The agnostic M.D. who found faith
By Mark Ellis
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA(ANS) – Dr. Viggo Olsen has more than 20 letters of academic and professional achievement following his name, and is a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery. His brilliant surgical career is documented in the book, “Daktar: Diplomat in Bangladesh.”
At the beginning of his medical practice he believed in science, a view that held little room for religious faith. “I viewed Christianity and the Bible through agnostic eyes, feeling that modern science had outmoded much of this religious sentiment,” he recalls. He began his internship in internal medicine at Long Island College Hospital in New York. During this period, his wife Joan’s parents challenged the young couple to attend church and investigate the claims of Jesus Christ. While he gave them some outward assurance they would attend, he wouldn’t say how often. He also told them he would make an impartial search for truth about the Bible, but inwardly, he had reservations. “We reluctantly agreed to study their ‘unscientific’ religion.” Despite an outward appearance of objectivity, Dr. Olsen set out to prove “the Bible is not the word of God, that Christianity is not the true religion of God, and that Christ was but a man, not the son of God.” Logically, Dr. Olsen thought he could review all the agnostic arguments that might undermine Christianity, then find the scientific mistakes in the Bible to complete his investigation. “Those mistakes in the Bible will prove it to be the word of men, not the word of some infallible creator,” he thought.
To please the Olsen’s in-laws, they found their way to the Bay Bridge Baptist Church in Brooklyn, led by Rev. E.A. Lockerbie. At the close of his sermons, Rev. Lockerbie gave invitations to believe in and follow Christ, which rankled Dr. Olsen. “I felt discomfort and resentment rising inside me. Why did I react so strongly to these invitations?” he wondered. Their attendance at the church was sporadic, but eventually it became known to a few that they were agnostics. One day a young college student named Jack handed Dr. Olsen a book, “Modern Science and Christian Faith,” written by 13 scientists.” Jack’s book opened the door into a whole new field of study previously unknown to us-Christian evidences,” he notes. “Boredom changed to interest, and interest became fascination as I mentally devoured the book.” The bibliography steered the Olsens to several other books of the same genre. Certain facts became evident as the Olsens studied. “Scientifically we knew that planet earth and the surrounding universe had not always existed,” he says. “At one time they came into existence, which meant they must have been created by some mighty force or power.” Was it intelligent power that brought the universe into existence or an undirected cosmic explosion? they wondered. Could there be design in the universe without a designer? Could the law of thermodynamics and other natural laws exist without a lawgiver?
Dr. Olsen had to admit there was unquestionable evidence of pattern and design in the universe and planet earth. “Millions of stars and planets track their courses precisely,” he observed. “The human body, whose design and function I had come to know so well, possesses a million different patterns in its many organs, groups of cells, and chemical systems.” These patterns and designs led the Olsens to the conclusion that there was an intelligent power behind the universe. They realized that human beings possess something harder to quantify than power and intelligence — personality or soul, which brings the capacity for love. While they became more certain that God might exist, it did not unhinge their agnosticism completely. It still left open the question of whether God revealed himself through the Bible or some other sacred writings. They began to study other religions and came to some remarkable conclusions. “We found good ethics and good morality mixed with gross scientific error and sometimes, disturbing and degrading precepts,” he recalls. “We failed to find among them the mark of the supernatural.” The Bible contrasted sharply with these other books. “We noted the remarkable unity and consistency evident in the Christian Scriptures. Despite the fact that its 66 books were written over 1600 years by more than 40 authors (some of them peasants and fisherman; others kings, physicians, and poets), the Bible books harmonized as though one person had supervised the writing of them all.” To their surprise, they found the Bible to be historically accurate, with archaeological discoveries confirming biblical references. MORE
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