Faith vs. Superstition


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I've seen this subject come up in various boards, especially in the Monotheism section, so I hope I'm not being redundant, I just thought it was a question worthy of a seperate thread :D As someone with no set path (yet :p ) it's something I've often pondered.

Where, and how (if at all), does blind faith differ from superstition? How much should we be allowed to question our beliefs and the path that we're on? How much doubt is too much? Where and how (if at all) does logic fit into the picture? How much of a role should reason play in religion and spirituality?

Looking forward to everyone's answers ^.^


Re: Faith vs. Supersition

Dear Mirrorinthefog

Interesting questions!

Really depends on your intent?

"How much should we be allowed to question our beliefs and the path that we're on?"

That is for the individual to decide.

"How much doubt is too much?"

Well the more doubt you have the less trust you have in your own soul.

"Where and how (if at all) does logic fit into the picture? How much of a role should reason play in religion and spirituality?"

It is your free will.

Faith is different for everyone, for everyone has their own reality, based upon experience or belief. My faith grew the more mystical experiences I encountered, I then got to the point that trust was complete and faith was the by-product.

Being love

[From supersisto, "to stand in terror of the deity" (Cicero, "De Nat. deorum", I, 42, 117); or from superstes, "surviving": "Qui totos dies precabantur et immolabant, ut sibi sui liberi superstites essent, superstitiosi sunt appellati", i.e. "Those who for whole days prayed and offered sacrifice that their children might survive them, were called superstitious" (Cicero, ibid., II, 28, 72). Cicero also drew the distinction: "Superstitio est in qua timor inanis deorum, religio quæ deorum cultu pio continetur", i.e. "Superstition is the baseless fear of the gods, religion the pious worship." According to Isidore of Seville (Etymolog., l. 8, c. iii, sent.), the word comes from superstatuo or superinstituo: "Superstitio est superflua observantia in cultu super statuta seu instituta superiorum", i.e. "observances added on to prescribed or established worship"] is defined by St. Thomas (II-II:92:1) as "a vice opposed to religion by way of excess; not because in the worship of God it does more than true religion, but because it offers Divine worship to beings other than God or offers worship to God in an improper manner". Superstition sins by excess of religion, and this differs from the vice of irreligion, which sins by defect. The theological virtue of religion stands midway between the two. (II-II:92:1)

In short, to be afraid of the unknown.

Faith on the other hand is not blind. It is a decision to "trust" that which we do not know, rather than fear it, with an undersdanding that the unknown will help us rather than harm us. The understanding exceeds logic, yet none the less it is understanding.

my two cents...


Thank you for raising this issue. What is superstition? Some practices are easy to identify: not treading on the cracks in the paving stones, crossing fingers for good luck, and so on. But I maintain that any practice that is followed for these same ends is also superstitious, whether in mainstream religions or not. It is not the form but the intention that makes it superstitious or not.

A case in point, priests are often called on to bless things - the harvest, a house, a meeting room, or even odder things like tractors. What is the intention here, if not to bring "good luck" to the people who use that thing. This is superstitious. If truth be told, many people go to church because they fear that something bad will happen to them if they don't. That is superstition. In fact - I know this is contentious - I think that observing the forms of Christian faith for no other reason than to save your soul from damnation is also superstitious. Praying to God to save your skin - your job, your savings - whatever, (and we've all done it) is superstitious. Faith is not about bringing good luck, good health or money in the bank.

Faith, in my experience, is about sharing in the loving relationship that exists between God and his creation, about being part of this pervading beauty and goodness that outlives and outshines all pain and death, and will still be the same when the universe is gone. I think that you can't know faith without knowing doubt, and the stronger your faith, the more cogent are your doubts. That's the thickness of our spiritual coin.
Dear Virtual Cliff

An interesting perspective.

For me a blessing is 'about sharing in the loving relationship that exists between God and his creation'.

In relationship and sacred union with GOD we bless his creation.

Love beyond measure

I think we're much too hard on "superstition". Various traditions and lores have been dismissed by "intellectual" cultures - who then end up embracing elements of the superstition in the end anyway, having "rationalised" themselves into accepting conclusions via empirical methods, rather than acceptable of other people's observations. :)
So true. What is senseless superstition to one person is perfectly reasonable practice to another.

Thanks everyone for your answers so far :D