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Trashing Teilhard | Commonweal Magazine

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Was the Jesuit priest and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin really a racist, fascist, and even genocidal opponent of human dignity? I had thought that, at least among educated Catholics, this question was almost dead, and that holdout pockets of hostility might be vanishing for good, especially after several recent popes admiringly cited Teilhards cosmic vision for its theological beauty and Eucharistic power.

But my optimism was premature. In a December 2016 article in Philosophy and Theology titled Dangerous Tendencies of Cosmic Theology: The Untold Legacy of Teilhard de Chardin, John Slattery writes that from the 1920s until his death in 1955, Teilhard de Chardin unequivocally supported racist eugenic practices, praised the possibilities of the Nazi experiments, and looked down upon those who [sic] he deemed imperfect humans. Slattery, a recent graduate of Notre Dames Department of Theology, claims that a persistent attraction to racism, fascism, and genocidal ideas explicitly lay the groundwork for Teilhards famous cosmological theology. This, he informs us, is a link which has been largely ignored in Teilhardian research.

A more recent article by the same critic in Religion Dispatches (May 2018) is entitled Pierre Teilhard de Chardins Legacy of Eugenics and Racism Cant Be Ignored. In it, Slattery hangs his case on eight stray citations from Teilhards letters and other scattered writings. Most of the quotes present what were speculative inquiries on the part of Teilhardquestions that countless other thoughtful people have asked, including many Catholicsrather than systematically developed theses for public consumption. Their style is provocative and interrogatory, not declarative. Exactly what Teilhard really meant by them is, in every single case, highly debatable.

And yet Slattery holds these excerpts out to us as undeniable evidence that Teilhards true legacy is one of hostility to Catholic affirmation of human dignity, racial justice, and concern for the disadvantaged. Still more important, however, is Slatterys claim that it was Teilhards commitment to these evils that grounds and undergirds his cosmological theology. Nothing could be more preposterous.

Slattery doesnt deny that the bulk of Teilhards religious writings are uncontroversially Christian and in tune with Catholic teaching. Yet he ignores this fact in defining what he calls Teilhards legacy. Though he surely knows that most readers will be unfamiliar with the man and his thought, he has decided to expose them first to what he considers Teilhards most sinister side. In the process he takes a thimbleful of quotes out of context, posts them on a blank background, and says nothing substantive about the remaining 99.9 percent of Teilhards work. Failing to take into account the general architecture of Teilhards thought always leads to the kinds of exaggeration and distortion that Slattery commits.

He begins by reciting the best-known of Teilhards treasurable remarks: If humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire. Noting that millions who tuned into the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle heard these lines recited in a moving sermon by Episcopal Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, Slattery remarks that listeners who swooned over them were unaware of the poisonous roots of Teilhards religious worldview. He proceeds to reveal the rot he finds in a package of eight passages cherry-picked from Teilhards voluminous letters and writings. I shall condense the most offensive of these below, but I want to begin my response to Slattery by summarizing what other students of Teilhards work consider to be his real legacy. Only after becoming acquainted with his core ideas can we interpret rightly what Slattery finds so offensive in Teilhards work.

Seasoned Teilhard scholars are aware of the questionable remarks he points to; but the seeming offensiveness of such comments fades into the shadows when we read them in terms of the fundamental principles guiding Teilhards scientifically informed vision of the world and God. Here are four of these fundamental principles:

The universe (as science has demonstrated) is still coming into being. Hence the world is not yet perfected. Theologically, this means that creation remains unfinished, and that humans, who are part of this universe, may contribute significantly to its making. The opportunity to participate in building the earth is a cornerstone of human dignity. (It is also a teaching of Vatican II.) The fact that our creativity can sometimes lead to monstrous outcomes does not absolve us of the obligation to improve the world and ourselves. Taking advantage of this opportunity is sometimes dangerous, but it is also essential to sustaining hope and a zest for living, Teilhard maintains. Moreover, nothing clips the wings of hope more severely than the now obsolete theological idea that the universe was completed once and for all in the beginning, and that there is little or nothing we can do to make it new.

To create is to unite. The world comes into beingand becomes newby a process of unification. Scientifically understood, the emerging cosmos becomes intelligible only by gradually bringing increasingly more complex forms of coherence out of its primordial state of diffusion and atomic dispersal. As the universe in the course of time becomes more complex, it also becomes more conscious. Theologically, this principle is implied in Christian hope as summed up in Jesus prayer that all may be one and in the Pauline expectation that everything will be brought to a head in Christ, in whom all things consist. Teilhard stated explicitly that his whole theology of nature is consistent with the expectations of the Apostle Paul and the Fourth Evangelist: Lord make us one. His true legacy lies in his rich Christian sense of a universe converging on Christ and being brought into final union in what he called God-Omega.

