Religion Vs Superstition

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Sancho Panza's picture
Religion Vs Superstition

Most of my friends believe that religion is good, a plus, a positive, helpful; and that superstition is bad, harmful, sometimes evil. But what is the difference between the two? Is it the alleged presence of a deity? Is it the attempt to influence the future? Is it the degree of complexity of belief? Is it the number of people you are able to persuade to agree with you? Or is it just that "my"beliefs are religion but "yours" are superstition?

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the concerned atheist's picture
their the same thing lol

their the same thing lol

efpierce's picture
True statement! I don't think

True statement! I don't think there is anyone that is religious that isn't superstitious as a result of it and the same can go for the very superstitious people.

CyberLN's picture
Spot on, Sancho. Thanks for

Spot on, Sancho. Thanks for distilling that so well.

firebolt's picture
I think the last line of the

I think the last line of the original post says it all; "my beliefs are religion but yours are superstition" That's the way many religious fanatics feel about their own religions and how they are right and just over everyone else's.

SammyShazaam's picture
I've often wondered the same

I've often wondered the same about the distinction between many delusional mental illness and religion. for instance, if a man believes he is the son of God, then he is obviously insane. However, millions of people believe that some other guy, the one hanging on the cross, is the son of God, and for some reason they are not locked up... is it just because we don't have enough room in the psych ward, or what?

firebolt's picture
That's a very good point. If

That's a very good point. If this Jesus Christ came back to Earth as they say he would, how would we know? Is he already here and locked away in an institution somewhere?

SammyShazaam's picture
Given that it's a pretty

Given that it's a pretty common delusion, I'd say Jesus has come back at least a thousand times so far, probably more if we really sat down to count.

CyberLN's picture
There are lots of folks who

There are lots of folks who get the same sort of religious hero worship today that, IMO, are less than savory and perhaps equally mentally ill as someone claiming to be Jesus incarnate. For example, many fundie preachers, mother Teresa, popes, Gandhi, etc. they get power, money, and / or fame but they don't get locked up because they are savvy enough not to say they are gods, just that they are the gods' besties.

Zaphod's picture
I actually had a related

I actually had a related problem years ago, a group of a people started to think I was Jesus the incarnate despite me telling them over and over again, I was not. They insisted saying Jesus would not say he was Jesus. The whole thing was quite annoying even going to the point of people outside the group saying I had delusions of grandeur despite me loudly insisting I was not the son of God.

My question is and I thought Sammy was kind of getting at it is, what would you call the mental disorder of people who think someone besides themselves is the son of God or some other grandiose figure?

Its a good thing I didn't take advantage of these people I am sure it would have been easy to.

SammyShazaam's picture
That sounds like a brilliant

That sounds like a brilliant practical joke. If we all team up on some guy and call him Jesus, what will he do? Of course, the minute he gets frustrated and acquiesces to *being* Jesus, we'll whip out the straightjacket :)

But, really sorry that happened to you, seriously. That'll teach you to hang out with lunatics.

colingbradley's picture
Thanks, your story cheered me

Thanks, your story cheered me up. Now, where can I find you and worship you?

Whilst humans have the ability to fall in love with a fence and other such odd thinking, we are bound to have such people looking for 'something' to follow or take issue with or worship. It is all the same insofar as their behavior is just very much as odds with the majority.

So, all we have to do is eliminate mental illness. I sane? Who is to say?

Ellie Harris's picture
Perhaps the link is that they

Perhaps the link is that they both pose a faulty untrue view reality that cannot be relied upon for our survival....

Zaphod's picture
Hmm, I would like to hear

Hmm, I would like to hear some theist views on this one. Where does exactly someone draw the line between religion and superstition? Is it deity?

I think if I went around saying I believe in Odin and Thor people would say I believe in myth not superstition. I think superstition is more like believing in bad luck for crossing a black cat or breaking a mirror. Perhaps saying if you don't believe in God you go to hell is superstition, but saying you believe in God is believing in Myth.

