Dogma is an ideology that claims to be objectively true without justification.
It is a set of beliefs that claim:
- The beliefs it proposes are objectively true.
- They are generally not open to interpretation, and they are never wrong.
- You must not question the beliefs.
- Not believing in the ideology is often considered a crime. Doubting the beliefs is not allowed. Sometimes even asking questions about it is not allowed. You are expected to blindly believe in everything they say.
What this means is that dogma is a system in which one can make others believe anything. With a dogmatic system in place, those who control it also control what their followers think. Under normal circumstances most people realise things on their own, like that rain comes from clouds, or that it is warmer during the summer part of the year. People who live under dogma could be convinced that rain comes only a god wills it, or that summer is a punishment from god. They could make you think that you’re ugly because you don’t have the right cosmetics or plastic surgery. They can convince you to kill people you’ve never met, or hate people you know very little about. Dogma is therefore an ingenious tool to control what people think, and therefore what they do.
Normally people use reason to determine things. They have evidence, such as visual and audio observation, feelings, memory, etc., and use logic and intuition to determine what conclusions they can make. With dogma, this whole system of reason is bypassed. There is no evidence or logic, or any procedure at all. They are told what is supposedly correct, instead of figuring it out themselves.
Not only do they skip the reasoning process, but there is no room to question the result. Normal people might come up with a conclusion and later realise they made a mistake. In dogma, the followers do not believe that mistakes are possible. If their beliefs are wrong, they will never know, and they will keep thinking and/or acting wrongly.
As far I know, any belief that is true has a reason for being true, even if that reason is simply that god made it so. There would be evidence to show that god made it so and it would still work in a certain way. Any dogmatic truth would have no need to be dogmatic, since there would be an explanation if it really is true. An exception to this might be in the extreme where we are not capable of finding that evidence, or in the unlikely case where it can be shown that something has no reason.
This is a vicious cycle, because as soon as someone is indoctrinated into a dogmatic belief system they make themselves able to turn off their reasoning. Their beliefs may be controlled to become anything so long as they think it comes from their dogma. Normal people are not capable of believing -anything- because not all things are necessarily true. If something has no evidence to support it and instead has counter evidence suggesting it is false, then it should be at the very least doubted. A person who ignores evidence can be told to believe anything then no matter how questionable or false it may really be.
The main issue with dogma is that it is inherently close minded. If it ever turned out that they misinterpreted their dogma, or if their leader realised there was a mistaken belief or an issue with how it was said, or that it was not meant to be as broad as it seemed and maybe an exception, their followers might not be open to this change since they have been conditioned to be close minded. Closed mindedness is never good because it means you might refuse the truth. Open mindedness however may make you be wrong at times but will allow you to correct mistakes, unlike close mindedness.
If you can choose when to use your reasoning, then you can choose when to use your faith instead. This is not supposed to be a choice, as that won’t help you find the truth. This would allow people to believe lies when it is more convenient to them in the short term, which is simply delusion. Believing lies can lead you to come to false conclusions and make mistakes, acting against your own self interest.
This makes them slaves to an ideology, instead of being free thinking human beings. Dogma denies people’s right to chose what they act and do by choosing for them. They no longer get to choose what they think is right or wrong, or what sounds questionable. They also do not get to really learn and figure things out for themselves. This also severely limits their creativity and mental growth.
That brings up an important point though: if the dogmatic beliefs are correct, is there any need to use reason or doubt?
If the dogmatic ideology is in fact objectively true, then there is no practical need for reasoning and doubt, as they would simply be inefficient and a waste of time to figure out something you already were told. However, that is dependent on -if- the beliefs are true. The question then becomes: how do we know if a dogmatic system is as true as it claims to be?
The answer is that we do not know. Furthermore, those in charge of the dogmatic beliefs likely do not know either. While they may claim to have divine knowledge that no other person has access to, there is no way for others to check that. Not only that, but the ones in charge may wrongly believe their knowledge to be divine. They may be deluded or psychotic, and either put themselves into a dogmatic system, or are incapable of differentiating reality from fantasy. This ultimately means that without any sort of demonstrable proof, we cannot know if dogma is true. Following that, if there were some sort of proof that the dogmatic beliefs came from a divine source, it might no longer be dogmatic, as there would be evidence for the beliefs. This could then be verified with science, meaning that there would be no need to blindly believe it anymore.
Dogma uses faith to make sure no one doubts what it claims. Without faith, dogma cannot function.
