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The Penultimate Curiosity: How Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions (Hardback)
  • The Penultimate Curiosity: How Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions (Hardback)

The Penultimate Curiosity: How Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions (Hardback)

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Hardback 496 Pages / Published: 25/02/2016
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When young children first begin to ask 'why?' they embark on a journey with no final destination. The need to make sense of the world as a whole is an ultimate curiosity that lies at the root of all human religions. It has, in many cultures, shaped and motivated a more down to earth scientific interest in the physical world, which could therefore be described as penultimate curiosity. These two manifestations of curiosity have a history of connection that goes back deep into the human past. Tracing that history all the way from cave painting to quantum physics, this book (a collaboration between a painter and a physical scientist that uses illustrations throughout the narrative) sets out to explain the nature of the long entanglement between religion and science: the ultimate and the penultimate curiosity.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198747956
Number of pages: 496
Weight: 1046 g
Dimensions: 247 x 180 x 30 mm

The sheer sweep of history that this book overviews is enough to take ones breath away. This beautifully illustrated book is no coffee table collection, but achieves something far more serious. * Celia Deane-Drummond, Science & Education *
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 *
THIS is an exceptionally ambitious and wide-ranging book, which approaches the rather stale debate of science and religion with a fresh historical perspective. * Richard Harries, Church Times *
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. * M. A. Wilson, CHOICE *
splendid book ... [it's] scope is hugely impressive * Catholic Herald *
this volume is an exciting display of erudition, packed with thought-provoking anecdotes and clear explanations of major scientific, religious and philosophical concepts. * Charlie Tyson, British Journal for the History of Science *
Wagner and Briggs should be commended for the key observation that science and religion are entangled ultimately because human beings themselves are entangled. * Prajwal Kulkarni, Issues in Science and Technology *
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 *

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