Two Kinds of Superstition

I have described how huge an error it is to oppose science and religion; instead, magic is opposed in different ways to both.

Now ancient superstitions were of two kinds. One postulated gods in charge of natural phenomena, as Zeus in Greek polytheism commanded thunder and lightning, and Demeter was a "goddess of agriculture," whatever that meant.

Scientific advance reveals that these gods do not exist. Where the Greeks saw teleology, we see physical causation. No rational being in fact controls a thunderstorm, and no goddess decides how good the harvest will be.

The second kind of superstition mistakenly found gods in what are actually demons. The ancients sought to propitiate these gods, to curry their favor with sacrifices, often human and bloody.

Religious advance affirms that demons exist. But it also teaches that demons are mankind's implacable enemies. The very attempt to appease or make a deal with a demon is a sin in itself capable of condemning you. The most you can get the devil to agree on is to kill you last (though he'll probably lie); and for that to happen, you'll yourself need to murder as many innocents as you can, as per the devil's own inevitable terms.

The dual liberation of man from the tyrannical whims of the nature gods and from the malice of the demon gods is one of his greatest civilizational achievements.

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