|Dr. Gerard M. (N.) Verschuuren|
|Fields||Biology, Human Genetics, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, VBA, VB.NET and C#.NET|
|Alma mater||Leiden University, Utrecht University, VU University (all in the Netherlands)|
|Doctoral advisor||Cornelis van Peursen|
|Other academic advisors||John Huizinga, Marius Jeuken|
|Spouse||Trudy Doucette (m. 1983)|
Gerard M. (N.) Verschuuren (nicknames Gerry and Geert) is a scientist, writer, speaker, and consultant, working at the interface of science, philosophy, and religion. He is a human geneticist who also earned a doctorate in the philosophy of science, and studied and worked at universities in Europe and the United States. In 1994, he moved permanently with his wife, Trudy, to the USA, and lives now in the southern part of New Hampshire.
Studies and research
He began studying biology at Leiden University and specialized in human genetics at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, with a thesis on the statistical analysis of epigenetic variation in the Tellem skulls of Mali in comparison with the Kurumba tribe of Burkina Faso (former Upper Volta). After that, he became a participant of the six-member Human Adaptability Project team (led by professor John Huizinga, M.D.) of the former Institute of Human Biology at Utrecht University Medical School, as part of the International Biological Program, studying the population genetics and adaptation of savannah populations in sub-saharan Africa based on research among the Fali in Cameroun, among the Dogon in Mali, and among the Fulbe in Chad.
He also studied philosophy at Leiden University and wrote, under supervision of professor Marius Jeuken, a thesis on the impact of the Harvard philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead on research in biology. He further specialized in philosophy of science, and more in particular philosophy of biology at VU University in Amsterdam. He concluded his post-graduate studies with a doctoral thesis on the use of models in the sciences (1981). In this work, he analyzes how all sciences use models, which are simplified replicas of the dissected original, made for research purposes by reducing the complexity of the original to a manageable model related to a soluble problem.
He taught biology, genetics, human genetics, statistics, philosophy, philosophy of biology, logic, and programming – in the Netherlands at Aloysius College, Utrecht University, Open University (Radboud Chair of Philosophy), and also in the United States, at Merrimack College and Boston College.
Currently, he focuses almost exclusively on writing, consulting, and on speaking engagements.
It has always been a pivotal part of his work to disseminate biological and philosophical issues and ideas to a wider audience. This audience includes, first of all, our upcoming generation of scientists. That is why he became the leader of a team of textbook writers that developed three consecutive series of biology textbooks for high-schools and colleges under the names Biosfeer (1975–1983), Oculair (1984–1994), and Grondslagen van de Biologie(Foundations of Biology; 1985–present). As a consequence, he also became a member of the College Admission Test team for biology in the Netherlands (1976–1982).
For those specifically interested in the philosophy of biology, he wrote three textbooks: Investigating the Life Sciences: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (1986), Life Scientists: Their Convictions, Their Activities, and Their Values (1995), and Darwin's Philosophical Legacy - The Good and the Not-So-Good (2012).
To reach fellow scientists as well, he started in cooperation with the professors Cornelis Van Peursen and Cornelis Schuyt, both of Leiden University, an overseeing editorial board for the development of 25 books on the philosophy of science for 25 specific fields, written by experts in those fields (1986–present), Nijhoff, Leiden, Series Philosophy of the Sciences.
In order to reach also a more general audience, he wrote, during the seventies, a weekly column on breaking biological topics in the Volkskrant, a leading national newspaper in the Netherlands. In addition, he was a member of the editorial board of the Dutch philosophical magazine Wijsgerig Perspectief, for which he wrote several of its articles, as well as a member of the editorial board of the Dutch-Flemish magazine Streven, for which he also wrote many articles and book reviews (partial listing). All in all, he wrote many books and articles in Dutch on biological and philosophical issues (listing). And in the eighties, he was an advisor to the Foundation Scientific Europe, which published a voluminous overview of research and technology in 20 European countries, entitled Scientific Europe and edited by Nigel Calder. From 1985 until 1994, he was the editor-in-chief of the Dutch magazine Natuurwetenschap en Techniek, a.k.a. the "Dutch Scientific American," and publisher of the Dutch version of the Scientific American Library.
Because he had developed computer analysis skills during his research in population genetics, he decided to help other scientists and engineers in using computers for data analysis, statistical analysis, and regression analysis. So he became a Microsoft Certified Professional and was an official adviser on Excel's latest statistical functions (2010).
