Is it possible that God uses Astrology in His Plan for your life? Can you really put your faith in a system that gives Adolf Hitler and Shirley Temple the same sign?? Here's what the Bible Says –

Introduction

Is Astrology something that Christians should believe in and practice? Is it a way that God has given us to understand both ourselves and our future, or does it have a different, and darker, origin? Those are the issues that this booklet is devoted to providing an answer to. To that end we will seek after truth, both the truth of Scripture and the truth of science, for all truth is God’s truth. you’re ready I invite you to open your Bible and engage your mind So if as we "test all things" so that we might "hold on to the good." (I Thess. 5:21)

What It Is

Astrology is the study and use of astronomical phenomena to predict future events. In its earliest form astrology consisted of simple omens and portents read from the sky. In its mature (modern) form astrology analyzes the believed effects of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars on Earth at a specific time and place.

Though not widely known there are two types of astrology. Natural astrology studies and predicts the stars effects upon weather, crops and even whole nations of people. Judicial astrology on the other hand makes specific predictions about the future of individual people. It is this latter form of astrology that is most widely known today.1

Its History

Astrology originated in ancient Babylon and from there spread to China, India, Egypt, and into the West where it’s been found in Aztec and Inca civilizations. Astrology was always linked to, and used in the worship of, the pagan gods of these various lands. Astrologers came to be employed by the State, and in some cases it was a capital offense for anyone other than the official astrologer to read the portents in the sky. In China court astrologers who made inaccurate predictions were executed.2

While astrology is about 4300 years old the first known horoscope incorporating the principles of mature (modern) astrology dates from 409 BC. In the 12th century astrology became popular in Western Europe, but by the end of the 17th century was considered to be a pseudoscience by almost all educated people.

Astrology’s age can be seen in our language. Disaster, is Greek for "bad star"; influenza, Italian for "(astral) influence" or Mazeltov, Hebrew - and ultimately Babylonian - for "good constellation." Speaking of words we must consider take a look at consider, which means "with the planets," apparently a prerequisite for contemplating something.3

Its Goals

Astrology has two very basic goals. These goals are what drive astrology forward, attract people to it, and bring it into conflict with the Bible.

1) Penetrating the Future. Astrology has always sought to give people a glimpse into the future. Ancient Kings planned their reigns around it, even Adolph Hitler believed and followed Astrology, as do many people today. The story is told of an actress in Hollywood who refused to get out of her bathtub all day because her horoscope said it was a bad day!

2) Bringing Order Out of Chaos. Life is filled with unexplainable and seemingly random events. Yet when you look to the stars they are orderly, eternal and seem so powerful and peaceful. The ancient lure of astrology is to find order and meaning in the stars.4 Modern people are sometimes impressed with how "scientific" astrologers make it sound.

Its Claims

Astrologers claim that they hold an ancient key to life and truth. In recent years some astrologers have taken to using psychological language and theories to buttress their beliefs. Astrologers will also point to how accurate they are. Yet a survey of astrology in world history, where major, traceable, events were involved and the astrologer’s predictions were in writing, found they had less than a 20% accuracy rate.5

With all that as background we now move to the Bible. Do the Scriptures have anything to say about astrology, and if so what?

The Big Picture

When you study what the Bible teaches about telling the future you find that it forbids divination in several places. Foremost among these are Leviticus 19:26,31, and this passage:

"When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out these nations before you." (Deuteromony 18:9-13)

As can be seen from this text the Lord bans all forms of divination from the life of His people. More than unwise the Lord calls it evil, and says that these detestable practices are the reason He’s about to drive out Palestine’s original inhabitants in favor of Israel. So what exactly is divination?

"Divination is the practice of foretelling the future by means of alleged preternatural powers.... Divination includes all methods of fortune-telling: card reading, crystal gazing, palmistry. In Astrology the general direction of a person's life is read from the position of the stars at the time of his or her birth."6

So in general terms astrology is something that God has banned and forbidden His people to use. But what about specifics? Does the Bible specifically mention astrology, and if so what does it say?

