Blinded by Astrology?

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell.

— W. H. Auden

Of late, I have been having conversations with people and who are ardent proponents of Astrology, as well as with my own inner self that just doesn’t agree with this, and it is with a heavy heart that I conclude that humanity will always be split between believers and non-believers. Though it may seem plainly unreasonable to non-believers like me why there are people who live their lives aligned to their horoscopes and star charts, it is still a sad reality that there isn’t much we can do about it. Except that we can take to fighting this social evil in a case to case basis and only when we are ourselves affected by it.

But even then, you sit with someone who seriously follows astrology and you will realize how difficult it is to talk to them. The first point they make is, “I know it works because I have seen it work. And ever since XYZ happened, I am a hundred percent sure that it works and I will never dare to ignore astrological predictions anymore.”

Try and counter this with a rational argument citing examples of how terribly wrong these predictions can be at most times, and you are cut-off in between by something like, “I understand you may not want to believe it but I can tell you that it really does work. Now, of course I cannot explain how it works, but you must take my word for it, as also consider the testimonials of countless others whose lives have been positively affected by recognizing this science. It is an ancient “vidya” (Hindi for body of knowledge) and there are only a few real masters of this vidya while all others are lesser practitioners and that is why you find some predictions that may turn out to be incorrect.”

Now, this is obscene. Can you imagine a science teacher teaching like this in a science classroom:

“Now, when I say that the sum of all interior angles of a triangle equals 180 degrees, you must trust me on this and take my word for it. I have studied mathematics in college and am far more educated than you are so you must trust me. I agree that your other maths teacher gave you proof yesterday that sum of all angles is 160 degrees, but very few people have more knowledge on this subject and so you must trust me.”

What if, at the end of each year at college, instead of having exams to test students’ knowledge, we could simply read their horoscopes to know how much they would score in each subject and then grade them accordingly? Wouldn’t it save a lot of time, effort and money on part of both the teachers and the students?

What if schools decide that instead of asking students what streams (like engineering, law, medical science, business, etc.) they wanted to specialize in, they simply read the horoscopes of each one and allot subjects accordingly? “Greg’s horoscope says doctor, Henry’s says Lawer, Patrick’s says he’s gonna have a short life so let’s just expel him.” Wouldn’t that be brilliant?

Why do we vote for governments every few years when we could easily just publish the horoscopes of every man in the country and then pick the best of those for the top job? Why don’t we let horoscopes decide which players are going to excel today and pick only them in the team?

Why hire judges and lawyers in courtrooms when the outcome can even be decided by the local astrologer by reading the horoscopes of the  aggrieved parties?

Let me tell you the answer to all these WHYs and the answer is that we don’t know anything for sure. We don’t know what is going to happen and that is the way the world is. It is depressing that we do not have satisfying answers to all our problems, we want to define why somethings happen while others don’t so that we can bring some sort of order to our lives.

We have no command over our futures and nobody knows anything for sure but being human means dreaming, aspiring, working hard, fighting the odds and if we take these elements out of our lives, then being human means nothing different from being just another animal.

In my conversations with believers, my point is never to convince them this astrology business is a fraud and hopeless. I know people, including me, have fear of the unknown and who am I to deny someone their right to feel better even if it means a little bit of superstition? And I also know that rational arguments will rarely convert a staunch believer. But what I always do say is that “You can never know for sure” and so when it comes to decisions of life and death, of someone’s happiness, dreams, aspirations of people that we care about, let us not be so cruel as to flaunt our arrogance of “knowing for sure” and forcing them to confirm to what a piece of paper with some boxes and numbers drawn on it says about them.

Let us be superstitious, but let us also draw a line between what is harmless superstition and what is harmful with life-altering and devastating consequences.

Because, if it is indeed true that everything that happens and is going to happen in this world is already written in some star charts, then doesn’t it make life, effort, love, hate, ambition, success, dreams and all human experiences pointless? Isn’t it demeaning to be told that all your dreams and efforts mean nothing just because your horoscope said something will not happen? And if the horoscope does fail, you dismiss the failure as a lack in completeness of knowledge of such a complex “science”?

Doesn’t it diminish the essence of being human whereas?

What do you think?

