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A Look At Superstition And Religion

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Published: Tue, 25 Apr 2017

Superstitions are very common. A superstitious person, knowing that there is something higher than he cannot control, believes in the existence of supernatural forces. Superstition arose from a sense of powerlessness to make contact with God. Therefore, a man creates his own religion in which he tries to see certain and clear logic of supernatural forces around him or influence them through his own behavior.

Superstition is a credulous notion, which is a belief in a prediction of our future and an impact on it through the use of any supernatural forces. It contains an assumption, often unconscious, that with the help of these forces it is possible to achieve a compromise, which is acceptable for a man.

Superstition usually manifests itself in reduced forms of a ritual at the behavioral level: the use of mascots, tattoos, magical gestures, etc. A special place occupies different signs and superstitious beliefs: certain events are attributed to prognostic significance.

There are four main types of superstitions that include:

Pagan superstitions, which are directly connected with a pagan anti-Christian worldview. They have their origins in the polytheistic religions that deny the existence of God, and reject the Creator of the world;

Occultism, in turn, elevates to a deity some hidden forces, and attributes them the ability to change a person’s life;

Folk superstitions differ from pagan ones that they do not represent a holistic pagan worldview, but exist fragmentarily and separately, not included in any complete system of the world outlook;

Ecclesiastical superstitions are expressed in the use of religious rituals in pagan rites or vice versa.

The examples of superstitions in American culture are the following ones:

Some common good luck superstitions:

You will get good luck, if you take your stand on your shadow;

If you find a horseshoe that was lost by someone, it will bring you good luck;

You will have good luck, if you find a clover with four leaves.

Some common bad luck superstitions:

The family will fall ill, if a cat sneezes no more than three times;

If a black cat crosses your road, it brings you bad luck;

You will have bad luck, if you spill salt.

Religion is a special form of the world’s awareness, caused by the belief in the supernatural forces, which include a set of moral norms and behaviors, rituals, cult actions and unite people in an organization (for example, a church or a religious community).

In addition, religion is a man’s worldview (or a certain group of people), which is based on the belief in something supernatural, unexplainable. In every religion, there are certain rules of behaviors to be followed by the adherents, as well as the purpose for which people follow the tenets of that religion.

In this part of the paper, let us discuss and explain two different types of religions, such as Catholicism and Protestantism.

Catholicism: the faith is based on the Bible and Holy Tradition, which includes decrees of the Ecumenical Councils. Celibacy is compulsory for priests and bishops. A sign of the cross most often is executed by five fingers as a symbol of the five wounds of Christ. Catholics believe that the dead return home and sometime visit their living relatives in a day of commemoration. People, who are stingy to the funeral repast, are punished by loss of cattle, fire, etc. There is a custom to paint eggs at Easter, as well as to bake cakes. Then these cakes are sanctified, and they are considered to be a symbol of this holiday. When people swim in an ice-hole during Epiphany, it helps him to be cleansed of his sins. It is prohibited to scorch the bottom of the candle when it is inserted into a candlestick. It is motivated as follows: “Thus, a person burns the feet of Christ.”

Protestantism: Protestants believe that a person can receive forgiveness of sins by a faith in Jesus Christ (by a faith in His death for the sins of all people and in His resurrection from the dead). The Bible is the most supreme and final authority on all issues affecting the mankind in its development. In addition, Protestants do not see any point in prayers for the dead, saints, and many holidays in their honor. Protestants, in comparison with other Christians, pay very much attention to “speaking in tongues (glossolalia)” (they consider it to be a sign of “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”), and to other gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as the gift of healing and prophecy.

There is no doubt that there are some differences and similarities between superstition and religion. Let us discuss superstition and religion from the standpoint of an emic and etic prospective. Different religions are born with the help of people’s faith in something supernatural. They pass this belief on from one generation to another within their family. For instance, we can often hear that different illnesses of a religious person were cured with the help of many prayers. The illness disappeared by the effect of a prayer. In fact, there are no logical and right explanations about this event. The religious people can call it a miracle. In turn, some philosophers would name it superstition.

Superstition is influenced by some irrational beliefs, such as the reverence of different things, black cats. The things of this nature is a peculiar fear that people believe and carry that if they face with those things, that probably something unhappier and bad will affect them. Thus, it can be considered to be a religion, but it is a kind of false and incorrect worship.

Ethnocentrism is a view of society, in which a certain group is central, and all other groups are compared and related to it. Levine and Campbell emphasized that “the attitudes include seeing one’s own group (the in-group) as virtuous and superior, one’s own standards of value as universal, and out-groups as contemptible and inferior” (qtd. in Hammond and Axelrod 926). Cultural relativism is opposite to ethnocentrism. The basis of cultural relativism is the assertion that members of one social group cannot understand the motives and values of other groups, if they analyze these motives and values according to their own culture.

In summary, it is possible to conclude that both superstition and religion are powerful notions, even if they have some similarities between each other, they are not common things and act and operate separately and independently from each other.


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