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Carl Olson

About

Carl E. Olson is the editor of Catholic World Report and IgnatiusInsight.com. He is the best-selling author of Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? (Ignatius, 2003), which was selected by the Associated Press as one of the best religious titles of 2003, and co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius, 2004). He's also the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? (Ignatius/Augustine Institute, 2016) and co-editor and contributor to Called To Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification (Ignatius, 2016). Raised in a Fundamentalist home, Carl attended an Evangelical Bible college, and entered the Catholic Church in 1997. He holds an MTS from the University of Dallas. A well-respected author, Carl writes a weekly Scripture column, "Opening the Word" for Our Sunday Visitor, and has also written for First Things, This Rock/Catholic Answers Magazine, Envoy, Crisis, National Review Online, and National Catholic Register. Find Carl on Twitter @carleolson and visit him online at CarlEOlson.net.

   
 

Is Religion Evil? Secularism’s Pride and Irrational Prejudice

The common wisdom in many circles (most located in certain cities on the East and Left Coasts) is that religion, in general, is a bad thing, and that in the hands of "fundamentalists," the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and ultra-super-radical-Islamic terrorists, it is inevitably evil. Eliminating religion, it is then suggested or even openly argued, is a sure way to rid the world of evil. The term "religion," it should be noted, almost always refers to Christianity (or a form of pseudo-Christianity)... Read More

The Dogmas and Failure of Rational Atheism

I was recently re-reading sections of what I think is one of the best and yet most under-appreciated Catholic books written in recent decades, Faith and Certitude by Father Thomas Dubay. Fr. Dubay's book is, as the title suggests, especially concerned with skepticism and unbelief, and is an excellent examination of the intellectual premises and varied attitudes held by atheists. In a chapter titled, "Clarifying Our Concepts," Fr. Dubay writes: "Everyone is dogmatic. The statement may startle, but... Read More

Galileo was Right—But So Were His Critics

Ever since the seventeenth century, the celebrated “Galileo affair” has been one of the featured items on the list of dark moments in the history of Catholicism. That the Church mistreated the Italian astronomer—or at least misjudged his claims concerning the structure of the solar system—seems clear. Pope John Paul II, for example, apologized for the Church’s condemnation of Galileo in 1992. No one now disputes the fact that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way... Read More

Dark Ages and Secularist Rages: A Response to Professor A.C. Grayling

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Filed under Culture, History

A few years ago, Professor A.C. Grayling, professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, wrote a column titled "The persistence of the faithful" in The Guardian. Grayling's column was ostensibly concerned with the apparent decision of the British government passing the "Equality Act," which would make it law that adoption agencies, including those run by the Catholic Church, would have to allow homosexual couples to use their adoption services. But Grayling's column touched... Read More

Love and the Skeptic

"The greatest of these," wrote the Apostle Paul, "is love" (1 Cor. 13:13). Many centuries later, in a culture quite foreign to the Apostle to the Gentiles, the singer John Lennon earnestly insisted, "All we need is love." Different men, different intents, different contexts. Even different types of "love." You hardly need to subscribe to People magazine or to frequent the cinema to know that love is the singularly insistent subject of movies, songs, novels, television dramas, sitcoms, and talk shows—the... Read More

Three False Christs: The Myth, the Mortal, and the Guru

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Filed under Jesus

Albert Schweitzer, in the opening pages of his famous and influential 1906 book The Quest of the Historical Jesus, wrote, "And so each subsequent epoch in theology found its own ideas in Jesus, and could find no other way of bringing him to life. Not only epochs found themselves in him. Each individual recreated him in the image of his own personality." Examples abound: Many atheists insist that Jesus didn't even exist or that, if he did, he is either lost in the mists of time or misused by Christian... Read More

Why Believe?

"Faith is always at a disadvantage; it is a perpetually defeated thing which survives all of its conquerors," wrote G. K. Chesterton. Faith is the Christian word. Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., in his masterful theology of faith, The Assurance of Things Hoped For, writes, "More than any other religion, Christianity deserves to be called a faith". He points out that in the New Testament the Greek words for "faith" and "belief" occur nearly 500 times, compared to less than 100 for "hope" and about 250... Read More

Myths, Lies, or Truth: Can We Really Trust the Gospels?

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Filed under The Bible

January 11, 49 B.C. is one of the most famous dates in the history of ancient Rome, even of the ancient world. On that date Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, committing himself and his followers to civil war. Few, if any, historians doubt that the event happened. On the other hand, numerous skeptics claim that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are myth and have no basis in historical fact. Yet, as historian Paul Merkley pointed out two decades ago in his article, "The Gospels as... Read More

Augustine’s “Confessions” and the Harmony of Faith and Reason

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Filed under Faith

Saint Augustine

Pope Benedict XVI dramatically underscored the importance of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) recently. In a series of general audiences dedicated to the Church fathers, Benedict devoted one or two audiences to luminaries such as St. Justin Martyr, St. Basil, and St. Jerome, while dedicating five to Augustine. One of the greatest theologians and Doctors of the Church, Augustine’s influence on Pope Benedict is manifest. "When I read Saint Augustine’s writings," the Holy Father stated in the second... Read More

Did Paul Invent Christianity?

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Filed under Religion

St. Paul

Who really founded Christianity? Was it Jesus, as most Christians believe? Or did St. Paul invent an elaborate mythology—a shameless, self-serving ruse, some would say—that has distorted or destroyed the authentic teachings of Jesus? If the idea seems crazy, be assured there are some rather crazy proponents of this basic perspective. For example, a Web site titled "Just Give Me the Truth" has a page declaring—screaming, really—that "Paul was Satan in the flesh," "Paul was never recognized... Read More