Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Dogma

"Dogma does not mean the absence of thought, but the end of thought." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"If men can ever learn to accept their truths as not final, and if they an ever learn to build on something better than dogma, they may not be found saying, discouragedly, every once in so often, that every civilization carries in it the seeds of decay." - Clarence Shepard Day, Jr.

"Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry... Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster." -

"Truth turn into dogma the moment they are disputed." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"To ask for overt renunciation of a cherished doctrine is to expect too much of human nature. Men do not repudiate the doctrines and dogma to which they have sworn their loyalty. Instead they rationalize, revise, and reinterpret them to meet new needs and new circumstances, all the while protesting that their heresy is the purest orthodoxy." - J. William Galbraith

"Organized religion obviously prevents the understanding of a problem because the mind is conditioned by dogma and belief." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"You may make everything else out of the passions of men except a political system that will work, and that there is nothing so pitilessly and unconsciously cruel as sincerity formulated into dogma." - James Russell Lowell

"No theologian could ever be a historian. History is essentially disinterested. The historian has only one concern: art and truth, which are inseparable... whereas the theologian has something else at stake - his dogma." -

"Everybody is a bit right; nobody is completely right or completely wrong. The prevalence of this point of view among all decent people nearly always has the same dreadful result for, according to their doctrine, every time a contemporary is quite right, he must be crucified. They can never forgive him because he denies their dogma; worst still, he reveals that they hold another dogma which they conceal." - Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

"Every dogma has its day." - Abraham Rotstein

"A little knowledge leads the mind from God. Unripe thinkers use their learning to authenticate their doubts. While unbelief has its own dogma, more peremptory than the inquisitor's, patient meditation brings the scholar back to humbleness. He learns that the grandest truths appear slowly." - Robert Aris Willmott

"It is the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma or want of dogma that danger lies." - Samuel Butler

"God is greater than religion… Faith is greater than dogma." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"The dogma that “mental diseases are diseases of the brain” is a hangover from the materialism of the 1870s. It has become a prejudice which hinders all progress, with nothing to justify it." - Carl Jung, fully Carl Gustav Jung

"Many a man will live and die upon a dogma; no man will be a martyr for a conclusion." - John Henry Newman, aka Cardinal Newman and Blessed John Henry Newman

"Today’s dogma holds that matter is eternal. The dogma comes from the intuitive belief of people who don’t want to accept the observational evidence that the universe was created – despite the fact that the creation of the universe is supported by all the observable data astronomy has produced so far. As a result, the people who reject the data can arguably be described as having a religious belief that matter must be eternal… Since scientists prefer to operate in the belief that the universe must be meaningless – that reality consists of nothing more than the sum of the world’s tangible constituents – they cannot confront the idea of creation easily, or take it lightly." - Arno Allan Penzias

"What is the dogma of original sin but a means of making the things of the flesh enter a spiritual system?" - Jacques Rivière

"Meditation, because it is free of dogma, of historical commitments and narrow prejudices, because it is practiced for the most part silently and thereby secretly, and because it is practiced by some members of all religions - meditation is a channel for seekers of all faiths or no faith, a river into which many streams can freely flow." - Bradford Smith

"We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guild or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality." - Patroclus or Patroklos NULL

"Thinking for oneself is always arduous and is sometimes painful. The temptation to stop thinking and to take dogma on faith is strong. Yet, since the intellect does possess the capacity to think for itself, it also has the impulse and feels the obligation. We may therefore feel sure that the intellect will always refuse, sooner or later, to take traditional doctrines on trust." - Arnold J. Toynbee, fully Arnold Joseph Toynbee

"Christianity has this peculiar disadvantage, that unlike other religions, it is not a pure system of doctrine: its chief and essential feature is that it is a history, a series of events, a collection of facts, a statement of the actions and sufferings of individuals: it is this history which constitutes dogma, and belief in it is salvation." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Mystery is in reality only a theological term for religious allegory. All religions have their mysteries. Properly speaking, a mystery is a dogma which is plainly absurd, but which, nevertheless conceals in itself a lofty truth." - Arthur Schopenhauer

"Progress is nothing but the victory of laughter over dogma." - Benjamin De Casseres

"Yoga is not a philosophy though its practice will lead the way to a life that is philosophical. It is not a religion and it is not confined to any particular creed or dogma. There is no "instant Nirvana"...or instant ANYthing. One works hard for what one gets out of Yogic studies." - Blanche DeVries Bernard

"The dogma of the Ghost in the machine… maintains that there exists both bodies and minds; that there are mechanical causes of corporeal movements and mental causes of corporeal movements." - Gilbert Ryle

