This gripping work of history and reference deserves to be read on both sides of the science-arts divide. (John Cornwell, Financial Times)
well worth reading ... their narrative is fascinating and this is a beautiful volume, produced to a very high standard and enriched with many appropriate illustrations. (Richard Joyner, Times Higher Education)
splendid book ... [it's] scope is hugely impressive (Catholic Herald)
This is an erudite and fascinating sweep through the development of ideas. Uniquely, it addresses science and religion through both text and illustrations ― from the cave paintings and artefacts of the earliest hominids, through the great thinkers who shaped civilisation, and on to the giants of the scientific revolution and the technology of the present day. (Bob White, FRS, Cambridge University)
Here is magnificence. This book will magnify the heart and mind, in the sense of enlarging them to appreciate the scope of science and its underpinnings in the pursuit of theology. It depicts how insatiable ― yet how creative and constructive ― is the human curiosity for understanding and meaning, from prehistoric time to the present day. It leaves me in awe at the 'art' of science: for the way it unveils the magnificence of God our Creator who stretches out the canvas. (Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury)
A stunningly original and wonderfully engaging book, which opens up some of the deepest questions about human identity and purpose. (Alister McGrath, University of Oxford)
This book offers a fascinating perspective on the perennial human quest for understanding and meaning. Its two distinguished authors ― with contrasting backgrounds ― have meshed their expertise together to create a thought-provoking and original synthesis. (Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal)
Our species should be called Homo spiritualis rather than sapiens. Asking "Why?" about the world gave rise to Religion, Philosophy, and Science. The interactions and entanglements are outlined in this book of amazing scope and interest. (Jean Clottes, Senior Scientist of the Chauvet Cave)
The achievements of science are breathtaking. At times so breathtaking that they cause us to lose perspective on the wonderful created world of which we, the most 'curious' of animals, are a part. This book is a remarkable achievement in that whilst reaching from prehistory, through ancient Greece to the present day, it draws upon the distinctive intellectual resources of a distinguished artist and art historian and a researcher at the cutting-edge of contemporary science. The resulting, beautifully illustrated volume, is a feast of interdisciplinary thinking at its best. It raises profound questions, The Penultimate Curiosity, posed for millennia by philosophers, religious people and more recently scientists, and points to constructive answers. (Malcolm Jeeves, St Andrews University)
Evidence-based scientific rationality is very good at finding answers to the how questions. How did the Universe evolve from the Big Bang? How does matter arrange itself into objects ranging from atomic nuclei to human beings, planets and stars? But when it comes to the why questions, science does not necessarily have the answers. Instead of putting science and religion in opposition to each other, we should therefore be asking if dialogue can exist between the two, whether they can respect each other and accept each other's points of view. In the Penultimate Curiosity, Andew Briggs and Roger Wagner demonstrate that it is not only possible, but also enriching to follow such a course. (Rolf Heuer, Director General, CERN)
This book is an excellent account of how human curiosity has struggled to understand the universe from different viewpoints. It shows in considerable detail how tensions between science and religion have been debated in depth by great minds (Leibniz, Newton, Pascal, Herschel, etc) for centuries, and charts the development of the idea that science could progressively extend our understanding of the universe. It has many fascinating cameos and a magisterial sweep, and is made lively by details of personal involvement and histories in this development. (George Ellis, University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs have written a path-breaking account, vast in scope, thrilling in detail, about how our ultimate curiosity as to what lies beyond the visible universe has danced a minuet through time with our penultimate curiosity as to how the elements of the universe relate to one another. A challenging and persuasive account of the sometimes fraught but often mutually enriching relationship between religion and science. (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks)
About the Author
Roger Wagner, Artist and writer, and Andrew Briggs, Professor of Nanomaterials, University of Oxford, UK
Roger Wagner has been described by Charles Moore as the "best religious painter in Britain today". He gained first class honours in English Literature at Oxford, and then studied for three years at the Royal Academy before returning to live in Oxford and paint full time. Both The Ashmolean Museum at Oxford and The Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge have his work in their permanent collections. He has produced several books of illustrated poems and translations of the Psalms. Since 2010 he has taught at the Ruskin School of Art. A book about his work Forms of Transcendence The Art of Roger Wagner by Chris Miller was published in 2009. His 2012 Gresham College lecture was published on the web http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMb8rIQbTGc. His new stained glass window was installed in St Mary's Iffley in 2012. He was commissioned to paint the first portrait of Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, which in 2014 was hung in Auckland Castle.
Andrew Briggs was elected in 2002 as the first holder of the newly created Chair in Nanomaterials at the University of Oxford. After studying physics at Oxford he gained a PhD at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, where the inscription from the Psalms was placed over the entrance of the new laboratory at his initiative. He then studied for a degree in Theology at Cambridge, winning the Chase Prize for Greek, before returning to Oxford in 1980 to pursue an academic career in science. In what is now the Department of Materials he has been successively Royal Society Research Fellow, University Lecturer, Reader, and Professor. His scientific research focuses on materials and techniques for quantum technologies, in which non-classical superposition and entanglement are harnessed for future applications such as computers and information processors. Simultaneously his experiments also probe foundational questions such as the nature of reality in the context of quantum theory.