It is well known that up until the Renaissance and even beyond, the study of science and astrology went hand in hand. This was natural, because all people had to do was look into the night sky, then unobscured by night lights, and observe the magnificent display, and there seemed every reason to think that the heavens above and life below were interconnected. The correlation between planetary movement and human behavior was taken for granted.
How things have changed! Today any concept of the interrelation between human life and the cosmos has to run the gauntlet of a powerful array of skeptics whose mission it is to discredit these ideas as superstition. On Wikipedia most of the material about astrology is controlled by active skeptics who prevent astrologers from editing their definitions. If you, as an astrologer, try to edit material about astrology on Wikipedia, you will be prevented from doing so, because you are an astrologer.
The other day I happened across a fascinating video of an interview between Richard Dawkins, an Oxford University professor famous for a series of books like The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion, and Neil Spencer who at the time had a sun sign column with the “serious” Sunday newspaper The Observer. (Note 1) What was striking about the interview was the assumptions Dawkins made about astrology. He starts out trying to catch out Spencer with the idea of Precession – that is the fact that the original “star signs” have changed position relative to the solar system. Vedic astrology of course takes account of this movement with the Ayanamsa correction. But in Tropical (Western) astrology it has no relevance because Western astrology is based on the four cardinal point – the solstices and equinoxes – which have nothing to do with where the stars are. If Dawkins did not know this, then how was there going to be any fruitful discussion?
HOROSCOPE: Richard Dawkins. 26th March 1941. Nairobi, Kenya. Solar Chart. Time Unknown.
Dawkins proposed a test to ascertain whether astrology had any validity. His idea was to present a random selection of people with the text of 12 sun sign interpretations Spencer had written. If they could identify which sign applied to them, then that would validate astrology. Spencer had no interest in participating in this experiment, and quite rightly. The idea is really unscientific, and there are several reasons why it could never work, not least the fact that people have extremely subjective judgment, that there is only a subtle difference between each sun sign, that planetary influences have only slightly different variations through each sign etc. Spencer suggested that the motivation behind this supposed trial was “mischief” and that this would affect any result obtained. Dawkins appeared incredulous, disingenuously suggesting that surely Spencer would welcome such a test – but actually there is a good scientific reason to suppose that skeptical testers would definitely affect conclusions. More on that later.
Dawkins had an agenda, and that was to get astrology removed from The Observer, and ultimately he, together with his group of skeptics, succeeded in this. Dawkins, who is born on March 26th 1941 has a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in Taurus, which inclines him to orthodoxy. Jupiter shows the set of beliefs that people absorb through cultural input, which they later identify with very strongly. To change beliefs is to change identity, and people as a rule will not do this without a life crisis. Jupiter in Taurus is unlikely to ever budge from a strongly held position, especially when it conjoins Saturn.
Dawkins also has the Moon and Venus in Pisces opposing Neptune, which some would say inclines him towards a spiritual approach. He spent his later years interviewing believers of different descriptions with the purpose of discrediting them. Go figure.
A quite different scientist was David Bohm, who Einstein considered his spiritual successor. Bohm worked with Oppenheimer, and his calculations were a key influence on the development of the nuclear bomb during World War II. Bohm himself was not invited, because he had joined the communist party earlier with, according to Bohm, the aim of discussing Hegel with its members. Nobody seemed to know much about Hegel, and that was the extent of his involvement. But it was not forgotten, and in the McCarthy era life became very uncomfortable for Bohm. In 1951 he moved to Brazil, then to Israel, where he met his wife, ultimately settling in Bristol, England.
David Bohm. 20th December 1917. Wilkes Barre, PA. Solar Chart. Time unknown.
(With 7th harmonic aspects)
Bohm’s work straddled both Einstein and his Theory of Relativity as well as Quantum Theory expounded by Schrödinger, Heisenberg and Niels Bohr amongst others. Bohm was highly respected, but the scientific community turned its back on him when he started questioning some of the premises of quantum theory, particularly with his paper Hidden Variables. They admitted that no fault could be found with Bohm’s theories, but that they just caused too much disruption in the scientific community. This had a profound effect on Bohm, who subsequently wrote about how modern science created fragmentation through specialization – a process that stifled creativity and a proper exchange of information.
Bohm is a Sagittarian, and like many geniuses the secret of his ability to think outside existing paradigms is shown in the 7th harmonic, which is often related to magical forces in the cosmos. His Sagittarian sun makes a septile aspect with those great partners in invention – Uranus and Jupiter. Furthermore Mercury and Saturn are in a precise septile aspect, which probably reflects his love of the symmetry of mathematical equations and their ability to describe the behavior of matter.
More traditionally his Venus in Aquarius (together with Uranus) is in exact opposition to Saturn, both connected to his Sun by semisquare and sesquisquare. We can imagine that this reflects the pain of separation form the scientific community, as well as his world travels and the finding of a partner in a foreign land.