“There are two ways to view the stars: as they really are; and as we might wish them to be.” – Carl Sagan

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About Shitij Bagga
I am a blogger, writer, amateur photographer, obsessive reader. I like writing short stories and some of my works are published as multiformat ebooks, that can be downloaded from Smashwords. My author's page at Smashwords is: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shitijbagga I am a huge fan of reading and collecting books of almost all genres. I love reading science, philosophy, literature and fiction, psychology, biographies, history, leadership, etc. I am a habitual reader and not a single day passes by without me having read at least a page out of any one of my hundred plus book collection. My favorite works being the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes as well as the complete Jeeves and Wooster series by PG Wodehouse. Reading is a part of me that I can never let go and so most of my blogs would be based on ideas that I got from reading. Photography is also one of my hobbies and I love clicking pictures of the places that I visit. I will be uploading some of my favorite pictures in my blog as well.

4 Responses to Blinded by Astrology?

  1. Most believers just don’t seem to realize, that if the ‘science’ of astrology was to be true, the universe we would be inhabiting in would have been profoundly different from what it is now. The more ‘believers’ I talk to, the more pessimistic I become for the cause of rationalism and free thought.
    Your post points out that “let us also draw a line between what is harmless superstition and what is harmful with life-altering and devastating consequences.”. I think this can become quite difficult to do.
    example: I used to consider having a belief in astrology fairly harmless superstition to have. In fact, it was once argued to me by a fellow skeptic that astrologers are like crude therapists. But in a recent tragedy one of my uncle lost one of his daughters(just a kid) to an accident. Just a month later, the parents of the deceased kid go to a astrologer and the he tells em that the stars show that their only remaining kid too is in imminent danger. Now you can imaging the affect of such a news on a grieving mother and father who are still in deep shock from losing their first kid just a month back. I saw the affect of this taking a toll on the mothers’s health; she was almost at the point of complete breakdown. Still in pretty bad shape.

    There are a million examples. This is just something I saw up close. I say this is evil, and it only toughens my resolve to fight magical thinking. Our species is just two* chromosomes away from chimps, we are afraid of dark, our schools don’t know how to teach science and most of us are too stupid to understand even elementary stuff anyway. All this makes me a pessimist. But gotta fight on.

    • Shitij Bagga says:

      You are absolutely right. In fact, as we speak, I know of a sweet little girl whose heart is being broken due to someone else’s belief in astrology. I cannot give any more details than to say that it is a horrible situation for her.
      Shame on astrologers and their followers if this is what they are proud of.

  2. Mystikel says:

    Both of those stories are very concerning. I have studied western astrology for over 20 years. I am not a professional astrologer, and the kind of situations described here are good examples of why not. In the early days I would work on charts for family and friends but I stopped in my 20s. I had an experience where my older sister who was initially more of a skeptic very persistantly kept saying, what you’re showing me, does that mean I won’t be able to have kids? while discussing an aspect that could lead to difficulties with children. I said not necessarily, talked about a range of potential situations,how it could mean children wil be a difficult but very rewarding part of her life and I did mention adoption because of this concern she had that she might not be able to have kids. About a decade later, after getting her masters, becoming a teacher of children with autism, she and her husband found out that they were both infertile and eventually adopted three children, 2 of whom are special needs kids. But that was the last time I worked on a personal chart for someone else because my discomfort in that situation and sense of responsibility made me wary after that. I realized that what you say holds great power for people and somes even what you DIDN’T say. I wouldn’t be a therapist or psychologist for the same reason! Though I have to say some western astrologers have degrees in psychology or some other therapeutic field and most have a very real spiritual desire to help people. When someone asks me for a chart as a friend, which has happened over the years, I encourage them to study their own chart and make myself available to answer questions. This has worked very successfully for me and for those people. Ironically my sister told others many years later that I had “predicted” that she wouldn’t be able to have children and might adopt. I had to point out to her that I had not predicted it, SHE had (or at least had a very great concern about it when she was still in college.) Even what I kind of got right was in response to what she was saying.

    There are big differences between Indian and Western astrology, in the systems themselves and in how they’re interpreted. I have no personal experience with Indian astrology. I believe it is more oriented to fatalistic “fortune telling” than Western astrology which deals with individual fulfillment and growth but still has a bit of a fortune telling aspect to it. For instance in the west astrology wouldn’t have anything to do with who you were engaged to (for the most part.) I didn’t realize until halfway through that I was talking about apples (western astrology) when you were probably discussing oranges (Indian astrology).

    But I would like to point out that that others relating personal experiences which are subjective and impossible to verify is not likely to onvince a skeptic that it has some validity. Would you like to take a look at an aspect of (western) astrology that can be verified objectively? If you like history, it should not be hard read. Please let me know what you honestly think.

    http://mysticalsea.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/an-echo-in-the-spiral-of-time-2/

  3. gumnaan says:

    I do not think we can do anything much about the adults. All we can do is save the children.

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