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More Astrology Follies

A commenter named Robert has taken me to task for my recent post denouncing astrology and relativism.  Robert was a member of my parents church organization for several years, during which time he heard a lecture I gave in 1987 about the "evils" of rock music.  I’ve long since repudiated that position, but people who have heard or read that statement often use it to discredit me.  Nonetheless, Robert raises some interesting points, which I address here:

After reading about your encounter with the new age astrologer I had to laugh, thinking about you standing up in front of thousands of people and telling them how evil rock music is and how you believed so strongly in your belief system and how you had to prove to us sitting in that tent in Montana how right you were. You sound like the same guy I heard back then, you just flipped your belief system. You went from white to black and didn’t realize that there are millions of colors.

Robert, thanks for reminding me of that infamous rock ‘n roll lecture. For the past 15 years, I’ve been on record as being a strong supporter of the validity of all types of music as freedom of expression. I have three sons in rock bands. (One is about to go on a major tour of the U.S. and Canada.) But you raise an interesting point: why should anyone listen to anything I have to say, then or now? I have a two-part answer to that question:

First of all, everything I had to say in my brief career as a minister, was based on statements from Scripture and authority, namely the teachings and authority of my parents. I was strongly encouraged–coerced would not be too strong a term–to take the position I took, do the research, and denounce rock music. It’s no secret that I always liked rock music from the time I first heard it as a child. Part of my coming-of-age in Church Universal and Triumphant involved taking a strong stand against the music I loved. It was a sort of loyalty test, an initiation, if you will, to prove that I would be the good son, following in the footsteps of my parents.

The second part of my answer involves my realization that Scripture and authority are not good indicators of truth, and in fact often lead to acceptance of glaring logical fallacies. So my new approach, hopefully tempered by my education, and 20 years of additional life experience, is to rely on empiricism and measurable, testable facts. So your statement that I went from white to black is really a false dichotomy, and ignores my well-documented attention to the nuances of reasoned argument. I have rejected all beliefs and belief systems. My stance against relativism is strongly grounded in the knowledge that information must always be held to a high standard of proof. My statements on rock music were little more than someone else’s opinions. My current philosophy is fact-based. If I can be shown that I’ve made a factual or logical error, I’m perfectly willing to recant and/or reconsider any of my positions.

Your encounter was with someone who did not have much education or knowledge and could not possibly argue science or logic with you. Therefore I will take over in her place, I have a B.Sc. degree, was in your parents church for 6 or 7 years and have studied astrology for 25 years.

I also have a good science education, having studied engineering at Northwestern University. I quit school, just a few credits short of my BSEE degree to go and work on the church’s bomb shelters.

Through the scientific method of trail and error I have concluded that a lot of the stuff in CUT was bullshit although not all, some was very good and enlightening and opened my eyes to many interesting ideas and thoughts and I enjoyed those years overall, it was kind of like living in Disneyland, or being in a movie, a very Neptunian experience, to put it in an astrological way. After 25 years of astrology I would say it is the most amazing science on this earth and it proves itself over and over again and fills me with awe every time I experience things in my life and when I observe it in others and I can watch the astrological correlations at the same time.

I’m highly skeptical of your claims about astrology, and I can cite multiple sources of double-blind tests showing that astrological readings fail utterly to predict anything about human beings or human events.

You wondered how the planets might affect us being so far away and that gravity is a force arising from the presence of mass, or a planet. Sean you should study some astronomy sometime and if you did you would realize that about 10% of the mass in the universe is made up from visible celestial objects and that almost 90% of the mass of the universe is composed of "dark matter". This dark matter has shaped the universe as we know it and without the gravitational pull of dark matter, the galaxies, stars and planets would not have formed. Given the fact that astronomers know very little about this dark matter and how it controls the universe and are just beginning to understand it, how can you say the planets and Sun and moon do not affect us they flow through this dark matter which must affect us and maybe is a part of us? The point is you do not know how the planets affect us, know one does, we can only put forth a hypothesis, and yours is that they have no effect on us, and mine after 25 years of observing them daily, is that they do have an effect on us.