He has been doing more of this kind of consulting work for numerous companies, including Abbott, AstraZeneca, Babson College, Bose, Boston Scientific, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Commerce, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Emerson, Harvard U., Intel Corporation, John Hancock, IBM, Keystone Trading, Lantheus Medical Imaging, Liberty Mutual, Pfizer, Mass. General Hospital, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, MIT, Rockwell Automation, Sepracor, Siemens, Staples, Teradyne, Wyeth, and others.
On request of MrExcel, he has been developing a series of more than 10 interactive CDs and DVDs to help scientists and more general users to become familiar with programs such as Visual Basic for Applications and C#.NET. These interactive tools are great for visual learners - completely visualized, full-color, and with frequent self checks (listing). In addition, he wrote From VBA to VSTO (2006), 80 Excel Simulations (2013), and Excel for Scientists (2005, 2008, and 2013).
He also created many informative videos to help scientists manage data on their PCs or laptops.
At the interface of science and religion
Since he is a former Jesuit and a practicing Catholic, he is still very much interested in his old passion, the relationship between science and religion. It is his strong conviction that religion and science cannot be in conflict with each other and cannot be seen as a threat to each other, as long as both stay in their own territory. Science should never be silenced by religion, nor should religion ever be silenced by science. His motto is: Let's teach science and preach religion - but not reversed, please. So let’s not turn science into a pseudo-religion, nor let religion become a semi-science. Allow science to read the "Book of Nature" and allow religion to read the "Book of Scripture," for they both have the same Author... GOD.
From this perspective, grounded in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, he has written several books recently:
- Darwin's Philosophical Legacy - The Good and the Not-So-Good (with endorsements from Francisco J. Ayala, James Marcum, Michael Ruse, Kenneth R. Miller). There is hardly any university, college, or even high school left where they do not teach Darwinism—and rightly so. Yet, most of these places do more preaching than teaching. In what the author likes to call “The Good” parts of his legacy, he explores what Darwin’s great contributions are to the study of evolution and to the theory of evolution. At the same time, he also delves into the areas where his thoughts were not so perfect or even wrong, especially in a philosophical sense—which he calls “The Not-So-Good” parts of his legacy. There are definitely two sides to Darwin’s legacy and they need to be carefully balanced.
- God and Evolution - Science Meets Faith (with endorsements from Werner Arber, Francisco J. Ayala, Marcel Chappin SJ, Kenneth R. Miller, Peter Kreeft, Carlos A. Sevilla SJ, Mark P. Shea). This book discusses the issue of evolution and creation from a Catholic viewpoint, while avoiding the flaws and traps of the theory of Intelligent Design. It is a book for all who want to learn more about the science behind evolution in a way that does not detract from their deeply held faith but actually strengthens it. Lost in the raging debate about creation and evolution is the profound Catholic truth, affirmed by Popes and theologians from the earliest Church to today, that faith can never conflict with the truths of science—not even evolution.
- What Makes You Tick? - A New Paradigm for Neuroscience (with endorsements from Paul J. Camarata MD, Paul Copan, Michael J. Dodds, Kevin J. Fleming, Richard Schenk, John Siberski MD). In the first chapters, he argues that it is not molecules, DNA, or not even neurons that make you “tick.” This is obviously contrasted with the current paradigm of neuroscience. The current paradigm of neuroscience—which he now calls the "old" paradigm—is too materialistic, too deterministic, and too reductionistic to do justice to the unique position of living human beings in the world. It calls for a more comprehensive paradigm!
- Of All That Is, Seen and Unseen - Life-Saving Answers to Life-Size Questions (with endorsements from Mary Ann Glendon, Pedro Guevara-Mann, Patrick Madrid, Robert Spitzer SJ). This book belongs basically to the genre of apologetics and evangelization, thoroughly rooted in the Catholic tradition, with a mild philosophical touch based on the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas. Because this book has basically a format of question-and-answer, the text is most engaging to the reader. Each chapter can be read independently and can be used as an outline for discussions and seminars.
- The Destiny of the Universe - In Pursuit of the Great Unknown (with endorsements from Werner Arber, Francisco J. Ayala, Stephen M. Barr, George V. Coyne, Owen Gingerich). This book is not about astronomy, not even about science per se, but about the Great Unknown beyond and behind all that we can see through our telescopes and microscopes. Although, there is a lot of science in this book, at a simplified level, it is mainly a critical philosophical journey, starting in the world of science, but ultimately in pursuit of the Great Unknown that has become more and more known in the lives of so many people.
- It's All in the Genes! - Really? (with endorsements from Werner Arber, Francisco J. Ayala, Daniel Hartl, Christian Schaaf). A decade ago, the general estimate for the number of human genes was thought to be well over 100,000, but then turned out to be around 30,000 genes—which is only half again as many genes as a tiny roundworm needs to manufacture its utter simplicity. And human beings have only 300 unique genes not found in mice. No wonder that the president of Celera, a bio-corporation, said about this surprising finding “This tells me genes cannot possibly explain all of what makes us what we are.” At least, we have a first indication here that genes are not as almighty as some want us to believe.
