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Astrology and Religion

This article is not written as a "defense" of astrology against those who mistakenly challenge it on religious grounds. I feel no need to defend astrology -- unlike religious missionaries, I don't need to try and convince anyone of anything. Those who believe that it provides information about the heavens consider it one of many valuable tools; those who do not, don't. But when some religious fanatics cite "Bible authority" to oppose astrology, they demonstrate that they know as little about the Bible as about astrology. Such a claim is erroneous and hypocritical, since the Bible is clearly consistent with astrology. And because those who mistakenly claim religious authority for attacking astrology cause many to abandon something that might have been of great value in their lives, a response is appropriate on their behalf.

Astrology has been preserved through the centuries primarily by Bible-believing Christians. During the "Dark Ages," it was medieval monks (Catholics) who preserved these teachings and methods that first developed in the lands of the fertile crescent, and even most modern-century astrologers (such as Jeanne Dixon) have been devout Christians until astrology was somewhat co-opted by non-religious New Agers in recent decades. In this century, some of the greatest contributions to astrological thought and practice have come from the Rosicrucian Fellowship, a group which is more dedicated to their Christian beliefs than to their skill with astrology, the occult and their cultivation of the "sixth sense."

Clearly there is nothing in the Bible that could seriously be seen to oppose astrology, and much in it that is consistent with and supportive of its concepts.

The Bible says that the sun, moon and stars were created to RULE - not merely that God rules, or that planets have "symbolic" meaning, but that God created (set in motion) planetary influences that RULE (Genesis 1:16; Psalms 136:9); astrologers who are Christian would not see this as false gods competing with the one true God -- merely that God created subordinate influences set in motion by His hand and operating under His direction, like the angels as well as earthly religious leaders who provide guidance and influence.

Job 38:31 talks about the INFLUENCES of several constellations, not merely their symbolism. Jeremiah 31:35 refers to the ORDINANCES of the moon and the stars (see also Psalms 8:3); how can empty symbols have laws or ordinances?

Matthew 2:2-10 mentions travelers led by a STAR, coming from the East - the lands in which astrology emerged. The visitors are called "wise men," and are guided by stars. Clearly, those who wrote, compiled and preserved the Bible for us, had no opposition to astrology as a subordinate but legitimate influence.

In one of the few specific references to the word "astrology" in the Bible (Daniel 1:20 and various other references in the book of Daniel, during the Israelites' Babylonian captivity with frequent exposure to astrology), the Bible writer does NOT put astrology on one side of a good/bad equilibrium and contrast God's religion against astrology on the other side.

Rather it seems to put them different distances along the SAME SIDE of a continuum of good - merely saying that the demonstration of God's power was merely "ten times better" than that of the astrologers; i.e., not that one is good and the other evil, but that they are on the same side of the continuum.

God, who is higher in the order of things, is "ten times" further along that continuum. Even so, I haven't heard of anyone in modern American society trying to use astrology as a basis for public policy (OK, OK, with the possible noteworthy exception of Nancy and Ronald Reagan).

The passages in Daniel 2 and 4 which show the FAILURE of astrologers are often cited as Biblical statements opposed to astrology. But it is important to note that the astrologers are not condemned for the practice of astrology; they only fail (and are ridiculed) when they (understandably) try to obey the King and respond to the his requests to demonstrate psychic powers which are COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO ASTROLOGY.

Their failures were in interpreting the King's dreams and the writing on the wall -- efforts which had NOTHING to do with the simple mechanics of preparing horoscopes ... which anyone can learn to do WITHOUT THE NEED FOR PSYCHIC ABILITY OR SPECIAL GIFTS. It was in trying to practice NON-astrological psychic phenomena that the astrologers (naturally) failed. Perhaps what the Bible is really telling us here is that when astrologers stick to their profession they are fine, but when they try to do that which they are unprepared for, they can expect to fail.

The passage in Isaiah 47:13-15, which is sometimes cited as opposing astrology, can be interpreted (and to me seems the most likely intent) similar to the verses in Daniel. It clearly acknowledges the capabilities of the astrologers, yet observes that the coming destruction of Babylon will be so great as to be beyond the scope of their abilities which are, as noted in Daniel, only a fraction (one tenth) of God's.

In any case, it should also be noted that these individual astrologers were not affiliated with, or using their training for, the people of God. It is hardly a denunciation of astrology in general. Read the entire context and it clearly seems to be a recognition that they have real abilities but that when those abilities are used against God instead of in alliance with God, that they can expect to fail.

Deuteronomy 4:19 commands us not to WORSHIP the sun, moon, stars, etc. Just as we should not take ANY of God's gifts and elevate them to the status of competing with God Himself. Who could argue with that? It certainly does not suggest or even hint any opposition to astrology itself.

If anything, it certainly suggests familiarity with astrology, and hints that if we are going to use it, we should keep it in perspective - subservient to, not equal to, God - though I would not claim this as specifically encouraging the practice of astrology, since it does not specifically support that interpretation.

Then, of course, there is the familiar verse in Luke 21:25 which says, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars...." While it can be debated as to whether the signs referred to are astrological in nature, what is unquestionably clear is that The Bible writers understood that celestial bodies could be used symbolically to represent influences.

When discussing sorcerers, witches, wizards, and psychics, the Bible clearly, and sometimes in rather harsh terms, identifies its incompatibility with them, but the Bible NEVER includes astrology in these lists of condemnations, yet does include compatible observations and specific positive references to astrology in other contexts.

If the Bible writers had intended to include any opposition to astrology, these would have been perfect opportunities to do so ... BUT THEY DIDN'T.

Religious faith is beyond the observable verification of the scientific method. In fact, Hebrews 11:1 specifically states that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN" (emphasis added). In other words, religious faith -- that which is NOT SEEN -- is specifically the OPPOSITE of science, which is based on OBSERVATION. Does that make all religion or intuition therefore false?

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