Insight on the News
Astrology—Science or Hoax?
● Just how much influence do celestial bodies have on a child at the moment of birth? That question recently became a matter of public discussion when 186 prominent scientists jointly condemned astrologers as unscientific “charlatans.”
“Smithsonian” magazine reports that Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan computed the gravitational influence of the attending obstetrician in the delivery room and found it to be greater than that of the planet Mars. And, though computers reveal that the gravitational force of the moon and Jupiter might slightly exceed the doctor’s, “the accurate astrologer should more properly consider the configuration of the personnel in the delivery room rather than the celestial configurations to ascertain in detail an individual’s astrological makeup.” So, what “sign” would the person be born under? The suggestion was made that the sign in the delivery room, “oxygen in use—no smoking,” might be appropriate.
Long before modern science, the Bible revealed the futility of astrology. Foretelling pagan Babylon’s coming destruction, the prophet Isaiah wrote: “In spite of your many wiles you are powerless. Let your astrologers, your star-gazers who foretell your future month by month, persist, and save you! But look, they are gone like chaff.”—Isa. 47:13, 14, “New English Bible.”
● The more that scientists learn, the more ludicrous it becomes to claim that the mindless chance of evolution produced all the marvelous abilities and qualities of living things. Consider the resistance to extreme cold observed in both fishes and trees.
Human chemists have produced antifreeze solutions. But in the last five years scientists have learned more about the way that cold-water fish survive winter by producing their own natural “antifreeze”—certain proteins in their bloodstreams. Scientists still do not understand exactly how it works, but they theorize that a high content of the amino acid alanine in these proteins helps to link “antifreeze” molecules with ice crystals in a way that keeps the crystals from growing. One fact is clear—it works.
And in the far north, after birds and animals head south away from winter’s bitter subzero weather, trees remain, rooted to the frozen soil. How do they survive? Well, it is known that salts in solution can greatly lower the freezing point of water. Additionally, scientists have found that very pure water, free from particles on which ice crystals form, can be supercooled to about -40 degrees Fahrenheit before it freezes. In a study of 350 kinds of cold-weather trees, water in the woody tissues of 175 showed that purity, and natural salts in the trees’ fluids lowered the freezing point still farther, to almost -50 degrees Fahrenheit! Truly another remarkable instance of the Creator’s practical wisdom in operation!
Burying the Past
● Thirty years after World War II, some honestly face up to responsibility for lives lost then. Others prefer to keep the ‘skeletons in their closets.’
A Japanese schoolteacher recently declined an invitation to the first alumni meeting of students that he taught more than thirty years ago. He wrote to Tokyo’s “Daily Yomiuri” that “I have felt myself unpardonably responsible for the militaristic education with which I indoctrinated them when they were fifth-year primary pupils in my charge,” he said. “I felt that I had no moral right to appear before my former pupils.”
In striking contrast, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops recently forced the suppression of a book published by the National Council of Catholic Laity. Why? For one thing, the book, “A Question of Values,” raised searching questions about the Church’s own role in that world conflict. It asked: “Where was the church when Fascism and Nazism were on the rise in Europe? Where was it when the Jews were being rounded up and shipped to oblivion in cattle-cars?”
Apparently the bishops prefer to sweep such questions under the rug. Complained Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia: “It is not the type of material which could be used for discussion.”