- Life's Journey - A Guide from Womb to Tomb (with endorsements from Ronald S. Arellano MD, Paul J. Camarata MD, Oswaldo Castro MD,Leonard P. Rybak MD, PhD, John I. Lane MD). This book describes the six main phases of life’s journey in more or less detail. Some of these stages you may have gone through already; others are still ahead of you. You may not be able to retrace previous stages, but you are probably anxious to know what is ahead of you. And besides, you may have children who are going through earlier stages and parents who are experiencing later stages. In all these situations, this is the right book for you. Each chapter discusses one specific stage of your life’s journey. Every chapter begins with a biological description of that period in life, followed by a more philosophical reflection. One cannot be without the other. We need facts before we can reflect, but facts without reflection are meaningless.
He created several informative videos on these issues. In addition, he gives talks and leads conferences on any of these subjects. He can be scheduled for a talk, seminar, or speaking engagement through his website Where Do We Come From?.
Books and articles
- Verschuuren, Geert (1971). Race and Races. In Heythrop Journal, 12, 164–174
- Verschuuren, Geert M.N. (1981). Modelgebruik in the Wetenschappen. Kok, Kampen, Netherlands ISBN 90-242-2161-7
- Verschuuren, G.M.N., Hans De Bruin, Manfred Halsema (1985, 2001). Grondslagen van de Biologie (3 volumes). Wolters Kluwer, Netherlands ISBN 90-207-1372-8
- Marcum, James and G.M.N. Verschuuren (1986). Hemostatic Regulation and Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism. In Acta Biotheoretica, 35, 123–133
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (1986), Investigating the Life Sciences: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. In the series Foundations & Philosophy of Science & Technology, Pergamon Press ISBN 0-08-032031-7
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (1995), Life Scientists: Their Convictions, Their Activities, and Their Values. Genesis Publishing Company, North Andover, MA ISBN 1-886670-00-5
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (1905–present), The Visual Learning Series (10 different titles published so far). Holy Macro! Books, Uniontown, OH
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2007). From VBA to VSTO. Holy Macro! Books, Uniontown, OH ISBN 1-932802-14-2
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2008). Excel 2007 for Scientists and Engineers. Holy Macro! Books, Uniontown, OH ISBN 978-1-932802-35-1
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2013). Excel Simulations. Holy Macro! Books, Uniontown, OH ISBN 1615470220 (softcover) and 978-1615470228 (eBook)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2013). VBScript Programming. Holy Macro! Books, Uniontown, OH ISBN 1615470182 and 978-1615470181
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2012). Darwin's Philosophical Legacy - The Good and the Not-So-Good. Lexington Books, Lanham, MD ISBN 978-0-7391-7520-0 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-7391-9058-6 (paperback), and ISBN 978-0-7391-7521-7 (eBook)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2012). God and evolution? - Science Meets Faith. Pauline Books & Media, Boston, MA ISBN 978-0-8198-3113-2 (softcover) and ISBN 0-8198-3113-1 (eBook)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2012). What Makes You Tick? - A New Paradigm of Neuroscience. Solas Press, Antioch, CA ISBN 978-1-893426-04-7 (softcover) and ISBN 1893426047 (eBook)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2012). Of All That Is, Seen and Unseen - Life-Saving Answers to Life-Size Questions. Queenship Publishing, Goleta, CA ISBN 978-1-57918-414-6 (softcover) and ISBN 1579184146 (eBook)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2014). The Destiny of the Universe - In Pursuit of the Great Unknown. Paragon House Publishers, Saint Paul, MN ISBN 978-1-55778-908-2 (softcover)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2014). It's All in the Genes! - Really?. Amazon ISBN 978-1496031686 (softcover)
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2014). Life's Journey - A Guide from Womb to Tomb.
- Verschuuren, Gerard M. (2013). Videos on YouTube.
- Race and Races
- The Use of Models
- Foundations of Biology
- Hemostatic Regulation
- Investigating the Life Sciences
- Life Scientists
- Visual Learning Series
- From VBA to VSTO
- Excel for Scientists
- 80 Excel Simulations
- VBScript Programming
- Darwin's Philosophical Legacy
- God and Evolution? Science Meets Faith
- What Makes You Tick?"
- Of All That Is, Seen and Unseen
- The Destiny of the Universe
- It's All in the Genes!
- Preview of "Life's Journey"
- Channel of all videos