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By Martin Nowak

402 pp

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About the Book


Beyond the veil of confusion of selfishness lies another world,

a world that is very different.

Beyond is a Socratic love story, a Platonic dialogue, a Bhagavad Gita of our times: a philosophical quest folded into an epic exploration of the world. Imagine an encounter with unconfused human existence. What does it mean to fall in love with God? Can the Good only adopt the role of a servant, or can it rise to provide a beacon of light ruling us?

How often we are caught in the myopic perspective that the material world is all there is! And yet, mathematics and science themselves point to a greater, all-embracing, unchanging reality. This insight suffices to move past selfishness and advance humanity to the next level. Beyond dismantles the artificial borders that have for too long separated genres: here, science confronts philosophy, mathematics engages religion, poetry brings nonfiction to life, time meets infinity. Beyond is sui generis.


What a marvelous and fruitful collision of the scientific, poetic, and contemplative temperaments, all in one author and one book. For those who dream of the recovery in our late modern age of an ‘integrated vision’ of things, uniting natural philosophy and speculative wisdom and spiritual curiosity, Martin Nowak’s Beyond is like a reassuring lantern suddenly shining out along a dark path late at night.” —DAVID BENTLEY HART, author of Roland in Moonlight and All Things Are Full of Gods: The Mysteries of Mind and Life (forthcoming)


“Martin Nowak’s remarkable text Beyond is impossible to categorize as a literary genre. Part Romantic tone poem, part Socratic dialogue, part biblical Wisdom literature, part primer in contemporary scientific theory, it takes the reader on a journey into ultimate questions which is as poetically rich as it is astonishing. Anyone who has ever wondered about the origins and meaning of the universe must read this book and reflect upon the depth of scientific and theological mysteries it evokes: it is the reader who is challenged, and who cannot remain unchanged by the lure of the narrative.” —SARAH COAKLEY, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, emerita, University of Cambridge

Beyond is a devotional meditation on God and Love, more poetry than prose, by evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak. His is a Platonic universe where mathematics and truth are the ultimate reality. The meditation moves from Plato to Augustine and Aquinas, to Krishna, Siddhartha, and the Tao. It is an extended dialogue between a male Faustian voice and a mysterious female presence, an unnamed Beatrice, who may well be divine and becomes his guide to leave the cave of shadows.” —DAVID HAIG, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

“If there ever could be a sequel to both Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Martin Nowak’s Beyond would be it. The harvest of a lifetime of thinking about religion, science, and their explanations of the world, this book takes the reader on a Socratic journey of infinite discoveries. It is a page-turner to be read and re-read.” —WINRICH FREIWALD, Denise & Eugene Chinery Professor of Neuroscience and Behavior, Rockefeller University

“Martin Nowak’s Beyond is an engaging fusion of science, philosophy, meditative prayer, love story, and mystery. It can be seen as a poetic version of Sophie’s World for adults. Its spirituality is unique. You will be thinking, guessing, and smiling until the last page!” —KAMILA NAXEROVA, Assistant Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School 

“The most powerful superstition of the modern age was that certain and useful knowledge could be seized by man, would he simply surrender his urgent yearning for the gift of wisdom that springs from the center of his being. But superstition it was indeed, as Martin Nowak shows in this long meditation, at once treatise and poem, Socratic dialogue and lyric meditation. Increasingly, those who study the philosophy of science have concluded that positive knowledge is only possible and desirable when restored to its ancient foundation in the love of wisdom and the even more profound yearning for the logos of the divine. Nowak was there before most others, and is here now, to draw us into the life of the logos through this series of rhapsodic explorations. The truth is One, he shows us, and it is calling us to communion, even now in the concrete hospital ward of our lives.” —JAMES MATTHEW WILSON, Cullen Foundation Chair of English Literature, University of Saint Thomas

Beyond is a moving reflection, in poetic form, on fundamental truths in theology, philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Here, Martin Nowak recovers an ancient tradition—going back to Plato, Augustine, Boethius, and Dante, but now lost to the academic world—of conveying the beauty of its content by its own beautiful form. The book will speak powerfully to readers with or without prior knowledge of its themes.” —JOSEPH LAPORTE, Professor of Philosophy, Hope College

“Martin Nowak’s Beyond may be one of the most idiosyncratic, original, and marvelous works of poetry I have read in a very long time. Astonishment inhabits every line. I came away from it in a state of wonder.”—MICHAEL MARTIN, Director, Center for Sophiological Studies; Editor, Jesus the Imagination

“In precise, almost haunting language, a world-leading mathematician attempts to help his readers find God. From Buddha to Borges, from evolutionary dynamics to the irrational number π, Martin Nowak’s poetic quest for truth is a radiant distillation of philosophy and science, a journey sparkling with insight. And also a love story, bursting with passion for beauty, and a cry against selfishness, and for goodness. Whatever their conception of God may be, readers brave enough to open their minds and hearts will not fail to be moved.” —OREN HARMAN, author of The Price of Altruism and Evolutions: Fifteen Myths That Explain Our World

Beyond is an awe-filled contemplation of some of the greatest questions science, religion, and philosophy can ask.” —GABRIELA LOBINSKA, Weizmann Institute of Science

About the Author

MARTIN NOWAK is Professor of Mathematics and Biology at Harvard University. He is a leading researcher in the areas of theoretical and evolutionary biology. He has proposed that cooperation is the third fundamental principle of evolution, alongside mutation and selection. His work has helped to create fields such as evolutionary dynamics, virus dynamics, mathematical oncology, and evolution of cooperation. He has published more than 500 papers and four books. For many years, Martin has also been working in the domain of Science and Religion. Before coming to Harvard in 2003, he held professorships at the University of Oxford and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. In 2015 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology at Berkeley. He is Roman Catholic.

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