Specialist scientific fields are developing at incredibly swift speeds, but what can they really tell us about how the universe began and how we as humans evolved to play such a dominant role on Earth? John Hands’ extraordinarily ambitious book merges scientific knowledge from multiple disciplines and evaluates without bias or preconception all the theories and evidence about the origin and evolution of matter, consciousness, and mankind. The result, a “pearl of dialectical reasoning” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), provides the most comprehensive account yet of current ideas such as cosmic inflation, dark energy, the selfish gene, and neurogenetic determinism. In the clearest possible prose it differentiates the firmly established from the speculative and examines the claims of various fields to approach a unified theory of everything. In doing so it challenges the orthodox consensus in those branches of cosmology, biology, and neuroscience that have ossified into dogma. Its “shocking and invigorating” analysis (Daily Telegraph, A Best Science Book of 2015) reveals underlying patterns of cooperation, complexification, and convergence that lead to the unique emergence in humans of a self-reflective consciousness that enables us to determine our future evolution. This groundbreaking book is destined to become a classic of scientific thinking.