Actually, Robert, I did study astronomy, and I am well aware of the existence of dark matter as well as many of the other modern cosmological theories. Also, you are making a positive claim, while I am merely asking for better evidence. The two are not equivalent.

Now don’t take my word for it, lets bring in some others with far greater knowledge and intelligence than me. Lets starts with Kary Mullis. Dr. Mullis received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993, for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Dr. Mullis earned a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972 and wrote a book titled, "Dancing Naked in the Mind Field," published by Pantheon Books in 1998. In his book he has a chapter titled, "I am a Capricorn" where he explains how he found astrology and did some tests to prove it and he concludes that it should be used by all counselors as it is an effective and valuable tool for understanding oneself and others. He concludes the chapter with his birthday and time and tells us we can know far more about him from his birth data than from reading his book.

I read Dr. Mullis book, about five years ago, and I liked his writing style, and I’m clearly impressed with his discoveries of the polymerase chain reaction. That however does not make him an authority on astrology. And arguments from authority are suspect in any case. Even Stephen Hawking has been wrong at times–that is the beauty of science. Scientists constantly reevaluate their own theories and opinions, and know to avoid making conclusions outside of their area of expertise. Scientists are the first ones to look for corroboration, and to be skeptical of their own claims. Plenty of scientists also make the mistake Mullis made, when they speculate on philosophy and the nature of reality. Francis Collins, also a pioneer in the field of human genetics, recently went on record in his new book The Language of God, claiming positive proof of the existence of God. This is nonsense. Scientists are human beings, and they are subject to the same foibles as the rest of us. They have no corner on epistemology. They have merely been trained in the techniques of observation, theory, experiment, and proof. Sometimes their hubris and subjective feelings lead them to forget their training. This happened also with Dr. Mullis, when he claimed to have seen a "glowing raccoon." He knew it was not possible, but yet he chose to follow his subjectivity rather than his training. I fear, this has also happened with his penchant for astrology.

Next we can look at Gunter Sachs. Sachs set out to test the assumptions off astrologers by gathering a team of scientists and statisticians which, over two years, analyzed the lives of nearly one million men and women. "In every case, there were significant results, way beyond what is explicable through mere coincidence." he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail newspaper on November 6th, 1997. To facilitate the research he set up the "Institute for the Empirical and Mathematical Examination of the Possible Truth of Astrology in Relation to Human Behavior". Then, using established statistical techniques and with help from the official statistics office in Switzerland (where the authorities have recorded the date and hour of birth of every citizen since 1875 his team gathered statistics on every aspect of human life.

Nice skimming from the Wikipedia article on Gunter Sachs! But again, we are short on specific evidence. I looked at the same article, and many people question Sachs’ statistical methods, and other studies have shown quite the opposite.

Michel Gauquelin was a French psychologist and statistician who, along with his first wife Françoise Schneider-Gauquelin conducted very important statistical research on astrology from the beginning of the 1950s to the present day. Up to his death, he tried first and foremost to show the inanity of astrology, in reaction to his father, who was an enthusiastic defender of the practice. Although he always remained highly critical of astrology in general, his attitude towards its existence changed as his studies progressed in the study of the diurnal cycle, which is related to the astrological houses. "Subsequent results only confirmed and amplified my initial discovery about the physicians. On the whole, it emerged that there was an increasingly solid statistical link between the time of birth of great men and their occupational success. … Having collected over 20,000 dates of birth of professional celebrities from various European countries and from the United States, I had to draw the unavoidable conclusion that the position of the planets at birth is linked to one’s destiny. What a challenge to the rational mind!" (Neo-Astrology, 1991)

Even if double blind peer-reviewed evidence were to bear out these claims, correlation is not causation. You seem to acknowledge this later with your clock-hands analogy. In order for any of these studies to be meaningful, a theory would have to be presented showing how the planets, or stars, or dark matter actually impacted human life. Beyond this, astrologers would also have to present scores of detailed causal case-studies, showing how trines, squares, conjunctions, etc. actually resulted in concrete measurable effects, and exactly what those effects were. Then, and only then, would astrology enter the realm of science.

