“What’s your sign?” a friend asked me some years ago. This zodiac sign was supposed to foretell my life through horoscopes. “I’m not into astrology” I replied. “My sign is cancer and it accurately blends with my personality and eating habits,” he said with a re-assuring smile. I was a bit surprised that a Bible believing Christian would find astrology astutely compatible with his Christian life. Tragically, there are many Christians in this shoe. They not only compartmentalise their lives but also curiously defend astrology as one of the ways of knowing God’s will.
Astrology is technically a form of divination and it shouldn’t be confused with astronomy – a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. From the earliest times, humans have observed the precise movements of the heavenly bodies and the seasonal changes of their locations in the firmament. The teleological framework points to the existence of God the Creator (Ps. 8:3).
Indeed, celestial bodies and their movements significantly influence our lives. The sun, around which the earth orbits, is a basic unit of human timekeeping. The moon influences ocean tides and rivers. The stars are reliable guides in navigation, even for astronauts, and a working knowledge of the constellations can be used to predict floods or seasonal changes. Astrology, however, though from astronomy, goes beyond the natural influence of the sun and moon on our environment. It asserts that the location and patterns of the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, planet, stars and constellations) reveal a person’s character and future.
Astrologers claim that the precise positions of the planets and the signs of the zodiac at the time of a person’s birth can influence his life course. This position at any given time is called a horoscope. Thus, people seek information about their lives (e.g their “predestined” actions, finances, marriage or future warnings) by observing the alignment of key heavenly bodies and “calculating” their interaction with one another and with the earth. Many people faithfully follow their daily horoscope affirming its veracity.
The practice of looking to the heavens for omens to direct earthly events has been traced back to ancient Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC. Evidence of this can be seen in ziggurats (monuments that marked the solstice and equinoxes and transits of the planets) discovered there by archaeologists. God directly warned His people against this in Deuteronomy 4:19. Following the Persian conquest of Babylon, astrology spread to Greece, Rome, Egypt and India. From India, Buddhist missionaries spread it to Central Asia, Japan, China Tibet and Southeast Asia. The Maya civilization also had an elaborate system of astrology. The “modern” form of astrology spread from hellenized Egypt influencing the Arabs and Europeans.
The early astrological system is based on the disproved geocentric model of the stars and planets rotating around the earth supposedly at the centre of the universe. Astrologers thought that the sun travelled through the sky yearly along a specific path, passing through the stars and constellations. This path was divided into 12 zones or segments with each zone named after the constellation through which the sun passed. This gave rise to the 12 signs of the zodiac. But science has now shown that the sun doesn’t travel around the earth, instead, the earth travels around the sun. This was one discovery that blew astrology out of the water.
Research has also shown that the different astrological signs have no correlation with the actual physical science of the stars. In some cases, a person claiming to be an Aries may actually be born during the period of Pisces. Some astrologers don’t base their predictions on stars but more on positions of planets during a birthday, but this is not without some problems as Dutch researcher, Nees Noorlander points out:
“For instance, ebb and flow are caused by the moon and the sun, but not by the planets. So the planets cannot influence your life. But even in the hypothetical case that there is an influence of the planets, which of the planets are important? Formerly astrologers used the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. But in the last centuries they discovered new planets: Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto in 1930. And the number of planets is not complete yet. The astronomers expect a tenth planet, which is too dark to see now.” (quoted by David Benoit and Eric Barger, Entertaining Spirits Unaware, 2000, 41)
Astrology is based on fatalism, an illogical and unbiblical belief. If horoscopes are based on truth, thousands of people born in the same month should have identical features and lifestyles. But this is not so. A study was conducted in a London hospital in 1958 in which more than 2000 babies born in early March of that year were registered. Based on the astrological system, these babies are “time twins” that should have identical characteristics. Researchers looked at more than 100 different characteristics, including occupation, anxiety levels, marital status, sociability, IQ levels and ability in arts, sport, mathematics and reading – all of which astrologers claim can be determined from astrological birth charts. The scientists failed to find any evidence of similarities between these people. Granted, a group of people born at different times can all die in the same accident thus refuting the uniform influence from the stars.
If our fate or destiny is tied to the stars and astrology unravels it, then it wrongly ignores the effects of genes, parenting, education, healthcare, climate and personal experiences in altering our choices, lifestyles and thinking even if we are born on a same day or month. This is also a reason to reject the “4 Temperament” theory, because like astrology, it attempts to reduce diverse and widely complex human personality into 4 cute boxes. It’s preposterous. In the astrological framework, there’s little or no room for positive change or personal development. Those relying on horoscopes to find a marriage mate soon realise that cultivating good character and moral values are what sustain good relationships. Students following the stars soon discover to their chagrin that success doesn’t just fall on people like cherries.
Some psychics in a desperate claw at validity argue that just as the stars led the Magi to baby Jesus in Bethlehem, the stars can also guide our lives. This is flawed exegesis. While its historically true that the wise men were astrologers from the East (Medes-Persia), God who created the stars used them to lead these men to Christ just as He also used a donkey to warn Balaam; ravens to feed Elijah and a fish to arrest Jonah. Certainly, God’s one-time supernatural use of the stars is not an implicit endorsement of the zodiac. Furthermore, when we examine the Bible in its entirety, God’s denunciation of astrology becomes clear.
In Isaiah 47:13-14, God says to Babylon: “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.” In ancient Babylon (and other cultures), astrologers and magicians wielded so much power that major military or political decisions weren’t made without consulting them, yet, their failures were documented in Daniel 4:7 and 5:7-11. Once you take away the superstition, quackery and lies making up astrology, what you have left is a demonic web. Little wonder the Maya who made use of an extensive system of astrological calculation couldn’t foresee the collapse of their own civilization in the 9th century AD.
Astrology doesn’t just lead people into the occult – it is occultism. In every instance where people dabbled into it in Scripture, they also adhered to deeper occult practices like sexual perversion, demon worship and child sacrifice (e.g 2 Kgs. 23:5-13). Worshipping of the heavenly bodies was closely linked with Molech worship; it’s hard to separate astrology from demonism (Jer. 8:1, Zeph. 1:5). Astrology divides the sky into 12 zones or “houses” which the sun passes through in an ecliptic fashion. These “houses” are considered to be abodes of specific deities which are symbolized as the 12 zodiac signs.
Ancient myths and occult writings such as The Book of the dead and the Pyramid texts contain cryptic descriptions of stories of deities residing in the heavens that control earthly events. In the Yoruba religion of West Africa, these deities are called “orisha.” In fact, the divination tray called Opon Ifa is similar to the astrological chart in that it’s also divided into 12 “houses” with each area ruled by a particular orisha.
Aries or Mars, symbolized as the ram is called Ogun (god of iron) in the Yoruba version. Pisces is called Olokun (sea deity); Gemini is Ibeji (twin deity); Scorpio is Oya (goddess of violent storms); Aquarius is Sango (god of lightning) and Leo is Orunmila (god of divination). Taurus, known as Baal or Marduk elsewhere is associated with Osun (fertility goddess).
The lies astrology is based on shows that it’s from the devil, the “father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). Now when a Christian who calls on the name of the Lord also identifies himself as “a Scorpio” or “a Leo” he is attaching himself to demons and cutting himself off from divine approval. This should be prayerfully renounced. You don’t need to know the future, all you need to know is the One who holds the future. When you come to Jesus, you won’t need the stars because you’ve found the Creator of the stars.