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Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from. The term derives from Greek δόγμα "that which seems to one, opinion or belief"[1] and that from δοκέω (dokeo), "to think, to suppose, to imagine".[2] The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα.

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Dogma in religion

Dogmata are found in many religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all followers 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 1:8-9). Rejection of dogma is considered heresy in certain religions, and may lead to expulsion from the religious group.

For most of Eastern Christianity, the dogmata are contained in the Nicene Creed and the canons of two, three, or seven ecumenical councils (depending on whether one is Nestorian, Oriental Orthodox, or Eastern Orthodox). 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 Eastern Orthodox 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, especially reductio ad absurdum.

Catholics also hold as dogma the decisions of fourteen later councils and two decrees promulgated by popes' exercising papal infallibility (see Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary). 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).

In Islam, the dogmatic principles are contained in the aqidah. Within many Christian denominations, dogma is referred to as "doctrine". In debates among Marxists the terms "dogma" and "dogmatic" are often used with a negative connotation.

Other usage

The term "dogmatic" is often used disparagingly to refer to any belief that is held stubbornly. It is sometimes applied to political beliefs [3] or even anti-religious beliefs [4]

A notable use of the term can be found in The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. In his autobiography, What Mad Pursuit, 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 did apprehend this in a vague sort of way but since I thought that all religious beliefs were without foundation, 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.

References

  1. ^ Dogma, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  2. ^ Dokeo, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
  3. ^ http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-gabler2-2009oct02,0,7817347.story
  4. ^ http://www.deism.com/dogmaticatheism.htm

External links

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