Dogma attempts (or claims) to promote the truth over lies. However, it does this by using faith instead of reason. This makes it the opposite of science, where the truth is not first given, and it is never absolute. Scientific method uses rigourous experimentation to make sure it doesn’t make a mistake in its reasoning or method, whereas dogma doesn’t even assume that it doesn’t make mistakes, because it doesn’t have a process to make mistakes in in the first place. This is because dogma does not need any process to determine the truth as it doesn’t determine truth, it simply knows it to begin with. Science does not assume it knows things without first testing it, and it will then determine what the most likely truth is based on what it finds. If it turns out later that a mistake had been made or if new evidence is found, it can change its conclusions about the truth.
Dogma assumes the truth (unless it really has access to divine knowledge), and as such does not have any process to determine the truth. Alternatively one could say the process is in how it accesses that divine knowledge. Again though, if not everyone is allowed access to this source of knowledge then they require faith it believe it without evidence. As such dogma exists only as a belief system but is useless for anyone who really cares about the truth.
So when someone makes dogmatic claims, they might be right or at least think they are right, and claim that others must simply trust them. But that’s exactly what a liar would say, too. For anyone who is trying to manipulate others, dogma is a very powerful tool. Cults abuse faith to create a dogmatic environment where they can tell others to give the leaders what they want, and make sure that the followers do it. The reasons why they should give up their things are considered irrelevant because no one is allowed to ask why. Convincing people to give you their things otherwise can be much harder. One would have to set up and give the person convincing reasons to do so, but with dogma there is no need to do any of that. All it takes is to essentially brainwash a person into believing everything you say, after which you have very little work to do.
Since dogma is such a powerful tool for people trying to abuse or control you, it is difficult to tell when a person promoting dogma truly believes it or not. Even if the person promoting it might believe it, the person who convinced them may have simply been manipulating them.
This too is dangerous as it gives people almost absolute power over others, and their followers might submit themselves totally to their leader, needlessly sacrificing everything they own, their lives, their humanity, their freedom, for a lie.
Some religious denominations are dogmatic, either because of their religious texts or because of those who preach the religion in their own way. Some violently impose their dogma on others, which makes sense (but is not good) because they think it is universally true, or because they are using it as an excuse for their own ends. Some do not impose their beliefs, but look down on those who do not agree.
Companies do this as well. There is an idea called “functional stupidity” in which employees are expected to conform to the rules and suppress any curiosity or intelligence that may cause them to question their orders. Compartmentalisation also does this to some extent as no one involved except the one in charge really know how or why they are doing their part of the job. Business marketing often makes products and services look more appealing than they really are. While this is not directly dogmatic, their goal is to make you believe these things without you asking questions.
Nations also ask or expect their citizens to blindly trust them. This is especially true for politicians running campaigns, as they make many promises that they cannot justify yet. Governments make choices without much transparency and claim that they are acting for a good cause. The military and intelligence agencies hide what they do from the people and claim that it is to defend the country and because of operational security. OpSec is important, but not all wars and operations are justified. Soldiers follow orders because an army would not function well if not, and because they trust their commanders to act in the best interest of the nation.
These are the more offensive uses of dogma. Religious zealots torture and kill those who are non-believers, companies influence and condition people to act in the ways that give the company the most money, governments abuse trust to act selfishly for the self interest of individuals while hurting others. People are hurt and killed because those in charge have the undying trust of those with power.
When discussing something that is a new, revised, or corrected idea with someone, that person has to determine what to do with that new information. An argument by definition involves presenting the reasoning behind your point, so a point given without reasons is not justified. People who are closed minded and reject new ideas are difficult, if not impossible, to have discussions with. Even people who are not religious fanatics can be dogmatic about certain subjects, or just certain ideas, even without realising it. People often think something is true, or at least more reliably true than what someone else is claiming, and insist that someone else believe them. This is common with scientific facts, as some people blindly trust them, or trust them far more than someone who they think isn’t aware of the fact. But the scientific “fact” might be either proven incorrect or might not have been properly determined. While science tends to give the correct answers, it is entirely possible that someone might have a valid counter example. They might have an exception or it might not even be relevant to the scientific fact you’re thinking of. When discussing with someone, it is vital to be open minded not jump to conclusions. Without that, argument and discussion are not really people, and it just devolves into preaching without listening.
While dogma tries to give people the truth, it is not open minded and therefore is not a reliable way to determine truth. In reality it only makes people more stagnant and less open.