The Penultimate Curiosity: How Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions Illustrated Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 ratings
ISBN-13: 978-0198747956
ISBN-10: 0198747950
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Editorial Reviews


"The sheer sweep of history that this book overviews is enough to take one's breath away. This beautifully illustrated book is no coffee table collection, but achieves something far more serious." -- Science & Education

"This gripping work of history and reference deserves to be read on both sides of the science-art divide. Without espousing a particular faith or denomination, the authors have provided a much-needed antidote to the New Atheists' promotion of science at the expense of spirituality, a campaign that has done much to coarsen and misinform public understanding of both."--Financial Times

"Here is magnificence. This book will magnify the heart and mind."--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, UK

"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, UK

"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

"The sweep of this book is magnificent, with fascinating stories about Paleolithic artistry, Islamic science, medieval theology, quantum mechanics, and an array of topics in between. The writing is spectacular....The history, art, and philosophy within this book give it great value to any thoughtful reader. Recommended."--CHOICE

"Wagner and Briggs should be commended for the key observation that science and religion are entangled ultimately because human beings themselves are entangled."--Issues in Science and Technology

About the Author

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 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.

Product details

  • Publisher : Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (April 25, 2016)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 512 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0198747950
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0198747956
  • Item Weight : 2.31 pounds
  • Dimensions : 9.5 x 6.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 21 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
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Reviewed in the United States on December 20, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2016
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Top reviews from other countries

jeremy marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful argument that religion in general and Christianity in particular have and should help science.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 20, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Let not man put asunder
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 9, 2019
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 3, 2016
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S Riaz
5.0 out of 5 stars The Penultimate Curiosity
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book for the religiously minded scientist or the scientifically minded believer!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 21, 2016
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