions in life: “What will I do after high school?…Should I go to college?…If so, what should I study?…What approach will I take in maintaining health?…Should I practice a religion?…Should I get married?…Who should I marry?…Should we have children?…Are we ready to buy a house?…Should I change careers?”
Now think of the mundane, routine decisions each day presents: what time to awake—what to eat—how to spend free time—how to manage the day’s schedule.
Human lives are defined by decisions, large and small. The choices we make have a bearing on our success, happiness, effectiveness and even our very identity. This is simple common sense.
With this in mind, ask yourself: Would a rational person’s decisions—of any consequence—have anything to do with a ball of gas, or a large chunk of minerals and metals, billions of miles or light years away from earth? This seems like a silly question, with an obvious answer.
Yet, millions answer with an enthusiastic “yes”—and sometimes pay for the services of “professionals” who will help them make decisions on this basis.
Astrology is a form of divination—an attempt to foresee the future or discover secrets through omens or contact with the supernatural. Its adherents claim the stars and planets have an influence on earthly events—and that this influence can be understood and then used for one’s advantage.
Astrologers believe the constellations through which the sun’s orbit passes during a solar year, called the zodiac constellations, affect individuals and nations. They attribute particular importance to the alignment of these heavenly bodies at the time of a person’s birth, which they believe determines his or her character traits and destiny. The most well-known form of astrology today is the daily star chart, or horoscope.
Forms of this belief have existed for thousands of years, with its early development largely taking place in the ancient kingdom of Babylon. Langer’s Encyclopedia of World History states, “When Babylon became a great metropolis and the capital of an empire, its god Marduk acquired a new importance and….became the supreme god of the pantheon and was later called Bel [the “Baal” referenced in the Bible]…The most characteristic and influential features of Babylonian religion, aside from its mythology, were the elaborate systems of magical practices (incantations) and the interpretation of omens (divination), particularly the movements and position of the heavenly bodies (astrology), the actions of animals, and the characteristics of the liver of sacrificial victims.”
From Babylon, astrology was exported to Egypt, Greece, India, China, Rome and Byzantium, even making inroads for a time in Iran and the Islamic world.
The modern West, which views itself as sophisticated and advanced, scoffs at the idea of finding useful information in a dead animal’s liver. But somehow the related practice of astrology lives on—and is thriving!
Astrology has seen a number of revivals over the centuries. The daily newspaper horoscope became an industry mainstay after London’s Sunday Times included an astrological profile in a feature on Princess Margaret’s birth in 1930. Its popularity surged in the late 1960s, as interest in Eastern mysticism and other forms of spirituality, often accompanied by psychoactive drug use, took hold among the counterculture generation.
The practice appears to be most prevalent among Americans and Britons. A 2003 Harris poll found that 31% of American adults believe in astrology, with a higher percentage among some segments of the population. A study of female university students conducted in England in 2001 documented “the strong influence of astrology on women’s lives,” which showed that “72% do not think astrology is just superstition and almost 90% said that they find out the sun signs of people they have relationships with. 78% had read a book concerning their sun sign in love.”
Some of the most heavily visited websites dedicated to spirituality are astrology-based. Entire magazines are devoted to astrology, and many women’s monthlies such as Glamour and Cosmopolitan feature an astrology column. Most top 20 American newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Washington Post, feature daily horoscopes. Hundreds of smaller papers run these as well.
Here is a typical horoscope excerpt: “Cancer (June 22-July 22): The tone of your personal relationships will swing from serious to lighthearted, keeping loved ones on their toes. The air of unpredictability around you is ever so attractive” (Los Angeles Times).
Despite the obvious shallowness of this advice, some will approach their day with these words in mind, leading to real consequences in their personal relationships!
Astrologers present their practice as a science—yet there is not a shred of scientific evidence that any celestial body affects human beings (apart from well-documented occurrences such as circadian rhythms and sun-related phenomena). Its claim to provide an avenue to improve relationships and foster success is an empty promise. “Though often regarded as a science throughout its history, astrology is widely considered today to be diametrically opposed to the findings and theories of modern Western science” (Encyclopedia Britannica).
The logical gaps in astrology’s theories are large—and many.
Consider the infinitesimal odds that an object light-years away has an influence on an earthbound being. It could be compared to expecting a pebble thrown into the Arctic Ocean to have a noticeable effect on the shore of Antarctica!
