Is Astrology a science or Pseudo-science

  • By Bhupendra Madhiwala
  • June 22, 2023
  • A short and simple article that explores if Astrology is a science.

Astrology is the study of the positions and movements of the stars and planets at the time of a person’s birth. Many people believe that celestial bodies affect the events in people’s lives. Astrology is considered as unscientific. How can the electromagnetic field and gravity generated by even a large planet like Jupiter, which is at such a vast distance from Earth, have an effect on our minds and bodies? 


Any scientific method has to have five basic steps, namely: make an observation and record it; ask a question; form a hypothesis; make a prediction based on the hypothesis; and test the prediction.


First published in Journal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.


Humans have observed celestial bodies in the sky and their movements for thousands of years. How they did that without advanced instruments is a wonder! The movements of the Sun and Moon can be observed during the day with the naked eye.


The early astronomers concluded correctly that the Moon rotates around the Earth but wrongly that the Earth is the centre of the Universe and the Sun too moves around the Earth! In 1543 CE, Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus proved just by observations with the naked eye that the Earth and other planets moved around the Sun. It was proved without doubt in 1610 CE by Galileo after he invented the telescope.


When the twin facts of the nine planets moving in elliptical orbits around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth was accepted, the fad for drawing up horoscopes arose. Noting the correct time of birth down to the minute is crucial for drawing up a horoscope.


The document used is the Panchangam (in the West the table plotting the position of celestial objects is called an ephemeris). It has evolved over thousands of years. Software is of course now available to draw up the birth chart accurately.


There are different methods of reading a horoscope in India, though only two types of periods, namely ashtotari with a lifespan of 108 years and vinshotari with a lifespan of 120 years are frequently used. The two methods of reading a horoscope, having different dashas and antardashas, had to be reconciled.


People generally opted for one or the other based on their own or their astrologer’s choice, resulting in different predictions for a person’s life. The predictions varied widely depending on the skill, experience and motives of the astrologer. When the reading of a horoscope is so subjective and biased, how could one accept astrology as a science? 


An experienced and knowledgeable astrologer may be able to predict the future accurately. Unfortunately such astrologers kept their knowledge to themselves, or at best passed it on to their shishyas if any. Ego and ignorance hindered the documenting of mistakes in predictions, which over a period of time could have been examined with an open mind. Believers in free will and free choice are never convinced that astrology is a ‘working empirical science’. 


On the other hand, Western astrology, which puts people born in a certain month under a particular zodiac sign, is not scientific either. Putting forth the same predictions for one-twelfth of the global population is not scientific at all!


We do not have logical explanations for the two major happenings in a person’s life, the time and circumstances of his or her birth and death. Twins born within minutes of each other turn out to have different lives. Many people die at the same moment in man-made accidents and natural disasters, while a few who were right there with them, survive! 


Billions of horoscopes are studied and the future of the owners predicted. Yet, we do not have documented data to research and provide scientific correlations of the predictions with the movements of heavenly bodies. Until that happens, astrology will remain a pseudo-science.


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 15 June, 2023 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.


To read all articles on Astrology


Also read

1. Astrology, Science of the New Millennium

2. Fate, Free Will and Vedic Astrology

3. Jyotisha, Hindu Astrology

4. Introduction to Panchang and Indian Calendar

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