Author Topic: Astrology  (Read 157 times)

Online Daniel

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Astrology
« on: May 03, 2021, 09:27:04 AM »
Does the Church have any official teachings with regard to astrology / horoscopes?

I often see it grouped in with divination and the occult and other magical and superstitious practices. But I don't see why this is the case. Astrology seems to be more of a natural science. The knowledge sought by the astrologer doesn't have anything to do with demons... and neither is it the case that the knowledge, or the pursuit, is contrary to God's will. The underlying theory (at least on a macro level) seems perfectly compatible with Christian revelation too: God really does order the events of human history, and He really does order the courses of the stars, and there most likely is a real harmony between the two, since both reflect God's one will. Whether it actually works or not is another question, but I'm not seeing how it could be morally bad in itself. (Obviously it can be abused. But the same can be said of any science.)

Anyway, has the Church ever actually condemned it?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 09:36:32 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Melkor

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Re: Astrology
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 10:39:31 AM »
I think you are confusing astrology with astronomy.
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Offline Jayne

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Re: Astrology
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 10:58:11 AM »
I think you are confusing astrology with astronomy.


For most of history they have been so closely tied that it was difficult to separate them.  (Alchemy and chemistry are a similar pair.) Making a clear distinction, as we do now, is a relatively recent development.

But there has always been an aspect of astrology that is evil and the Church has always been opposed to it.  There is an overview in the Catholic Encyclopedia: https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02018e.htm  The consistent trend was that whenever people attempted to do the natural science aspect it soon became corrupted by the superstition/ false religion aspect.

Anyhow there are plenty of condemnations going back to the Patristic period and even the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (however much weight one gives that) strongly condemns astrology.
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Online Daniel

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Re: Astrology
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2021, 12:30:21 PM »
I think you are confusing astrology with astronomy.

Yeah, to clarify, the biggest distinction between the two (at least as I see it) is:

- Astronomers generally don't believe in, or are otherwise not interested in, the possibility that the celestial motions and the relative positions of the stars could have any sort of deeper meaning or significance. They basically study the stars either to attain more knowledge about stars and astrophysics, or else for utilitarian purposes (launching space probes, space travel, predicting if any comets will be hitting the earth in the near future, etc.)

- Astrology, in the most basic sense, involves the prior assumption that celestial motions, and the relative positions of the stars, have some sort of deeper significance. Like a sort of poetic significance, with God as poet. The celestial alignments are (or might be) in some way correlated with earthly happenings (the rise and falls of kings, war, famine, plague, etc.), and so the astrologer seeks to examine, identify, and document these correlations, either in order to attain a better appreciation for the divine providence at work, or else to make useful predictions about future events.

Obviously there is a lot of room for superstition to creep in. Some people believe the stars are gods, and that these gods are the ones directly causing the earthly events to happen. Others think that astrology is incompatible with free will. And some people live their lives according to their horoscope, rather than trusting in God. But none of this is really what I'm talking about. I'm just speaking in a more general sense.
There is also room to question whether there actually are any such correlations (apart from a few that may be attributable to chance). But again, that's not what I'm talking about.

Thanks Jayne, I'll give that article a read.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 12:41:14 PM by Daniel »
 
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Offline Prayerful

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Re: Astrology
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2021, 05:24:41 PM »
Urban VIII ruled against it, but was himself a very keen astrologer. Anyhow it seems to be variously nonsense and a form of divination.
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Offline GiftOfGod

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Re: Astrology
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2021, 11:25:43 PM »
Urban VIII ruled against it, but was himself a very keen astrologer.

Where can I read more about this?
 

Offline Insanis

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Re: Astrology
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2021, 12:46:09 PM »
The knowledge sought by the astrologer doesn't have anything to do with demons... and neither is it the case that the knowledge, or the pursuit, is contrary to God's will.

Actually, inordinate pursuit of knowledge is a sin, the vice is called "curiosity".

The theological term must be separated from casual usage: it the distinction between the vice of curiosity and the virtue of studiousness.

Seeking knowledge by itself can be sinful.

Also, seeking excessive preternatural or supernatural influence is a sin as well, the vice of superstition. It is opposed to the virtue of religion, giving proper praise and devotion to God.

So, astrology is merely one name for a particular activity that, in our modern day, is always superstitious or curious in a sinful nature.

Astrology in the Catholic Encyclopedia

In old times, the word covered more topics, but now that is separated into astronomy (and physics).
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