True union differentiates. As the creative love of God brings increasing unity to the unfinished universe, it is Gods will that the diversity of creation increases as well, including the emergence of free and unique human persons. In Christ, God seeks to become continually more incarnate in the world not via an order imposed on it, but by a differentiating, liberating, and personalizing communion with it. Many distortions of Teilhards intentions, including Slatterys, stem from a failure to understand what Teilhard means by true union. As we shall see, to miss the deeply Christian motif of differentiating union in his writings is to do him grave injustice.

The world rests on the future as its sole support. As we follow the course of cosmic history from its remote past into the future, Teilhard observes, we discover a law of recurrence in which something new, more complex, and (eventually) more conscious has always been taking shape up ahead. Scientifically speaking, we now know that subatomic elements were organized around atomic nuclei; atoms were gathered into molecules; molecules into cells; and cells into complex organisms, some of which made the leap into thought. The most important kinds of emergence can occur, however, only if the elements allow themselves to be organized around a new and higher center, one that lifts them up to a more elaborately differentiated unity. To experience true union, true being, true goodness, and true beauty, therefore, we must allow ourselveslike Abraham, the prophets, and Jesusto be grasped by the Future.

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Teilhard De Chardin – creation.com

Posted: March 5, 2019 at 10:46 pm


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Editors note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, weare publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching andsharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

By G.J. Keane

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardins most obvious claim to fame was his overwhelming acceptance of evolution, and an unquestionable passion to try to fit Christianity into it.

He was born in Auvergne, France, in 1881 and entered the Catholic Society of Jesus at 18. He spent the next three years teaching physics and chemistry at Cairo, followed by four years theological training at Hastings, England. He developed a seemingly unquenchable thirst for palaeontology and spent much of his adult life in China searching for mans evolutionary ancestors. He was involved in the excavation of the so-called Peking Man in 1929. Throughout his life he found he was unable to totally harmonize traditional Catholicism with the scientific framework of evolution, and incapable of openly flouting the orders of his superiors.

In the end he became Chardin the mystic, and his thoughts were published only after his death.

But Teilhard was also involved in the Piltdown hoax. This skull, which was later discovered by workers at the British Museum to have been made of parts of a human skull and the jaw of an orang-utan, had been chemically stained to indicate great age, and the teeth filed to resemble human teeth. A probing yet charitable analysis of Teilhards probable role in the hoax has been published by prominent evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould.1

Teilhards unquestioning acceptance of evolution, together with his passion for mysticism, led him to propose ideas which were clearly incompatible with the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church. He had entered the priesthood in 1899, only 30 years after the First Vatican Council (1870), which stated:

After having studied 10 years for the priesthood, Teilhard would have been familiar with the 1870 Catholic position against evolution. Despite this he was convinced evolution was true.

Further, he believed strongly that a church which accepted the Genesis account of Creation was wedded to an outmoded and unscientific outlook. In his framework, such a Church was out of touch with reality and would lag behind the rest of the world as it plunged into the 20th century. He felt it was vital for the church to adapt its theology to harmonise with modern evolutionary theory.3

Such a harmony became his lifes mission and the end product was his formulation of a mystical evolutionary theology.

The church, until the time of Charles Darwin, had promoted an objective creation-based view of reality. In other words, the universe is comprised of real, distinct things. Chardin sought to change this! He proposed that the universe did not consist of real things, since everything was evolving and converging towards a future goal called Omega. The only thing that must give it unity, therefore, is the spiritual or mystical realm. God must be the only unifying force. According to Teilhard, God somehow inserted himself into the evolutionary process, and Christ the force drawing everything towards the goal of Omega.

He did not accept the God of Genesis who was clearly portrayed as the Creator of all things.

De Chardin wrote:

His ideas have been the centre of much controversy within and without the Catholic Church. His most definitive work,The Phenomenon of Man (published by others after his death), contains Chardins so-called scientific treatise. It outlines all of his standard evolutionary facts and simply glosses over difficult questions.

The origin of the Earth he stated was purely accidental:

The origin of the first cell provided no problem to de Chardin. He wrote:

On the reproduction of cells, he claims that:

For the evolution of mans consciousness he proposed the concept of noogenesis. He stated:

For Teilhard, evolution is so central to truth that the word creation does not even rate inclusion in his books index. He wrote:

And where does original sin fit into Teilhards views? There is no mention of Adam, Eve, Satan or the term original sin in his book. And without original sin, there is no need of the Saviour Christ, and without a need of a Saviour, there can be no Christian Church.

De Chardin has become a cult figure to many after his death, particularly to academic evolutionists among Catholics and Anglicans. Many still believe his ideas were ahead of his time, and that his thinking will inevitably be accepted by the official teaching bodies of the Catholic Church. The reality is however that his confused speculation has only contributed to further obscuring the notion that God has revealed objective truth to man through the Holy Scriptures. Mysticism has always resulted in common sense being replaced by nonsense.

