‘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 Rees (Astronomer Royal, President of the Royal Society 2005-2010)

‘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 in to 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, Andrew 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 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 (President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1996–1999)

‘This book is an excellent account of how human curiosity has struggled to understand the universe from different view points. 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, FRS (author with Stephen Hawking of The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time)

‘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 (Leader of the Chauvet Cave research team)

‘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 onto the giants of the scientific revolution and the technology of the present day.’

Bob White, FRS (University of Cambridge)

‘Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs have written a path-breaking ac-count, 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 (Chief Rabbi 1991–2013)

‘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)

‘This gripping work of history and reference deserves to be read on both sides of the science-arts 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.’

John Cornwell (Financial Times)

‘Wagner and Briggs have produced quite a page turner . . . This book will likely become something of a classic among surveys of the relationship between theology and the natural sciences.’

Andrew Davison (Art and Christianity) 

‘A stunningly original and wonderfully engaging book, which opens up some of the deepest questions about human identity and purpose.’

Alister McGrath (Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion,University of Oxford)

‘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)

‘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)

‘An exciting display of erudition, packed with thought-provoking anecdotes and clear explanations of major scientific, religious and philosophical concepts.’

Charlie Tyson (British Journal of the History of Science)

‘An original interpretation of the centuries-old dialogue . . . Relying on the intellectual rigour of the authors, accompanied by a rich selection of illustrations, the book takes the reader on a long journey through the sects, cultures and disciplines.’

Solène Tadié (L’Osservatore Romano)

‘An exceptionally wide ranging and ambitious book that approaches the rather stale debate of religion and science from a fresh historical perspective.’

Richard Harries (Church Times)

‘This book is well-written, lavishly illustrated . . . and beautifully produced. It is pleasure to read . . . it deserves to be widely read.’

E.V. Lucas (The Baptist Times)

‘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 (Scottish Journal of Theology)

‘The Penultimate Curiosity is a bold, magisterial and ambitious sweep through human history indeed the book was sixteen years in the writing. Reams of academic literature have been summarised with flair, and the authors’ storytelling mode, helpfully subtitled and regularly illustrated is particularly effective.’

Tim Middleton (Science and Christian Belief)

‘The Penultimate Curiosity is a captivating book.’

Michael Fuller (Expository Times)

‘One may view this book as a duet composed and performed by two gifted players, an artist and a scientist. It is beautifully executed and leaves the reader wanting to know more and at the same time provides the sources and references that make this possible . . . Picking up on some of the words used by those who have already endorsed the book it is indeed “stunningly original” (Alistair McGrath), “A path-breaking account, vast in scope thrilling in detail” (Jonathan Sacks), a book that“will magnify the heart and mind” (Justin Welby).’

Malcolm Jeeves (Theology and Science)

‘This book uses an original perspective to trace the history of the human quest for making sense of the world we live in . . . in the book science and religion are not placed in opposition to one another. On the contrary it is shown how they can live in a mutually enriching relationship.’

Virginia Greco (CERN Courier)

‘It seems dense and unapproachable but the text has a magnetic quality that belies the initial doubts.’

(The Connexion)

‘One feels that this book has been waiting to happen for years. ‘Secularisation’ has not taken place smoothly, and nor has religion simplified into consensus. The two are as entangled as ever but bear a relation to one another. If you read one book this year read this.’

(Oxford Today)