Last but not least I call Richard Tarnas to the stand. Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind and Cosmos and Psyche, is a cultural historian and professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and founding director of its graduate program in Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness. He graduated from Harvard with an A.B. cum laude in 1972 and received his Ph.D. from Saybrook Institute. From 1980 to 1990, he wrote The Passion of the Western Mind, a narrative history of Western thought which became a bestseller and continues to be a widely-used text in universities throughout the world. His second major work, Cosmos and Psyche, challenges the basic assumptions of the modern world view with a new body of evidence that points towards a new perspective on the human role in the cosmos. Based on thirty years of research, Cosmos and Psyche is the first book by a widely respected scholar to demonstrate the existence of a consistent correspondence between planetary movements and the archetypal patterns of human experience, also called astrology. Cosmos and Psyche suggests a new possibility for reuniting religion and science, soul and intellect, ancient wisdom and modern reason in the quest to understand the past and create the future.

First off, I have to say you are awfully stuck on arguing from authority. Nobel Prize this, Ph.D. that–it all sounds very impressive to the layman. But again, even Ph.D.’s and Nobel prize winners still have to document their results. Your last two sentences (which I’m assuming are lifted from the promotional copy for Richard Tarnas’ book) are chockablock with unsupported claims and sweeping generalizations:

"Cosmos and Psyche is the first book by a widely respected scholar to demonstrate the existence of a consistent correspondence between planetary movements and the archetypal patterns of human experience, also called astrology." Would you care to be a little more specific as to which planetary movements have been correlated statistically with which archetypal patterns of human experience? Would you care to seriously claim that all other factors of genetics, birthplace, circumstance, nationality, economic station, and education have been eliminated, and such effects are based solely on an unexplained action-at-a distance?

"Cosmos and Psyche suggests a new possibility for reuniting religion and science, soul and intellect, ancient wisdom and modern reason in the quest to understand the past and create the future." Wow, I hate to be sarcastic here, but can this book also solve the energy crisis and end world hunger at the same time? I mean, Robert, I’m in the promotions business, it’s what I do for a living. The first thing you learn is not to oversell your product. I’m not even sure it’s possible to unify religion and science let alone the soul and intellect.  Religion is one of the most confused and contradictory of all human enterprises, and as far as the human soul is concerned, we don’t even know if it exists. Ancient wisdom might just be the ultimate oxymoron. The ancients ‘knew’ what they knew because their perspective was limited. There’s almost no information that hasn’t been updated and refined with time. We stand at a pinnacle of knowledge, but we know our knowledge will be superceded. Understanding the past? That’s called history. Creating the future? We all create the future every day.

From "An Introduction to Archetypal Astrological Analysis" Richard Tarnas writes; "From this point of view, the birth chart is not the randomly allotted prison-structure of our inexorable fate, but can be seen rather as defining the basic structure of our potential unfolding–suggesting the personal gifts and trials that we have chosen for this lifetime to work with and evolve through. Astrology illuminates the fundamental archetypal dynamics that profoundly condition our lives, which is not to say they absolutely determine our lives. Because our personal response to life always contains an element of unpredictability and potential freedom, and because astrology gives a greater understanding of our basic archetypal complexes and their timing, then a knowledge of our birth chart and transits can significantly increase the range of options, flexibility, and intelligence with which we approach life. The study of astrology can be extraordinarily liberating.

Finally, the issue of causal mechanism, or why astrology works: It seems unlikely to me that the planets send out some kind of physical emanations that causally influence events in human life in a mechanistic way.

I can’t tell if you’re quoting Tarnas, or speaking yourself, but either way, thank you for admitting here what my relativist friend would not. But you still seem to contradict yourself. Because earlier you were talking about “dark matter.” You used the classic argument from ignorance to say "how do we know the dark matter does not affect us. And maybe is a part of us?” Well, this question amounts to less than nothing. Obviously, you can’t prove a negative. That’s why scientists look for evidence before making claims or formulating theories. Any theory that can be proven also must be falsifiable.

