I remember, when I was getting to know Amanda, carefully exploring certain key issues such as this. It actually didn’t take long to find out that we had almost identical political views, and perspectives on science, rational thinking, religion, and so on. (I say “almost” only because there is room for variation, but I can’t think of any actual differences in perspective … only differences in level of attention to various issues).

Anyway, here is a piece by Aaron Rowe in The Wired on the topic:

While searching for a soulmate on several online dating sites, I caught myself disregarding anyone who professed their belief in astrology.

At roughly the same time, a friend called my attention to this clip from The Big Bang Theory, which thoroughly picks astrological superstition apart.

Am I being too hard on my New Age counterparts?

In my book, astrology is a silly shortcut for understanding how the world works, but so is judging people by their spiritual beliefs.

Scientists are sometimes guilty of using ridiculous heuristics too! For example, principal investigators sometimes hire graduate students based on grades and standardized test scores rather than their ability to work well in a laboratory.

I think Rowe is too dismissive of belief systems as an indicator of how a relationship can develop, at least for me. Most of my friends are agnostic or atheist, but not all, and many colleagues and acquaintances, some of my students, and co-workers, etc. have various religious beliefs (including astrology, I assume) and this does not interfere at all with our interactions. Sometimes annoyances happen, and I’m never afraid to respectfully point out that no, it is not OK to assume that any “good” person must also be “spiritual, at least” and so on. I don’t hold ignorance about atheism against anyone, any more than I would want a Hindu to hold ignorance about Hinduism against me.

But a pair bond is different, in my opinion. At least for me, there are conversations that I need to have that would be impossible with someone who was religious, astrologically inclined, or whatever. This seems to hold at least somewhat true with other loved ones in my life. One of my best friends is an atheistic Buddhist scientist, and we totally love each other and have those conversations, but I think her Buddhism is not even close to a religious perspective, and in her version of Buddhism, the analog to “heaven” is you die and then there is eternal nothingness. Relatives, including mine and Amanda’s, are increasingly religious as you go out from Ego, sort of like a Religio-Cultural red-shift effect. That’s interesting. And I know that if there were conversations that I need to have that would not work with Amanda, I could find satisfaction with others with whom I’m very close.

But on a day to day basis, religion, rationality, science, the evolution-creationism “debate” and a number of other topics are so important, and ubiquitous (for me, given what I do and who I am), that I need to be mated with a person with very similar views.

I am not really of two minds of this, even though I’m on the cusp of Gemini.

Here’s the video, which has ad in the beginning, sorry:


  1. #1 Scott Simmons
    March 11, 2008

    Pardon the long response, but I have no blog of my own, and this simply must be shared, for the good of humanity.

    Nobody should date women who believe in astrology.

    This has nothing to do with belief systems, or even with whether there is any factual basis to astrology, in fact. I don’t know if the stars control our destiny. But I do know this: men get in trouble with their SO’s every day for the stupid things they do.

    They do not also want to be getting in trouble for the stupid things they haven’t done yet.

    And if you read horoscopes, you’ll know that many of the things they say are in your future are things that, if they were in your future, you wouldn’t want your lady friend to know about them.

    I discovered this many years ago, with disastrous first-hand experience. I was picking up my high-school girlfriend for a date, but her mother wouldn’t let her leave until she’d finished her chores. So we were in the kitchen, she was washing dishes, and I was helping by staying out of her way. Not content with that, she asked me to read her monthly horoscope to her (Libra, I think) from the teen magazine on the kitchen table.

    So I did, and then she asked me to read her my horoscope. So I looked up my star sign, and read her the entry, which indicated that I was going to have a passionate affair with another Aries that month. I found that amusing–she didn’t.

    I looked up from the magazine, and saw that she had picked up a butcher knife from the drying rack. She glared at me for a few seconds, then said, “If you even look at another Aries this month …”

    “Oh, I won’t, sure,” I quickly responded.

    “Better not,” she said, and turned back to the dishes.