Teilhards speculative theories were not scientific, but metaphysical! They depended for plausibility upon evolution being historically true. As the credibility of evolution theory diminishes, his writings reduce to highly imaginative anti-Christian fantasy. During his lifetime Chardin was refused permission to publish his theories, and in fairness to him it must be stated that he remained obedient to his superiors.

As one Catholic theologian has pointed out: Teilhards fundamental error was to seek for something more elementary than being as the basis of his metaphysics. He thought he had found it in the concept of unification, but he was mistaken Created being is composite and oriented towards an end distinct from itself, not in so far as it is being, but in so far as it is created.12

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Project of a lifetime: Couple take on documentary about …

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Producer Mary Frost; co-producer Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert, president of Loyola Productions in Los Angeles; and cinematographer Erik Lohr, filming for the Teilhard project in China (Courtesy of Frank Frost Productions)

It wasn't until the early 1960s, when he was in studies to become a Jesuit, that Frank Frost saw his first movie. It was 1948's "Johnny Belinda." He's never forgotten it.

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"I was totally bowled over," he said. For Frost, the 10th of 13 children growing up in 1950s South Dakota and Indiana without even a television, the experience was a revelation. "I was planning on majoring in English literature, and this was to me the new literature."

It would be the start of his career as a filmmaker. Now 78, Frost and his wife, Mary, 72 (he left the Jesuits after a decade, before ordination), are working on the project of a lifetime: a documentary about the French Jesuit and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

"There was a warning from the Vatican in 1962 that seminaries shouldn't let students read Teilhard," recalled Frank with a chuckle. "So of course, we did." But it would be several decades before Frank really got to know the legendary priest, who died in 1955, by traveling the world in his footsteps.

"The Teilhard de Chardin Project" has taken the Frosts from France to England to China where Teilhard was essentially exiled in the 1920s for his "dangerous thinking" on science and evolution beginning with research in 2012-13 and filming in 2016. They interviewed the surviving members of Teilhard's family and visited the chateau in which he grew up. The family foundation has given the film its blessing.

In partnership with Oregon Public Broadcasting, it's set to air in 2020 on PBS.

"We often say it's several stories," said Frank, a stack of Teilhard's books, with Frank's notes from his novitiate days, nearby in their home in McLean, Virginia, where their studio is located. "Clerical Indiana Jones. 20th-century Galileo. And it's a love story."

A chance comment a decade ago about a bust of Teilhard planted the seed for the project in Frank's and Mary's heads.

"Someone said a film on religion and science would be interesting, so we very tentatively started researching," Frank said. "We tried a lot of projects that never got finished because we couldn't raise the funds. But this is close enough to our hearts that we decided to stick with it."

Director Frank Frost; Fr. Olivier Teilhard de Chardin, great nephew of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; and co-producer Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert, on location in 2016 in the Auvergne region of France where Teilhard was born and raised (Courtesy of Frank Frost Productions)

A fermentable time

Movies have been in Frank's heart since the novitiate. While still in formation, he met Jesuit Fr. Patrick J. Sullivan, director of the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures (before 1965 called the National Legion of Decency). Sullivan's influence was significant, and Frank began reviewing movies for him.

Despite Frank's desire to study film, the Jesuits sent him to get a doctorate in English but ultimately gave him the go-ahead to enroll at the University of Southern California, where he earned a doctorate in film communications.

In 1970, after he'd left the society, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops hired Frank to make films documenting poverty in the United States for their newly formed Campaign for Human Development. He worked there for eight years before starting his own company; his earliest projects included films on the jazz musician Dave Brubeck, Pope Paul VI, and Pope John Paul II's 1979 visit to the United States.

In 1935, Teilhard joined Helmut de Terra on an expedition in the Punjab region of India from October through December to map stratigraphy. This picture is identified by the Teilhard Foundation in Paris as being from that expedition.

Business was good, good enough that Frank needed help staying organized. Enter Mary Link (now Frost), six years younger and from a small Catholic family in Ohio. While Frank was studying to be a priest, she was studying English and journalism at the University of Toledo with no clear idea of what to do next.

"I got out of college in a very fermentable time," Mary said with a sly smile. She wandered about Europe, came back to the U.S. and entered a doctoral program that she quickly realized was not for her she didn't want to teach. She ended up in a reporting job with legendary Washington, D.C., newspaper woman Esther Van Wagoner Tufty, known as "The Duchess."

Mary spent a few years working for Tufty, reporting on Congress, then took a position at Congressional Quarterly, where she covered health care and justice. "I was working as a researcher the day Nixon resigned," she said, recalling that she fielded several frantic phone calls from Walter Cronkite's research assistants while he was on the air, breaking the news. "They asked me what year Nixon's mother died!"

She married and moved to Florida to live on a sailboat for a few years but returned to D.C. after the marriage ended.

"I was really kind of flailing," she said, when a friend mentioned that a local filmmaker was in need of an assistant. Was she interested? "She told Frank I'd work for free," Mary said. Frank only intended to hire her for a month, at minimum wage, so she'd have a credit to put on her rsum.

