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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.
Now as in the past the rejection of Divine truth in the name of reason often opens the way to beliefs and practices which are at once unworthy of reason and dangerous to morality.These causes explain the origin and spread of superstition in the pagan world.They were to a large extent eliminated by the preaching of Christianity ; but so deep-rooted was the tendency to which they gave rise that many of the ancient practices survived, especially among peoples just emerging from barbarism."observances added on to prescribed or established worship"] is defined by St.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".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.
The human mind, by a natural impulse, tends to worship something, and if it is convinced that Agnosticism is true and that God is unknowable, it will, sooner or later, devise other objects of worship.
Divination consists in the attempt to extract from creatures, by means of religious rites, a knowledge of future events or of things known to God alone.
Under the head of vain observances come all those beliefs and practices which, at least by implication, attribute supernatural or preternatural powers for good or for evil to causes evidently incapable of producing the expected effects.
The number and variety of superstitions appear from the following list of those most in vogue at different periods of history: The source of superstition is, in the first place, subjective.
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.
Superstition sins by excess of religion, and this differs from the vice of irreligion, which sins by defect.