Is religion “superstition”?

So i stumbled upon this older article when i was looking for some different perspectives on the subject of whether or not religion is superstitious and i did find some interesting points despite the article seeming to be adamant on the idea that all religion is superstition, same goes for the comment section as well.

Below are some points i would like to discuss:

“When you pray, or daven, or wash your feet before Islamic prayers, or eat a wafer at Mass, you’re performing actions that are thought to be salubrious, but they’re just as irrational as looking for a four-leaf clover for luck”

“Religions are irrational, unfounded, based on fear and ignorance, and full of “excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural.” Further, they are all false, so far as we can tell: at the very minimum only one can be true. Ergo, religion is superstition. And believers are “superstitionists”:”

Below are some additional points (comments) made in regards to this article:

“Religion is institutionalized superstition. To imply someone’s superstition doesn’t have an institution behind it could be considered insulting.”

This one i just find distasteful and arrogant:

“Religion deserves no respect. Being disrespectful is rational and perfectly normal.”

Even if they are trolling, i must admit it still rubs me the wrong way. The comment section of the article seems to have some debate and useful discussion in it, you could look through it if you want to see if there are any other points that you think should be addressed.

I ask that you guys be patient with me as i understand some may see this post or these points posted as not worth the time or day, however it is to me (minus the last one because it is a rant) because i am wrestling with faith as to whether or not it is for me whilst dealing with doubt.



The man’s an unnuanced idiot, sorry I meant an ignorant fool. Sorry! I meant hoist with his own petard, his own false dichotomy, which he wields as a hammer finding nails where they don’t exist.

Which doesn’t mean to say that religion isn’t full of superstition, as synergistically full as its adherents are, as humans are. We’ve all been there.

But biblically, pure religion (and undefiled) has no superstition in it at all, apart from what we bring to the party (if I’m a good boy you’ll be good to me won’t you Dad?). Pure religion is its own reward. The pure religion of St. Puddleglum.


What is the author’s underlying assumption?
He believes there is no real object of faith (God or god).

Based on this assumption he concludes that any practice of worship, or formalized practice of worship must be a fiction.
Farther, that any person who believes a fiction is real and acts on that belief is justifiably the object of his disrespect.

His pride is showing. While I (I personally, but maybe someone else) can’t prove the exitence of any god, his claim that none exists is just as unprovable.
If he is limiting his belief of what exists to what is observable, measurable, etc from outside the thing, he will be denying much of human experience, much less non-human experience, as irrational.

This type of self-congratulating, self-affirming fundamentalism is just as off-putting from a rationalist as it is from any relgious person. We simply cannot know it all as firmly as the author wishes to believe.

I can’t at least. I don’t have so much faith in myself.

Kevin, I should ask further, what you think of the author’s claim? What is here that you find worth bringing up?


Morning, Martin. At this moment (in EST), I would ‘prefer sleep to learning.’
You score extra points, as usual, for style.
Enjoy your toast with your Americano (half the coffee and twice the water. Greißlich!).

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Toast is for weekends and bank holidays only. Marmite and marmalade. Otherwise sugar free muesli.

And aye, he doesn’t realise that one can do faith without superstition. What’s with the sleeplessness again?

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Muesli here, too. The real kind. Seeds and twigs, a little oat chaff. Actually, a good combo of grains and seeds.
Females of a certain age are living, breathing science experiments. Lord knows, and maybe a few endocrinologists, why 3 am is the time when sleep often ends. 6 consecutive hours is a monumental blessing.


Ah, say no more. The missus is similarly afflicted. Evolution just doesn’t care once your job is done.

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  • The “neat” thing about the word “superstition” is that it tells you right up front that the person who says "Ergo, religion is superstition. And believers are “superstitionists.” doesn’t like religions and doesn’t approve of people who say they “have a religion” and/or “practice a religion”.
  • According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the word “superstition” refers to “the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science; the belief that particular events bring good or bad luck.”
  • Hopefully, you can see that a person who disapproves of superstitious beliefs and behaviors does not believe in “luck” of any kind and disagrees with folks who believe in luck.
  • Now here’s a very interesting fact: Sam Harris is a well-known atheist. And here’s another very interesting fact: Sam Harris wrote a book called "Free Will.
    • In Sam Harris’ book, he tells a story about two violent guys who killed a woman and her two daughters. Then Harris said something remarkable; he said: “Whatever their conscious motives, these men cannot know why they are as they are. Nor can we account for why we are not like them. As sickening as I find their behavior, I have to admit that if I were to trade places with one of these men, atom for atom, I would be him: There is no extra part of me that could decide to see the world differently or to resist the impulse to victimize other people. …If I had truly been in Komisarjevsky’s shoes on July 23, 2007—that is, if I had his genes and life experience and an identical brain (or soul) in an identical state—I would have acted exactly as he did. … The role of luck, therefore, appears decisive.”
  • Now, personally, I find this amazing. Let’s just think about all of this …slowly:
    • On the one hand, the guy that you quote, the atheist Jerry A. Coyne,
      • equates “religion” with “superstition”; and
      • says "Religions are irrational, unfounded, based on fear and ignorance, and full of “excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural.”
    • The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines “superstition” as “a belief that luck explains what cannot be explained by reason or science.”
    • Meanwhile, the atheist Sam Harris
      • says the reason that criminals are criminals and non-criminals aren’t criminals has nothing to do with Free Will or genes or parenting skills. The reason some people are bad and other people are good is … wait for it, … (drum roll) … Luck. Some people have good luck and other people have bad luck.