"I was rather rude to Mary, I'm sorry to say," he recalled ruefully. But then, suddenly, business was booming. His eye for filmmaking and her talent for logistics whether finding accommodations for the crew in Africa or tide tables in England were a match. "In a very short time, she made herself indispensable."

And that's been the case ever since.

Co-producer Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert, cinematographer Erik Lohr, Producer Mary Frost and associate producer for China, Cindy Zeng pose near a monument to the discovery of "Peking Man" at Zhoukoudian in China, where Teilhard de Chardin was part of the discovery team in 1929. (Courtesy of Frank Frost Productions)

A life together

The couple have a daughter, Claire, who lives with her husband, Zack*, and two young sons in Richmond, Virginia. They met during college, at Duke.

"The boys are a delight, and we have really enjoyed being grandparents," said Mary. "And they have turned Frank into a major Duke basketball fan, though he is always loyal to Georgetown, too!"

They also have more than 200 nieces and nephews over three generations on Frank's side of the family.

Even their spare time, which they don't have much of while working on the Teilhard Project, is taken up with movies. Frank has long been a member of SIGNIS, the international Catholic media organization affiliated with the Vatican, and has served on SIGNIS juries at major festivals in Berlin, Venice and Monte Carlo and for the Prix Italia. He's now a president of SIGNIS North America, for the United States.

Since 2000, Frank and Mary have led a National Film Retreat every summer, either on the East or West coast, with NCR film reviewer and Daughters of St. Paul Sr. Rose Pacatte. The Frosts also created, in 2009, and chair a SIGNIS jury at Filmfest DC, Washington's international film festival.

"We have had a long-standing interest in recognizing quality films," said Mary.

Eight years ago, they started the "Movie Moments of Grace" film club at their parish, Holy Trinity, near Georgetown University's campus. They show five films each season, and attendance hovers between 80 and 100 people. The films are chosen for what the couple call their "human or spiritual value."

"This is not a teaching moment," said Frank of the post-movie small group discussions, which take place over wine and cheese. "It is a discovery moment."

Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert films the giant rhinoceros specimen on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France. The fossils were collected by Teilhard de Chardin during his first paleontology expedition in China in 1923. (Courtesy of Frank Frost Productions)

The project of a lifetime

Frank Frost Productions has made more than 30 films, including a 10-part series called "Scandinavia," narrated by Walter Cronkite; "Bernardin," about the life and death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago; and "Thrse: Living on Love," about Thrse of Lisieux. Now, after nearly 40 years of working together, the couple is close to completing their most ambitious, personal project.

"If we had the money tomorrow, we'd finish in a year," Frank said, but he didn't sound discouraged. "We've never reached an obstacle we couldn't overcome. It's almost miraculous."

Jesuit Fr. Eddie Siebert, president of Loyola Productions in Los Angeles, collaborated with the Frosts on this film and watched the way they work together. He's learned a great deal about his fellow Jesuit Teilhard in the process and admires the couple's energy and "guerrilla" documentary style. He's now a co-producer on the film.

"Filmmaking is hard no matter what. You have to get the right crew, and when you add world travel and you're on a shoestring budget, you really have to use all your wits," he said. "It's remarkable to watch them. I take away this real inspiration about what it is to make films that one is passionate about, and that's pretty exciting, especially as a filmmaker, and as a Jesuit."

The appreciation goes both ways.

"Eddie has brought a Jesuit understanding of Teilhard," said Mary, "along with a much younger outlook."

Siebert, who had never traveled to China before, is anxious for viewers to come to know Teilhard the priest, the scientist, the environmentalist when the movie is complete.

"What Frank and Mary really want to do is make Teilhard accessible to people who have an interest," he said. "You don't have to have a Ph.D. in science to understand that Teilhard the man was fascinating."

[Julie Bourbon is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.]

* A caption in this story has been updated to clarify the identity of a person in the photo, and the name of Frank and Mary's son-in-law has been corrected.

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Launching The Year Of Teilhard by Cynthia Bourgeault The …

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A letter from Cynthia Bourgeault, January 3, 2015

Dear Wisdom Friends,

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Renowned scientist, theologian, writer, mystic. 1881-1955

Heres an unusual New Years resolution! Id like to propose that all of us in the Wisdom network declare 2015 The Year Of Teilhard de Chardin and take on the collective task of getting to know his work better.

Theres no specific milestone to celebrate here. This year will mark the 60th anniversary of his death, but thats probably looking in the wrong direction. The important thing is that Teilhards star is now rising powerfully on the horizon, heralding the dawn of an entirely new kind of Christian theology. Misunderstood in his own times, silenced and exiled by his Jesuit superiors, he is finally coming into his own as the most extraordinary mystical genius of our century and the linchpin connecting scientific cosmology and Christian mystical experience on a dynamic new evolutionary ground.

