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Astrology: Fact or Fiction?

Astrology is the study of the effect of the stars on people. Astrology is held in great reverence by believers and dismissed as superstition by the critics. Both sides of the argument make very valid points to support their points of view.

Arguments Against Astrology

Precession

Scientists know that the Earth’s axis has a slight wobble. Since the Earth is not a perfect sphere it has a bulge around the equator. The Sun, as well as the Moon, have a pull on the bulge. This causes a slight wobble. It takes 26,000 years for the Earth to go through the motions of one single wobble. So, the exact point that the Earth’s north pole points to is not always the same across long periods of time. The pole star is actually a star that will vary from time to time. Right now the pole star is Polaris. Vega was the Earth’s pole star about 14,000 years ago. The three stars Polaris, Vega and Thuban will take turns being the pole stars as the Earth completes one wobble.

The Earth’s Axis Has A Slight Wobble
The Earth’s Axis Has A Slight Wobble

Zodiac Divisions

The ancient astrologers were also astronomers and they defined the virtual divisions in the sky that are the signs of the zodiac as per what they observed at the time. The saw that the sun seemed to travel through the 360 degrees of the sky in one year and that the moon had about 12 lunar cycles in that time. This divided a year into 12 months and the sky into 12 zodiac signs. They marked the point of 0 degrees as the first day of spring in the Northern hemisphere which is the vernal equinox. This occurs at the point where the ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect.

Precession Of The Equinox In Relation To The Distant Stars
Precession Of The Equinox In Relation To The Distant Stars

However, the wobble of the Earth has caused that point of the vernal equinox to move west 36 degrees. This is a change of almost one-tenth of the entire zodiac. So, the zodiac signs are no longer where your astrologer has learned them to be. The original definitions of the sun’s movement through the zodiac are almost one month off.

The Effect Of Precession On The North Pole

Proof

A scientist would ask for proof of how the theory works. Astrology has no proof. There is also no definitive theory of astrology. So, it is hard to prove astrological readings against the theory.

Twins

There is no explanation in Western astrology for the reason why twins or even two people born at the same birth time in the same location have such different personalities and lives. Even identical twins lead different lives and also have different personalities. Vedic astrology relies on the minute differences in time that make a big difference to the harmonic or divisional charts. Some Western schools of astrology use harmonic charts as well. 

No Visible Mechanism

We can see the effect that the Sun and the Moon have on Earth in the form of seasons and tides. However, there is no explained mechanism or measured reading of the influence of the distant planets on our lives. 

Free Will

If everything is predictable it makes living life and making choices meaningless. However, astrology does not presume to predict every detail of a person’s life. Astrology tells us of tendencies that people are predisposed to and about likely challenges. Being forewarned is being forearmed. This helps people to make the best of good times and feel encouraged that bad times will also end. It also gives people a chance to identify and work on their weaknesses. 

Newspaper Horoscopes

Newspaper horoscope columns as popular as they are are so generic that they make the entire concept of astrology laughable. 

No Agreement

It is argued that there is no agreement between different astrologers or different schools of astrology. Most astrologers only use the visible planets and not the outer planets. If the planets have an effect wouldn’t the outer planets also have their astrological effect on a person?


Arguments For Astrology

Scientific Proof Not A Necessity

Astrology supporters argue that there are many things in history that worked and were explained and scientifically proven only later. So, the fact that there is no proof that astrology works is not proof that it does not work either. People who believe in it get results that they are happy with and that is proof enough.

Also, it is hard to apply scientific methods to prove astrology as it is not a specific narrow science. It is at best a social science such as history. However, historians are not asked to present a strict proof of their history books. Astrology is unnecessarily asked for scientific proof whereas other subjects that are classified as humanities are not.

Cannot Be Studied In Isolation

Astrology is not a equations or rules mechanically applied to a birth chart. If this were so, then computerised horoscope reading would have totally overtaken the services of a human astrologer. An astrologer studies a chart as a whole and not as a mere sum of its parts. The different aspects and placements that are giving both positive and negative factors to the same significance of the horoscope require the judgement of an astrologer to interpret correctly. However, theories in psychology that also cannot be taken in isolation are not subjected to such strict requirements of proof. This makes it even harder to prove scientifically.

Most experiments on astrology are poorly designed. It would make more sense for somebody with extensive knowledge of the subject to design a set of tests to prove an astrological point. An unqualified person would be akin to a kindergartener administering a high school test.

Random testing cannot be administered in astrology because the conditions are never random. The astrological chart of a chosen place and time cannot be replicated exactly. Even a test is subject to the laws of astrology.

Funding

With the reputation that has been created in the scientific community, it is no wonder that astrology has not got access to funding that science has. Without adequate funding, it is up to the astrologers who want to put themselves through the bother of doing research to fund themselves.

Based On Astronomy

Astrology is by no means new but is arguably as old as astronomy. They were, in fact, one science till recently in history when astronomy became a science and astrology was labelled a pseudoscience. The great astronomers in ancient times were by default astrologers as well. It was the early astronomers/astrologers who observed the skies and the patterns of the stars in them. They named the constellations as well as the planets. They measured these movements and named a zodiac system of 12 divisions. The ancient astrologers made almanacs as well as calendars to accurately forecast the movements of these planets. So, these solid foundations of science from which astrology has evolved are trustworthy foundations according to astrologers.

Ancient Representation Of The Zodiac
Ancient Representation Of The Zodiac

Different Schools Of Astrology

Even science has groups of scientists arguing about different theories to explain the same thing. But, while scientists accept this as different schools of thought, they criticise the different schools of astrology.

Astrology Is Not Newspaper Horoscopes

Astrologers argue that most sceptics and critics are so much against astrology because they have not even bothered to find out more than superficial knowledge about it. The generic weekly or daily astrology column is an example of a popular misconstrued entertainment in the name of astrology. Even astrologers agree that nothing could be further from the essence of astrology than these generic columns that are probably not written by an astrologer anyway. They are as related to astrology as perhaps a fortune cookie is.

Motive

Believers in astrology question the motive behind the constant criticism that astrology faces. It has people who believe in it because it works for them. Why is this bothersome to the rest of the population?

Connecting With The Universe

Most sciences are interested in harnessing the power of nature. Astrology connects us with nature and the universe. It is more interested in the result of the phenomenon than the how and why of it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, one can say that though astrology is not strictly scientifically and statistically proven it works for the people who believe in it. It gives them comfort and guidance. Astrology makes people feel that they are not isolated but a part of a larger whole. It makes people look inward and try to improve themselves. This is never a bad thing. It helps in spiritual growth and tries to answer metaphysical questions that would otherwise be hard to answer. 

However, astrology lends itself easily to being abused for monetary and commercial gain. It is up to each individual to be aware and to use astrology as a tool to guide them through life. It also pays to be watchful for people who attempt to make easy money using astrology as an excuse.