Does superstition have scientific basis?

Published June 16, 2019, 12:19 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Nelly Favis Villafuerte
Nelly Favis Villafuerte

An American rancher, in preparation for his death, placed an order for a $1,200 steel coffin with provision for an up-to-date radio receiving set.  His explanation for the radio-equipped coffin was simple:  he wanted “to hear what’s going on in the world after he died.”  He believed that his soul would remain near his body until the day of judgment.

This is just one of the hundreds of thousands of superstitions with us today

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What is superstition?  It is a belief or practice that is not confirmed by fact but is merely based upon fear or ignorance of the unknown.

There are many phenomena happening in business, in politics, in medicine, in social relations, and in other areas of human endeavor, which are simply nothing but superstition.  Superstition, by the way, is not confined to the ancient world.  In this modern age, many people, including the educated elite, are practitioners of superstition.

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How did superstition start?  Many superstitions originated from the religious customs and beliefs of pagans who had accumulated a plurality of gods and goddesses.  Every aspect of the pagan’s life – his health, his work, his love – was controlled by said gods and goddesses.  When Rome rose to be the greatest empire in the world, she incorporated into her system the religious practices of the various pagan/heathen nations, including their superstitious beliefs.  These practices spread to other nations in varying forms.

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Take the case of amulets.  Many people wear such material objects nowadays to protect them from disease, danger, demons, or evil magic.  These objects are supposed to bring good luck and good fortune.

In the early days, primitive tribes also carried amulets to ward off evil spirits.  These charm objects were also called fetishes and talismans.

In a study conducted by a US marketing agency a few years ago, it was found out that women are the biggest buyers of charms, voodoo, pendants and other superstition paraphernalia.  The study revealed that “some 86,000 women mail order buyers paid $8.40 each for a genie-in-the bottle good luck pendant, a mystical talisman.  One US department store had a record of 92,976 buyers of amulets, zodiac medallion, occult necklaces, bracelets, rings, earring, pyramids and ankhs.  These items cost $12 on the average.  Again, most of the buyers were women!

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Have you noticed that elevators in some building skip from the 12th to the 14th floor?  Many people are uneasy with number 13.  They believe the number brings bad luck.  Some feel it is bad luck for 13 people to have a group picture or to dine together.  One of them, the superstition goes – will get sick or die.  How did number 13 get its bad reputation?  Remember that old Viking story where 12 gods were invited as guests at a grand banquet?  One evil god felt bad for not being invited.  He sneaked to the banquet anyway.  One of the gods, so the story goes, got killed.

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Many people go slow in their activities on a Friday, the 13th.  Many people believe that Friday is an unlucky day since Christ was crucified on a Friday.  This explains why many people think that Friday is a bad day to cut nails, to look for a job, to go on a trip,  to get married, and to do many other things.

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Omens play a critical roles in the lives of superstitious people.  An omen is an object or an event that foretells the future happening of a disaster, calamity, or misfortune.  For example, there are many people who feel that meeting a cross-eyed person or a black cat spells bad luck.

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Why do we believe in superstitious beliefs and practices in this modern age with all the scientific and technological advances?  Why are so many people attracted to superstition?  One explanation is the belief of many people that the demons are “at work.”  In other words, many people believe that there is demonic interference in the various areas of human activity.  These are the same people who refuse to accept natural causes as explanation.

Does superstition have scientific basis?  Does it have Biblical basis?  In both cases, the answer is no.  Despite the fact that superstition is unscientific and unbiblical, superstition has influenced the lives of many people, including responsible professional people.  Puzzling, isn’t it?

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I was also a practitioner of superstition before I started reading the Holy Bible.  These superstitions were handed down to us by our parents, grandparents, and other respected family friends.  Without question, we followed them.  Yes, superstition has penetrated every web of our society and gained widespread respectability.

It is ironical indeed that many people have a deeper fascination with superstition than with the Gospel.  Many people seem to be more afraid of the frightening effects of superstition than the Biblical teaching on the awesome damnation that awaits unrepentant sinners.  Many people seem to spend more time digging deeper into superstition than spending time to read the Holy Bible.  Many people treat superstition as divine and the Biblical prophecies as fantasies.  Many people honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him.  Yes, more people are acting like they are more afraid of demonic forces than the wrath of God.

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Many people have forgotten that there is eternity. . . 

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This column continues to give out copies of the Holy Bible for free to those who cannot afford to buy their own copies. If interested, please send your letter-request to Ms. Nelly Favis Villafuerte, 5233 LRV Building, Fahrenheit St., Palanan, Makati City. Kindly mention if it is the Tagalog, English, Cebuano, or Ilocano Bible that is preferred.

Be joyful and forgiving!

(Comments may be sent to Ms. Villafuerte’s e-mail: [email protected])