4 Answers

  1. Religions without the supernatural, of course, exist. This fact is the main point of criticism of the Soviet definition of religion, which, going back to the definition given by Plekhanov, used “belief in the supernatural” as the main feature of religion.

    Despite the existence of such a definition, “supernatural”, as shown, for example, by E. Torchinov, is a very shaky construct. I will quote a fragment from his book ” Religions of the World. Experience of the beyond”:

    “Let's look at the situation with the supernatural in developed religions. And here we are waiting for continuous surprises. Let's turn to the two religions of India – Buddhism and Jainism. Studying their texts, we are surprised to see that the deities and demons they recognize are only certain types of living beings (along with humans and animals), that they are also born and die, although their life span can only be measured by astronomical numbers. Achieving their state is by no means the religious goal of these two teachings, and the recognition of their existence does not play a significant role. Moreover, there would be no significant change in the basic doctrines of Buddhism and Jainism if their followers suddenly decided to abandon the belief in gods and demons – just two classes of suffering living beings would become less. Thus, in Buddhism and Jainism, firstly, beings endowed with a divine status are considered as completely worldly, that is, strictly speaking, not supernatural, and secondly, their role in these teachings is quite insignificant.

    Chinese religions show even less inclination to believe in the supernatural; it is not even clear how the word “supernatural” itself could be translated into ancient Chinese. It is quite significant that the ideal of the Taoist religion is nothing more than naturalness, the natural. As the Tao te Ching says (§�16): “Man takes the Earth as a model, the Earth takes the Sky as a model, the Sky takes the Tao (Path, first principle) as a model, and the Tao takes the self-nature (tzu ran) as a model. The ideal of Taoism ultimately boils down to following one's original nature and becoming one with nature as such. According to the just remark of the sinologist and Jesuit missionary L. Viger, in religious Taoism we find descriptions of the most incredible and fantastic events and transformations, but all of them are explained in a natural way, which indicates that the idea of a miracle as a certain event that fundamentally violates the laws and norms of nature was not only unknown to Taoism, but also absolutely alien to it. Yes, and all the immortals, deities and geniuses of the Taoist religion reside in the space of Heaven and Earth, within the sacral, but quite sensually concrete cosmos.

    Even in the polytheistic religions of the ancient Near East, as well as in ancient Greece and Rome, the idea of the supernatural is absent. The ancient Egyptians were consistently “monophysites,” believing that gods, humans, animals, and other creatures shared the same nature. Therefore, in particular, animals were deified by them not for their supernatural, but just for their most natural qualities and properties, which caused the approval of Giordano Bruno, who saw in the Egyptian animal cult the best expression of the understanding of the omnipresence of divine nature. The idea of gods as transcendent entities was also quite alien to the Greeks and Romans.

    In fact, only the religions of the biblical root (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) fully satisfy this criterion. They are characterized by the idea of the transcendence of God, of the creation and fundamental alienness of the cosmos and the living beings inhabiting it, of a miracle as a divine intervention that violates the established laws of nature by God.

    In conclusion, it should be noted with regret that the word “supernatural” is often used in religious studies not as an unambiguous term and not as a concept at all, but as a word of everyday language that conveys an intuitive and non-reflexive understanding of something as fantastic, not having a place in reality, etc. In addition to the non-terminological nature of such word usage, it is also dangerous because something that seems fantastic and unprecedented today may turn out to be quite real tomorrow (just recall modern theoretical physics with its theory of space-time curvature or genetic engineering; more controversial examples related, for example, to parapsychology, you can not give).”

  2. Of course, there is for example “Atheism” – it is directly interpreted as the belief that there is nothing supernatural or communism, socialism, extremism – as the belief that for everything you have done, there is definitely nothing that does not wake you up or self-confidence, which in fact is extremism only in private…

  3. Purely based on the definition of the word “religion” ( — one of the forms of public consciousness — a set of ideas based on faith in miraculous SUPERNATURAL forces and beings (gods, spirits) that are the object of worship), we can conclude that there are no such religions. This is more likely to be called a philosophical trend or something like that.

  4. There is still a debate among sinologists and religious scholars about whether Confucianism can be considered a religion or not. If we take the first point of view, we have an excellent example of a religion without the supernatural.

Leave a Reply