21 November 2010

Augustine and Astrology

I asked [Hippocrates] why it was then that the future was often correctly foretold by means of astrology. He gave me the only possible answer, that it was all due to the power of chance, a force that must always be reckoned with in the natural order. He said that people sometimes opened a book of poetry at random, and although the poet had been thinking, as he wrote, of some quite different manner, if often happened that the reader placed his finger on a verse which had a remarkable bearing on his problem. It was not surprising then, that the mind of man, quite unconsciously, through some instinct not within under his own control, should hit upon some thing that answered to his circumstances and the facts of a particular question. If so, it would be due to chance not to skill.

Book four of The Confessions, Augustine of Hippo. Section three. This amusingly follows a section in which Augustine claimed his mother's dreams were a sign to her from God that he would seek salvation in Christianity.  Superstition is always another person's sin, isn't it?

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