The range of coincidences between planetary positions and human existence is just too vast, too experientially complex, too aesthetically subtle and endlessly creative to be explained by physical factors alone.

Whoa Nelly! That last sentence is practically a verbatim recitation of the teleological argument, used by "intelligent design" advocates to teach creationism in modern science classrooms. Your next statement is equally nebulous and appeals to your belief, with a vague reference to Ken Wilber’s overarching and controversial concept of "holons."

I believe that a more plausible and comprehensive explanation is that the universe is informed and pervaded by a fundamental holistic patterning which extends through every level, so that a constant synchronicity or meaningful correlation exists between astronomical events and human events. This is represented in the basic esoteric axiom, "as above, so below," which reflects a universe all of whose parts are integrated into an intelligible whole.

Again, Robert, come on. Are you actually trying to convince me of the efficacy of astrology based on the statement "as above, so below?" Sounds like primitive mirror-image morphology mixed with glib verbal simile to me. What kind of a science degree did you say you had? Or Tarnas?

From this perspective, the planets themselves are not "causing" anything to be happening in our lives, any more than the hands on a clock are now causing it to be 7:30 PM. Rather, the planetary positions are indicative of the cosmic state of the archetypal forces at that time. The fact that the planets constantly seem to indicate these things with such accuracy simply suggests that the cosmic order is much more profound and pervasive than our conventional beliefs have assumed.

So am I to conclude that you have rejected your "conventional scientific training?"

But the relationship between a specific planetary pattern and a human experience is best seen as one of meaningful correlation or correspondence, not one of simple linear causality. There is, however, a sense in which causality does enter into the astrological perspective, and this is in the sense of archetypal causation (comparable to Aristotle’s concepts of formal and final causes). While the physical planets themselves may bear only a synchronistic connection with a given human experience, that experience is nevertheless being affected or caused–influenced, patterned, impelled, drawn forth–by the relevant planetary archetypes, and in this sense it is quite appropriate to speak, for example, of Saturn (as archetype) "influencing" one in a specific way, or as "governing" certain kinds of experience. But why should the cosmos have established a systematic correspondence between planetary patterns and archetypally patterned phenomena in human lives? There are many possible answers to this question, not the least of which might point toward a kind of intrinsic aesthetic splendor in the universe, an overflow of cosmic intelligence and delight that reveals itself in this continuous marriage of mathematical astronomy and mythic poetry. But in more pragmatic, human terms, my sense of astrology is that the constant coincidence between planetary positions and human lives exists as a kind of universal code for the human mind to unravel, so that we can better understand ourselves and our world, rediscover our deep connection to the cosmos, and be more complete human beings."

Robert, I’m sorry, but both you and Tarnas have spectacularly failed to prove your case. If you can’t cite specific double-blind studies, I would suggest that you reassess your reliance on these questionable assumptions. I stand by my assertion that these links between heavenly bodies and human events are insufficiently supported by any existing evidence.

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Comments (14 comments)

Matt Crandall / August 30th, 2006, 11:47 am / #1

You know what gets me about letters/writing like your adversary here Sean? That they don’t seem to see the difference between actual facts and PROJECTING facts onto a situation. What I mean it that whenever we can’t explain something, humans come up with some kind of supernatural/untested explanation for it. We ALL do it, but not all of us RECOGNIZE that we are doing it.

I’ll give an example from my own life. I BELIEVE my mom has some limited prescient ability. I have no proof, other than limited experience. I can map out to you all the times that point towards it, sure, but that doesn’t constitute proof.

I also have an explanation for this ability. I BELIEVE that her apparent prescient ability is really an uber-fine tuned intuitive leap. Let me give you one example: my mom was in Africa when she was in the Peace Corps. She was hitchhiking when along came a land rover full of people offering her a ride. She had a bad feeling about it, nothing more, and decided to wait until the next ride came along. She caught another ride, and two miles down the road was the land rover, a tree squarely on top of it, and everyone inside dead.