Astrology & the Bible

One of the most powerful citations of astrology is found in Isaiah 47. Here God foretells the destruction of Babylon, the home of astrology. After predicting judgment, the Lord then turns to the astrologers,

"All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. That is all they can do for you - these you have labored with and trafficked with since childhood. Each of them goes on in his error; there is no one that can save you." (Isa. 47:13-15)

See the confidence of God? He calls the astrologers forward to a contest - and predicts the winner ahead of time! Isaiah says they won’t be able to save Babylon from its destruction (and they didn’t!), he tells us that they cannot save us! There’s no warmth, no light of truth in astrology. Finally he says that they refuse to turn to God, and instead go on in their "error." Astrology is "error," it’s wrong, and is always found on the side of the pagan gods against the true and living God!

Astrology is connected with idol worship in the book of Jerermiah:

"This is what the Lord says; ‘Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel...their idols cannot speak." (Jer. 10:2-3, 5)

Here astrology is clearly seen to be a custom of the pagan peoples, something we are told not to learn. It’s also connected with idol worship, as it has been throughout its history. The Bible offers us a tantalizing glimpse into the early history of astrology in Genesis 11:

"Then they said, ‘Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower...So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth...That is why it was called Babel..." (Gen. 11:4-5, 8-9)

This story has often been misunderstood to mean that these people were trying to build a tower through which they could climb into the sky. That’s ridiculous! They were advanced enough at this stage to build a city that featured a tower. There is no way these people could have been so stupid as to think they could literally reach the sky! Don’t you think they had ever seen a mountain? They knew they couldn’t build something that high!

Instead they wanted to build a city with a tower that would be so important that it would make a name for them and bind them together. The Hebrew word for tower is interesting. It’s Migdal {pronounced, mig-dawl'}). It’s defined as meaning. "1) tower 1a) tower 1b) elevated stage."7 That last meaning, "elevated stage" hints at what "the tower of Babel" really was intended to be. Migdal is the root Hebrew word for the Babylon word for Ziggurat. What’s a Ziggurat? Glad you asked!

"The ziggurat, or temple tower, was the dominant feature of religious architecture throughout the history of Mesopotamia....The earliest such ziggurat is at ERIDU and dates from the 5th millennium BC.... The ziggurats ranged up to 91 sq m (100 sq yd) in base area and 46 m (50 yd) in height. The temple on the top and the ziggurat itself were built of sun-baked mud bricks and then faced with fired bricks that were often glazed in various colors...The significance of the ziggurat is not completely understood, but it was probably thought of both as an altar and as a sort of stairway to and for the gods."8

We also know that ziggurats were used as platforms to study the stars and cast horoscopes from. So the story we usually call the Tower of Babel is really about the first time mankind organized itself to study astrology and how God stopped them from doing so. This is clear evidence of what God thinks of astrology. He proves this point over and over again in the book of Daniel where Daniel and his godly companions constantly provide answers and insight when the astrologers and other diviners failed to do so.9

The Astrologers Reply

You won’t normally find astrologers talking about any of the Scripture passages I’ve quoted above. However there is one place in the Bible that almost all of them will appeal to as an Biblical endorsement of astrology. "What about the Wise Men at the birth of Jesus?" is the astrologers reply. Let’s take a look!

