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Dear Gramps,

I need help working out this one simple question. What’s the difference between superstition and religion. An acquaintance of mine left the church and sees its doctrine as “superstitious horse manure” I know there’s a difference between a belief in God versus, say a black cat causing bad luck, but I’m having difficulty explaining that distinction adequately.





Dear Eight,

Oh what a question. Some people who dislike religion claim that our beliefs are nothing but superstition. In fairness it’s a charge that has been leveled against all religions since the dawn of humanity. Even though we’ve heard it before, and will no doubt hear it again, it’s a fair question and it deserves our respect. And an answer.

Obviously, it’s a complex question that requires a complex answer-and we here at Ask Gramps will probably never be able to provide your friend with an answer that will lead them back into the Church. However, there are some huge differences between religion and superstition that we can discuss.

The question has been asked before, and the writer Karen A. Darbinyan, writing for the Scientific Production Center answered it brilliantly. I’m paraphrasing her response:

“The biggest difference between religion and superstition might be the worldview that both require. Religion, evens ones that we disagree with, almost always have a view on how the world came to exist, how it works, and who God is. Superstition does not have that. Religion has a moral code that teaches us right from wrong. Finding a penny and picking it up for “good luck” is a superstition that doesn’t tell us anything about morality or how we should live our lives. Religion has a goal-leading people to Heaven-while superstition does not.”  Source

Even someone who is not religious could understand her answer. There are major, major differences between being “religious” and just being “superstitious” and upon further reflection and analysis, they should be fairly obvious.

Hope this helps,






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