Teilhard is not easy, but there are very good guides out there who will ease the entry shock. My recommendation is that you begin with Ursula Kings Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin. King is probably the foremost Teilhard scholar of our times, and her very well-written biography gives a good overview of Teilhards developing vision and a useful way of keeping track of the chronology of his works. Kathleen Duffys Teilhards Mysticism is also an insightful introductory guide, introducing the major phases and themes of Teilhards work in five expanding circles. And of course, for a succinct and clear overview, you can hardly do better than Ilia Delios chapter on Teilhard in her Christ in Evolution.

From there, Id dive directly into Teilhard by way of Ursula Kings stellar anthology, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (in the Modern Spiritual Masters series, Orbis Books, 1999). Kings well-chosen selections and helpful introductory commentary will help get you up to speed as painlessly as possible. From there, go to The Heart of Matter, Teilhards magnificent spiritual autobiography, written near the end of his life, which offers a moving recapitulation of his lifelong themes as well as a reflection on his earlier work.

From there, wander as you will. Those of more devotional temperament will find his The Divine Milieu, Hymn of the Universe, and The Mass on the World moving and accessible. Those of more scientific temperament may gravitate toward Christianity and Evolution and The Future of Man. His magnum opus, The Phenomenon of Man, is notoriously challenging, but if youve worked your way up to it gradually, youll be more able to take it in stride.

Most of these volumes are easily available at Amazon.com and other internet websites, and Hymn of the Universe, officially out of print, is available for download.

During my upcoming Wisdom Schools this year, I will be intending to ease in some Teilhard where appropriate: particularly in our Glastonbury Ascensiontide retreat and our Advanced Wisdom School in North Carolina this Aprilso if youre signed up for either of those schools, be sure to get an early jump of the reading trajectory Ive just laid out. Ill also be introducing these materials in the some of the Communities of Practice sessions in New England later this year, and probably in an official Teilhard Wisdom School in 2016. So be sure to stay tuned.

Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Im a relative newcomer to Teilhard myself, still working my way through this remarkable corpus like a neophyte spelunker in a vast crystal cave. Not surprisingly, its the kids in the Wisdom NetworkMatthew Wright, Brie Stoner, and Josh Tysingerwho seem to have the best handle on the material and are already grasping its implications for the future (their future!) and unlocking its potential in sermon, song, and drama. I mention this simply to encourage you not to be intimidated by the material, or the apparent lack of an authority figure to interpret it for you. Form a reading group, use your well-patterned lectio divina method to break open a short section of text, and dive in with your energy, your insights, and your questions. How you get there is where youll arrive.

Okay, who wants to take me up on this New Years Challenge?

Love and blessing,

Cynthia

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Pierre Teilhard De Chardin: Writings (Modern Spiritual ...

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Critique of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin by Dr. Dietrich von …

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Ave Maria!

While he may have been sympathetic toward an unconditional Incarnation, Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., was not a Scotist. At any rate, since his name comes up in discussing the primacy of Christ, especially when using the biblical titles of Alpha and Omega, we do well to keep the solid reflections of the great Catholic philosopher Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand in mind. I post it here in full.

fr. maximilian mary dean, F.I.

From: Trojan Horse in the City of God,by Dietrich von Hildebrand(Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1967.Sophia Institute Press, Manchester, New Hampshire, 1993.)

I MET TEILHARD DE CHARDIN in 1949 at a dinner arranged by Father Robert Gannon, S.J., then president of Fordham University. Previously, the noted scholars Father Henri de Lubac and Msgr. Bruno de Solages had highly recommended him to me. I was, therefore, full of expectations. After the meal, Father Teilhard delivered a long exposition of his views.

Teilhards lecture was a great disappointment, for it manifested utter philosophical confusion, especially in his conception of the human person. I was even more upset by his theological primitiveness. He ignored completely the decisive difference between nature and supernature. After a lively discussion in which I ventured a criticism of his ideas, I had an opportunity to speak to Teilhard privately. When our talk touched on St. Augustine, he exclaimed violently: Dont mention that unfortunate man; he spoiled everything by introducing the supernatural. This remark confirmed the impression I had gained of the crass naturalism of his views, but it also struck me in another way. The criticism of St. Augustine, the greatest of the Fathers of the Church, betrayed Teilhards lack of a genuine sense of intellectual and spiritual grandeur.

It was only after reading several of Teilhards works, however, that I fully realized the catastrophic implications of his philosophical ideas and the absolute incompatibility of his theology fiction (as Etienne Gilson calls it) with Christian revelation and the doctrine of the Church.

Teilhard was not a careful scientistMany Catholics view Teilhard de Chardin as a great scientist who has reconciled science with the Christian faith by introducing a grandiose new theology and metaphysics that take modern scientific findings into account and thus fit into our scientific age. Although I am not a competent judge of Teilhard as a scientist, this opinion may be questioned without expertise. For one thing, every careful thinker knows that a reconciliation of science and the Christian faith has never been needed, because true science (in contradistinction to false philosophies disguised in scientific garments) can never be incompatible with Christian faith. Science can neither prove nor disprove the truth of the faith. Let us also note several judgments of Teilhard by outstanding scientists.

