Polkinghorne's book is a summary for the general reader of the discussions on eschatology by several scientists and theologians found in the earlier work, The End of the World and the Ends of God. However, as Polkinghorne alone wrote the latter work, it bears his mark as a well-known former scientist and current Anglican priest and writer on religious topics for the general public. The ideas he expresses would not be well-received either by doctrinaire fundamentalists, or by committed atheists. However, for the reader with an open mind, it presents a thought-provoking inquiry and meditation on the questions dealing with, to put it concisely, the meaning of it all. Does existence have a point, and if so, what is it?
Of course, as mentioned before, the author in an Anglican priest, so he writes from the Christian perspective. But there is no hint of dogmatism in what he has to say; and no apologies or lack of conviction either. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his ideas, they are stimulating. For example, in contast to most earlier theologians who speculated that any future existence must be beyond time, and thus an eternal Now, Polkinghorne points out that human beings are creatures of space and time, that cherished art-forms such as music require time, and proposes that any redeemed universe would contain some type of both space and time. Although he does not, of course, claim to know what a redeemed time would be like, he envisions the new creation as having its own history. Though it would be a history of fulfilment rather than becoming. And it would be based on the template set by the old universe, tho the new would have God as the direct underlying basis of it, rather than the laws of physics as now, based as they are on death and decay, as well as on life and creation.
To the sceptics who bemoan the seemingly inevitable boredom of an eternal existence, Polkinghorne agrees that from our current perspective, even the most fanatical golf enthusiast might begin to tire of it after his millionth game. But the new creation he looks for would be one in which everyone could explore the endless beauties, interests, and possibilities of God's truly infinite, endless nature. In such a state, there would be a tension between continuity and discontinuity: for both the universe as a whole and the resurrected beings within it,the new life would have to be substantially different from the old. At the same time, the redeemed would truly have to be continuations of what they were in this existence, not just copies. Only in this way can redemption really be redemption. All in all, this is a book that should be read by anyone curious about a modern Christian perspective on eschatological questions.