So I BELIEVE that my mom tapped into a million tiny clues that were around her, and her mind made an intuitive leap to a conclusion, the warning of which came as a bad feeling.

But I can’t prove it, and never will be able to. Therefore, I will NEVER try to make someone else believe it, because that’s all it is for me: a BELIEF.

Every human has superstitions/unproven beliefs/etc of some kind… but again, the key is to recognize them as such: and as such always be skeptical of them.

Good post!

-olly

BlackSun / August 30th, 2006, 1:05 pm / #2

Thanks, Olly. Intuition is a hard thing to pin down. I agree it’s uncanny about your mom, (glad she made it). But as you said, we still have to look at causality and evidence.

Aaron Kinney / August 31st, 2006, 9:54 am / #3

Great deconstruction Sean!

And if you wanna get technical in regards to astrology, one should note that the orbits of planets and moons are not static. In fact, no planet or moon ever travels the same path twice in its orbit. In addition, Earth days used to be 6 hours long (millions of years ago) and an Earth year used to take a lot less than 8760 hours to complete (if we keep an hour at a constant value).

The same is true for other planets. Saturn didnt always take 29.5 years to orbit the sun, and in the future it will take longer for it to do so. The moon used to orbit the Earth much more frequently, and used to be about 4 times closer to us than it is today.

So if the personalities of humans are indeed dependent upon the spinning of spherical bodies around the sun and such, will the continued decay of these bodies’ orbits change the characteristics of “saggittariuses” or “capricorns” over time? Or will new “signs” need to be invented?

And does your friend Robert subscribe to Western “month-based” astrology, or Eastern “year based” astrology, or both? If Im born a Saggittarius in the year of the Rooster, does that make Robert come to different conclusions about my personality than if I were born a Saggittarius in the year of the Dragon?

Anyway, these issues that I brought up really are besides the point of your post, but they are interesting food for thought.

The fact that no planetary body performs the same orbit twice alone has damning implications for astrology.

Astrology has no support either in logical principle or in evidentary fact.

GF / August 31st, 2006, 12:18 pm / #4

In addition, there’s something called “geographic astrology”..which, as I understand it says that if you move away from your birth place, your ’signs’ are affected. Like you said Aaron, there’s no consistency to the system anyway.

Nevertheless, there is an application where I think astrology can be useful. The archetypes ( prototypical energies of the human psyche) suggested by the ’signs’ can be used as therapuetic tools to encourage people to process psychological material. Similar to Tarot the symbols and themes represented (which by definition are open to interpretation, and are intrinsic to human experience) allow the person recieving the “reading” to project whatever meaning that works for them. I think a skilled/gifted “reader” is someone who is intuitive and attentive to subtle cues and gestures which enable them to to do an effective lead-follow with the client. This can provide an effective venue for processing personal content…another form of therapy. The risk, and its a big one in my opinion, is that people often take the method too literally. Instead of looking at how one might communicate more effectively, they can blame it on mercury being retrograde. As empowering as any therapy can be, this aspect can enable people to deny personal responsibilty in places where it might behoove them to take it. I think there are probably some people who understand astrology as metaphor, and use it in a sophisticated manner..but I bet its the exception.

I wish people would get this! That the human experience can be boiled down to a number of common themes: death, birth, rebirth, love, betrayal, etc., all of which are described by and catagorized in astrology or any “oracle” and that anyone can, if they search for it, find something to relate their experinces to. It may seem like a reading is personally speaking to you, but if you put a bunch of people in a room and gave them the same reading, most could find something that matched their experience.

BlackSun / August 31st, 2006, 8:07 pm / #5

Aaron and GF, great points. One of my favorite things about astrology is the way it’s set up as a “geocentric” phenomenon.

Let me explain: Astrology was formulated during a time when the idea of a flat-earth was still alive and kicking. Even some who accepted that earth was a globe still thought it was the center of the universe.

So all of the “houses,” “conjunctions,” and “aspects” were based on the simple perception in the sky of planetary and stellar motion. Hence the concept of “retrograde” was thought to be a heavenly body actually turning around and moving backwards. That gave rise to the idea that whatever human affairs were related to that planet would slow down and become mired in problems.