Jean Rostand has said of Teilhards works: I have argued that Teilhard did not cast the slightest light on the great problem of organic evolution. Sir Peter Medawar, the Nobel Prize winner, speaks of Teilhards mental confusion and the exaggerated expression that borders, he says, on hysteria. He insists that The Phenomenon of Man is unscientific in its procedure. Sir Peter adds that Teilhards works in general lack scientific structure, that his competence in his field is modest, that he neither knows what a logical argument is nor what a scientific proof is, that he does not respect the norms required for scientific scholarship.

Thus, since the halo surrounding Teilhard is not unrelated to the opinion that he was a great scientist, it should be noted that his scientific accomplishments are, at the very least, controversial. My purpose here, however, is to examine Teilhards philosophical and theological thought and its bearings on Christian revelation and the doctrine of the Church. I wish to make it clear from the beginning that writing on Teilhard is no easy matter. I do not know of another thinker who so artfully jumps from one position to another contradictory one, without being disturbed by the jump or even noticing it. One is driven therefore to speak of the underlying trend of his thought, to identify the logical consequences of the core of his doctrine of what was dearest to him.

Teilhard fails to grasp the nature of the personOne of the most striking philosophical shortcomings of Teilhards system is his conception of man. It is a great irony that the author of The Phenomenon of Man should completely miss the nature of man as a person. He fails to recognize the abyss separating a person from the entire impersonal world around him, the wholly new dimension of being that a person implies.

Teilhard sees self-consciousness as the only difference between man and a highly developed animal. But a comparison of the limited type of consciousness that can be observed in animals with the manifold aspects of a persons consciousness shows instantly how wrong it is to regard the latter as merely an addition of self-consciousness. Personal consciousness actualizes itself in knowledge in the luminous consciousness of an object that reveals itself to our mind, in the capacity to adapt our mind to the nature of the object (adequatio intellectus ad rem), in an understanding of the objects nature. It also actualizes itself in the process of inference, in the capacity to ask questions, to pursue truth, and last, but not least, in the capacity to develop an I-thou communion with another person. All of this implies a completely new type of consciousness, an entirely new dimension of being.

But this marvel of the human mind, which is also revealed in language and in mans role as homo pictor (imaginative man, man as artist),is altogether lost on Teilhard because he insists on viewing human consciousness as merely an awareness of self that has gradually developed out of animal consciousness.

The scholastics, on the other hand, accurately grasped the dimensions of personal consciousness by calling the person a being that possesses itself. Compared with the person, every impersonal being sleeps, as it were; it simply endures its existence. Only in the human person do we find an awakened being, a being truly possessing itself, notwithstanding its contingency.

Teilhardian fusion of persons is impossibleTeilhards failure to appreciate the person again comes to the fore when he claims in The Phenomenon of Man., that a collective consciousness would constitute a higher state of evolution:

The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by myriads of grains of thought but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form, functionally, no more than a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale.

Here several grave errors are combined. First, the idea of a non-individual consciousness is contradictory. Second, it is wrong to suppose that this impossible fiction could contain something superior to individual personal existence. Third, the idea of a superconsciousness is, in fact, a totalitarian ideal: It implies an absolute antithesis to true community, which essentially presupposes individual persons.

The existence of a human person is so essentially individual that the idea of fusing two persons into one or of splitting one person into two is radically impossible. It is also impossible to wish to be another person. We can only wish to be like another person. For at the moment we became the other person we would necessarily cease to exist. It belongs to the very nature of the human being as person that he remain this one individual being. God could annihilate him, though revelation tells us that this is not Gods intention. But to suppose that a human being could give up his individual character without ceasing to exist, without being annihilated by that act, amounts to blindness to what a person is.

Some men claim to experience a kind of union with the cosmos which enlarges their individual existence and presents itself as the acquisition of a superconsciousness. In reality, however, this union exists only in the consciousness of the individual person who has such an experience. Its content the feeling of fusion with the cosmos is in reality the peculiar experience of one concrete person, and in no way implies a collective consciousness.

Our consideration of Teilhards ideal of the collective man reveals that he fails to understand not only the nature of man as person but also the nature of true communion and community. True personal communion, in which we attain union much deeper than any ontological fusion, presupposes the favorable individual character of the person. Compared to the union achieved by the conscious interpenetration of souls in mutual love, the fusion of impersonal beings is nothing more than juxtaposition.

Teilhard does not recognize the hierarchy of beingTeilhards ideal of superhumanity his totalitarian conception of community shows the same naive ignorance of the abyss that separates the glorious realm of personal existence from the impersonal world. It also reveals his blindness to the hierarchy of being and to the hierarchy of values. Pascal admirably illuminated the incomparable superiority of one individual person to the entire impersonal world when to his famous remark, Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, he added the words, but if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him. He knows that he dies, and the advantage which the universe has over him. The universe knows nothing of this.