Capt.Bobfm's picture
Superstition isn't really he

Superstition isn't really he question if you ask anthropologists. Their distinction is between religion and magic.
Religion is defined as a cult where in one begs a god or a group of gods ( or spirits) for favors and tries to appease the god by doing things one thinks the god would approve of.
Magic is defined as a cult in which one can control the gods ( or spirits or whatever ) by the use of incantations, charms, rituals, etc.
Each of these avenues have their basis in superstition and the need to understand things folks don't really know about. The basic human desire to follow an authority figure and the natural reaction we all have from putting the thought of intelligence behind any and all occurrences that we come across every day, give religion and shamanism a foothold in our lives and are the groundwork for our beliefs.
The priest class has exploited this trend for the last 100 thousand years or so, and now that we actually know the reasons for most of what used to be considered supernatural, they are loosing their grip on the populace.
We, who have become enlightened and cast off religion and superstition, are the people in the forefront of what will inevitably be an overwhelming trend and eventually most people will come to understand that there is no god and there never was.

Spewer's picture
Not that I have any business

Not that I have any business arguing with anthropologists, but I don't see much of a distinction there either. Begging gods or spirits through prayer seems remarkably like using incantations to control them. Is throwing salt over your shoulder for good luck materially different from requesting good luck telepathically or out loud through prayer?

Maybe anthropologists are saying religion is a bit more personalized in the sense of perceived direct relationships with spirit beings, whereas superstition is a less-personal invocation of perceived forces. If that's the case, then religious people anthropomorphize their beliefs about spirit world more than superstitious people. Even so, this looks more like a matter of style and frame of reference than substance. As you said, both have their basis in superstition.

colingbradley's picture
Well put, and I agree 100%

Well put, and I agree 100%
We just need to be the majority then?

...and then what?

There will still be people in pain and fear who will be taken advantage of all over again.

There really is no solution, sad to say.

SammyShazaam's picture
Hmm, that's an interesting

Hmm, that's an interesting distinction.

From what I know, 4every religion has some sort of "magic" type practice where they try to influence or control their gods, be it with prayer, sacrifice, ritual, etc. Would that be considered religious magic?

Danny Craft's picture
Both religion and

Both religion and superstition are, in essence, the same thing; The belief that good or bad things will or won't happen to you (in this life or another) if you do, or don't do a certain thing or behave a certain way. Both completely manufactured by the human mind and completely unprovable. Obviously religion is on a much larger scale than say "7 years bad luck for breaking a mirror" or something.
..The "faith" all theists are obsessed with, is actually faith in superstition. The creation of an imaginary deity and fictional scriptures are just byproducts of superstition, created to reinforce belief in that superstition.

@ Gregpek, you're quite right, they are all bad. The fact is, no child would ever grow to be superstitious(/religious, same thing!) if it wasn't forced upon them by their elders. It really is one of the greatest evils humanity is solely responsible for. All we can do is spread the word of reason, logic and ask challenging questions to provoke a lost mind to question such beliefs. We can't tell Theists that they're wrong, they won't accept it.. We CAN help them figure it out for themselves :)

Zaphod's picture
Well said Mr. Craft, Probably

Well said Mr. Craft, Probably the most well stated religion vrs. superstition argument stating they are the same I have ever read.

jordtame's picture
I agree religion and

I agree religion and superstition are the same. The only difference is that some superstitions are collected in books and called holy. Those superstitions that do not make it into a holy book are deemed forever superstition. The pinch of salt over the shoulder missed the holy books by a pinch. Religion, magic and superstition have had their day and more it is time for intelligence to reign. Untill then all free thinkers can do is to keep thinking and speaking.

Mythlover's picture
Yeah, religion and

Yeah, religion and superstition are the same thing. The difference is what the individual believes to be correct based upon their personal experiences, what they've been told to believe, etc.. Most people tend to think of cults as being bad, but the only differences between a cult and religion are that cults have fewer people and that, in general, they are fairly new. Both brainwash people into just "having faith" and doing what they are "supposed to". But again- cults are bad. Religion- it's good.

Lmale's picture
I actually did some research

I actually did some research into the definition of cults and the only thing religions missing is a living leader but since christians (mostly) believe jeasus will come again to lead them and say that jeasus was here id say that qualifies so christianity is a cult.

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