Stephen Hawkings debunks astrology

Published January 19, 2001 8:55PM (EST)

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Oh, thanks so much, Mr. Know-It-All.

Just 'cause the Western Scientific World adores you as some sort of poster child does not give you the right to critique the belief system of those inferior Third World types. Just because you have not personally discovered astrology, and probably haven't even researched it, doesn't mean it is not valid as a belief system for millions of people. The Western tradition has many instances of belief systems that have been "proven" fallible by the scientific method, and modern religion is constantly being nipped in the heels by well-meaning but spirituallly uninformed members of the "Gots ALL De Answers" scientific community. But you, yourself, even acknowledge the possibility, NAY, even the probability of "God" or some kind of supernatural intelligence, in the final chapters of your book. You conclude that Einstein was WRONG -- that "God" DOES play dice with the universe. Then you go on to postulate that maybe there is a "God." Well, whaddaya know.

So, criticize Einstein all you want. Dissect his theories all you want. Try your best to discover what made the Big Bang bang. But don't try to inform a bunch of Indians about their belief systems. You wouldn't appreciate it if one of those unevolved types gave you a lecture on the narrow-mindedness of Western thought and the arrogance of scientific intellectualism and the destruction of nature performed and condoned in the name of science. Anyway, those underdeveloped Indians already KNOW about the information you supposedly "discovered" in your book. THEIR books -- the Vedas -- go back THOUSANDS of years, and they describe EXACTLY in their archaic language what you were so happily divulging to mankind in your masterwork. Maybe that's why they gave you a standing ovation; some intelligent white guy FINALLY understood what they've been trying to tell us all along -- we are standing on the crossroads of infinity, and are stewards of a vast cosmic order. Maybe they developed their astrology because they tried to get that message across THOUSANDS of years ago, and astrology was the best tool to inform mankind about its relation to the cosmos. Oh well. It just isn't important to look at astrology as a cultural tool, and as a vehicle for understanding your relationship to the wonders of creation, but instead to view it as a debased pseudoscience. Thanks for informing them, Mr. Hawkings. I'm sure they took the criticism of their belief system in stride, bowing to the Divinity within yourself anyway.

-- William Dean

I read with interest the news piece about Stephen Hawking's debunking of astrology. Let me say that I have only a casual interest/curiosity in astrology, but I am startled by the degree, frequency and accuracy of many of its pronouncements. Fancying myself a man of science, but not having a "religious" zeal for it as do some, I have suspended and even resisted belief in astrology. HOWEVER, the coincidences are simply too numerous and too frequent to totally ignore. I ask one thing of Mr. Hawking: If a body as large as an ocean of water (i.e., the tides) is influenced by the position of the moon, then how can we totally dismiss the possible effects of the heavenly bodies (especially one as large in both size and gravitational attraction as Jupiter) on a much smaller (and mainly water-filled!) body -- mine or yours? I'm not impatient for definitive answers -- someday we may all be surprised to find there is "something" to this astrology stuff. Meantime I will suspend judgment, remaining a casual observer.

-- Victor Balest

By Salon Staff

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