THOUGHTS ON A SCIENCE OF LIFE|
Part III: On the Value of Astrology for a Science of Life
by Arthur M. Young (1992)
Since there is no way known to science by which the planets could influence human events, it is natural that scientists have rejected astrology. On the other hand, people who have studied the subject find enough evidence for its validity so that, despite a lack of quantitative precision comparable to some science, there is sufficient evidence for general agreement among those who practice the subject that they can employ the same rules and get the same results.
We come thus to an impasse between theory or belief and fact. In the three hundred years since the Copernican revolution, when science got its start in Galileo and Newton's discovery of the laws that accounted for the motion of the planets, science has repeatedly revised its theories to accommodate facts that when first discovered seemed incredible.
In retrospect facts have won out. For example, Galileo with his telescope could see mountains on the moon, and this was not accepted at the time because the moon was believed to be a perfect sphere. He demonstrated that bodies fall at the same speed irrespective of their weight, whereas Aristotle, the authority, had said they fell with speeds proportional to their weight. Most scientific discoveries were similarly at first at variance with widely held belief. Even Planck's major finding that light was radiated in "quanta" or units of action, such that their energy divided by the frequency was always the same, was not generally accepted for 25 years. Here again it was theory that had to yield to facts. Quantum theory, which recognizes uncertainty, replaced the determinism of classical theory.
One could then ask, since the objection of science to astrology is theoretical (it could not be true because there is no explanation for it), it must eventually follow that the facts of astrology would win out and make it necessary for science to revise its theories, as has happened so often before -- and properly too, since science got its start, and has made its progress, by attention to facts.
Now I realize that science would insist at this point that the facts of astrology have not been proved; but since I have, to the best of my ability, verified many of the claims of astrology I would have to answer science as Newton answered Halley when the latter criticized him for his study of astrology. "I have studied the matter; you have not," was Newton's reply.
In any case the judgment of science against astrology is based on a belief of science, and science has progressed by revising its beliefs, not by insisting on them.
Which brings us to a most important aspect of the subject. Science, by which I mean the first principles on which physics is founded, and which entitle physics to its claim that the other sciences -- chemistry, biology, etc. -- can be reduced to the same laws on which physics is based, does not include any first principles which predict or even accommodate life. To the science of physics, life is an accident, an extremely unlikely one at that, and none of the principles which science has discovered and on which it is based, even though they be necessary to life, are sufficient to account for it. Presumably life has come about through some sort of evolution, but the current view that evolution is the result of chance and necessity is the opposite of a first principle, in that it gives a positive role to chance. Chance is accident; it is something that happens despite law, as an exception to law. As for necessity, to say that survival is necessary to life is a truism, not a principle.
Science is based on the derivatives discovered by Leibniz and Newton. The derivatives are rates of change. The first derivative is rate of change of position, or velocity; the second derivative is rate of change of velocity, or acceleration. The third derivative, change of acceleration, because it is an option, is ignored by science. But it is because we can change acceleration that we can drive or control a car. Through control we use the laws of determinism. This control is the principle which makes it possible for life, in similar fashion, to use the laws of determinism to control metabolism, to store energy and move against entropy. But since the third derivative is not recognized or so interpreted by current science, I will set it aside and call attention to another feature of life which can assist in laying at least a foundation for the phenomena of life. This foundation is prerequisite to a fair consideration of astrology.
What do we know about life? One thing is self-evident: life depends on temperature. It is impossible below freezing and above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, a relatively narrow range (from 483 absolute to 603 absolute), whereas the temperature range in phenomena studied by physics covers from zero to millions of degrees. We also find life is dependent on the sun for this temperature, and that the growth of plants is seasonal; it varies with temperature.
The only attempt at an explanation of life that I've heard was that, for life to get started, there must have been some kind of self-contained cell which exchanged energy with the environment and experienced this variation of temperature. Because of this variation there were times when it could draw on the environment to gain energy, and times when it would suffer a loss of energy. The cell, subject to this variation, could only survive if it stored more energy than it lost. There would be a premium on having a net gain, otherwise it would expire in winter.
