Alfred Driessen, Acta Philosophica. Vol. 24 (2015) fasc. 1
The rapidly increasing interest in the quantum properties of living matter stimulates a discussion of the fundamental properties of life as well as quantum mechanics. In this discussion often concepts are used that originate in philosophy and ask for a philosophical analysis. In the present work the classic philosophical tradition based on Aristotle and Aquinas is employed which surprisingly is able to shed light on important aspects. Especially one could mention the high degree of unity in living objects and the occurrence of thorough qualitative changes. The latter are outside the scope of classical physics where changes are restricted to geometrical rearrangement of microscopic particles. A challenging approach is used in the philosophical analysis as the empirical evidence is not taken from everyday life but from 20th century science (quantum mechanics) and recent results in the field of quantum biology. In the discussion it is argued that quantum entanglement is possibly related to the occurrence of life. Finally it is recommended that scientists and philosophers should be open for dialogue that could enrich both. Scientists could redirect their investigation, as paradigm shifts like the one originating from philosophical evaluation of quantum mechanics give new insight about the relation between the whole en the parts. Whereas philosophers could use scientific results as a consistency check for their philosophical framework for understanding reality.
- 2015: Can we give up the origin of humanity from a primal couple without giving up the teaching of original sin and atonement?
Antoine Suarez, Science & Christian Belief. 27(1)
Recent genetic studies have strengthened the hypothesis that humans did not originate from a single couple of the species Homo sapiens. Different models have been proposed to harmonise this with Christian belief on original sin and atonement. In this article I discuss these models and propose a new explanation derived from Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica I, 98-100 and Romans 5:19;11:32. I argue that generations may have passed before the appearance of sin, and hence belief in ‘original sin’ does not require that it was committed by a pair of persons who are biologically the common ancestors of all human persons. In the light of this analysis I consider moral responsibility as the distinctive sign of human personhood, and assume that the creation of the first human persons happened during the Neolithic period. The article concludes that views of the biological origin of humanity from a primeval Homo sapiens population (polygenism) or a single couple (monogenism) are both compatible with Christian belief, and therefore deciding between these two hypotheses should be better left to science.
Antoine Suarez, YouTube.
It is argued that Quantum Physics and Relativity invalidate Kant’s objection against the proofs of the existence of God. Quantum experiments demonstrate that there are visible corporal effects that originate from invisible spiritual causes.
Exploring Free Will and Consciousness in the Light of Quantum Physics and Neuroscience.
Antoine Suarez and Peter Adams, Editors. Springer, New York.
One of the first books to discuss, at the same time, the implications of quantum physics, Libet’s experiments and the neurophysiological finding of mirror neurons.
Anyone who claims the right ‘to choose how to live their life’ excludes any purely deterministic description of their brain in terms of genes, chemicals or environmental influences. For example, when an author of a text expresses his thoughts, he assumes that, in typing the text, he governs the firing of the neurons in his brain and the movement of his fingers through the exercise of his own free will: what he writes is not completely pre-determined at the beginning of the universe. Yet in the field of neuroscience today, determinism dominates. There is a conflict between the daily life conviction that a human being has free will, and deterministic neuroscience. When faced with this conflict two alternative positions are possible: Either human freedom is an illusion, or deterministic neuroscience is not the last word on the brain and will eventually be superseded by a neuroscience that admits processes not completely determined by the past.
This book investigates whether it is possible to have a science in which there is room for human freedom. The book generally concludes that the world and the brain are governed to some extent by non-material agencies, and limited consciousness does not abolish free will and responsibility. The authors present perspectives coming from different disciplines (Neuroscience, Quantumphysics and Philosophy) and range from those focusing on the scientific background, to those highlighting rather more a philosophical analysis. However, all chapters share a common characteristic: they take current scientific observations and data as a basis from which to draw philosophical implications. It is these features that make this volume unique, an exceptional interdisciplinary approach combining scientific strength and philosophical profundity. We are convinced that it will strongly stimulate the debate and contribute to new insights in the mind-brain relationship.
Exploring the Status of Embryos, Stem Cells and Human-Animal Hybrids.
Antoine Suarez and Joachim Huarte, Editors. Springer, Heidelberg, London, New York.
The central question of this book is whether or not particular cell entities of human origin ought to be considered human beings. The answer is crucial for making moral decisions for or against research and experimentation. Experts in the field discuss the production of embryonic-like pluripotent stem cells by altered nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis and reprogramming of adult somatic cells. They thoroughly analyse the biological and moral status of different cell entities, such as human stem cells, embryos and human-animal hybrid embryos, and make a decisive step towards establishing final criteria for what constitutes a human being. The topic is challenging in nature and of broad interest to all those concerned with current bioethical thought on embryonic human life and its implications for society.
- 2010: What is life?
Alfred Driessen, Slideshare.
The question: what is life, is analyzed in philosophical terms matter and form. It is shown that a purely reductionist view can not explain the unity of living beings. The whole is more that the sum of its parts. As shown by Anderson, modern physics seems to confirm this view.
Alfred Driessen. In: Eeva Martikainen (Ed.) Human approaches to the universe, Luther-Agricola-Society, Helsinki, pp. 66-74
In this contribution an attempt is made to analyze an important mathematical discovery, the theorem of Gödel, and to explore the possible impact on the consistency of metaphysical systems. It is shown that mathematics is a pointer to a reality that is not exclusively subjected to physical laws. As the Gödel theorem deals with pure mathematics, the philosopher as such can not decide on the rightness of this theorem. What he, instead can do, is evaluating the general acceptance of this mathematical finding and reflect on the consistency between consequences of the mathematical theorem with consequences of his metaphysical view.
The findings of three mathematicians are involved in the argumentation: first Gödel himself, then the further elaboration by Turing and finally the consequences for the human mind as worked out by Penrose. As a result one is encouraged to distinguish two different types of intellectual activity in mathematics, which both can be carried out by humans. The astonishing thing is not the distinction between a formalized, logic approach on the one side and intuition, mathematical insight and meaning on the other. Philosophically challenging, however, is the claim that principally only one of these intellectual activities can be carried out by objects exclusively bound to the laws of physical reality.
Alfred Driessen and Antoine Suarez, Editors. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
This book offers a series of contributions written by scientists interested in a philosophical reflection on recent advances of science. The reader will find generally understandable presentations of recent results from mathematics, like the theorems of Gödel and Turing, and physics, mostly related to EPR “Gedanken” experiments and Bell’s theorem. In the case of physics, special attention is directed to old and new experiments supporting a nonlocal approach. Especially worth mentioning is the until now unedited contribution of the late John Bell on Bell’s theorem held on 22 January 1990 in a Seminar at CERN.
Profound scientific theorems in modern mathematics and physics shed new light on two fundamental questions often only implicitly dealt with: is mathematical truth a purely man-made construction and is the physical reality behind the phenomena at least in principle always observable? The answers to both questions are closely related to the possible existence of an omniscient and omnipotent being. In this sense mathematical undecidability and quantum nonlocality are proposed as a possible road to metaphysical principles and eventually to God.