I’m often interested to look at a few of the things that can be found at Phil Blait’s Bad Astronomy. Some of the things he writes about – debunking the ideas of a face on Mars and that we never went to the moon – are great just because those really are ridiculous notions that are based on misinformation.
However, I was glancing through the new posting up about astrology and I couldn’t help but feel like Phil Blait might have overstepped some bounds. Now, I’m all for questioning the abstract metaphysical constructions we have in society and our own minds, and astrology would certaintly be included in that, because of the most part all this metaphysical junk is just that – junk! I think science is very powerful and is pretty much all you need (some might argue differently for things like morals and ethics, but that’s not what I’m talking about now), but I also think we must admit that the science we have available is no where near the complete picture.
One misconception people often have is that the Big Bang theory is a description of how the universe came into being. In one of my classes this year, Relgion & The Sciences, this was used as a starting point to discuss the discussion of creation between those two fields. This caused great problems with me because that meant that an entire section of the course was based on a fallacy. The Big Bang says nothing about how the universe was created, but only how the universe as we know it today developed in its early stages. When the theory was introduced in that religion course, the prof told us about how the universe started as an infinitely dense and infinitely small point. Well there’s your first clue that the discussion is flawed – infinities are a nearly sure sign that there are problems with a theory! And yet there we went for two weeks focusing our discussions around this so called “t=0″ that scientists don’t even believe in, just because the theologians thought they finally had something to help their case.
My point is that despite everything science has to say about the universe today, there are some things which, even though they don’t sound like they’ll ever fit in with what we do know, there’s nothing there to rule them out. Creation is one of these things. Though I don’t think science is leading us towards a discovery of God in any way, I think there is still room for him in a very external kind of way. (No matter how far back or how well we describe the beginnings of the universe, you can always say that God still caused it. Even if you want to bring in more advanced ideas like string theory, which have their own way of describing how the universe might have actually come into being, you might still like to believe that God started it, and I don’t think there’s any way a scientist can prove you wrong.)
Bringing us back to my original train of thought, astrology I think is also one of these fields that is slightly outside of science at this point. While Phil Blait is right that astrology survives mostly because it stays vague in its predictions, and that science has no way of validating any of the claims that the position of stars and planets may actually affect us in any meaningful way, he is not right in dismissing that there may be some other basis or medium for what astrology stands for.
I’m not saying that I believe astrology actually works, just as admitting that there is room for a God doesn’t mean I believe there actually is one. I just kind of like the idea of something metaphysical or existential permeatting the universe… not in any real scientific way, aside from something like chaos theory (I believe a butterfly flapping its wings in China is responsible for me forgetting to buy cream cheese to go with my bagels). I just think it would be nice. Like, Robert J Sawyer’s idea of “psychospace” in his book Factoring Humanity, Shinto, Native American religions, pantheism, etc. Even if it’s not substantiated by science, it might make us all a bit healthier psychologically. That may be the argument organized religions like Christianity use as well, but I think I mean it in a slightly different way… Read Factoring Humanity, and at the end of the book, you’ll see how an appreciation of psychospace helps humanity.
Again, I am sympathetic with Pocahontas:
I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name