"After Jesus was born...Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.’...Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out the exact time the star appeared...After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen...stopped over the place where the child was...On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him...And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country...an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, ‘Get up.’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt...When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi...he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi." (Selected parts of Matt. 2:1-16)

The Magi were probably astrologers (though some scholars doubt this10), and they came to worship Jesus. Thus proving, say astrologers, that astrology is O.K. with the Lord. Really? Let’s ask a few questions. Who did the star guide the Magi to first? Not Jesus, but Herod - that humanitarian friend of Jesus! It was only after they had spilled the beans to Herod that the Magi were led to Christ. Thus the Magi were partially responsible for the Slaughter of the Innocents in and around Bethlehem. Bruce Cockburn summed this part of the story up as well as anyone,

"The child is born in the fullness of time

Three wise astrologers take note of the sign

Come to pay their respects to the fragile little king

Get pretty close to wrecking everything..."11

There are two other things to notice about this incident. One is that astrology is never sanctioned or approved by anyone in this passage! The second is that these Magi bowed down and worshipped Jesus. If the astrologers of today would bow before Christ and worship Him as Lord and Savior there would be no more debate. They would lay their dusty books down and rejoice in God’s Grace and trust Him, not the stars, for tomorrow.

Summary of Scriptural Viewpoint

It should be obvious to any impartial observer that astrology is condemned in the strongest terms by the Bible. It is part of something that God has forbidden to us, the search to know the future. It is also fatalistic, ceding control of human beings and their destiny to the stars. But the Bible teaches us that we are creatures of free will, and can choose our destiny.

According to Psalm 8 and other passages the heavens declare the glory of God, and draw us to worship Him. They were not created to guide our future, nor to turn our attention to themselves. Like all creation, the stars show forth God’s greatness, not their own. So the choice is clear, choose Christ or astrology, one or the other, for you cannot have both.

Science and Astrology

Science tells us a lot about astrology, unfortunately for the astrologers it’s all bad news for them! We’ll look at several major flaws in astrology and then put astrology to the test!

Stuck in the Middle

Astrology has some major problems when it comes to science. One of the biggest is that astrology is based on a geocentric view of the universe. That’s the belief that the earth is the center and that everything revolves around us. This is a common belief among ancient cultures, but of course it isn’t true. The discovery that the earth orbits the sun along with the other planets, and that the sun orbits the center of the galaxy, and that the galaxy is moving out from the center of the universe, completely destroys the foundation of astrology. This scientific advance was one of the leading causes of astrology’s reduction in the Western world.

By the end of the 17th century, however, astrology was considered a pseudoscience by almost all learned people. Not only was it opposed to the Christian doctrines of divine intervention and human free will, but also the acceptance of a greatly-expanded, Sun-centered universe raised doubt about whether the heavens were created to direct changes on Earth.12

If you accept the modern scientific view of the cosmos then you cannot believe in astrology because its core foundation is unscientific and illogical.

Out of Bounds

If you are born above the 66 degree of latitude it is impossible to accurately calculate what point of the Zodiac is ascendant on the horizon at the time of your birth. Therefore, you cannot have a valid horoscope cast for you if you happen to live in Sweden, Siberia, Alaska or the arctic regions of earth.13 If astrology is true then it ought to work everywhere, not just certain places.

Movin’ On

Astrology is also fatally flawed because it refuses to take into account the procession of the vernal equinox. The signs of the zodiac that you see today were first established about 2,000 years ago. So what’s wrong with that?

"These signs coincided with the zodiacal constellations about 2,000 years ago. Because of the recession of the Earth's axis, the vernal equinox has moved westward by about 30 deg since that time; the signs have moved with it and thus no longer coincide with the constellations."14

This means that you are not the sign that they say you are. Because of the shifting of the equinox you are really the next sign along the zodiac. So the zodiac, heart and soul of astrology, is one complete sign off of where it should be. That renders all the horoscopes you’ve ever had cast for you completely false and useless.

What Do Scientists Think?

Let’s take two prominent scientists and see what they think of astrology. Since neither of these men is at all friendly to Christianity, you cannot say they share my bias. First up is Dr. Francis Crick, 1962 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine for breaking the DNA code.

"...I think that one has to say that scientifically, astrology really is complete nonsense. I have tried very hard to think of a way in which it could make sense, and it’s too much."15

Our second scientist is the Dr. Carl Sagan, well known host of the Cosmos series on PBS that aired over a decade ago. Dr. Sagan is also no friend to the Christian faith (voted Humanist of the year in the early ‘80’s and a signer of the Humanist Manifesto).

