See also: Evolutionary psychology of religion and Evolutionary origin of religions In keeping with the Latin etymology of the word, religious believers have often seen other religions as superstition. Likewise, atheists and agnostics may regard any religious belief as superstition. Religious practices are superstitious when they include belief in miracles, an afterlife, supernatural interventions, apparitions or the efficacy of prayer, charms, incantations, the meaningfulness of omens, and prognostications. Greek and Roman pagans, who modeled their relations with the gods on political and social terms, scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods, as a slave feared a cruel and capricious master. Such fear of the gods (deisidaimonia) was what the Romans meant by "superstition" (Veyne 1987, p. 211). For some Christians, just such fears might be worn proudly as a name: Desdemona. The Roman Catholic Church considers superstition to be sinful in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in the divine providence of God and, as such, is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states superstition "in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion" (para. #2110). The Catechism clearly dispels commonly held preconceptions or misunderstandings about Catholic doctrine relating to superstitious practices: Superstition is a deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand is to fall into superstition. Cf. Matthew 23:16–22 (para. #2111) Some superstitions originated as religious practices that continued to be observed by people who no longer adhere to the religion that gave birth to the practice. Often the practices lost their original meaning in this process. In other cases, the practices are adapted to the current religion of the practitioner. As an example, during the Christianizing of Europe, pagan symbols to ward off evil were replaced with the Christian cross.
* Superstitions in India!
When it comes to India, anything and everything is possible! I am sure you must have heard of this statement…definitely one man’s belief is another man’s superstition. All barriers are broken when it comes to superstitions. All you need is a panditji or a swamiji or a fakir to tell one that his mars is strong or bad period (shani) is reigning over him…that’s it! The person would leave no stone unturned in performing all the rituals that are required to be performed to set off the good period in his life. Unfortunately, many fail to realize that the same amount of dedication and conviction if applied in other aspects of life would do them much better. But the social evils in India are entrenched so deeply that cutting one rope would not be sufficient. Superstitions and the caste system go along at the same line with the people from the higher caste considering the lower caste people as untouchables. We, as the people of India have moved ahead in all aspects of life. So, why is it that it is so difficult to let go of our faith, beliefs and superstitions? We hear cases of daughters being sold off only because some swamiji has told the family that it would bring good...