About

GSOT translates as “the grand scheme of things.” This phrase from ordinary speech, spoken by a friend during a thoughtful conversation years ago, points toward some coherent meaning in life that may be approached without total dependence either on science or on special revelation. I honor both science and revelation, but each begins with an arbitrary starting point. I believe that the search for GSOT should start pragmatically from where we are, grounded in everyday life.

As a child I was the absent-minded day dreamer. In very simple terms I fumed that time had robbed me of little toys I lost. I questioned self and others after seeing human-like robots in a movie. As education proceeded, I began to write essays with a readership featuring myself, my mother, later my father-in-law, and a few friends and other family members. Some twenty years ago I wrote an unpublished book that contrasts scientific and personal truth. It still awaits revision, but I’ve kept an offshoot from it on this site, 3 blogs called Subsidiary Questions.

The main series of posts, more than 50 prepared by now, have been written since the mid-2000s. They will try to explore how you and I come to our beliefs about the world and our place in it. If you choose to read them, you will find the ideas converging around a strong focus on the will – but not the will as objective fact or hypothesis, a concept deservedly repudiated. I believe the will requires personal context – my will, your will, or our will. What does it mean to me to make important choices in my life? What does it mean to you, or to us?

My fulfilling career has been in academic medicine, specifically atherosclerosis and lipid disorders. I’m still working, cherishing the contact with patients, many of whom have become friends, and enjoying the opportunity to contribute in some measure to progress in the field.

With my wife Susan I’ve taught Sunday School in moderate Baptist churches for almost 30 years, but religion is not the primary focus here. I’m going to leave it to others more qualified to write about religious matters, including our son Morgan Guyton who has a new book and a very active blog on patheos.com.

10 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Johnny, Love joining you on fb !!!. Im looking forward to studying your blog as well as your son’s. It was wonderful seeing you tour reunion 2 years ago now!! Can you believe how fast time flies!
    Becky

    1. Hi Becky, I was thrilled to re-connect with you, Tom, and all our classmates at the reunion! I’m just learning Facebook, so bear with me. What a beautiful family in your header-picture.

      The blogs stem from my nearly lifelong impatience with rigidity on both sides of the science-faith debate. I’m trying to speak to both sides, so the emphasis may seem somewhat less on the Christian faith that you and I share.

      We grew up at the peak of “positivism” in the mid-20th century. I learned that many at the top of intellectual and scientific achievement not only disavow belief In God, but also think that human free will is an illusion. Moreover, both science-is-everything positivists and religious fundamentalists seem to start their thinking with arbitrarily chosen postulates. I think it’s possibly to start pragmatically from where we are. As we come to understand that “the fixation of belief,” as Charles Peirce put it, deeply involves making choices, it becomes self-contradictory to deny free will.

      Since detailed arguments can seem endless, I have inserted several blogs about heroes in my life that might have a personal appeal. See Kate Goes to Suzhou and following blogs about my grandmother to find out how I and my siblings, as you know, chose medicine as a career. I happily discovered Epimenides, an ancient Mediterranean hero whose work and words appear 3 times (anonymously) in the New Testament. A third hero is Daniel Dennett, a worthwhile positivist antagonist, whom I pathetically tried to refute once at a lecture (Mind of a Frog). And there is more personal stuff to come, including years at Murrah High School and Ole Miss.

      Thank you for putting your comment in the blog. It gives me an opportunity I can’t pass up, to unload this sort of overview for friends like you who are so important to me! I look forward to staying in contact, though I can’t post frequently to Facebook – still working 4 days a week. My very best to Tom. Fondly, Johnny

  2. You’re a Baptist Sunday school teacher, Johnny. Not my usual choice for philosophical thought. Case closed. Nevertheless, I wish you the best.
    Ron (Ronnie) Forman

  3. Hi Johnny, I so enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more. I have been studying under William Lane Craig who teaches at my church. He is an internationally known scholar in apologetics. His web site is Reasonable Faith. I think you would enjoy has writings and listening to his debates. I look forward to reading more of your writing. Cindy Netterville Fox

  4. Thank you, Cindy! I certainly know of William Lane Craig. Amazing that you’re learning from him personally. I’ll be inspired to look into his work more closely. I really appreciate your kind words.

  5. Hello, Johnny, I’m really enjoying this blog. You may remember that your father and his sister Ruth had common roots in Oxford with my mother and her Haney family. The fact that my Dad’s accounting career at UM Med center at the time your father had his exceptional career there gives me additional interest in this story. Thank you for sharing this with your Ole Miss and Murrah classmates and friends.

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