Thursday, May 05, 2005

Star Trek

If there is one thing every man (and woman) wants to know, it is his/her future. Through centuries, various concepts and logics have been evolved, which aim to somehow decipher what the future has in store. Palmistry, numerology, tarot cards and zillions of other such techniques. But scientists disregard them all. I too have been fascinated by all the various ways in which we try to know what the future holds, but have found no evidence, persuasive enough to make me believe any of these can actually predict the future with and degree of certainty. It was with this initial skepticism that I first treated astrology as well. But the intricate nature of the zillions of possible combinations of planets, and all the mathematical jugglery involved in making astrological predictions, forced me to probe deeper into the subject, in order to try to verify for myself, whether there is some scientific and factual basis behind this occult sphere of knowledge.

Astrology’s underlying principle is the fact that the various planets in the solar system, have an effect on human nature, behavior and health. This is something I do find believable, although not scientifically proven. It’s well known that the sun and moon exert considerable magnetic and gravitational forces on the earth. The moon causes tides and sun’s flares disturb satellites. The moon’s gravity is also said to cause variations in human behavior. The word “lunatic” has been derived from the word “luna” meaning “the moon”. It has been proved that many mentally unstable people go beserk on full moon nights. It is only logical then, that other planets in the solar system also exert some gravitational or magnetic forces (however miniscule in magnitude) on the earth. And some of these forces could also possibly influence human nature and health. Nothing has been proved till now, but all I say is that we should not disregard the possibility of something happening just coz it has not been proven with our exiting knowledge base.

Yet there are certain aspects of astrology I find difficult to digest. How can astrology predict things unrelated to human behavior, like accidents etc. Also, how can one derive information about one’s parents, wife and other relatives. I can’t see how the effect of planets on one person can cause all these things. Having said that, I do believe that there must be some explanation for these phenomena as well. An explanation which has not been found yet, but could be found in the future. My belief stems from the fact that several concepts and anecdotes present in ancient Indian scriptures, which were earlier regarded as fiction, have now been proven. Indian mythology says that each incarnation of the universe exists for 1 day in the life of Brahma i.e. 10 billion years. Scientists too have recently estimated the age of the universe as approximately 10 billion years. All of us know the story of how “Abhimanyu” heard the way to enter the “chakravyuh” while he was in his mother’s womb. Recent research shows that children do remember certain things from even before their birth, in their subconscious mind. But they are unable to comprehend those thoughts as they are in very abstract form.

I am not saying that astrology CAN indeed predict the future, or that everything is predecided by destiny, and that we humans cannot control our own. I just believe that we should not treat the great art of astrology (I prefer to call it “art”, rather than “science”, as science demands proof for everything) with contempt, but should instead try to unravel the esoteric intricacies of the same. Maybe, some day we will discover something that will change our world.... quite literally....

Finally, the search for the scientific foundations of astrology has some parallels with the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, about which Carl Sagan once famously said, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

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