Once having acquired the ability to store order (or energy), the basis for growth would be established. Growth would include cell division and ultimately reproduction, and life would be started. Of course this would require the control that I mentioned. It would also require something to choose, even if such choice were blind. Note that this is a different approach from that of Urey and others who were able to find that some of the amino acids were synthesized by electrical discharges in a suitable atmosphere. This approach was to explain how chemicals necessary to life could have been formed, not about life itself.
Life then to get started would require that it be on a planet at the right distance from a sun. The rotation of the planet on its axis would provide a short-term variation of temperature, and the revolution around the sun a long-term variation. These two rates cover the short life span of bacteria and the longer life span of vegetation in general.
As for animals, which inherit the cellular principle of growth from plants but do not require the negentropy as an energy supply, which they draw on by eating plants, they also contribute to vegetation by converting oxygen to carbon dioxide as a waste product. The carbon dioxide is used by the plant with the energy of sunlight to store energy in carbohydrates (sugar and starch), which in turn supply food for animals.
Thus animal and vegetable life are interrelated and keyed to the daily and yearly changes that are provided by a planetary system.
Perhaps this is a sufficient start on how to go about a science of life, for it already indicates something not covered by physics -- a narrow temperature range, and a variation within this temperature range that is suitable for growth and evolution. There are no such principles in physics, and even if they were emphasized in biology, they would not have status in physics.
What this implies is that if physics is to address the subject of life, it must deal with what to physics would be mere contingency. Contingency, as defined by Webster: (1) Liable, but not certain, to occur. (2) Continuing from unforeseen conditions; chance. (3) Dependent, conditional. (4) . . . (5) Logic: Not true a priori.
In other words, not coming about with the certainty that the laws of physics require. This makes the principles of life de facto, not de jure, and partly accounts for the lack of interest on the part of physics in life.
But what has this to do with astrology? The least we can say is that physics, if it is to deal with life, must be ready to deal with a different kind of law, contingency vs. statute. The next thing is that periodic variation is to be recognized. We know that the periodic variation is essential to vegetable life, and animal life depends on vegetation, so is also dependent on a planetary environment.
We now have a choice -- is man an animal? Or is he a different stage in evolution? As I've elsewhere shown, I consider man, while having an animal body, to be a different kingdom and to have as his task not the evolution of mobility as is that of the animals, but to complete the evolution of consciousness, already started in plants and animals. This, whatever it means, implies more than just survival.
We saw that for life to get started it was necessary to have a variation of the environment that put a premium on control of energy. At the most primitive level, this life form was the bacterium or single-cell plant, which had its chlorophyll to gather the energy of sunlight and store it as starch or other carbohydrates. Further on it was the variation of seasons that governs or at least puts a premium on what we call instinct in animals -- to store nuts, to migrate, to hibernate -- to induce, as it were, behavior suitable to survival.
It seems appropriate therefore that man should be subject to some environmental variation that would induce consciousness. What is consciousness? It is what we have when we don't have something. If we run out of gas on the highway we become conscious of gas. One could even say that to be hungry is to be conscious of food. So to evolve consciousness we would have to be in an environment that changed periodically, alternately encouraging and opposing our endeavors. This alternation is what the planets, especially the outer ones, provide. Uranus has a period of 84 years, which is just about the life expectancy of the average healthy human. It is no coincidence that the role of Uranus in astrology is the self-conscious ego, that which one is able to encompass in a lifetime. In contrast Neptune, with a period almost double that of Uranus, or 165 years, represents the unconscious. The planet inside of Uranus, Saturn, has a period of 29½ years, and marks especially our interaction with the world, particularly the one or two careers which it is possible to have in a lifetime. Its half period of 14-plus years may also correlate to the tendency of divorces to occur after this length of time. The seven-year itch may be accounted for as the 1/4 cycle of Saturn. In my own case Saturn's transit of my Ascendant and Descendant has correlated to the start and midpoint of both my careers with incredible accuracy -- accurate to the day in most cases. Jupiter has not to my knowledge been given a specific function, but it is my conjecture that, because it makes seven complete orbits in 83 years, it correlates to the seven "ages" of man.
