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.
With regard to the subjective guilt attaching to them it must be borne in mind that no sin is mortal unless committed with full knowledge of its grievous wickedness and with full deliberation and consent.
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.
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.
But the tendency itself has not wholly disappeared.
Side by side with the Rationalistic philosophy and the rigorous scientific methods which are characteristic of modern thought, there are still to be found various sorts of superstition.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.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.It was only by degrees, through the legislation of the Church and the advance of scientific knowledge, that the earlier forms of superstition were eradicated.This may indeed be interpreted as a reaction against Materialism ; but it is none the less, at bottom, an evidence of man's restless desire to penetrate, by any and every means, the mystery that lies beyond death.