Your Future—Is It Written in the Stars?
It is an October morning in the ancient city of Babylon. From atop a towering ziggurat, a priest beholds an important sign over on the eastern horizon! The constellation of Scorpio briefly rises before slowly fading beneath the advancing dawn.
TO THE superstitious Babylonians, this was most significant. Their stargazers had long noted that the stars of a certain constellation seemed to resemble a scorpion with a large curling tail. It was thus named girtab, or Scorpio. They imagined that this group of stars actually had the characteristics of a scorpion. As the scorpion is a nocturnal creature, Scorpio seemed a fitting symbol of darkness. Its brief appearance at dawn every October signaled the approach of winter.
In his book The Truth About Astrology, Dr. Michel Gauquelin explains: “They projected the earthly scorpion into the sky, and that, in its turn, was supposed to have an influence on those born under that constellation. This kind of astrological inversion still goes on today. Modern textbooks state that when the Sun moves into Scorpio at the time of birth, it confers on the newborn child some of the characteristics of the scorpion—a dangerous, aggressive and courageous insect [arachnid], with a fearsome sting.”
Is It Scientific?
The sun no longer rises with Scorpio during October. Over the centuries, the earth’s relationship to the constellations has gradually altered. Now during October the sun instead moves into the constellation of Libra (Latin for “scales”), which is said to confer qualities such as charm and ease. Quite different from Scorpio!
While Eastern astrologers have kept up-to-date with these celestial changes, most of their Western colleagues have not. They thus base their predictions on a heavenly scheme that is some 2,000 years old! Regarding this, Drs. H. J. Eysenck and D. K. B. Nias state: “If Western astrologers are right in making any particular interpretation, Eastern astrologers are wrong, and vice versa. Yet both sides claim to be extremely successful!”
This alone sheds much doubt on the reliability of astrology. In addition, one psychologist examined the marriage and divorce records of 3,456 couples. Did the compatibility of their astrological signs have any bearing upon the success or failure of their marriages? According to Science 84 magazine: “Incompatible signs got married—and divorced—as often as the compatible ones.”
Astrologers counter by saying that the sun sign, on its own, is of little significance and must be considered together with planetary influences. But this also creates problems because the Babylonians believed in the influence of only five planetary gods—Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The telescope, however, has revealed three more—Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. This has caused confusion among astrologers. “Some astrologers,” writes Louis MacNeice in his book Astrology, “made these an excuse for the inaccuracies of their predecessors; but others . . . argued that these new planets could not influence human beings because they could not be seen with the naked eye.” Most Eastern astrologers therefore ignore the distant planets. Western astrologers, though, attach great significance to them.
The time selected as the basis for a horoscope also raises questions. Most astrologers use the moment of birth. But the law of genetics says that hereditary traits are passed on to offspring at conception, not at birth. According to the book Astrology: Science or Superstition?, the ancient astrologer Ptolemy “neatly side-stepped this by claiming that birth will be under the same constellation as reigned at the time of conception, although there is in fact no reason at all to suppose that it is.”
Many scientists have therefore become alarmed at the growing acceptance of astrology. In 1975, 19 Nobel prize winners, together with other scientists, issued a manifesto entitled: “Objections to Astrology—A Statement by 192 Leading Scientists.” It declared:
“In ancient times people . . . looked upon celestial objects as abodes or omens of the Gods and thus intimately connected with events here on earth; they had no concept of the vast distances from the earth to the planets and stars. Now that these distances can and have been calculated, we can see how infinitesimally small are the gravitational and other effects produced by the distant planets and the far more distant stars. It is simply a mistake to imagine that the forces exerted by stars and planets at the moment of birth can in any way shape our futures.”
Interestingly, one group of ancient people did not need modern science to explain that astrology was a mistake. Over 2,500 years ago, Jehovah God told the nation of Israel: “Do not learn the way of the nations nor be apprehensive of the signs of the sky because the nations are apprehensive of them; for the usages of the nations are superstition.” (Jeremiah 10:2, 3, Byington) Or as the New World Translation expresses it: “The signs of the heavens . . . are just an exhalation.” In other words, astrological signs have as much substance as the breath exhaled from your lungs.
‘But so what if astrology is unscientific?’ object some. ‘Can’t it just be viewed as harmless fun?’
[Blurb on page 5]
“Modern textbooks state that when the Sun moves into Scorpio at the time of birth, it confers on the newborn child some of the characteristics of the scorpion—a dangerous, aggressive and courageous insect, with a fearsome sting.”
[Box on page 5]
How Far Away Are the Stars?
Ancient stargazers thought the stars must have been very close to earth—a few miles away at the most—to exert what they imagined to be a potent influence upon men’s lives. But with the development of the telescope, it became obvious that such could hardly be the case. For when viewed even through a powerful telescope, the stars remain pinpricks of light.
In the 1830’s, however, German astronomer Friedrich Bessel developed the means to figure out just how far away some of these stars are. Using simple trigonometry, he was able to figure out that the star called 61 Cygni was over ten light-years away! (Light travels 186,000 miles [300,000 km] per second.) Yet 61 Cygni is one of the closer stars!
So while appearing to be close to one another, the stars in a constellation may be hundreds of light-years away from one another! “It is only by chance,” says the book Astrology: Science or Superstition?, “that, seen from our earth, they appear to cluster together.” Does it therefore seem reasonable to you to believe that a constellation such as Scorpio could influence your life?
[Picture on page 4]
Babylonian stela, depicting the constellation Scorpio, from the National Museum, France