As for Mars, Venus, and Mercury, these planets move too rapidly for the role of developing consciousness (as far as I can determine). However, they do fill the role of timing the heavy planets more precisely. The point, in any case, is that the heavy planets (from Saturn outward) have periods much longer than the lifetime of most animals, and are tailored to the human life span.
But this does not answer the scientist's question: How is it possible for the position of planets to affect our lives?
To this question there is an answer. There has been a great deal of study of circadian (near to 24-hour) and other biological rhythms, and it is currently agreed that these rhythms are endogenous (produced from within; originating from internal causes). Thus Brown found that the metabolism of the potato varies with the time of day and the time of year, and this variation still takes place when the potato is isolated from temperature and barometric changes.
Oysters transported to Chicago readjust their biological rhythm to suit the tides as they would be if there were tides in Chicago. This is one of the endogenous rhythms that characterize life.
Tides are an objective phenomenon, a very important environment for oysters -- but to claim that the ocean tides, which affect oysters, are like the "tides in the affairs of men which taken at their peak, lead on, etc. . . ," are similar might seem far-fetched, because the tides in the affairs of men are due to the outer planets (Uranus, discovered at the time of American independence, and Neptune, discovered at the time of the Communist Manifesto of 1848; these planets, which were in opposition at the time of the American Revolution, are now approaching conjunction, and the two countries are entering a period of harmonious cooperation), and the outer planets could have no objective influence on mankind as do the tides on oysters.
But there are no tides in Chicago. The rhythm that correlates to tidal change must be due to that which causes tides, which is the moon. I do not think this could be the gravitational, because gravitation causes 26 extra-high tides per year, whereas there are only 13 lunar months per year -- that is, 13 new moons. My reason for thinking it is the moon is that I've been collecting clam shells for many years because the rings on the clams' shells suggest that the rings record the clams' growth. There are many rings, which vary from wide to narrow. By count the rings are compressed every 13 rings. If the influence were tidal, there should be 26 rings each year. (The narrowly spaced rings must indicate winter months.)
So, since the number of rings correlates to new moons rather than to the extra-high tides (which occur at both the new and the full moon), and since there are no tides anyway in Chicago, the oysters must be responding to new moons for "astrological" reasons. (Perhaps much as outbreaks of insanity have been found to occur at the time of the full moon; hence the word lunatic, from the Latin luna for moon.)
Thus the biorhythms characteristic of life, which depend on position of the earth with respect to the Sun, cannot be accounted for by known physical means.
Why then should we expect that the influence of the planets should be explained by physical means?
To sum up: The rejection of astrology by science is based on the belief of science that there is no way for planets to influence life. This belief is opposed by the practitioners of astrology, who find a factual correlation between the position of the planets and the dates of important events in life.
But the principles on which physics is based do not predict or even accommodate life. Life requires a narrow temperature range and a periodic alternation of this temperature, and hence a very special environment, requiring a planetary system with a certain type of sun. This makes life depend on contingency rather than law, and indicates that while the laws of nature are necessary to life they are not sufficient.
Since alternation (periodic change) of temperature is necessary to the evolution of organic life in plants and animals, it would seem that the evolution of consciousness, which has its inception in organisms which move against entropy, should for its completion require an alternation of longer period than the daily or yearly alternation of temperature. This is what the outer planets supply.
As for the question of how the planets can influence mundane events, this problem already exists in biological rhythms, which have been found to be endogenous; that is, not dependent on known physical influence.
©1998 Anodos Foundation