“What should our attitude be regarding zodiac signs, astrology, and horoscopes?” New Era, Apr. 1972, 8–9
Answer/A. Burt Horsley
Basically our attitude should be the same as it is about fortune-telling, reading tea leaves, crystal ball gazing, or palm reading. To put it bluntly, any trust in such things is sheer superstition.
Historically there has developed a problem of discrimination that centers around the failure of otherwise straight-thinking people to distinguish between astronomy as a bona fide science and astrology, which is a counterfeit or pseudoscience. This is more complicated by the fact that the science may have grown out of the superstition. That is to say, belief in the theory that stars influence human affairs could have been the motivation for serious study of the heavenly bodies by those who eventually developed a basis for the ancient knowledge of astronomy.
By the time of the Middle Ages, astrology and astronomy were often regarded as one and the same and were closely associated with alchemy, magic, and other occult practices. Since the time of Copernicus in the sixteenth century, however, the two have diverged, and up until a decade ago it appeared that modern science had all but destroyed the influence of astrology. In recent years, much to the dismay of scientists and rational theologians alike, there has been a great revival of the fraud, consistent with the general irrationality of our times.
The astrologer, by using a chart of the zodiac and referring to the sign in the ascendant at the time of one’s birth, plots a map of the heavens. This is a horoscope and is supposed to determine one’s temperament, liability to accident, fortune, success, calamity, even susceptibility to disease.
Our reason tells us that God, who recognized the free will of man as basic to his nature and gave him freedom of agency to manifest it, would not have left man’s destiny bound up and governed by the relationships and movements of astronomical bodies. There is no reasonable way of establishing any direct cause and effect relationship between the character and personality of human beings and astronomical phenomena except as we may react to climate or our physical environment in general.
The people of several great nations of antiquity believed in and perpetuated this myth for centuries, giving it more dignity than it deserved. Even the Magian priests of the Zoroastrian religion who came to Palestine from Persia at the time of the birth of Jesus to observe from that ideal vantage point the precalculated appearance of an unusual star believed in astrology. Nevertheless, scripture does not affirm the truth of such a notion; it merely reports that this was their belief. In fact, the Judeo-Christian tradition has, from ancient times to the present, repudiated such things.
Moses was inspired to instruct his people with reference to the will of the Lord in such matters as follows:
“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or witch,
“Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
“For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord. …” (Deut. 18:10–12.)
In similar manner the prophet Isaiah scorned these practices in his own day when he announced that astrologers, stargazers, and monthly prognosticators should not be able to “deliver themselves from the power of the flame.” (Isa. 47:13–14.)
The batting average of so-called astrologers, fortune-tellers, soothsayers, and others of their ilk is no better than the law of averages would allow anyway. Daniel and his companions had a much better record to show by relying on the influence of the Spirit of the Lord in their lives.
“And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” (Dan. 1:20.)
It is also interesting to note that astrologers are referred to as unreliable in other places in scripture, including at least three places in the Book of Daniel alone.
We need to have our attitudes rationally as well as spiritually grounded and not be influenced and sustained by superstition and myth.