We begin book 5. Augustine will walk us through the beginnings of his understanding of free will and God’s sovereignty in book 5, so I expect some fireworks. He starts by looking at those who talk about fate and astrology. He argues that those who attribute all things to fate are either very wrong or speaking inaccurately. Fate has no control of anything, unless by fate a speaker means God’s sovereignty. In that case, they should talk about God’s sovereignty and not fate. And when others attribute actions or characteristics or destinies to the stars, they are also very wrong or speaking inaccurately. The stars have no control of anything, and so astrology is worthless. If the stars are signifying God’s will, then perhaps there could be something true about astrology, but Augustine points out that people do not say that the stars signify God’s will, so if that’s what they mean then they should speak more clearly. He goes on to talk about twins, who are conceived and born under the same heavenly signs and so their destinies should be basically the same. And yet, they differ. How can the stars account for this? And how can astrologers account for those differences? Augustine argues that the astrologers’ explanations are worthless because they can’t make sense of both the similarities and the differences in the destinies of twins.
I am looking forward to going deeper into Augustine’s understanding of how destinies are determined. He is a strong advocate of God’s sovereignty and Calvin learns a lot of his understanding of predestination from Augustine, so I expect this to be interesting.