What is Dogma?
Dogma is any ideology that demands of its followers unquestioned loyalty and faith. Faith in its doctrines . . . in its leaders . . . in its proclamations. Behind its ‘scripture’ may stand elements of truths – some of which can (and are) useful at times. However, it demands no questioning of its current tenets – particularly by laypersons and “outsiders.” Violators of this edict are either ignored and/or ridiculed and ostracized . . . . cut off from their ‘enlightened’ body of fellow followers; beat down into a silent pulp.
- Accept what you’re told
- Don’t question
- Shut up
- Go along
- Praise the authorities
Where Can Dogma Be Found?
You’re thinking I’m only referring to Religion in my definition above, aren’t you? 🙂
Dogma can most definitely be found in Religion, where it serves as a foundation of intensely strong emotional and intellectual slavery.
But it also resides in Politics and Academia (particularly in Science and History). In fact, we seem to have reached a point where Science has become its own “religion.” Science and its droves of loyal, “rational” skeptics demand absolutely no challenge to existing scientific theory; its sacred ‘scripture.’
This group of adamant Dogma Disciples(TM) spew proclamations that certain cherished scientific theories are unequivocal truth and cannot be questioned or challenged at any cost or in any way. It’s as though the theory is settled and absolutely “known” as 100% accurate for all time! They don’t want you (or any other layperson) to know how Science is supposed to be done. You are to believe that their proclamation is 100% truth – or face denigration and disgrace.
True science, however, will never proclaim absolute, 100% accuracy. All theories are subject to revision if new, more compelling evidence comes to light to indicate the theory needs modification. Dogmatists deny this possibility. They are protecting their precious turf at all costs.
The interesting ‘kicker’ is that most incredible scientific revolutions come not from within the paradigm of dogmatic assertions, but instead from outsiders of the scientific specialization in question. (Reference Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.“)
The Upside Of Dogma
Is there an upside? I guess it depends from which side of the pulpit/publication you’re standing. From the side of the purveyors of dogma, it definitely serves a few critical purposes:
- Keeps the followers blinded and in line
- Keeps the followers dumbed-down and unquestioning
- Maintains a loyal herd of acolytes – willing to do their ‘duty’ for the cause
- Holds the threat of punishment, ridicule and embarrassment above the heads of those even considering the questioning of dogmatic tenets
- Maintains control of the dogmatic leaders’ power structure/hierarchy
- Keeps the “machine” of control in place – regarding all aspects of control (knowledge, thought, emotions, faithfulness, money, duty, patriotism)
- Keeps the money flowing to those in control (religious tithes, scientific funding, political donations/bribes)
- An EXCELLENT manipulation & propaganda tool. . . . . conditioning par excellence!
The Downside Of Dogma
The downsides of dogma? For devout followers the following list will make no sense and they will deny it to their deaths. For seekers of reality and truth . . . . adventurous thinkers and discoverers . . . . questioning members of the human race that don’t appreciate ideology shoved down their throats, this list will resonate:
- It stunts progress and growth
- Stunts discovery
- Stunts the spirit of adventure
- Stunts cross-specialization contributions
- Bolsters dogmatic power mongers
- Maintains the existing power hierarchy and “truth” narrative
- Closes open discussions and alternative theories
- Absolutely crushes the desire and aspirations of new entrants to academia who feel actual scientific discovery and advancement is what should be pursued (unless it aligns with the source of the funding)
- Unequivocally supports the corporate and political funding monster (they’re not going to get results contrary to what they pay for).
- Absolutely silences anyone in academia, politics or religion who may want to challenge the status quo
- Provides another unquestioning advocate for the cause
- If you’re a member of the ‘herd’ it gives you something to latch on to as a security blanket in all aspects of life. No need to question anything. Supports lazy thinking.
- Refer to all the reasons above for the “upside” of dogma.
Are You A Dogma Disciple?
So, honestly now . . . . does any of the following describe you?
- Espouse total, unequivocal, unquestioning support for your political ideology
- Espouses total, unequivocal, unquestioning support for the very popular headlines of the “important” scientific theories such as the Big Bang, Black Holes, Dark Energy/Space, Evolution, Energy, etc.
- Espouses total, unequivocal, unquestioning support for your version of religious enlightenment, giving absolute devotion to its sacred scriptures.
- Never dig beyond evidence that supports any of the above; employing Confirmation Bias in your approach to “research.”
- Judge and ridicule those who don’t believe as you do.
- Employ Cognitive Dissonance to any evidence that threatens or conflicts with your dogma.
- You feel there must be a definitive answer to everything and you’re willing to latch on to whatever “authority” espouses those answers (regardless of the actual detailed evidence behind it).
Ridding Yourself of Dogma
Understand we’re all subject to Confirmation Bias and make a conscientious and concerted effort to battle it within your psyche.
Understand we’re all subject to Cognitive Dissonance and make a conscientious and concerted effort to battle it within your psyche.
Practice the Clinical Attitude Towards Arguments and let it guide you to reality and truth wherever it may lead – even if in total conflict with your existing and cherished belief structure.
Question everything. Assume nothing. Be a Walking Question Mark. Be humble and open to reasonable and rational concepts and ideas, even if they fly in the face of orthodoxy.
Be a Free Thinker. Don’t be afraid to question the herd. . . . to question the norm . . . to question orthodoxy . . . . to be a Knowledge Adventurer.
Be willing to admit that you might not have definitive answers to the questions of life and the universe, but you’re willing to learn and adapt. Stating there isn’t enough evidence to know for sure doesn’t mean it’s a sign of weakness . . . instead it’s a sign of wisdom.
What’s the reward to this dogma-freeing approach?
Confidence . . . Independence . . . Self-Control . . . Individual Self-Reliance . . . . Self-Authority . . . . Manipulation-proof existence . . . . Seeing bull-shit when it’s purveyed to you as ‘fact’ . . . . Resoluteness that there are no 100%-guaranteed answers to the mysteries of the universe . . . . Seeing power mongers for what they are (protecting their power-base turf) . . . . Seeing ignorance masked as enlightenment . . . . Freedom!