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What is Dogma?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dogma is the unshaken belief that something is true, regardless of proof. The word is frequently misused as interchangeable with doctrine, but doctrine is, rather, the interpretation of dogma. Most frequently, one sees the term applied to religion. Examples in Christianity include the belief in God and the belief that Jesus’ conception was immaculate.

In religions like Hinduism, dogmas express a basic belief in the concept of karma and of reincarnation. A person who does not believe in these ideas could not shake the faith of someone who believes in reincarnation. In essence, dogma derives from faith.

The first dogma, in regards to religion, is the belief in some sort of divine being or beings. Though most religions have diverged from primal religions, they hold the kernel of truth in the sense that humans want to find the divine, and believe in a divine presence. The belief in such a presence or intelligence is the foundation of most religions.

Certain other types of faith are also called dogma. For example, believing in Marxian philosophy, and truly that socialism is the best possible construction for society is dogma. This type of belief assumes certain factors, such as “the worker is oppressed,” and “religion is an opiate of the people.” How these ideas are applied to a society would become political doctrine, or an interpretation of Marxian dogma.

Virtually all schools of philosophy have a set of unproven truths to which they cling. In extreme examples, as per deconstructionist thought, the central dogma is that most text contains multiple contradictions and meanings. Such proofs that are offered, the doctrine of deconstruction, are actually arguments and not proofs.

Dogma also applies to ideas like free education for all. There is an underlying belief structure that it is good for all children to have free education. This is not based on statistics, but on faith that access to education is a basic right and is valuable to all.

Mostly, however, dogma applies to core truths that are based on faith. People in the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions don’t believe God to exist, they know he exists.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon325742 — On Mar 18, 2013

@Anon285114: Why are you intensifying an already presented paragraphical definition of dogma?

By anon285114 — On Aug 14, 2012

Dogma is a statement or an interpretation declared as authoritative with the expectation that it would be followed without question.

By GreenWeaver — On Sep 11, 2010

Suntan12- I have no seen Dogma the movie, but I don't think I would. I did want to say that dogma can also be found in political ideology.

Those dictators that follow Marxist ideology are steadfast in their beliefs and will not consider an alternative to communism.

They even indoctrinate children in elementary school so that they could be grow up to be true believers.

For example, children in Cuba belong to the state and are educated in a boarding type school in which the children have to stay at the school from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. Parental contact is minimal.

Dictators like Castro grow so dogmatic in their stance that they eliminate any other form of organized religion as well as parental and media influence.

For example, in Cuba religion was outlawed since 1959. Castro did not want any other beliefs to interfere with his communist dogma.

It was only until recently that he admitted that this form of economic system no longer works. I guess that it is better late than never.

By suntan12 — On Sep 11, 2010

Icecream17-I agree with you. I did not like the Dogma DVD. I respect all faiths and even those people that choose not to have a specific faith.

I think however, when you poke fun at any religion Catholic or otherwise it really draws a very thin line between being offensive and creating art.

The Dogma video was written with a Hollywood perspective and I found the film a bit offensive too. The Dogma movie is not one that I would suggest.

By icecream17 — On Sep 11, 2010

Lokilove- While I am glad you enjoyed the dogma film, I have to respectfully disagree that it was a tasteful film that cause us to think about our beliefs.

I personally was offended by the movie and its endless disrespectful references to the Catholic Church. While religious beliefs are personal and many are strong and unshaken, some people believe in things that are not always concrete.

I personally feel that things do not have to be concrete in order for them to be real. There are many times that I prayed for things to happen in my life and they actually came true.

Maybe it was luck, effort or faith, but I know that the effort in my success is not completely mine.

By lokilove — On Jan 30, 2010

I suggest renting the movie "Dogma", it's a Kevin Smith film, so it is essentially a comedy, however the dialogue between characters can be surprisingly deep and by the end of the film you are left wondering if it is really possible that just because we believe something to be true..that it is therefore MADE true because of it.

It's not a well known movie, you can usually find it in the Cult Films genre.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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