Today Pope Francis, addressing people during the Angelus, said: “When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you become submerged.”
The Pope then underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.”
I agree with the opinion that religions shouldn't be there to give comfort and an easy life. Unfortunately many so-called religious people consider their religion as another form of Valium, which made Karl Marx express the famous quote: “Religion is the opium of the people.”
Marx was right only very partially. He saw only the commonplace view of religions, not recognizing the liberating factor of a spiritual life and not acknowledging any higher stage of the human nature aside the materialistic level.
A spiritual path might bring to a mystical state of higher awareness or even enlightenment. Such a path is never easy nor quiet. A practitioner will face a number of difficulties and obstacles. In my 30 years of practicing a path through meditation, attending workshops, and listening to teachings, I still need to find a person who had an “easy” path. Never easy, but worth to travel.
The Pope considers astrology as people in their lower understanding of religion consider religions: as a means for reaching an easier life. No doubt there are many people approaching astrology or religions in such a way, but both can be much more than that.
By comparing astrology and religion and by advising to cling to the word of the Lord suggests that astrology competes with religion for people's search of life meaning and that we should prefer religion instead of "easy" astrology.
Actually, any tool for self-understanding and self-improvement as astrology, psychology or even neurobiology can rather cooperate with a religious and spiritual view of life.
Also, we should not confuse astrology with palmistry, tarot, fortune telling or occultism which are absolutely not related.
Astrology has been banned by religions basically for 2 reasons: one is that it's regarded as contrary to free will and the other that forecasting the future counters the “only God knows” paradigm.
Free will and astrology aren't opposite, actually they cooperate. Free will is proportional to the level of our awareness. As a tool for self-understanding, astrology raises our awareness, thus increasing our free will.
And astrology cannot actually predict the future. See the article Astrology forecasts and astrologers don't know what will actually happen to you.
A religious person might say that only God knows. A scientist might talk about quantum theory and indeterminacy. In any case, reality is in my view too creative and unpredictable to be framed or forecast by any system, astrology included. As mystics from many traditions recounted their experiences, reality is a big unknown, unfolding in front of us.
I thus somehow agree with the Pope when in another speech (also against astrology) he told the believers “not to look to horoscopes or to consult fortune-tellers to foresee the future; but to allow God to guide them in a journey full of surprises.”
Though, I'd rather say “not to look to horoscopes or to consult fortune-tellers to foresee the future; rather, reflect on what astrology can teach about yourself and deepen your self-knowledge. As you deepen your self-knowledge, you'll know the nature of the wholeness which you are part of and you'll acknowledge that the future is inherently unknown. You'll flow with an extended present where knowing the future won't anymore be an issue.”
People who believe in God might recognize that astrology, along with the whole universe of planets and constellations, is here also to support our understanding, as a scientist who believes in God might consider the natural laws of physics not in conflict with religion, but as created by God and discovered by humans for the improvement of our knowledge.
Often, when people compare astrology with religions, is because they are both considered "beliefs." However, differently from religions and dogmas, astrology is not a belief system.
Astrology can be experienced and tested through personal interactions and inner inquiring. Astrology books aren't unquestionable, like religious books are. Astrology it's an evolving dynamic branch of knowledge.
As a researcher, I'm not a “believer” of anything, I found value in astrology and I like to deepen my knowledge. At the same time I'm aware that astrology is not an exact science.
However, astrology can, as anything else, also become a belief system. We should discriminate between popular astrology versus real astrology. Popular astrology is the sign and horoscope astrology popularized by magazines. The “sign” astrology was created as entertainment by newspapers. Too bad too many people believe in it.
Astrology is a tool for understanding ourselves. As such, it's something to observe with a detached attitude, just like science is. I know most of the scientists won't agree on this affirmation, but, again, is based on a misunderstanding of what real astrology is.
Totally, thoroughly right! :D
By the way, there are esoteric, occultist sects derivated from religion (including the mainstream ones) that are into astrology and into science at the same time. xD