"Astrology can be tested by the lives of twins. There are many cases in which one twin is killed in childhood, in a riding accident, say, or is struck by lightning, while the other lives to a prosperous old age. Each was born in precisely the same place and within minutes of the other. Exactly the same planets were rising at their births. If astrology were valid, how could two such twins have such profoundly different fates? It also turns out that astrologers cannot even agree among themselves on what a given horoscope means. In careful tests, they are unable to predict the character and future of people they know nothing about except the time and place of birth."16

Sagan is exactly right. If astrology is correct then twins should have lives that are nearly identical. If you’ve ever known any twins you know they don’t! But Dr. Sagan wasn’t the first person to realize that twins are a real test of truth for astrology, Saint Augustine did too.

Saint Augustine, who lived from 354 to 430 AD, was one of the foremost philosopher-theologians of early Christianity. He served as bishop of Hippo Regius, and was the leading figure in the church of North Africa. He wrote The Confessions (now better known as The Confessions of Saint Augustine), between 397 and 401.17 Listen to what he wrote about his experience with astrology before he became a Christian.

"Those impostors then, whom they style astrologers, I consulted without scruple...however Christian and true piety consistently rejects and condemns...By this time also had I rejected the lying divinations and impious ravings of the astrologers. Let Thine own mercies, out of my very inmost soul, confess unto Thee for this also, O my God."18

You can see that Augustine, who is not to be despised, considered consulting astrologers a sin, and humbly confessed to God his transgression. All the early Church Fathers (leaders of the church in the first four centuries or so) agreed and unanimously condemned astrology. Here’s what Augustine wrote about astrology and twins.

"...I bent my thoughts on those that are born twins, who for the most part come out of the womb so close one to the other, that the small interval...cannot be noted by human observation, or be at all expressed in those figures which the astrologer is to inspect, that he may make true predictions. Yet they cannot be true: for looking into the same tables, he must have predicted the same of Easu and Jacob, whereas the same happened not to them. Therefore he must speak falsely..."19

So in this one area the bishop and the humanist agree. Astrology is false because it is inconsistent with the world as we know it. As scientific knowledge has grown astrology has become less able to pretend it has any true validity. Compare this to the Bible and the Christian faith which have nothing to fear from scientific facts. Each fact (not theories mind you) bolsters our faith and proves the Bible to be true!

So Does It Work?

After reading all of this you might be saying, "Well since astrology has no Biblical or scientific validity then we can be sure it doesn’t work, right?" Not exactly - and therein lies a tale.

While astrology’s degree of accurate predictions is far less than its supporters would have you believe, it has correctly predicted some events. There are also enough testimonies from individuals who practice astrology of their horoscopes correctly guiding them to make one wonder.

One answer of course is coincidence. But that doesn’t answer all of astrology’s impact upon people. So we are left with something that isn’t true or Biblical yet still occasionally works. What power could make that happen? If it isn’t Biblical, then it can’t be God.

And that only leaves one choice. Astrology is found among pagan religions, and is linked to idolatry because its sole power source is the author of all lies, Satan himself. Biblically there are only two supernatural sources of power - God and the devil. So if it isn’t God, and it isn’t natural phenomena (and science says it can’t be) that leaves us with the devil. This explains why God so strongly warns us against astrology and other occult methods of divining the future in the Bible.

The Bottom Line

As we’ve seen in this short essay the problems with astrology are overwhelming. From a Christian and Biblical point of view it is a forbidden art. God has forbidden His people to try and know the future. Instead we are to have faith in Him, and if He wants us to know what’s around the corner He’ll let us know. Being the sovereign Lord of the Universe He’s capable of doing this without resorting to something as fraudulent as astrology.