Another aspect of Teilhards blindness to the essentially individual character of the person is his inordinate interest in man as species. Again he overlooks the differences between humans and mere animals. A dominant interest in the species is quite normal as long as one deals with animals, but it becomes grotesque when human beings are involved. Kierkegaard brought out this point when he stressed the absolute superiority of the individual human being to the human species. Teilhards own approach is betrayed by his attitude toward the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The progress of humanity which he sees in the invention of nuclear weapons matters more to him than the destruction of innumerable lives and the most terrible sufferings inflicted on individual persons.

It is true that time and again Teilhard speaks of the personal and of the superiority of the personal over the impersonal. Indeed, he often explicitly rejects the possibility that the existence of the individual person will dissolve. He writes, for instance, in Building the Earth: Since there is neither fusion nor dissolution of individual persons, the center which they aspire to reach must necessarily be distinct from them, that is, it must have its own personality, its autonomous reality. Yet just a few pages later we find him rhapsodizing: And lastly the totalization of the individual in the collective man. Teilhard then explains how this contradiction will dissolve in the Omega: All these so-called impossibilities come about under the influence of love.

Teilhard tries to eliminate antithesesIt has recently become fashionable to accept contradictions as a sign of philosophical depth. Mutually contradictory elements are regarded as antagonistic as long as the discussion remains on a logical level, but are considered unimportant as soon as it reaches the religious sphere. This fashion does not do away with the essential impossibility of combining contradictories. No number of modish paradoxes, of emotional effusions, of exotically capitalized words can conceal Teilhards fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of the person. The notion of the personal in Teilhards system is stripped of any real meaning by the systems underlying pantheism. In Teilhards thought collective man and the totalization of man represent an ideal that is objectively incompatible with the existence of the individual person or, rather, that necessarily implies the annihilation of the person.

His monistic tendency leads him to try to liquidate all real antitheses. He wants to keep the integrity of the person, but raves about totalization. He reduces all contraries to different aspects of one and the same thing, and then claims that the antithetical nature of the propositions in question is due merely to the isolation or overemphasis of a single aspect. Yet by reading Teilhard closely, one can always detect his primary concern and see where he is going.

A passage comparing democracy, communism, and fascism in Building the Earth illustrates this. A superficial reading of the passage (which, incidentally, contains several excellent remarks) might give the impression that Teilhard does not deny the individual character of man. A closer, critical study against the background of other passages clearly reveals not only an impossible attempt to link together individuality and totalization, but also Teilhards intention, what his main ideal is, where his heart is. It is, once again, with totalization, with superhumanity in the Omega.

Teilhard misunderstands communion and communityThe penchant for liquidating antitheses also sheds light on Teilhards false conception of the community, of the union of persons. It is all conceived upon the pattern of fusion in the realm of matter, and thus misses the radical difference between unification in the sphere of matter and the spiritual union that comes to pass through real love in the sphere of individual persons. For Teilhard, love is merely cosmic energy: That energy which, having generally agitated the cosmic mass, emerges from it to form the Noosphere, what name must be given to such an influence? One only love. A man who can write that has obviously failed to grasp the nature of this supreme act which, by its very essence, presupposes the existence both of a conscious, personal being and a thou.

Teilhard leaves no place for loveThere is no place in the unanimity and harmony of Teilhards totalitarian communion for a real giving of oneself in love. This unanimity and harmony is actualized through a convergence into one mind; it thus differs radically from the concordia, from the blissful union of which the Liturgy of the Mandatum speaks: Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. (The love of Christ has gathered us into one.) The latter is not a co-thinking, but rather a mutual, reciprocal love and a unification in Christ based on the personal love-response which every individual gives to Christ.

In a monistic world, there is absolutely no place for the intentio unionis (the intention of union)and the intentio benevolentiae (good will) proper to real love. For in such a world cosmic energy moves everything independently of mans free response. When we interpret things that are merely analogous as constituting an ontological unity, or when we use as literal and univocal a term that is analogous, we necessarily bar the way to a real understanding of the being in question. Every monism is ultimately nihilistic.

Teilhard misses the difference between matter and spiritAnother grave philosophical error is closely linked to Teilhards conception of man: his failure to grasp the radical difference between spirit and matter. Teilhard deals with energy as though it were a genus and then proceeds to make matter and spirit two differentiae specificae (distinct species) in this genus. But there is no genus energy. Energy is a concept applicable to both of these radically different realms of being only in terms of analogy. Teilhard does not understand this; he even speaks of the spiritual power of matter.

