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So far as this includes the worship of things other than God, it is not only an essential part, but the foundation also of the Positivistic system (Comte), which sets up humanity as the object of religious worship (see POSITIVISM).

Nor can Pantheism, which identifies God and the world, lead consistently to any but superstitious practices, however it may in theory disclaim such a purpose.

It is to this ignorance of the true God, coupled with an inordinate veneration for human excellence and the love of artistic representations appealing to the senses, that St. While these are dispositive causes, the consummative cause, he adds, was the influence of demons who offered themselves as objects of worship to erring men, giving answers through idols and doing things which to men seemed marvellous (II-II:94:4).

These causes explain the origin and spread of superstition in the pagan world.

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Of these essential factors the first is often wanting entirely, and the second is only imperfectly present.Ignorance of natural causes leads to the belief that certain striking phenomena express the will or the anger of some invisible overruling power, and the objects in which such phenomena appear are forthwith deified, as, e.g. Conversely, many superstitious practices are due to an exaggerated notion or a false interpretation of natural events, so that effects are sought which are beyond the efficiency of physical causes.Curiosity also with regard to things that are hidden or are still in the future plays a considerable part, e.g. But the chief source of superstition is pointed out in Scripture : "All men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God : and who by these good things that are seen, could not understand him that is, neither by attending to the works have acknowledged who was the workman: but have imagined either the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world" ( Wisdom 13:1-2 ).Thomas (II-II:92:1) as "a vice opposed to religion by way of excess; not because in the worship of God it does more than true religion, but because it offers Divine worship to beings other than God or offers worship to God in an improper manner".Superstition sins by excess of religion, and this differs from the vice of irreligion, which sins by defect.Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath . It is also against the positive law of the Church, which visits the worst kinds of superstitions with severe punishments, and against the natural law inasmuch as it runs counter to the dictates of reason in the matter of man's relations to God.Such objective sinfulness is inherent in all superstitious practices from idolatry down to the vainest of vain observances, of course in very different degrees of gravity.As regards formal guilt, this is often reduced to the vanishing point by the prevailing credulity and common practice of the period.The worship of imaginary saints or relics, devotion based upon false revelations, apparitions, supposed miracles, or false notions generally, is usually excusable in the worshipper on the ground of ignorance and good faith ; but there is no excuse for those who use similar means to exploit popular credulity for their own pecuniary profit."Superstition is the baseless fear of the gods, religion the pious worship." According to Isidore of Seville (Etymolog., l. iii, sent.), the word comes from superstatuo or superinstituo : "Superstitio est superflua observantia in cultu super statuta seu instituta superiorum", i.e."observances added on to prescribed or established worship"] is defined by St.

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