Is Religion Simply Outdated Superstition?
The qualifying question to accompany this question would be, “Is there information that I have not yet received or investigated?”. This is important in finding the answer to this life-changing enquiry.
The question would need to be addressed after defining the term religion. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines religion as:
1 a: the state of a religious religion> b (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2): commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
To put it another way, religion is ultimately any set of beliefs combined with ritualistic observances which either partially, or completely comprise one’s world view and ultimately govern one’s actions.
There are “world” religions: Animism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, etc.secular religions: Humanism, Atheism, Politicism etc. and even some personal religions: Spiritualism, Amway, Alcoholics Anonymous, etc.
So if we take the Webster’s Dictionary to be correct, then suffice it to say that nearly every one of us has some sort of religious behavior (even ol’ Bill Maher himself). It may not be Muslim or Christian necessarily but the idea of religion and religious behavior do not necessarily have to follow or contain any reference to any God whatsoever, so chances are, we all have behavior that is ritualistic and coincides with the personal beliefs that shape our world view and ultimately our actions in the world around us.
Can we find outdated, primitive superstition in some religion? Certainly. Say for instance, the idea that a spirit lives in a river and if one were to cross that river without sacrificing a chicken to the spirit, then the spirit will be angry and will cause horrible curses to come upon the one who crosses it, is indeed superstitious, yet MILLIONS believe along those lines (see Animism). There are also nearly a billion people who believe that if they commit a crime in this life, they must be reborn as a victim to the same crime in their next life. Suffering people MUST not be touched or helped according to this primitive belief system as this will interfere in their natural life to life progression. So, people are left to starve and die of poverty and disease. This concept is referred to as “karma” and is an attempt by Hinduism to solve the problem of evil, but sadly, karma only perpetuates evil. It does not solve it: for one to come back as a victim in their next life, there must be a victimizer in that next life who then must come back as a victim at the hands of a victimizer and so on and so on without end, to the system, or to evil itself. Again and again, we see religion after religion holding to ancient tradition and ritual in an effort to curry favor with a cosmic being. Do we then broad brush all belief systems as superstitious? Do we dismiss all things deemed “religious” as ‘outdated’ whether there is any validity to their claims or not?
The answer is no, we do not. This would be absurd, great claims deserve investigation, the most we have to lose is a couple hours of reading/learning, but what we have to lose could be far greater. There are certain immutable truths with overwhelming evidence that deserve investigation prior to our dismissing them by way of prejudice.
Can religion be outdated? That would depend on whether the religion was based on myth or on verifiable fact. If the faith is based on verifiable fact then it falls into the category of truth. If the faith is truth, then we must ask the question: “Can truth be outdated?”. If 2 + 2 equaled 4 in 460 A.D. then how could time possibly cause this truth to become a lie?
So is there a religion (or religions) that is/are based on substantiated fact? Take a look at our World Religion Comparison Chart and judge for yourself.