Also, according to horoscopes there are only twelve general kinds of a day being experienced on planet earth—productive, happy, nostalgic, melancholy, romantically-charged, etc. So the half a billion-plus people born under the same sign must be having the same kind of day—apparently even if one of them is royalty and another is among the poorest residents of the Third World.
Never mind the fact that charts by various astrologers, supposedly reading the same heavenly signs, contradict one another.
Does any of this make sense?
Additionally, astrologers have misrepresented the path of the earth in relation to the stars for centuries. Over the last two millennia, they have failed to make adjustments based on the precession of our planet (the “wobbling” of the earth on its axis, similar to the end of a spinning top as it slows down) that has shifted the position of the stars in relation to the earth. This shift has caused the “zodiac calendar” to be nearly a month out of sync with the stars.
Horoscopes also ignore one constellation classified by astronomy—a legitimate science—as within the zodiac group: Ophiuchus. The earth now spends more time within the boundaries of this constellation than it does within Scorpio (named Scorpius by astronomers).
Study after study has shown that astrologers’ predictions and insights are no more accurate than random guesses. In fact, in some of these studies, a non-astrologer was brought in alongside the astrologers and asked to do just that—make guesses regarding a person’s life, without being given personal information on the subject. The spontaneous assessments from these individuals often had the same rate of accuracy as the veteran stargazers who spent hours consulting charts and gathering personal data.
Should a human being base any decision on this pseudoscience?
Horoscopes are often presented next to comic strips in newspapers. But is astrology only fun and games—something like the obviously fraudulent tabloids whose headlines scream about Martians and half-man/half-animals roaming the forests?
Astrology ventures into much more dangerous territory. Those who become involved with it are opening their minds to the influence of spiritism (read our report Witches, Wizards and Spirits – Grave and Growing Danger). As one study, which effectively debunks astrology, states, “Some astrologers see the birth chart as a mandala or magical diagram, a means to contact spirit powers that guide and direct a person. Note again the parallel with shamanism, where ‘practitioners deliberately alter or heighten their conscious awareness to enter the so-called “spirit world”…Of nine randomly-selected lecturers at a major American astrology convention in 1988, seven claimed to have spirit guides or were spiritists, and another was involved with spiritistic literature’” (Journal of Consciousness Studies).
The countries in which astrology is most popular profess to be Judeo-Christian nations. Is this strange practice mentioned in the Bible?
God instructed Israel, a nation He intended to be an example for the rest of the world, “Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them” (Jer. 10:2).
Regrettably, millions of human beings are dismayed at the signs of heaven. They routinely consult astrologers and horoscopes—at best a hoax, and at worst a gateway to the occult—before making important, life-altering decisions! The potential harm in this is incalculable.
The name of astrology’s birthplace, Babylon, means “confusion” in Hebrew, and the city of Babylon is used throughout Scripture as a symbol of a world mired in confusion and separated from the true God (see Revelation 14:8; 18). Many traditions of the modern world can be traced back to this ancient metropolis.
A story in the book of Daniel reveals a Babylonian king’s use of astrology after he witnessed a troubling vision: “The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. And the king spoke, and said to the wise men of Babylon, whosoever shall read this writing, and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then came in all the king’s wise men: but they could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof” (5:7-8).
Then as now, astrology failed!
The account goes on to show a dramatic contrast in the ability of Daniel, a true prophet of God, to explain the vision. The queen of Babylon gives her king some advice: “There is a man in your kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar your father, the king, I say, your father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation” (vs. 11-12).
Daniel repeatedly delivered where astrologers and stargazers could not—however he did not credit himself, but rather a higher Source of wisdom and power: “There is a God in heaven that reveals secrets…this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that you might know the thoughts of your heart” (2:28, 30).
Everyone would like to know what the future holds for the world at large, and for them personally. And the average human being would jump at the chance to have special knowledge that would give him or her an “inside track” to success, achievement and happiness.
But can the future be known? And is there a source of knowledge that reveals the path to success? Is the same wisdom given to Daniel available today?
While we cannot know every detail of events to come, God’s Word does reveal the future of the nations and groups of nations that will be dominant players in events ahead. It also reveals a law, and a way of life, that leads to success and strong relationships—for those who are willing to heed.
Predicting the demise of the resurgent false religion to appear at the end of the age, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to write, “You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save you from these things that shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame” (47:13-14).
Prophecy reveals that, in the years preceding the Second Coming of Christ, most will follow false religion and spirituality on a collision course with disaster. But this need not include you!
Unlike astrology, the Bible does provide valuable insight on life and the future. To learn more, read Bible Authority...Can It Be Proven?