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The scientist and the statesman

        My Uncle Dick has been blessed with a quick mind and an entrepreneur’s skills. He founded one of the largest regional airlines in America.  He’s a geologist by trade. As a young boy I watched him build a group of oil drilling businesses.  By the time I …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes





My Uncle Dick has been blessed with a quick mind and an entrepreneur’s skills. He founded one of the largest regional airlines in America.  He’s a geologist by trade. As a young boy I watched him build a group of oil drilling businesses.  By the time I was in college, he’d done well and started a little commuter airline to serve businessmen like himself to get around the southwest.  Eventually he sat on the board of American Airlines.

Uncle Dick’s scientific view of the world made faith a difficult topic, but he was always open to conversation.

This  past month he experienced something that reinvigorated his understanding of a personal God.  Periodically he has to fly from Dallas to Richmond, VA to see his doctor. On this particular day, his 5:30 a.m. flight was cancelled.  They rebooked him on a later flight.  He was on his way when the pilot announced that they had to return to Dallas.
Since he obviously wasn’t going to make doctors appointment he called the  doctors office to tell them he wasn’t going to be able to make it. (it normally take six to eight months to get an appointment). The nurse informed him they just had an eleven o’clock the next morning so he said he would be there.

Eventually after several cancellations and plane changes, he finally was on a flight to Richmond and sat next to a distinguished gentleman who turned out to to Loyd Ogilvie, former chaplain of the U.S.  Senate.

Ogilvie was flying to speak to a group of women.  When Uncle Dick asked him about it, they struck up a conversation about faith and science.  Ogilve has 16 doctorates. He has spent his life talking to people like Uncle Dick about intellectual and religious issues. He knows how to communicate with leaders. 
They talked for the duration of the flight and covered many of the questions that bother Uncle Dick. Christians have a bad rap with many in the scientific community. Do they really believe that God would break so many of his own natural laws in order to conform with their own views? For example, do they really believe that the earth is just 5700 years old? Do you have to ditch your intellect to believe in an unseen God?
Ogilvie was gracious and scholarly in his responses. Yes, there are many troubling aspects of the Christian faith. But natural laws are consistent with the notion of a creator. The irreducible complexity of certain mutually dependent systems and the specified complexity of human intelligence point to a creator. The teleological argument for God needs to be bolstered by empiricism. Towards the termination of the flight they both agreed that there really wasn’t a conflict between science and religion.
Leaving the plane, Uncle Dick was greatly encouraged and thought about what the odds might be that he’d miss two flights and then have Ogilve sit next to him. As he got off the plane Ogilvie asked Uncle Dick if he could pray for him and his treatment. Of course he said he would be grateful. During his treatments in Richmond during the next three days, he often found himself reflecting on the conversation.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. When it was time to return home, Uncle Dick was amazed when who should walk on the plane and sit next to him again, but Lloyd Ogilve! Both of them had to shake their heads at this fresh evidence of God’s hand in their lives.
And when they parted ways in Dallas, Ogilve sent Uncle Dick one of his books, inscribed, “To Dick Bowen, my new best friend.”
Thinking about the series of events, the plane cancellations and changes, the cancellation of a doctors appointment the next morning, and then being seated next to Dr. Ogilvie, Uncle Dick asked me, “What are the odds? It’s pretty obvious to me that all of it was orchestrated by God”.

Comments (6)

  • I got to have breakfast with Dr. Ogilve when I was in college. A very neat man, so cool that our family has had so many interactions with him!

  • Wow! That is so amazing and encouraging! I have a co-worker who has the same views as your uncle once did. He has been guiding me into specific conversations with my friend and we discuss in great detail similar matters. Every time though it always ends up a debate on whether faith is of the mind or of something greater. Deep down in us all we all know that there is a True greater being and He died on the cross for all of us!

  • I met Ogilvie when I worked in the Senate and got to have a meal with him at his house…very awesome guy and I’m happy to hear he’s still out there doing God’s thing.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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