Is religion more than superstition?
By Samantha Atkinson (age 14), Archbishop Holgate's School, York
On the one hand, some non-religious people may believe religion is no more than superstition, as there are some similarities between the two that one cannot ignore. Both doctrines think that our world isn't a place controlled by science, matter and energy, but rather that unexplainable forces influence or control our lives. Furthermore, there is also the desire in both beliefs to provide a reason and meaning for every random and coincidental event that happens. For example, if an accident happened where somebody was hurt, the superstitious might connect it to walking under a ladder or spilling salt and the religious might connect it to not performing prayers or not going to church that morning. Also in both cases people are expected to avoid certain actions and perform other actions, for instance; not opening an umbrella inside and wishing on a star, or not sinning and following the Ten Commandments.
However on the other hand, some religious people may believe that religion is more
than superstition. As superstition can be seen as being childish or irrational, therefore
some religions may take offense at being called superstitious. Instead Christians may
argue that faith is all about Jesus. He was born from the Virgin Mary, preached in the
temple, looked up to by his disciples, betrayed by Judas, crucified by the Romans and
on the third day (Luke 18:33). Christianity is more about a relationship
with God as he is an essence to connect with:
I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).
This scripture shows that God's omnipotence allows him to strengthen every one of us
all the time. This is only possible because Jesus
died for our sins (Corinthians 15) so
that we may have our sins forgiven, and cultivate a close connection with God. It gives
us a hope of being with God in his paradise in the afterlife. Whereas a belief in
superstition is not so encompassing as to have an impact on the afterlife, bringing me
back to ‘yes', religion is more than superstition.
However another argument to support that religion is no more than superstition, is the
many stories that the bible is based on were passed down through the word of mouth
many hundreds of years ago, as this was the only means of communication. So religion
in many respects is similar to superstition, as these stories were also passed down
through folk law. Therefore both may have been exaggerated or even completely false.
Also religion along with superstition were founded a very long time ago when people
had extremely different views, and these views may not be relevant to today;
many things served us yesterday for articles of faith which today are fables for us?
(Michel de Montaigne, a 16th century French philosophist and writer). Many religious
people may only believe in their chosen God because they believe if they are faithful,
they will ascend to heaven.
But if they are not faithful God will punish them and they will spend eternity in hell;
the absence of God. Therefore out of fear and superstition, they believe in a God and
follow a religion:
What the mind doesn't understand, it worships or fears (Alice
My second argument to support that religion is more than superstition, is that the
first followers of Jesus and Christianity didn't follow him because they aspired to go
to heaven. In fact, his disciples wouldn't have even known about heaven in the first
place. So instead of following Jesus out of a selfish reason, they followed him out of
loyalty, awe and admiration. This is because Jesus appeared to perform:
that cannot be fathomed (Job 5:9): healing the blind, healing the crippled, splitting
fish and bread to feed thousands, walking on water, resurrecting, the list goes on.
Therefore religion is about faith, love and connection to God, which are emotions
that are more deeply rooted in anyone's consciousness than superstitious thoughts
could ever be. This is perhaps why some religious people can feel guilt when they
stray from God's wishes.
In conclusion, it seems reasonable to argue that while religion is not exactly the same
as superstition, they both spring from the same origins: a natural human need and
desire to believe in something, even if it isn't plausible or backed up with any
evidence. Also, gaining a greater understanding of superstition may aid you in
developing a better understanding and appreciation of religion. Therefore, I disagree
with the statement:
religion is more than superstition.
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