"There are two kinds of people in the world, the conscious dogmatists and the unconscious dogmatists. I have always found myself that the unconscious dogmatists were by far the most dogmatic."Always one to look at the world in an unconventional manner, Chesterton exemplifies what I will call, for lack of a better word, a true freethinking Catholic. I will not claim to know all of the thoughts of every self-professed "skeptic," nor will I claim that there are no true skeptics (I know a handful of skeptics who seem to me to be honest and genuine in their skepticism). There are those who live a self-consistent life outside the Church: who call a thing absurd and then treat it as ridiculous, who will on occasion find themselves on the same side as the Church and will nevertheless retain their point of view, who are occasionally able to live as if skeptical about everything unless and until it justifies itself.
Unfortunately, such people are a rare breed. Chesterton once remarked that in a way, the Church made sense the the average person--even the non-believer--in many of her practices and rituals. Why, for example, should people not gather together to sing praises or anthems? What better representation of God's infinite mercy than bread and wine: our staple food and the drink of merriment for time immemorial? Yet, the man who would be unconsciously dogmatic does so in a far more dogmatic manner. He rejects the dogma of transubstantiation, yet defends to the last such dogma as the right to an education: a right which was not universally possible as recently as a few hundred years ago. He rejects the dogma of spiritual salvation, and yet holds rigidly to the dogma of economic or social salvation. He practically rejects the dogma of man, and yet insists upon the dogma that such a creature has rights without duties.
Most of the modern skeptics are tragically only selectively so. They are perpetually skeptical of the Church, because she upholds her dogmas and doctrines, yet not for a moment do they stop to question their own.
If you enjoyed this post, here are some related ones:
On Canonizing Chesterton, Heroic Virtue, and Everyday Life
A Sort-of Review of Chesterton's Heretics (Book Review)
Chesterton on Christianity and Asceticism
Chesterton on Dogma (again!)
C.S. Lewis on Apologetics (Quote of the Day)
Chesterton on Birth Control
Chesterton on Ceremony and Science
The Idiocy of Modern Man