So, whaddya make of that?
This is what I make of it: There are atheists and there are anti-theists. Atheists don’t believe that a god–any god–exists; in other words, they think “God did it” is a superstitious explanation for events. An anti-theist is an atheist who doesn’t want anyone else to believe any god exists. Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris aren’t just atheists, they’re both anti-theists.


In some ways and traditions yes.

As an atheist, I would say that “God did it” isn’t an explanation since it doesn’t explain anything. I also wouldn’t tell someone that their religious beliefs are silly since they are held sincerely and are meaningful to the people who hold them.


This is a long topic and you need that person here or an atheist close to that person to discuss live all the points and show along the way their fallacies depending on their answers.

However a general answer would be :

Religion is an outlet to God which differs from region to region and it supports its position based on supernatural events throughout human history as well as the existence of the universe, fine tuning and human consciousness.

The fallacy is very simple. Faith does not have to entail superstition at all.

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We should actually appreciate when someone does use this word then(there’s loads more, for sure), at least you know immediately what/who you’re dealing with rather than someone pretending to be your friend, only to stab you in the back(metaphorically!!!)weeks down the line.

By this definition, I’m not superstitious. I believe there’s an explanation for everything, but unlike atheists, I don’t think that discounts God.
And certainly don’t believe in things bringing good or bad luck. We were thought very clearly during RE that things like talismans, horoscopes etc were sin, that superstition is sin. So I find it peculiar for an atheist to declare religion superstitious, whilst I was thought at school that superstition is a sin from religion’s POV :flushed:

Unfounded? All beliefs, whether religious or not, have to be founded in something. You cannot have a belief otherwise, just not how our brains work! Can still be wrong, but saying it’s unfounded is like, someone hasn’t done their homework…
Based on ignorance? Of what exactly? We’re all ignorant of something, there’s just too much knowledge out there these days to know everything so need to be specific.

Wow! Is he actually saying that?(haven’t read the book, and have no intention, so don’t know) The bit about parenting, I find particularly disturbing. Why? Because anti theists spend awful lot of time convincing everyone they’re fighting religion for good causes, that they believe society would be soo much better off without it. So to say something that could be interpreted in a very dangerous way…wow
BTW it’s neat what you’ve done with Sam and luck😉


Is religion “superstition”


Would you describe Maggie or Rich Stearns as superstitious, or George Müller?

Hadn’t thought it that way but you’re right.

I agree.

The principal point, if not the whole purpose, of his book was to argue against free will.


Is religion superstition? No.

You can find religious people with superstitions and elements of their religion can be part of a superstition.

But you also can find scientists with superstitions and elements of their science can be part of their superstition.

Frankly, I think science is more akin to superstition than religion. Superstition generally comes from extending some coincidental pattern of events into a general rule. The most you can say is that in science we expect and look for a causal connections. Superstitions can also come from fanciful stories and pranks. They play upon a natural human tendency to look for patterns and seek ways of controlling the events of our lives. Superstition can be likened to primitive science, but equating religion to this simply reveals a very poor understanding of religion.

So when is it science and when is it superstition? It is science when we continue to test the idea and look for explanations for why it is happening. It is superstition when we ignore evidence to the contrary and cling to them without explanation. Is religion like that with some people? Yep. …even when they call their religion by the name of science. LOL But religion is not like this for all who are religious… having nothing to do with any attempt to control the events of their lives.

But what about the way people pray for things? Isn’t that an example of an effort to control things in their life? Not necessarily. More often is about making a stand about the things we care about and communicating them to God. This certainly can cross over into superstition. I think a great example is found in the way people conducted business in the ancient world, where people made offerings at the temple as a part of their business… like an offering to Poseidon to protect a ship from mishaps at sea.


I could, but i cant judge someone’s personal experience without first having had experienced such events myself. I feel like that would lead to a fallacy of some kind.

Could you elaborate?

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There are objective facts in each case leading to a logical, not superstitious, conclusion.

I haven’t looked at george müller yet.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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