Bohm observed that there was a dichotomy between the Theory of Relativity and Quantum theory. Calculations based on the former worked well in the macrocosmos of time and space but did not work in the microcosmos of the quantum world of subatomic particles. The main issue sprang from the famous Double-slit experiment, which showed that when photons are sent through a double slit, they can behave both as particle and as waves, and that the observer actually affects this process. (Which brings to mind the “mischief” that Spencer spoke of when skeptics evaluate astrology). There are other even stranger results, which both undermine the linear nature of time, and suggest that particles can influence each other at a distance simultaneously – not limited by the speed of light. (Which is of relevance to how humans and the cosmos are interconnected.)
Bohm and Krishnamurti
These quantum results which show the intersubjectivity of scientific experiments and the atemporal connection from one object to another form the basis for a model of reality. The basic theory is that the force which lies behind the largest bodies in the universe also moves the smallest bodies and that there is an interconnection between both. This is the basic theory of astrology, but it is also something that Bohm developed with his ideas of Implicate and Explicate reality. When Bohm moved to Bristol his wife showed him a book by Krishnamurti which described the interconnectedness between the observer and the observed – which astonished him because of the parallels with quantum theory. This stimulated Bohm’s curiosity, and subsequently he and Krishnamurti became friends and had long discussions about the nature of reality.
The idea of Implicate and Explicate order is a theory which bridges the gap between Relativity and Quantum theory. It is very similar to the Buddhist concept of Absolute and Relative reality. To know Absolute reality is to consider all phenomena as dream images conjured up by individual consciousness. It is a state when the mind is at rest whilst the world is at play. Relative reality is the normal state of consciousness when there is an identification with “I, me and myself”.
The goal of Buddhist practice is non-identification with an illusory sense of self that conjures up individual reality and is seen as the source of suffering. The Implicate order as envisaged by Bohm is a state from which everything unfolds both on a macrocosmic and microcosmic level embracing both Relativity and quantum mechanics. It is essentially unknowable, because it would require a separate self to know it, which would create a duality, and the Implicate order is the unity within duality. The Explicate order is observable phenomena where there is a subject and an object, a self and the other. As Bohm was a mathematician and physicist, he represented the Implicate and Explicate order mathematically
The Pribram-Bohm Theory of Consciousness
Subsequently in 1978, working with David Bohm, neuroscientist Karl Pribram developed the Holonomic Brain Theory which posits that consciousness is a quantum phenomenon engendered by brain cells, and as such consciousness itself is basically in the Implicate order enfolding and unfolding as the individual self expresses itself. It’s a complicated way of describing Absolute and Relative reality, but it is backed up by science. This is a far cry from the amateurish methods used by Dawkins and present-day sceptics to discredit subjects like astrology, which are valid attempts to systematize an understanding of time, behavior and consciousness. (Note 2)
The Dalai Lama, who appeared with Bohm at scientific conferences recognized Bohm’s genius saying: “David Bohm somehow opened our minds. I’m so grateful.” He built a bridge from the scientific to the spiritual, and remained true to himself despite opposition from scientific orthodoxy. He reflected deeply on trends in science, and in his last years at the height of the Cold War he was extremely concerned for mankind’s future. Whilst he saw arms control as effective in the short term, he wondered how nuclear weapons could possibly be contained over a period 1000 years. His view was that because science had become fragmented and specialized, the gulf between Man and Nature became wider, and the consequences for the Earth more grave.
The theories Bohn expounded showed how we are all interconnected. Perhaps it was his Jupiter in Gemini which enabled him to hold two opposing views in his head and find the theory that unified them. He desperately wanted a different tone in the world of science, where people could hold opinions “in suspension” without investing their identity in them. Of course, it is not so different in the world of astrology, where there are many divergent methods, and where horary practitioners cannot relate to psychological astrologers, where some people use Vedic and some Western, some use hypothetical planets and some black holes and stellar phenomena. The human condition is the same for scientists and astrologers alike – people identify with their beliefs and narrow their experience accordingly.
Dawkins and other skeptics are like blind watchmakers, who examine a digital watch and – finding no cogs, springs or flywheels – declare that it cannot possibly tell the time. Their statistical ideas resemble trying to find plankton with a shark net – when they examine the net, nothing is there, so plankton cannot exist. Theirs is a world full of mathematical certainties, but centrall to quantum mechanics is the uncertainty principle, and uncertainty lies at the core of astrological interpretation too. Who can tell what ripples and storms the butterfly wing of a moment in time can cause in our lives? By mediating between the explicate and implicate world, astrology comes as close as is possible.
Adrian Ross Duncan
18th August 2020
- Richard Dawkins and Neil Spencer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9xm8VKnXnk
- See this beautiful video describing the Implicate and Explicate order here: