Superstitions

There was an article in a recent newspaper about someone who professed to be proud of being a jihadist. His rationale was that if he was killed, he would go straight to heaven, no waiting. What could make someone think that way?

The willingness to die for ones country or ones cause is not unusual. Most countries honor those armed service members who paid to protect their country with their life. Today we willingly honor our war dead on Memorial Day.

Dying in armed combat for the rights of Palestinian or Iraqi territories under most circumstances would seem either patriotic or at least duty bound. Dying because one had swallowed the recruiting lines of gaining 7 virgins or simply entry into heaven violates “truth in advertising”, I would think.

Islam, however, does not have the monopoly on superstitions. All the major religions have some whopper of a tale they want their followers to believe. And if one reviews, even quickly, history, one will find that many a soul has made his/her earth visit much shorter by following the superstition of the day.

And even more tragic are those who lost their lives because some other superstition believer felt they had priority in following their superstitions even if killing someone else resulted.

Of course many, if not most superstitions have a “self interest” component. “I believe in this superstition because life is better for me.” As Pascal famously wagered, “if I lead a good life and there is a god, I am on the right side of eternity (and eternity is a long, long time), if I lead a bad life, however, the penalties will be unendingly severe” (paraphrased).

Two huge superstitions have emerge around the world, (1) there is a supreme force, and (2) there is eternal life after death which resembles life on earth. Neither one is provable and both offer the purveyor of these myths a chance to collect “tribute” for leading the way.

Interestingly these two superstitions are so powerful and useful that competing claims of exclusivity have arisen.  “Follow me because I am the only right one”  Hmmm.

It would seem to me that if there were a god and a heaven (life after earth death) existed, those who thought of these superstitions would have formulated a doctrine with no reliance upon forcing their beliefs on others.

Rather, this new spiritual group would rejoice that they had discovered (or even made up) a way of living which was open to anyone, no strings attached, and would not interfere with any other group or individuals. In other words, these mystics had discovered sliced bread and they were willing to share it without any conditions attached.

This benevolent act would not eliminate the chance that some enterprising person, group, or country might see an opportunity for gain and hijack these superstitions.  If so, it would be that group who tarnished the myth.

These superstitions, if true, are, however, really alluring and with the right “branding”, could make money for the purveyor. History tells of victory and victory by followers of these superstitions.  Interestingly, each victory is associated with treasures going from one hand to another.  History tends not to dwell on who was on the other side of these victories (as if they did not count).

So why exactly would a loving and just god allow someone who would kill others, or in the extreme blow themselves up (and kill others) gain access to the good life of heaven?

Why would this spirit allow someone to cut in line?

The point of this post is not to debate theology. Rather it is to ask rational people (who may be also believers) how one can condone the practice of forcing any superstition upon others?

What say Hobby Lobby?

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4 Comments on “Superstitions”


  1. It’s a good question and forgive the long comment in advance.

    Regarding Hobby Lobby, keep in mind that Hobby Lobby created its business and did so with its intention of living out their Christian faith in the business world. (Christians believe that “worship” doesn’t just occur on Sundays but that our lives are supposed to be dedicated and for the benefit of God.) It was the government, though, that recently decided to create regulations under the ACA that stepped on those religious convictions by forcing them to provide a benefit that went against their religious beliefs. They therefore fought back because this country was founded on the belief that one’s religious beliefs are sacred and fundamental. Their employees can still find birth control from alternative methods (Planned Parenthood for example), so it really is a compromise between those seeking birth control and those who want to remain obedient to God.

    Regarding the superstition question, I understand where you are coming from. I’m obviously a Christian and I don’t consider it a superstition at all–but that doesn’t mean Christians don’t have moments of doubt. It’s pretty natural when you see tragedy. (Even Jesus on the cross had a moment where he cried out and wondered if God had forsaken him.) But as a Christian, we know that it didn’t end there. That moment of despair led to a moment of resurrection. (It’s historical and was documented by his apostles). It’s why we always find hope in dark times. And it’s why we’re over 2000 past Jesus and people are still dying (not killing) for him. Some people thwart the after-life promised as well as the teachings, and I guess you could classify those as failed religions or superstition. But not Christianity. It’s got lasting power…because it’s true. If you are really interested in understanding, though, I’d suggest you just read the Bible and speak to God directly. He’ll listen if you go into with an open ear. “Really” reading scripture for the first time was how I for the first time “really” understood.


    • Krissie, thanks for taking the effort to write this lengthy reply. You write well and your points are clear.

      In response, superstitions are unprovable beliefs… This does not mean they are not real to you or that you should not follow them. but, for example you quoted Jesus on the cross… there are no recordings of what he might have said… you are reliant upon what church writers record 50-300 years later…

      My point is that Hobby Lobby just like the Catholic Church is entitled to their beliefs. No member of the Hobby Lobby family should be forced to take any form of contraception… But entering the secular business world and employing secular workers, Hobby Lobby should be bound to observe the laws of the land… eg. discrimination, health (like vaccinations or blood transfusions), or taxes despite what their strongly held beliefs might be. (The Supreme Court seriously erred in my opinion.)

      Consider the Catholic Church objection to ACA’s contraceptive provision. The Church claims its affiliates should not be required to provide birth control because of their deeply held belief… This means that the Notre Dame football team (which generates over $70 million in income yearly and is hardly religious) staff and their dependents would not be covered for contraceptives while the Penn State football team’s staff would… Hmmm.

      I think it is unfortunate that ACA includes contraceptive coverage and that the process must involve an employer. A universal health care system would have been much more effective and would have avoided these conflicts. But it makes no sense to deny someone blood transfusions because the owner is a Jehovah’s Witness then it does to deny them contraceptives…

      We shall see…

  2. Jane jones Says:

    Oh Zukunftsaugen ! What a great piece of writing. My own pages of explaining Spiral Dynamics to you is almost ready. Clears up superstitions and hobby lobby, at least for me.


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