Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dogma is a Progressive Good!

As an addendum to my previous blogpost on the necessity of dogma, I submit this additional quotation from G.K. Chesterton, offered by Dr. Thursday of the American Chesterton Society blog:
People talk nowadays of getting rid of dogmas and all agreeing like brethren. But upon what can they all agree except upon a common dogma? If you agree, you must agree on some statement, if it is only that a cat has four legs. If the dogmas in front of you are false, get rid of them; but do not say that you are getting rid of dogmas. Say that you are getting rid of lies. If the dogmas are true, what can you do but try to get men to agree with them? Nevertheless there is something deeper behind the rather vague attack on dogma which is widespread in our world. I think what the honest anti-dogmatists really mean about dogma is something like this: it is quite true that when one is talking to simple people such as children or the very poor, one does not repeat theoretic dogmas in their very theoretic form. One does not use frigid and philosophical language. One does not, in short, define the dogma. But let no one suppose that one is any the less dogmatic. For the simple truth is that, instead of defining the dogma, we simply assume the dogma. A mother does not say to her child, "There is a personal God, the moral and intelligent Governor of the universe". She says, "God will be pleased if you are good". She is quite as dogmatic as a college of theologians. Nay, she is more dogmatic, for it is more dogmatic to assume that a dogma is true than to declare that a dogma is true. But she is certainly simpler and better adapted to looking after babies than a college of theologians would be. And from this fact flows a singular consequence. It does often happen that the more good or innocent a man is, the more he imagines that he is undogmatic. The truth is that, so far from being undogmatic, he believes his dogmas so implicitly that he thinks that they are truisms.

[GKC Daily News Feb 13 1906 quoted in Maycock, The Man Who Was Orthodox]

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