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Uploaded on Nov 26, 2008
Science is the observation and classification, or co-ordination, of the individual facts or phenomena of nature. A Catholic is absolutely free in the prosecution of scientific research according to the terms of this definition. Dogma (Gr. dogma from dokein) signifies, in the writings of the ancient classical authors, sometimes, an opinion or that which seems true to a person; sometimes, the philosophical doctrines or tenets, and especially the distinctive philosophical doctrines, of a particular school of philosophers (cf. Cic. Ac., ii, 9), and sometimes, a public decree or ordinance, as dogma poieisthai.
In Sacred Scripture it is used, at one time, in the sense of a decree or edict of the civil authority, as in Luke 2:1: "And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree [edictum, dogma] from Caesar Augustus" (cf. Acts 17:7; Esther 3:3); at another time, in the sense of an ordinance of the Mosaic Law as in Ephesians 2:15: "Making void the law of commandments contained in decrees" (dogmasin), and again, it is applied to the ordinances or decrees of the first Apostolic Council in Jerusalem: "And as they passed through the cities, they delivered unto them the decrees [dogmata] for to keep, that were decreed by the apostles and ancients who were at Jerusalem" (Acts 16:4).
Among the early Fathers the usage was prevalent of designating as dogmas the doctrines and moral precepts taught or promulgated by the Saviour or by the Apostles; and a distinction was sometimes made between Divine, Apostolical, and ecclesiastical dogmas, according as a doctrine was conceived as having been taught by Christ, by the Apostles, or as having been delivered to the faithful by the Church.
But according to a long-standing usage a dogma is now understood to be a truth appertaining to faith or morals, revealed by God, transmitted from the Apostles in the Scriptures or by tradition, and proposed by the Church for the acceptance of the faithful. It might be described briefly as a revealed truth defined by the Church -- but private revelations do not constitute dogmas, and some theologians confine the word defined to doctrines solemnly defined by the pope or by a general council, while a revealed truth becomes a dogma even when proposed by the Church through her ordinary magisterium or teaching office. A dogma therefore implies a twofold relation: to Divine revelation and to the authoritative teaching of the Church.