"The death of dogma is the birth of morality." - Immanuel Kant

"Every dogma has its day, but ideals are eternal." - Israel Zangwill

"Dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion... Religion, as mere sentiment, is to me a mockery." - John Henry Newman

"Charity has no label, compassion no religion, wisdom no dogma, empathy no rules. Integrity needs no laws, enlightenment no temples. Living in total harmony with Tao is beyond culture, oneness with Tao beyond philosophy. Emptiness and silence cannot be defined. The Way has no name, for it is Tao." -

"The future of poetry is immense, because in poetry, where it is worthy of its high destinies, our race, as time goes on, will find an ever surer and surer stay. There is not a creed which is not shaken, not an accredited dogma which is not shown to be questionable, not a received tradition which does not threaten to dissolve. Our religion has materialized itself in the fact, in the supposed fact; it has attached its emotion to the fact, and now the fact is failing it. But for poetry the idea is everything; the rest is a world of illusion, of divine illusion. Poetry attaches its emotion to the idea; the idea is the fact. The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry... More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry." - Matthew Arnold

"To seek life in truth, then, is to seek, in the cult of truth, to ennoble and elevate our spiritual life and not to convert truth, which is and always must be living, into a dogma, which is usually dead." -

"Natural religion supplies still all the facts which are disguised under the dogma of popular creeds. The progress of religion is steadily to its identity with morals." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The peril of every fine faculty is the delight of playing with it for pride. Talent is commonly developed at the expense of character, and the greater it grows, the more is the mischief. Talent is mistaken for genius, a dogma or system for truth, ambition for greatest, ingenuity for poetry, sensuality for art." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Addictive spirituality creates dependence in the practitioner (frequently to authoritarian leaders and their communities), an avoidance of personal responsibility, and loss of individuality through social controls, such as fear, guilt, or greed for power or bliss. It also tends to suppress rational inquiry into the teachings. Healthy spirituality, on the other hand, supports the practitioner's freedom, autonomy, self-esteem, and social responsibility. It is based on experience, rather than belief or dogma; it does not create idols out of spiritual teachers; and it empowers students by emphasizing democratic forms of learning and teaching, rather than the authoritarian model that has dominated spiritual life for millennia." - Ronald S. Miller

"Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry... Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious dogma or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute. The media exaggerate their numbers and importance. The media rarely mention the fact that the great majority of religious people belong to moderate denominations that treat science with respect, or the fact that the great majority of scientists treat religion with respect so long as religion does not claim jurisdiction over scientific questions." - Freeman John Dyson

"The mind petrifies if a circle be drawn around it, and it can hardly be that dogma draws a circle round the mind." - George Moore, fully George Augustus Moore

"Religion can no longer rest its claims on a dogmatic supernaturalism, because any dogma that is irreconcilable with tested knowledge must be rejected. [..] a sentence [..] sums up the dark and deadly pages of Chistian history: 'If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.'" - Herbert J. Muller

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as [we] are free to ask what [we] must, free to say what [we] think, free to think what [we] will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." - Robert Oppenheimer, fully Julius Robert Oppenheimer

"Men will die upon dogma but will not fall victim to a conclusion. " - John Henry Newman

"The dogma of woman's complete historical subjection to men must be rated as one of the most fantastic myths ever created by the human mind." - Mary Ritter Beard

"Darwin broke with a fundamental dogma of Christianity–that God created man in his own image. At the same time he struck at metaphysical concepts of evolution, as they had prevailed from Aristotle to Hegel. He conceived of evolution as a blind sequence of events, in which survival depends upon adaptation to the conditions of life, rather than as the unfolding of organic entities in accordance with their entelechies. Thus his name has come to represent the idea of man’s domination of nature in terms of common sense. One may even go so far as to say that the concept of the survival of the fittest is merely the translation of the concepts of formalized reason into the vernacular of natural history. In popular Darwinism, reason is purely an organ; spirit or mind, a thing of nature. According to a current interpretation of Darwin, the struggle for life must necessarily, step by step, through natural selection, produce the reasonable out of the unreasonable. In other words, reason, while serving the function of dominating nature, is whittled down to being a part of nature; it is not an independent faculty but something organic, like tentacles or hands, developed through adaptation to natural conditions and surviving because it proves to be an adequate means of mastering them, especially in relation to acquiring food and averting danger. As a part of nature, reason is at the same time set against nature–the competitor and enemy of all life that is not its own." - Max Horkheimer

