In this week’s Texas Faith, managing editor William McKenzie manages to ask a particularly obtuse question: “Is there a distinction between faith in God and dogma and morality?”
One needs only survey the vast and diverse landscape of believers who claim to have faith in the existence of some form of deity to see that their individual systems of dogma, and indeed their moral frameworks bear no indications of correlation. In fact, the lack of any clear relationship between god-belief and religion-in-practice is one of the most compelling arguments against either the existence of a deity, or the utility of organized religion, or both.
Further, one needs no deity to form rigid dogma. Within my field of scientific inquiry and education, the so-called “central dogma” of molecular biology (that DNA gives rise to RNS, which gives rise to protein) was violated, twice, and both times over the protestations of many scientists who treasured the elegant simplicity of their scientific conclusion to the extent that they were unwilling to consider the equally compelling beauty of nature’s exceptions.
Neither does one require a deity to arrive at a set of moral conclusions, as philosophers have known since Socrates first interviewed Euthyphro in ancient Athens. Buddhists also manage quite well without a deity to direct their moral contemplation. The secular Humanists of the Ethical Culture movement, and the anti-dogmatic Unitarian-Universalists are significant rejoinders to the divine-command mindset of most religious believers.
So the real question is, then, just who would find NO distinction between these three concepts?