Dogma

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Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.1 It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology, nationalism or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system's paradigm, or the ideology itself. The term can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, religion, or issued decisions of political authorities.2

The term derives from Greek δόγμα "that which seems to one, opinion or belief"3 and that from δοκέω (dokeo), "to think, to suppose, to imagine".4 Dogma came to signify laws or ordinances adjudged and imposed upon others by the First Century. The plural is either dogmas or dogmata, from Greek δόγματα. The term "dogmatics" is used as a synonym for systematic theology, as in Karl Barth's defining textbook of neo-orthodoxy, the 14-volume Church Dogmatics.

In religion

Dogmata are found in religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all believers of that religion. As a fundamental element of religion, the term "dogma" is assigned to those theological tenets which are considered to be well demonstrated, such that their proposed disputation or revision effectively means that a person no longer accepts the given religion as his or her own, or has entered into a period of personal doubt. Dogma is distinguished from theological opinion regarding those things considered less well-known. Dogmata may be clarified and elaborated but not contradicted in novel teachings (e.g., Galatians 1:6-9). Rejection of dogma may lead to expulsion from a religious group.

In Christianity, religious beliefs are defined by the Church.5 It is usually based upon scripture or communicated by church authority.6 It is believed that these dogmas will lead human beings towards redemption and thus the “paths which lead to God".7

For Catholicism and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, the dogmata are contained in the Nicene Creed and the canon laws of two, three, seven, or twenty ecumenical councils (depending on whether one is Nestorian, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic). These tenets are summarized by St. John of Damascus in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, which is the third book of his main work, titled The Fount of Knowledge. In this book he takes a dual approach in explaining each article of the faith: one, for Christians, where he uses quotes from the Bible and, occasionally, from works of other Fathers of the Church, and the second, directed both at non-Christians (but who, nevertheless, hold some sort of religious belief) and at atheists, for whom he employs Aristotelian logic and dialectics.

The decisions of fourteen later councils that Catholics hold as dogmatic and numerous decrees promulgated by Popes' exercising papal infallibility (for examples, see Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary) are considered as being a part of the Church's sacred body of doctrine.

Roman Catholic dogmata are a distinct form of doctrine taught by the Church.

Protestants to differing degrees affirm portions of these dogmata, and often rely on denomination-specific "Statements of Faith" which summarize their chosen dogmata (see, e.g., Eucharist).

It should be noted that dogma relates most directly to personal interpretations of Scripture rather than being a direct equivalent to Scripture itself.

In Islam, the dogmatic principles are contained in the aqidah. Within many Christian denominations, dogma is referred to as "doctrine".

Other usage

As a possible reaction to skepticism, dogmatism is a set of beliefs or doctrines that are established as undoubtedly in truth.8 They are regarded as (religious) truths relating closely to the nature of faith.9

The term "dogmatic" can be used disparagingly to refer to any belief that is held stubbornly, including political10 and scientific11 beliefs.

A notable use of the term can be found in the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. In his autobiography, What Mad Pursuit, Francis Crick wrote about his choice of the word dogma and some of the problems it caused him:

I called this idea the central dogma, for two reasons, I suspect. I had already used the obvious word hypothesis in the sequence hypothesis, and in addition I wanted to suggest that this new assumption was more central and more powerful. ... As it turned out, the use of the word dogma caused almost more trouble than it was worth.... Many years later Jacques Monod pointed out to me that I did not appear to understand the correct use of the word dogma, which is a belief that cannot be doubted... I used the word the way I myself thought about it, not as most of the world does, and simply applied it to a grand hypothesis that, however plausible, had little direct experimental support.

See also

References

  1. ^ [1], "dogma." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 24 Oct. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dogma>.
  2. ^ [2], "Dogma" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Ed. John Bowker. Oxford University Press, 2000. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. York University. 25 October 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t101.e2044>.
  3. ^ Dogma, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  4. ^ Dokeo, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  5. ^ [3], "dogma" The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. York University. 25 October 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t98.e978>.
  6. ^ [4], Prof. David Berman "dogma" The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford University Press 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. York University. 25 October 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t116.e662>.
  7. ^ [5], Journet, Charles. What Is Dogma? San Francisco: Ignatius, 2011. Google Book Search. Web. 21 Oct. 2011.
  8. ^ [6], "dogma" The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. York University. 25 October 2011 <http://www.oxfordreference.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t98.e978>.
  9. ^ [7], Journet, Charles. What Is Dogma? San Francisco: Ignatius, 2011. Google Book Search. Web. 21 Oct. 2011.
  10. ^ Gabler, Neal. [8], "The Los Angeles Times", October 2, 2009
  11. ^ Thompson, Michael. [9], The Analyst, 2004, 129, 865

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