“Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined skepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded” C.K. Chesterton.
The world is filled with ideas, and many of those ideas could be classified as dogmas. Now, a dogma is an idea that has hardened to a point that is no longer thought about but just accepted on authority. The word dogma is not used as much today, this may be because it sounds too religious for a secular age, which itself has accepted the dogma of secularism. However, we do have a word or idea that is very close to it. It is the word presumption. A presumption is an idea that we take for granted without much thought or for the most part, without any or little thought.
In view of the above it is a self-event truth that all men have and live by dogma to some degree. One thing that can be said about the religious man is that he has accepted parts of his faith as dogma while the secular man is still in a state of denial, believing he is living by reason alone or in some neutral zone free of presumption or dogma. He has reached the unconsciousness of grass and he glories in it calling it tolerance or enlightenment.
Of course, there are some men who have very little dogma. Some of these folks fancied themselves as skeptics. Skeptics claim not to live by or believe dogma according to their dogma. The only dogma that they can believe is the dogma of skepticism. According to them, you must doubt everything except skepticism. Then you have the agnostics who believe nothing because they believe that it is impossible to be certain about the truth. Of course, they are certain agnosticism is true. We should not leave out the relativist which believes everything and nothing, and that everyone is right except the person that believes others are wrong. Of course, they believe that the skeptics, and the agnostics are right. The only person that they do not agree with is the dogmatist. They do not seem to like people who think they know something which is true.
Out of all of the above, the relativist is the one most likely to be tossed about by every wind of teaching that comes along, for they lack a foundation of truth by which to judge any new ideas. As it has been said, “a man who believes nothing will believe anything.” In fact, the relativist really does not believe in objective truth. What they believe in, is personal truth, i.e. truth is what you believe. What makes it true is that you believe it. Most of these folks belong to the same cult, the cult of personal opinion.
The relativist are also the most likely to become fanatical and completely out of balance. Many progressive folks fall within this group always moving forward without knowing which direction is forward; always seeing a cause to give their meaningless life purpose. To me, the really progressive person is the one that when traveling in a direction that is not working turns around and goes in a different direction, like back. Of course, if you are a relativist you don’t know which way is back.
It may be time for all of us to ask some serious questions about some of our new dogmas. Question like, are they really taking us forward or are they simply getting us deeper into the woods. So, deep that we will never find our way out. Why not try putting some of your dogmas, or the lack of it to the test? Start with your religious assumptions using the Bible as an objective standard to judge your ideas. You do not have to believe it, but simply use it as a source of information to compare your personal dogma with. You also might try the same exercise politically with the Constitution and other founding documents. In doing this you might find these source documents truly refreshing and challenging.