Is Astrology Really Scientific?

It is not uncommon for popular astrology websites to have millions of visitors weekly. After all, who would not want a sneak peak at the future or to have important insights into individuals that who know (or would like to know). It would not be surprising to discover that more people know more about astrology, than, say, higher mathematics. Of course, this is a disturbing possible fact for hardcore skeptics of astrology, especially for strictly scientific thinkers. Skeptics often are quick to point out that astrology is ‘not scientific’. Ah, that is true today. And many astrologer’s would argue there are scientific elements utilized within astrology. What is most interesting is that although astrology is disavowed by traditional science today, at one time astrology was considered a respected science for hundreds of years.

Ancient Astrology Was A Science
Astrology has existed perhaps as long as mankind. There has been evidence discovered that the study and practice of astrology in Babylon going back at least 3,000 years. Astrology was also practiced by the ancient Greeks. Ancient astrologers performed complex astronomical observations and value was place on empirical observations and what can only be called a scientific approach. Human civilization was beginning to build a body of scientific knowledge about the stars, and astrology was considered the method and vehicle to build this knowledge.
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Astrology was, and still is, a methodology for building and understanding of the sun, planets, earth and stars. In short, astrology was, and is, a methodology for understanding the universe. In the case of astrology, this understanding included humankind, all living things, actually, and how this universe interacts with living beings. There is a mystical component to astrology. For thousands of years, this mystical component was accepted. After all, we are a part of the universe and the universe is within us. When astrology and the new science of astronomy parted ways, a new type of thinking had taken hold. It was the idea that someone ‘man’ could just observe the universe and not necessary be a spiritual part of it. In fact, the new, scientific concept was that there was no such thing as ‘spirituality’.

Do Modern Astrologers Use Any Science?
Yes, astrologers use complex mathematics to create the charts and horoscopes offered by astrology today. Much of the mathematics in understanding the movement of planets and the motion of the stars comes from the original, ancient astrologers. It is the same mathematics applied in astronomy. Astrological charts showing the past, present and future position of planets and stars in various parts of the sky (the Zodiacs, in Western Astrology) is subjected to a complex system of rules about how to interpret the positions of the celestial bodies. The interpretive rules are typically related to the type of astrology employed (Western, Vedic, Chinese and so forth). This is where scientists today begin their objection to astrology. The interpretation of astrology charts is a mystical practice, a spiritual practice. It is more of an art that purely scientific. To scientists there are no mystical forces nor spiritual forces at work in the universe. Therefore there cannot be an interpretation of nor any special meaning about the movement of the universe.

Interestingly, skeptics and critics of astrology actually object to astrologers using any science in their pursuit of understanding what the universe is telling us about ourselves and the future. Skeptics complain that the use of complexed mathematics gives a weak-minded public the impression that some kind of ‘real’ science is taking place within astrology. Never mind the most of the complex mathematics and important observations about the universe (such as cycle of comets) was created by astrologers.

Today’s astrologers are blessed in one important technological advancement: The computer. With the invention of the computer and it’s ability to perform near instantaneous mathematical computations about the position of planets, stars and the return of comets, astrologers can now create and review astrological charts and horoscopes much faster and easier than in any time in history. Where ancient astrologers would have to work weeks, if not months, on created complex astrological charts, today’s astrologers can create detailed chart for the past, present and future in moments. This allows many more people to get involved in astrology, since the need to understand complex mathematics is all but eliminated. And, far more time can be spent reflecting upon and interpreting astrology charts. The invention of the computer has no doubt added to the popularity of astrology. The use of computers by astrologers also seems to annoy scientists and skeptics since the use of computers seems to lend legitimacy that there is something ‘scientific’ going on with astrology.

Is astrology a religion?
There is no religion of astrology. There may be people who believe in astrology ‘religiously’, but there is no organized religion of astrology. As mentioned before, in ancient times up into the late 1700s, astrology was considered a science and yet had a spiritual, mystical aspect when it came the interpretation of astrological charts. It should be no surprise, then, that astrology has had an involvement with religion for thousands of years.

For example, in Western Astrology, the constellation more often than not are related to Greek gods and mythical figures related to the spirituality and religions of the Ancient Greeks. Some of those mythological, celestial figures are related to ancient Babylonian gods and spiritual figures. In Vedic astrology, which some consider the oldest form of astrology, you have much the same thing. In Asian or Chinese astrology you have the various animal zodiacs. The legend of how those animals were chosen for each zodiac signs often involves Buddha.

It would seem that astrology has had a long and important involvement with religion without itself becoming a religion. The mystical, spiritual aspect of astrology seems to want to stand by itself. This could be because the ancient roots of astrology have a very ‘scientific’ approach to the universe and understanding what the universe is ‘saying’, so to speak. The mystical, interpretive side of astrology as always been largely perceived as a spiritual by all parties; science, religion and the astrologers themselves.

Why is Astrology Still So Popular Today?
Astrologers would argue that astrology is as popular as ever because it continues to ‘work’ for people. If astrology were judged based on purely the scientific formulas of the free market, then the services of astrologers continue to be in demand and paid for by the public because the buying public continues to find a value in astrology. That is not to say that all astrologers are as skilled as others or that some who call themselves astrologers fully understand astrology. The same is true for every service, trade or craft: Some people are more skilled than others and some people who claimed to be a ‘professional’ in a particular field really are ‘professional’. However, taken as a whole, astrology as survived because it continues to deliver a service people appreciate.

Critics and skeptics like to argue that astrology continues to survive and thrive because people are too gullible or too poorly educated. If one is to believe that argument (and it certainly shows a very low regard for the general population and an over inflated sense of superiority by the critics and skeptics), then people have ALWAYS been gullible and poorly educated, including those astrologers who created higher forms of mathematics to calculate the motion of stars and planets.

A more rational argument is that there is and always has always been a spiritual component to life and the universe Astrology continues to survive because it appeals to people’s interest, curiosity and/or belief in the possibility there is a spiritual or mystical aspect to life. Though science is the most powerful methodology ever created to explore and manipulate the material world, science just cannot explain everything when it completely rejects any possibility there is a spiritual or mystical reality.

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It is likely very true we could all benefit from a more scientific education, and that more science taught is schools is a good idea. Maybe at the same time a respect and tolerance for the many different approaches to spirituality could also be taught. It sure seems these days that we, the public, could benefit from that also.

So, is Astrology ‘Scientific’?
It depends on who you ask. Within the traditional, empirical based scientific community the answer is "no". If you had asked that same question 300 years ago, the scientific answer would have been "yes". If you ask an astrologer, you will likely get an affirmation there is a scientific bases for astrology, but that there is more to it than just calculations. No doubt the debate as to the scientific validity of many things, including spirituality and mysticism, will be debated another thousand years. That’s what keeps it all so interesting.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy History Of Western Astrology

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