Astrology is also forbidden because at its core it is fatalistic. It puts our future into the hands of the stars, when in reality the future (along with the past and present) lie in the loving hands of our Father in Heaven.

Today you’ll find astrology a prominent part of the occult and the New Age Movement. It’s no coincidence that astrology’s friends are ancient foes of the Cross.

We must also reject astrology because we know it’s untrue. Jesus said that we would know the truth and would be set free by it (John 8:32). Yet astrology’s very view of the universe is flawed and false. Astrologers know this, but rather than change their system to conform to the truth, they choose to remain in error. The Scripture speaks truly when it tell us there is nothing in astrology to warm our souls (Isa. 47:14).

The Christian message about astrology was summed up very well nearly 30 years ago by the late Larry Norman when he wrote and sang these words.

"Forget your hexagram you’ll soon feel fine
Stop looking at the stars
You don’t live under the signs
Don’t mess with gypsies
Or have your fortune read
Keep your table on the floor
And don’t listen to the dead...
You can’t hitchhike to heaven
Or get there by just being good
The rules were set down long ago
When the spikes went in the wood"20

FOOTNOTES:

1 Mary Ellen bowden, "Astrology," The Software Toolworks Encylopedia, Grolier Electronic Publishing, 1992.

2 Carl Sagan, Cosmos, pg. 48-49, Random House, New York, 1980.

3 Ibid.

4 Walter Martin, "Danger In the Stars?" The World of the Occult, Vol. 2, (now available online at www.waltermartin.org) Santa Ana, CA, One Way Tapes, 1977.

5 Ibid.

6 Benjamin Walker, "Divination," The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia, Grolier Electronic Publishing Inc., 1992.

7 Brown, Driver & Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB-Gesnesius Lexion), from BibleWorks 2.3, Hermeneutika, Seattle WA 1993-1994 (Bible Study Software).

8 Ann Frakas, "Ziggurart," Multimedia Encyclopedia.

9 See Daniel 1:17-2:4-5, 26-28; 4:7-8; 5:2,7-8,11.

10 See J.S. Wright, "Divination," New Bible Dictionary, pg. 321, Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1962.

11 Bruce Cockburn, "Cry Of A Tiny Babe," Nothing But A Burning Light, Columbia, 1991.

12 Bowden, Op. Cit.

13 Martin, Op. Cit.

14 J.M.A. Danby, Multimedia Encyclopedia.

15 Quoted by Francis A, Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 5, pg. 233, Crossway Books, Weschester, Illinois.

16 Sagan, Op. Cit., pages 49-50.

17 William S. Babcock, "Saint Augustine," Multimedia Encyclopedia.

18 Augustine, The Confessions, pgs. 80-81, 1981 Moody Press Edition.

19 Ibid. pg. 170.

20 Larry Norman, "Forget Your Hexagram," Upon This Rock, 1969-1970

Bibliography

Augustine, The Confessions (Books One to Ten), Paul M. Bechtel, Ed, Moody Press Edition, 1981.

Bushell, Michael S., BibleWorks for Windows, Version 2.3, Hermeneutika, Computer Bible Research software, Seattle, WA, 1993-1994.

Cockburn, Bruce, Nothing But A Burning Light, Columbia Records, New York, 1991.

Martin, Walter, "Astrology, Danger in the Stars?," The World of the Occult, Vol. 2 (digital download at waltermartin.ord), One Way Tapes, Santa Ana, CA, 1977.

Multimedia Encyclopedia (on CD ROM), The Software Toolworks, Novato, CA, 1992 Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc.

New Bible Dictionary, Wm. B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1962

Norman, Larry, Upon This Rock, (Music CD) Kingsway Publications Ltd., Eastbourne, East Sussex, United Kingdom, 1969-1970.

Sagan, Carl, Cosmos, Random House, Inc., New York, 1980

Schaeffer, Francis A., The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 5, "A Christian View of the West," Crossway Books, Westchester, Illinois, 1977.