Of the many roles religion serves, one is providing answers and hope, but as stress-driven uncertainty for instant answers and self-discovery drives a boom in astrology and tarot for the young, behind it is a great deception.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
–1 John 4:1
When one starts comparing notes from a number of studies, certain patterns begin to emerge. First, let’s look at the results of several surveys…
A religious survey by Current Forward found that 47% of Generation Z and 41% of Millennials do not consider themselves religious.
A religious census taken by the PRRI found that 36% of young adults (18-29) have no religious affiliation (although 70% of Americans identify as Christian).
However, many people identifying as Christian combine practices not compatible with traditional Christianity.
The Washington Post reported that a survey by Springtide found that among Generation Z, (ages of 13-25), 51% said they engage in “tarot cards or fortune-telling.” This included astrology and crystals. The survey also found that many of them combined these practices with traditional religion.
The Post’s article also highlighted the fact that a driving factor appears to be social media, particularly TikTok, as well as astrology, tarot, and other fortune-telling apps which make it especially expedient and convenient for seeking answers.
Science magazine Discover published an article this week asking: “Why Are People So Into Astrology All of a Sudden?” The article concluded that: “Stress and uncertainty, a longing for self-discovery and an overall explosion in pop-culture might all play a role.”
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”
–1 Timothy 4:1
The “Barnum Effect” is a psychological phenomenon that refers to vague and general personality descriptions that can appear to be specifically tailored to someone, but are, in reality, so universal they can apply to a wide range of people. These are used in fortune-telling, astrology, and other types of divination, aura reading, and personality tests. Such techniques are also prevalent in scams and cons.
The effect is named after American showman PT Barnum, who is widely credited for saying: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” (Although no proof exists that Barnum actually said this.)
“And when they say to you, ‘Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?”
Barnum was actually known for debunking hoaxes and went after spiritualist mediums who were popular in his day to expose their “tricks of the trade” or fraud, even offering $500 to any medium who could prove power to communicate with the dead.
“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.”
Many people ask: “What’s wrong with fortune-telling?” From a biblical perspective, it is problematic for several reasons. We will only address two here.
First, fortune-telling is deception. Only God has an accurate view of the future. One can be deceived into false directions based on information that is not true.
“For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”
–1 Samuel 15:23
Secondly, seeking out fortunetellers is to put others before God. That is the sin of idolatry. It is putting your trust and hope in someone else, making them the authority rather than God. This is why God considers the practice of divination to be sinful – it’s a rebellion against God.