Protestants And Astrology

In the 16th Century astrology and similar superstitions were believed by much of Europe including the educated. However most examples I’ve seen of them were in Catholic nations especially France where Nostradamus served the Queen. Were things the same in Protestant nations and that time-what about states such as Geneva?

Astrology was popular in Elizabethan England.

Johannes Kepler, was a Protestant and an astrologer.

Kepler served in a Catholic court though. But your right about the Elizabetheians, John Dee was an astrological advisor the Queen Elizabeth.

So was William Lilly, who was friends with a lot of Parliamentary leaders before the English Civil War.

Belief in astrology is inversely proportional to intelligence, not to religious beliefs - per se.

Today maybe, but in the period the OP is asking about it was studied seriously by the smartest human beings on the planet. Keplar, Gallileo, Tycho, Cardano and Regiomontanus all spent time studying astrology.

Newton was an alchemist, something that is just as absurd these days but, back then, we didn’t know much of anything about chemistry and so there was no solid reason to think there couldn’t possibly be anything to it. Newton certainly wasn’t an idiot by anyone’s standards.

OK…, I should clarify…

“Belief in astrology today…” is a sign of stupidity.

Tycho Brahe was probably the most lavishly financed astrologer ever. He was a Lutheran, and his work was financed by the astrology-mad Lutheran king of Denmark.

Now, maybe. In the 16th century, no, not at all.

Yes. In the any century, at all!

Those idiots believed in unsubstantiated claims, that makes their claims invalid.

It was only a matter of time that separated the stupid from the intelligent ideas humans had regarding the universe.

I don’t fault Newton for being a superstitious idiot, because he discovered a few universal truths to make up for his religious stupidity.

And I’m sure the shade of the man who pioneered laws of motion, optics, gravitational theory and infinitesimal calculus feels all the better for your qualified approval. :smiley:

As did Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, and many generations of astronomer-astrologers before them, many of them among the smartest and most mathematically talented people of their time, and without whom modern science (and the eventual realization that astrology is bunk) could never have developed.

You should really try to learn a little bit about the real history of science before mouthing off with your ignorant prejudices about it.

There is a real difference between alchemy and astrology. The former was experimental and led more or less directly to chemistry. The latter was always bullshit; it was never tested against reality. Note that alchemy disappeared with the rise of chemistry; astrology is still around for the reality challenged.

This is a really ignorant set of statements. Holding a false belief does not make someone stupid. It might make them gullible, but you really need to know why they hold the false belief, and what cultural support and what functions the belief has. A blanket dismissal of “they’re all stupid” is kind of childish and itself (ironically) a demonstrably false belief.

What you’re missing is there in the term “unsubstantiated”—the claims were substantiated by the culture’s educational system, both formal and informal. These claims do not stand up to scientific scrutiny, which is why you can now criticize people for holding those beliefs if you want to ignore all the sociological and psychological reasons. In the 16th century, though there was some skepticism, the apparatus for scientifically testing any claim, absurd or common sense, did not exist, so basically you’re calling people stupid for not inventing science and then running the entirety of human knowledge through it.

What you have clarified is that you chose to flog your own dead hobby horse, rather than participate in a discussion of the actual topic of the thread. Thanks for trolling on by, do keep moving along.


To return to that topic, I would like to know if any of our religion history buffs know of theological considerations of astrology from the post reformation period that could put some referential ground under our feet.


Alchemy is still around, and practiced by more or less the same types of people that still practice astrology.

But I’d say the astrology of Keplers day was both experimental and led more or less directly to modern astronomy. And as experiments regarding its claims failed, it fell out of popularity amongst scientists, horoscopes ending up in the same places as philosophers stones and chemical essences.

Not sure of the theological underpinnings, but Martin Luther’s number two man, Philip Melanchthon practiced astrology. So from the view point of early Lutherism anyways, it was apparently considered kosher.

What’s left of Waltham Abbey was restored in the late 19th century. The ceiling was decorated with the 12 signs of the zodiac in 1860.

They go to great lengths to explain that it’s nothing to do with astrology and mearly to do with the months of the year. But I think they doth protest too much.

It’s apparently quite common in Europe, but Waltham is just down the road from me so it’s the only one I know of.

According to the Durants, Calvin was ahead of his time in rejecting astrology.