Such “reversals of fortune” were linked by a false metaphor to the reversal of planetary motion.

But the planets don’t reverse motion, they only appear to. The ancients didn’t understand that from earth they were only seeing one axis of motion, rather than a circular orbit. Other astrological methods follow heliocentric patterns, but that’s not enough to rescue the whole enterprise from the indelible taint of pseudoscience.

So astrology was created out of the whole cloth from a set of simplistic assumptions about the universe. Adhering to these ridiculous notions would be like trying to convince chemists that they were really better off studying alchemy.

GF, I like your concept of Astrology as a stand-in for the true study of human archetypes. I think this is why it remains compelling, in the same way Tarot cards are compelling.

But we can create our new myths, look into our psyches, and engage in deep personal work without the need to fixate on a whole sky full of irrelevant clockwork.

Robert / September 1st, 2006, 3:29 pm / #6

RE: More Astrology Follies

[3 paragraph ad hominem attack deleted]

here is what Jung said about astrology:

In a letter written to written to Hindu astrologer, B.V. Raman, September 6th 1947 - Dr. Jung wrote: “Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I’ve been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call ‘projected’ - this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations.”

I know a great Jungian analyst named James Hollis and his books will help you, check them out at http://www.jameshollis.net/ He is not an astrologer or new age nut, just an extremely gifted and intelligent man, take it from me I have attended one of his workshops and read some of his books, he can help you Sean. Since you probably will avoid his site I will put some of his words here for you to read.:

http://www.jameshollis.net/books/mythologems.htm

I would have to say that “sophistic Scientism” best describes your belief system Sean.

As for the dark matter blurb I only put it in to counter your claim about the mass of planets argument you were using on that new age woman. You were omitting some information that could be an explanation of how the planets could affect us. I put it forth as possible explanation, not as a fact or something I believe, I do not know how the planets affect us, but I know they do after observing them in detail for 25 years. I could also put forth an idea that the planets may change or divert the solar winds and this may affect us on an electrical level, it was just thowing out ideas. We know what happens when the solar flares send blasts to the earth and can knock out electrical and communication equipment, and our bodies are filled with electrical energy, water and maybe filled with dark matter too.

I put in the ideas from Richard Tarnas to show a totally different way of looking at astrology and how it may work, and the whole quote was from him, not me, you have to argue against him, and you should read his whole book, Cosmos and Psyche, before you jump to a conclusion but it sounds like your mind is made up already.

I also wanted to bring in some other perspectives from other people who have far greater levels of intelligence and education than myself or you Sean, to show that not all astrologers are new age valley girls, and because in your scientism belief system you seem to believe people with lower levels of education are not worth listening to.

I sense that you are really disturbed by the fact I brought in an nobel prize winning biochemist and a Harvard educated scholar both of whom believe in and have studied astrology. The reason Kary Mullis won the nobel prize, is because he can see outside of the box and has an open mind, like all the good scientists. The mediocre scientists never win the nobel prize, only the best do.

[off-topic quotations deleted]

So you need a double blind study to prove astrology do you? Lets think about that for a moment, what about Gunter Sachs and his research? I’ll take it right out of Wikipedia:

Sachs’ rules
The team was to start with no assumptions at all.
The study must be based exclusively on empirical data.
Astrologers were not to be consulted.
The results were to be independently controlled.
Once the data was compiled he brought in a German research expert and two statisticians from Munich University who checked the figures for distortions. The team’s extraordinary findings on thousands of topics can be seen in his book The Astrology File, a bestseller published in Germany in 1997.
Sachs was also very surprised to discover that no government institution or university had ever put up the money for basic astrological research. He said that his investigation had cost “less than the price of a luxury car”, and contrasted this with the millions squandered around the world by scientists “every day” on what he called “scientific trivialities.”

Do the COX-2 inhibitors drugs Celebrex and Vioxx mean anything to you? How about DDT? What about Thalidomide? How about vitamin C and E? I am sure they all passed the scientific tests and every week new double blind studies come out and contradict the ones before, just like you have stats that contradict Gunter Sachs work, someone else will come up with a study that will support him. Any test can be manipulated to get the data you want, especially when your ego and reputation is on the line, or you want to make some money. Gunter Sachs did not need any money and already had fame and status so why did he do it? Kary Mullis has the fame and status why did he do it? Richard Tarnas was already well known and read by many including Joseph Campbell who wrote about his book THE PASSION OF THE WESTERN MIND,

“The most lucid and concise presentation I have read, of the grand lines of what every student should know about the history of Western thought. The writing is elegant and carries the reader with the momentum of a novel… It is really a noble performance.”

So why would Tarnas write a 500 page book on astrology? They all must be stupid and/or deluded or maybe brainwashed by someone….. Oh my God maybe I am in another cult! The astrology cult! Help me Sean, help me!
Or, maybe there is something about astrology……

[lengthy Rumi quotation deleted]

GF / September 1st, 2006, 7:14 pm / #7

Robert,

As a therapist who utilizes and (like you) has great respect for Jung and many of his ideas, I ‘d like to point out that I hear you expressing quite a bit of (not so thinly vieled) anger at Sean (and frankly anyone who may agree with him). I suggest you consider what thats about. Your comments that he should get therapeutic help, are rather sarcastic in feel. Its my experience clinically, that when a person says, in the tone you take….you need therapy..there’s usually some projection taking place. You may wish to consider taking a look in the mirror. It seems like some wounds of your own have been stirred. A “complex” seems to have reared its head. I do not intend to offend. Take it of leave it. Its what I see.

If you feel so certain about your position, what does it matter if he disagrees? If you have the truth, isn’t that enough? Certainly any hope for exchange of information for truths sake is getting degraded as the drive to be right becomes more important that a dispassionate discussion of ideas. There’s a tremendous amount of competition I hear from you.

As for the Jungian quote you cited, I don’t read anything there that I didn’t speak to already; the value of using the archetypes in understanding the psyche. Jung really said nothing different from what I was getting at, that the “horoscope sheds(..light) on certain complications in the character”… sheds light, means …sheds light, that the constellations can be helpful as symbolic tool. Again, thats my read. If, however my interpretation is not what Jung meant, and he meant he literally thinks the signs affect a person other than as representative energies, then I’d have to part ways with Dr. Jung in this case. The fact that I agree with and respect many Jungian concepts and that I value Nobel prize winners gifts, doesn’t mean they are always accurate. As Sean says, its easy to fall into the trap of argumant by authority. I won’t.

You also seem to have missed that Sean agreed with the value of astrology as metaphor, as a psychological tool, but then you seem so invested in finding cause to mock him. Again, I can’t help but notice your investment in having his agreement, or approval.

Honestly, I don’t observe Sean to be reflexively bouncing from one polar extreme to another. In my view, this is simply a man who after much analysis has taken a stand….his own… and decided that the scientific METHOD is the most reliable path to understanding objective reality. I see someone who has a sophisticated grasp of psychology , and a very incisive intellect.

Lastly, I have never been associated with the Prophets’ cult, or any for that matter, and I certainly don’t idolize Sean, nor do I agree with all of his views. I do however, respect his reasoning , and his willingnesss to take unpopular stands.

As for thinking outside the box, I know few people as willing as he is to do just that.

BlackSun / September 1st, 2006, 8:21 pm / #8

Robert,

Since you began your reply with a three paragraph ad hominem attack, it’s pretty clear that you are grandstanding and conducting yourself in a trollish manner. I should have seen this coming.

I gave you the benefit of the doubt even after your previous ad hominems–taking the time to explain to you how and why my position had changed. But you spat on my graciousness by ignoring my explanation, even repeating and intensifying your exact same attack. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess. If you want to start your own blog and rant on about what an asshole you think I am, be my guest.

But this is not a place to settle your personal scores with me or my former church. If you want to debate on topic, that’s fine. But you didn’t address any of my points. Your response pretty much consists of a scattershot denunciation of modern science as we know it. That doesn’t fly here.

You can’t have it both ways. Make a choice: Either astrology is a science that you believe will ultimately be proven, or it’s mythology and science is bunk anyway. You are hedging both sides of the argument. If you could just stay in one place without hopping around from Nobel Prize winners to Rumi to prove your case, we might get somewhere.

If you have anything else to personally CONTRIBUTE to this debate,(preferrably with some evidence, or at least insight), then I’m all ears. But if you come back with more of the same twaddle, further comments will be deleted and I will ban your I.P. address. Got it?

Carlene Wagner-Jackson / October 1st, 2006, 10:21 am / #9

Sean - I went to school with you at Montessori International in Calabasas from 1979-1980. I was probably the only student at MI to come to the school on their own, without my parents permission. I left a bad home environment to what I felt was paradise (even though a lot of it was in our own minds). Still - it was ideal. What I expected before I came was a christian environment, later I discovered it was a cult. I remember the beautiful landscape, praying for hours every day, and wonderful vegetarian food. We never had enough sleep though, lol. I loved the fellowship. I never fit in with you and your sisters, and you probably wondered how I ever got there. I am impressed with how far you have come. I now live in Texas. I am married with two children. I left the church before you did. Still, I am grateful for the safe environment, and excellent learning opportunities your mother provided for me, even if the religion was a beautiful story. God Bless you and your family - Carlene -flowerlady62@sbcglobal.net

BlackSun / October 1st, 2006, 11:16 am / #10

Hey Carlene, I remember you! You’re right, I didn’t know that you came from outside the church. I though you were a member like everyone else. True, you were pretty conservative, while I was rebelling. But I’m sure it would have been different if we weren’t both trying to escape a “bad home environment” in different ways. Now I’m not trying to compare my upbringing with yours, but simply to say, we all had difficult situations. Religious abuse and mental abuse can also leave deep scars that take a lifetime to heal.

It’s so tough when you are a teenager, your identity is forming, you don’t know what the hell to believe or who to trust. If I’d known then what I know now…

I’ve made sure my three sons, who are 20, 17, and 15, didn’t have to go through this. I’ve educated them in critical thinking skills, psychology, and philosophy. I’ve treated them like adults since they were very young, sharing all the insights I’ve gained. So they didn’t have to flounder as teenagers like we did.

Anyway, I’m glad you didn’t have the same stifling experience I did at the church, and glad you got something positive out of it.

best regards,

Sean

deek / December 24th, 2006, 11:58 pm / #11

The problem with many, even astrologers, and their belief of astrology is that they look for how planets affect behavior. Planets DO NOT HAVE A DIRECT AFFECT, at least one that has been found yet. The planets, however, are part of a larger system that helps facilitate our lives on this planet. Astrology simply interprets that system.

If you want to disprove astrology, disprove that the Earth’s position is not relative to every other body in the universe (good luck).

In my mind astrology is not a science, never has been. It has always been about telling a story about our lives using the stars and planets as guides. Science needs to work toward perfection, but astrology is different. It is about finding the stories that tie our lives together with the way the universe operates. I know in a world that looks for exact answers this view is hard to accept, but astrology provides too many “right” answers to denounce because what we expect of it differs from what it actually does.

Sean Lonergan / January 21st, 2008, 7:32 pm / #12

Concerning Jung and Richard Tarnas.

In his book ”Cosmos and Psyche”, Richard Tarnas clearly bases his case on the idea that Jung’s concept of synchronicity is valid…

If one is to honestly criticize Tarnas, he should start at the core of the subject and examine the theory of syncronicity.

reverse phone lookup / March 4th, 2013, 4:44 pm / #13

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coventrywest / August 11th, 2013, 12:30 am / #14

Instead of observing however one would possibly communicate additional effectively, they'll blame it on mercury being retrograde. As empowering as any medical care may be, this facet will modify individuals to deny personal responsibilty in places wherever it would conform to them to require it. i believe there square measure in all probability some those who perceive star divination as trope, and use it in an exceedingly subtle manner..but I bet its the exception.

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