Astrology, A Science for the Scienceless

Astrology, not to be confused with the legitimate, highly valuable and experimentally verified [actual] science of Astronomy, is the pseudo-science of tracking the position of various groups of stars (known as constellations) and relating those positions to the wellbeing, personal characteristics and prospective future of every human on Earth, through mystical and wholly unscientific methods of, believe it or not, divination.

Astrology is actually an ancient and historically significant aspect of human cultural evolution; it is rooted in the development of scientific observation, of not only the stars, but our own surroundings.  Widespread use of Astrology owes its popularity to the scholars of the Library of Alexandria, in Egypt in the 3rd century BC.  Believe it or not, Astrology was once a complimentary science along side, and historically often indistinguishable from, Astronomy.  As one was considered the study of the Celestial Heavens, the other was the study of the Celestial Heaven’s effect on terrestrial happenings.  However, not every gem offered to us by the ancient scholars is to be regarded as valuable insight, and the true origin of what is considered to be the core of Astrology is argued over quite loudly by modern scholars.  Whether we owe ancient Babylonian society, Vedic traditions, Greek Mythology or Asian development for the current incarnation of our oldest and most believed form of divination is best left to historians who are qualified to answer such questions.

What was once though, considered to be the domain of high priests, commissioned scientists and of course, royalty, is now the innocent pastime of everyone and anyone with the ability to read a newspaper left on a park bench.  And the practitioners of this common-foolery, known as Astrologers, are little more than advice columnists with a deadline, and are even less than a mere shadow of their historical counter-parts.  In the roughly two thousand years since the proliferation of astrological superstition to the masses, immense amounts of so-called astrological data have been compiled, edited, mixed and shared, all in an effort to create a great encyclopaedia or compendium of knowledge about the effects of celestial bodies, and their positions, on the human condition.  All the while it’s counterpart, its ever more rational sister-science Astronomy, has evolved and burgeoned into a scientific endeavour that, both historically and most recently, has provided science with some of the most astounding and experimentally verified findings imaginable.

But the relationship between our two sisters of science, Astrology and Astronomy, has been tense at times, and with the advent of the Copernican Revolution resulting in the Heliocentric theory of cosmology (no longer a theory by the way, which is a ridiculous but apparently necessary rider to include), and Magellan’s stupendous and, at the time, heretic declaration that the Earth is not flat, but round as an apple (which he went on to prove via the first circumnavigation of the globe), that relationship has been strained well beyond the breaking point.  Astronomy has been the single most influential scientific pursuit since, well…ever.  It has brought with it discoveries, methodologies and philosophies that have shaped very nearly every aspect of modern life.  Astrology cannot make the same claim, it has not done the same laudable acts, nor has it provided any real insight into the hearts and minds of men or Gods.

To many fans and believers today, Astrology, which is the base for the daily or weekly horoscope you almost religiously take note of, whether for fun or for purposes of planning and guidance, is simply the interpretation of star signs into quirky limericks and severely vague predictions of the near future.  But on closer inspection, what one will find is that Astrology is a system of measuring constellations, planetary positions and even the position of the moon in the night sky, and interpreting that information into unique personal information for everyone and anyone who may be interested in the divined conclusion.  One might ask then, how exactly that Astronomical data (yes, it’s a direct borrowing of Astronomical observation) can be and ultimately is converted into predictive behavioural knowledge, and really, it’s quite simple.  Over the past two to three thousand years, many, many Astrologers have written down their observations for how certain people act, relative to the position of, yes, you guessed it, stars (in lieu of including a realistic measure of the numbers of Astrology practitioners who have contributed to this endeavour, let it simply be known that there have been more of them than there have been religious zealots fuelling the fire of holy wars over the centuries).

They have painstakingly observed and documented the interpersonal goings-on of the people around them, and attempted to correlate that massive amount of information with the movements of the celestial bodies overhead.  Here though is the problem…there is a significant difference between a correlation and cause/effect relation.  Simply because two events happen near each other, whether in time or space, does not automatically mean that one is the cause of the other, and vice versa.

There are many other valid arguments flying in the face of Astrology, for example, the celestial constellations relied upon for these measurements and interpretations are, shall we say unique to the observers position on Earth, and even in the universe.  Change that position even a small amount (in terms of galactic distances), and the constellation, if visible at all, becomes completely indistinguishable.  Since there are few who would argue against Copernicus and his wild notion that there is nothing particularly special about mankind, earth or even our solar system, so as to believe that it is the center of anything worth speaking of, then why would we believe that the relative position (to earth) of constellations, whose very existence relies on our perspective from earth, would or should have any impact, measurable or not, on our relatively insignificant lives?

One could make such arguments, and many have, though in all honesty one needn’t go so far.  Horoscopes, sun signs, astrological readings; all of it is now permanently relegated to insincere carnival sideshow venues.  There is no truth to the predictive assertions of the Astrologer, even as there are many millions of people around the world who believe, even passively, in those predictions on the whole.  As has been offered in the past, it seems interestingly disturbing that the mass of humanity so easily offers trust and hope to wish-thinking endeavours which bear no logical or even tangible fruit to speak of.

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