While there is general agreement that science and religion need not be in conflict, this project investigates the much more positive thesis that scientific and religious explanations can work together in mutually enriching ways. The unique contribution lies in how the project draws upon the history of science and religion and philosophy of science to explore an important but understudied aspect of scientific reasoning: how two (or more) hypotheses can work together as a ‘conjunctive explanation’ rather than as distinct, competing explanations. The relevance to science and religion will be explored along two dimensions. First, the project seeks to demonstrate that theological and philosophical perspectives can inform scientific practice rather than merely accommodating the findings of science. Second, it explores how the concept of conjunctive explanation can apply not only within science, but also to cases where scientific and religious explanations work together. Research will address the following questions: a) Historically, how have theological assumptions influenced thinking about how explanations can work together rather than compete, especially in the context of evolutionary biology? b) Philosophically, how can it be determined whether two explanations work together, rather than compete, to account for the evidence? c) How can the answers to these questions provide new insights in science and religion? Deliverables consist of at least nine articles in academic journals and six conference papers, while two academic workshops will result in two edited volumes. The project activities and findings are expected to stimulate new directions in science and religion and also in the history and philosophy of science since they address an important topic relevant to scientific practice. The project is also expected to promote understanding of science and religion at a popular level and this will be facilitated by a public engagement workshop and two magazine articles.
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