    So there I was, sitting at her kitchen table, thinking, “How do I avoid looking at people with a particular astrological sign? Even if they had it tatooed on their forehead, it’d be too late! I’d be walking down the street, and–JESUS IT’S AN ARIES!!! Um, honey, I didn’t make eye contact, is that OK?”

    So the rest of that month, all of the women thought I was hitting on them. “That’s such a lame pickup line–what a loser!” “No, really, I need to know your sign! It’s a matter of life and death!”

    True story. Mostly. 🙂

  2. #2 Romeo Vitelli
    March 11, 2008

    Er, I’m thinking the fact that she was threatening you with a butcher knife in her hand would be a bigger red flag than her belief in astrology.

  3. #3 Crimson Wife
    March 11, 2008

    I do think that spirituality is a common “deal-breaker” issue for couples. I dated some Protestants and a Jew before I met my husband, but I don’t think I would’ve dated a man who did not believe in the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible. Simply too big a difference in worldview. Also, I wouldn’t have married someone who did not agree to let me raise our children within the Catholic Church.

    My brother was raised Catholic but now considers himself to be a “Christian Deist” (the term strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron but he’s free to believe whatever he chooses). He’s seriously dating a devout Evangelical and it’s causing a big problem with her family that he doesn’t have a “personal relationship with Jesus”.

  4. #4 Morgan
    March 12, 2008

    In my book, astrology is a silly shortcut for understanding how the world works, but so is judging people by their spiritual beliefs.

    I would have thought that a person’s beliefs – all their beliefs – would be highly relevant in forming a judgment of them, especially judging how close a relationship you want with them.

  5. #5 stavros
    March 12, 2008

    I must agree with Greg on this one. Up until a few weeks ago I was fighting to keep a relationship with an otherwise amazing girl that, however, had a blind belief in Reiki, spirituality, Homeopathy, and related stuff. We found ourselves fighting often for such things, mainly because my concern was the potential risk to her health!

    So maybe now I will introduce a “filtering” process 🙂 This is going to be a long year… But seriously how can you do this kind of “filtering”?

  6. #6 Elizabeth
    March 15, 2008

    The FIRST think to look for on a chick is a piece of printed circuitry converted into a necklace. As her how much she paid for it and what it is for. On a guy, that would be Birkenstocks. Maybe. I don’t know, I only date women.

  7. #7 astrology
    March 17, 2008

    Astrology simply means studying the stars. There are many different traditions of astrology, some are similar, and some based on different principles.. Vedic astrology and the Modern Western astrology follow the horoscopic system, where there is a casting of a horoscope. some are Chinese astrology; Jyotish or Indian (Vedic) astrology; Babylonian astrology; Kabbalistic astrology; Tibetan astrology; Mayan astrology; Celtic astrology; and the Modern Western astrology.

  8. #8 John Conway
    April 6, 2008

    There are many different traditions of astrology…

    Indeed, there are many kinds of shit: bullshit, horseshit, complete bullshit… but they’re all still shit.

  9. #9 paiwan
    April 6, 2008

    The only reason that I could have thought of believing in God is for the sake of mental health.

    Carl Jung said, “I do not believe in God, I know there is God.” I have not yet in that stage, perhaps somewhere in the middle.

    The belief in God believes in the thing the way is; in fact, atheists are aiming at this goal also. What is the difference?

    The faith in God is to prevent the idol worship and self and collective narcissism, so to speak.

    We survive as an individual and in the community. And the history is continuously going ahead; tomorrow and the invisible truth are non-shakable foundation to sustain our mental health. To live in the past and now are not enough; that is the major dilemma of an atheist.

    In comparing to Carl Jung, Sigmund Feud had surrendered at his 80’s and found his experience in God- a good case study for atheists.

    Do religions help us to have faith and experience in God? My answer is yes and no. Everyone has to do his/her own assignment, just like to grow mentally mature is individual’s effort mostly.

    I guess, just guess, God doesn’t care if you are an atheist or not. I envisage that loving parents would not care too much their children’s choices to be with them under certain manner. The unconditional love doesn’t occupy. Even soul mated couple would be able to achieve more than possessiveness 🙂