"This pursuit of security in the past, this attempt to find a haven in a fixed dogma and an organizational hierarchy as substitutes for creative thought and praxis is bitter evidence of how little many revolutionaries are capable of ‘revolutionizing themselves and things,’ much less of revolutionizing society as a whole. The deep-rooted conservatism of the People’s Labor Party ‘revolutionaries’ is almost painfully evident; the authoritarian leader and hierarchy replace the patriarch and the school bureaucracy; the discipline of the Movement replaces the discipline of bourgeois society; the authoritarian code of political obedience replaces the state; the credo of ‘proletarian morality’ replaces the mores of puritanism and the work ethic. The old substance of exploitative society reappears in new forms, draped in a red flag, decorated by portraits of Mao (or Castro or Che) and adorned with the little ‘Red Book’ and other sacred litanies." - Murray Bookchin

"Is Humanism a religion, perhaps, the next great religion? Yes, it must be so characterized, for the word, religion, has become a symbol for answers to that basic interrogation of human life, the human situation, and the nature of things---which every human being, in some degree and in some fashion, makes. What can I expect from life? What kind of universe is it? Is there, as some say, a friendly Providence in control of it? And, if not, what then? The universe of discourse of religion consists of such questions, and the answers relevant to them. Christian theism and Vedantic mysticism are but historic frameworks in relation to which answers have in the past been given to these poignant and persistent queries. But there is nothing sacrosanct and self-certifying about these frameworks. What Humanism represents is the awareness of another framework, more consonant with wider and deeper knowledge about man and his world. The Humanist movement is engaged in formulating answers, with what wisdom it can achieve, to these basic questions. It would be absurd to expect complete novelty in either framework or answers. Many people throughout the ages have had a shrewd suspicion that established beliefs were insecurely based. Humanism at its best represents a growth and a maturing of its perspective...I fear that the orthodox idea of religion is something static and given---once for all. The Humanist thinks of his answers as responsible ones, that is, responsible to the best thought and knowledge on the subjects involved. He [they are] is always ready for honest debate... I want to contrast the perspective of Humanism with that of traditional rationalism...There is no Humanist who does not appreciate with respect and admiration the moving story of the Gospels. Seen as one of the culminations of Judaism in the setting of the Roman Empire, it speaks to us of nobility of soul, human love, pity, and comradeship; and this among everyday people fired by moral and religious leadership of high quality. The heroic and the earthly touch meet, and mingle; and so it has been ever since... What have the intervening centuries made possible? The gradual disentangling of ethical principle and example from both the early framework of belief and the later ecclesiastical development of power and dogma which supervened. But the notes of love and self-sacrifice remain as perennial chords. This also, is greatly human. The older rationalism was on the defensive. And so it expressed itself too often in negative terms: not this; not that; not God; not revelation; not personal immortality. What Humanism signified was a shift from negation to construction. There came a time when naturalism no longer felt on the defensive. Rather, supernaturalism began, it its eyes, to grow dim and fade out despite all the blustering and rationalizations of its advocates." - R. W. Sellars, fully Roy Wood Sellars

"The religion of the future will be cosmic religion. It will transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology." - Albert Einstein

"The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another." - Albert Einstein

"It is clear according to what we have said that these (doctrines) do not only lead to dogmatic relativism, but already contain it in act; the contempt of the doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it expressed itself are already too close to it... .The expressions that, during the course of several centuries, were established by a common consent of Catholic doctors in order to arrive at some understanding of dogma surely do not rest on such a fragile foundation. They rest, in fact, on principles and notions taken from the true knowledge of created things; in the research of these notions revealed truth enlightened the human mind like a star by means of the Church. That is why it is not surprising that some of these notions have not only been used in ecumenical Councils but have received such a sanction that it is not permitted to distance oneself from them. Thus it is very imprudent to substitute for them fl oating and vague notions and expressions of a new philosophy that are used today and will disappear tomorrow like the fl owers of the fi eld; this would be to make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. In fact, unfortunately these lovers of novelty easily pass from contempt of Scholastic theology to a lack of respect for and even contempt of the magisterium of the Church which has so strongly supported this theology by its authority." - Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, fully Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange

"What is blasphemy? I will give you a definition; I will give you my thought upon this subject. What is real blasphemy? To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy. To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy. To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy. To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy. To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy. To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy. To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy. To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy. To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy. The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers. The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer. Why should we fear our fellow-men? Why should not each human being have the right, so far as thought and its expression are concerned, of all the world? What harm can come from an honest interchange of thought? " - Robert Ingersoll, fully Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll

"There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of Spirit on the body. Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell. And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild Darling! At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me. Close the language-door, and open the love-window. The moon won't use the door, only the window." - Rumi, fully Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rumi NULL

"For unless those who travel on the road go forward day by day, shortening their journey - and, on the contrary, should they stand in one place - the road before them will never diminish and they will never arrive at their destination. So it is with us also. If we do not constrain ourselves little by little, we shall never have the strength to abstain from bodily things so as to gaze toward God." - Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus NULL