Explaining Away in Science and Religion

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A recent conference organized by David Glass and Mark McCartney on the topic ‘Explaining and Explaining Away in Science and Religion’ took place recently. Audios of the talks are now available on the project website.

The conference included papers from some leading figures in the science-religion area such as Revd. Dr. Rodney Holder (Cambridge), Prof. David Livingstone (Queen’s University, Belfast) and Prof. Roger Trigg (Oxford), who spoke on issues relating to explaining away in cosmology, anthropology and cognitive science of religion respectively. Other talks addressed further philosophical and historical issues related to science and religion and represent a range of viewpoints.

Rodney Holder’s talk addresses issues that will be familiar to visitors of this site since he uses the approach proposed by David and Mark to evaluate various attempts to explain away God in the context of big bang cosmology and fine-tuning arguments. A number of papers focused on the cognitive science of religion. In this field it is often assumed that scientific accounts of religious belief somehow explain away those beliefs, but this is highly questionable as some of the talks point out. Jonah Schupbach’s talk will also be of interest to many here since he looks at the logic of explaining away and applies it to debates about evolution and design.

Needless to say, given the range of views, Saints and Sceptics does not endorse all of the content from the conference, but it’s material that should still be of interest to many.

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