Religion vs Superstition
Between religion and superstition, when it comes to the center of belief, we can find a difference. Religion and superstitions play a significant role in every society. These are connected to our culture. However, religion and superstition do not refer to the same thing. Religion can be simply defined as the belief and worship of a God or gods. On the other hand, a superstition can be defined as a belief in supernatural influences or a practice based on this. This highlights that these refer to two different things, those integral to human society. This article attempts to clarify the difference between these two terms.
What is Religion?
Religion can be simply defined as the belief and worship of a God or gods. According to this definition, religion is a system of beliefs which is functional for the society. Sociologists believe that religion is not merely a part of human society and culture but has a distinctive purpose. This can be understood through Yinger’s definition of religion. He believes that a religion is “a system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggle with the ultimate problems of human life.” By problems of life, he refers to the day to day realities such a birth, death, pain, suffering, etc. In order to cope these problems in life, religion provides us with a system of beliefs. This is why Marx once said that religion is the opium of the masses as it dulls away human suffering.
According to Sociologists, a religion not only creates a belief system for people to embrace, but also creates a collective conscience. Since it is impossible to carry on with a social life unless there is a shared value system, religion fills this void. It also creates social stability and maintains order in the society. For example, let us consider the role of religion during the Feudal era. The authority of the society was backed by Christianity, which made the people obey the orders of the ruler because disobedience was viewed as going against God.
In today’s world, there are a large number of religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, etc. All these religions function in the society with the sole intent of heightening social solidarity.
What is Superstition?
Unlike a religion that consists of a system of beliefs centering on a God or gods, a superstition can be defined as a belief in supernatural influences or a practice based on this. Superstitions are created by people and are transmitted from one generation to the other. In the ancient days, people had great faith and belief in superstitions. Now, of course, this situation has changed. This is mainly due to technological advances and the improvement in science that have made people realize that superstitions are mere beliefs and nothing more. In certain cultures, which have not yet been influenced by the latest developments, superstitions still exist. Sometimes, even in those societies that we consider as very much advanced, superstitions can exist. This is because, through the socialization process, we have acquired different cultural attributes such as values, superstitions, myths that it is difficult to shake them off.
Superstitions can include witchcraft, magic, evil spirits, and traditional beliefs as well. Superstitions and our cultural beliefs are usually intertwined that it is difficult to separate one from the other. Superstitions are related to luck as well. The superstitious belief that seeing a black cat is bad luck is one such example.
What is the difference between Religion and Superstition?
• Definitions of Religion and Superstition:
• Religion can be simply defined as the belief and worship of a God or gods.
• A superstition can be defined as a belief in supernatural influences or a practice based on this.
• Gods and Beliefs:
• A religion is a system of beliefs that center on gods.
• Superstitions are confined to mere beliefs.
• A religion attempts to make sense of the world around us and holds the society together by creating a collective conscience.
• However, a superstition is not like that. It makes the individual embrace the supernatural.
• Moral Guide:
• In a religion, there is a moral guide for the individual.
• A superstition does not provide a moral.
- Gods in the Triumph of Civilization by Grizzli (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Horseshoe nailed above a doorway via Wikicommons (Public Domain)