Science of astrology is back | Sunday Observer

Science of astrology is back

12 June, 2021

“I don’t believe in Astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we are skeptical.” – Arthur C. Clarke

The Cambridge Dictionary describes the meaning of the word “Astrology” as: “the study of the movements and positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars in the belief that they affect the character and lives of people” while the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as: “the divination of the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs and terrestrial events by their positions and aspects”. The word has its roots in Latin and Greek languages where “Astra” meaning “stars” and “logy - logia” meaning “the study of”.

Man’s interest in the sky goes back thousands of years where sky-watchers of Mesopotamia identified the five wandering stars around 3000 BC, which with the sun and the moon formed the seven original planets. It is interesting to note here that the Greek origin of the word “planet” also has the meaning as the word “wanderer”. Then the Babylonians introduced the concept of the zodiac and the measurements such as minutes and seconds were derived from their number systems. These early days the words mathematicus and astrologia were used interchangeably since the Latin word “mathematicus” also has the same meaning as astrology. Astrologers essentially were mathematicians at that time.

Along with the fascination about the sky people had all kinds of different belief systems bridging the gap between the human experience on earth and what may have been unseen and unknown effect of those heavenly bodies on them.

As the distance between the believers and non-believers gradually increased, the need to have separate identifications gave birth to the word “astronomy” to denote the scientific study of heavenly bodies implying that “astrology” is not a science. Naturally there were more believers in the East and South than in the North and the West since original human habitats were in the South and the East.

Evolvement of science and astrology

Astrology proved amazingly resilient as science evolved even after Copernicus introduced the new model with the sun at the centre, instead of the earth, in the early 16th century. When Galileo and Kepler accepted this model in the early 17th century, the astrologers and the believers continued with the same ideologies making adjustments in the calculations to accommodate the new model. It is interesting to note that Johannes Kepler, who is credited with the discovery of planetary motion, also known to have done horoscopes for his boss, the Holy Emperor Rudolf II.

The science has shown that the sun, the moon and the stars are used even by animals for their movements. Humans have been using the star arrangements for tracking animal movements and for their own movements and navigation for thousands of years. But since astronomy is considered as science and astrology is considered as a belief system the scientific community tend to disregard anything communicated by astrologers.

There is no doubt that astrology also has had a major impact on some of the scientific advancements the world has made over the years just like most of the other human experiences and ancient wisdom.

What people should understand is that science itself is a belief system and nothing has been proven by science too. Mathematics in its pure form can prove or disprove statements or theories but scientific conclusions are based on experiments, observations, probabilities and statistics. Of course, science provides a belief system to live by until that system is proven wrong or is improved to a better system.

Therefore, we believe in science until we find a better system. It is also important to understand that believing in one system should not make one disbelieve in any other system or look down upon anyone who does not believe in the same system, just the same way as one should not look down on anyone who believes in a different religion from his or her own.

It is not unusual to find scientists who believe in astrology too, especially in their personal lives. They may not admit that in public, thinking that it would damage their reputation as scientists. One can be a Nobel Prize winning scientist and still ask the astrologer to suggest him or her an auspicious time to leave home to go and receive the prize.

There is nothing wrong or contradictory in that. For example, the extraordinary detail and accuracy of the observations of astrologers such as Hipparchus in the 2nd century BC, were due at least in part to a conviction that only with excellent data could astrological forecasts and diagnoses be reliable. Astrological calculations by the ancient Babylonians led them to make new discoveries in geometry. The exquisite data collected by Danish Astronomer Tycho Brahe to draw the horoscopes for the Emperor Rudolf II was essential to the discoveries of Kepler.

Astrology used in daily lives

Astrology has been used for predictions and forecasting throughout the history in all kinds of different areas from politics and economics to weather and childbirth. . History shows that the concept of deciding a price according to the future expectations and buying options has been tried successfully by Thales of Miletus (624 – 547 BC) by using his knowledge of “stars” to predict the type of olive harvest months ahead and paying deposits on all the oil-presses in advance. The use of astrology for future predictions and or finding out the causation of certain phenomena which were difficult to explain otherwise was an ancient practice which is still in use by the modern forecasters and or gamblers time to time, though they may shy away from admitting it.

People of the calibre of Charles M. Schwab and J. P. Morgan who are considered as successful businessmen were known to have consulted the famous astrologer Evangeline Adams before they made important business decisions. It is interesting to note that, when Ms. Adams was accused of illegally helping some of the players in the financial market to gain an edge over the others using a pseudoscience (or witchcraft) she managed to get an acquittal by showing the courts that astrology is based on astronomy which is based on mathematics and therefore it is a pure-science and should not be considered illegal.

Astrology, as we know it today, in the form of those newspaper and magazine columns predicting what your star sign tells you about how your day or the week is going to go, is an innovative marketing strategy by media organisations.

It has changed the way people perceive astrology from being a scientific and mathematical process of data processing to something more social and meaningless.

If done correct, astrological predictions for a person or an organisation are nothing but results of running sets of corresponding data through certain algorithms, designed using historical data and planetary arrangements associated with those events. May be that is why J. P. Morgan has said: “Millionaires don’t use astrology, billionaires do.”