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(VI.) HISTORY - The Coming of Christianity

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Author Topic: (VI.) HISTORY - The Coming of Christianity  (Read 251 times)
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« on: August 17, 2007, 06:50:27 pm »


The most prominent of all early antagonists of astrology, St Augustine, cannot entirely be freed from the accusation of taking a short cut, or at least not thinking the subject through thoroughly or originally. Augustine was born in 345 (he died in 430) in Numidia, of a devoutly Christian mother.

A trained rhetorician, he was at first a Manichean, but was converted to Christianity by the sermons of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, where Augustine was teaching rhetoric. His early life, which included various sexual irregularities, is frankly described in his Confessions, and astrology is mentioned there too; but his main attack on it comes in the Christian Doctrine and The City of God.

His case against astrology is simple, unsubtle and mistaken: simply that it enslaves human will by claiming that the entire course of a life can be predicted from the stars. If predictions did come true, he said, it was through coincidence or demonic intervention. 'Those that hold', he writes in the fifth book of The City of God,

that the stars do manage our action, our passions, good or ill, without God's appointment, are to be silenced and not to be heard, be they of the true religion or be they bondslaves to idolatry of what sort soever; for what does this opinion do but flatly exclude all deity? ... and what part has God left him in thus disposing of human affairs, if they be swayed by a necessity from the stars, whereas He is Lord of stars and men.

He then produced the old argument that if astrology worked, twins should have precisely the same destiny. (If they did, incidentally, it was nothing to do with astrology, he said, but because their background, environment, upbringing was similar; if they did not, it was a proof that astrology did not work.)

True, Nigidius had tried to explain the dissimilarity between the lives of twins by rapidly turning a pot on a potter's wheel and splashing ink upon it, showing how far apart the splashes landed, and adducing from this that on a swiftly turning earth the planets would be in different positions even for twins born with one holding the other's heel. St Augustine was unimpressed. If astrology was as complicated as that, how could an astrologer possibly claim to be able to make firm predictions? (He seems to have taken this, and several other arguments, more or less straight from Cicero's De divinatione.)
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 08:06:25 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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