Teilhard forces reality to fit into his systemTeilhard, then, is the type of thinker who indulges in constructions and hypotheses without caring much about what is given. Maritain once said: The main difference between philosophers is whether they see or do not see. In Teilhard, there is much imagination but no intuition, no listening to experience. From this comes his attempt to project consciousness into inanimate matter a project for which there is simply no foundation apart from Teilhards desire to erect a monistic system. Instead of listening to experience, to the voice of being, he arbitrarily infuses into the being in question whatever corresponds to his system. It is indeed surprising that a man who attacks traditional philosophy and theology for abstractness and for trying to adjust reality to a closed system should himself offer the most abstract and unrealistic system imaginable into which he attempts to force reality, thereby following the famous example of Procrustes.

The ambiguity underlying Teilhards thought also emerges in a passage that accuses Communism of being too materialistic, of striving only for the progress of matter and, consequently, ignoring spiritual progress. His admirers might point to this passage as proof that Teilhard clearly distinguishes between matter and spirit and acknowledges the superiority of the latter.

Actually, it proves no such thing. Teilhard always distinguishes between matter and spirit, but he regards them as merely two stages in the evolutionary process. Physical energy becomes is transformed into spiritual energy. But to regard the difference between the two as simply stages of a process or, as we may put it, to regard the difference as a gradual one is utterly to fail to understand the nature of the spirit. Again, monism prevents an understanding of reality and creates the illusion of being able to combine what cannot be combined.

Teilhard implicitly denies man has free willTeilhards incomprehension of mans nature is further evidenced in his implicit denial of mans free will. By grounding mans spiritual life in an evolutionary process which by definition acts independently of mans free will and transcends the person, Teilhard clearly denies the decisive role of human freedom. Freedom of will is obviously one of the most significant and deepest marks of a person. Thus, once again, he overlooks the radical difference between man as person and a highly developed animal.

The role of freedom of will emerges decisively in mans capacity to bear moral values and disvalues. This highest characteristic of man presupposes free will and responsibility. But Teilhard blithely reduces the antithesis between good and evil to mere stages of evolution, to mere degrees of perfection surely a classic case of philosophical impotence. Moreover, he ignores the critical importance of the moral question, which is strikingly expressed in Socrates immortal dictum: It is better for man to suffer injustice than to commit it. In Teilhard, the entire drama of mans existence, the fight between good and evil in his soul, is ignored or, rather, overshadowed by the evolutionary growth toward the Omega.

Teilhardism and Christianity are incompatibleTeilhards thought is thus hopelessly at odds with Christianity. Christian revelation presupposes certain basic natural facts, such as the existence of objective truth, the spiritual reality of an individual person, the radical difference between spirit and matter, the difference between body and soul, the unalterable objectivity of moral good and evil, freedom of the will, the immortality of the soul, and, of course, the existence of a personal God. Teilhards approach to all of these questions reveals an unbridgeable chasm between his theology fiction and Christian revelation.

Teilhard adapts religion to modern manThis conclusion inescapably follows from Teilhards oftrepeated arguments for a new interpretation of Christianity. Time and again he argues that we can no longer expect modern man, living in an industrialized world and in the scientific age, to accept Christian doctrine as it has been taught for the last two thousandyears. Teilhards new interpretation of Christianity is fashioned by asking, What fits into our modern world? This approach combines historical relativism and pragmatism with a radical blindness to the very essence of religion.

We have considered the myth of modern man throughout this book. It suffices here to insist that man always remains essentially the same with regard to his moral dangers, his moral obligations, his need of redemption, and the true sources of his happiness. We have also examined the catastrophic error of historical relativism, which confuses the socio-historical aliveness of an idea with its validity and truth. Now, if it is sheer nonsense to claim that a basic natural truth can be true in the Middle Ages but is no longer so in our time, the absurdity is even greater when the subject is religion.

With a religion the only question that can matter is whether or not it is true. The question of whether or not it fits into the mentality of an epoch cannot play any role in the acceptance or the rejection of a religion without betraying the very essence of religion. Even the earnest atheist recognizes this. He will not say that today we can no longer believe in God; he will say that God is and always was a mere illusion. From the position that a religion must be adapted to the spirit of an epoch there is but a short step to the absurd drivel (which we associate with Bertrand Russell or the Nazi ideologist Bergmann) about having to invent a new religion.

In 1952 letterTeilhard wrote: As I love to say, the synthesis of the Christian God (of the above) and the Marxist God (of the forward) Behold! that is the only God whom henceforth we can adore in spirit and in truth. In these remarks the abyss separating Teilhard from Christianity is manifest in every word. To speak of a Marxist God is very surprising to say the least, and would never have been accepted by Marx. But the idea of a synthesis of the Christian God with an alleged Marxist God, as well as the simultaneous application of the term God to Christianity and to Marxism, demonstrates the absolute incompatibility of Teilhards thought with the doctrine of the Church. Note, moreover, the words henceforth and can. They are the key to Teilhards thinking and expose unmistakably his historical relativism.

Teilhards Christ is not the Christ of the GospelsIn Le paysan de la Garonne,Jacques Maritain remarks that Teilhard is most anxious to preserve Christ. But, adds Maritain, What a Christ! It is here, indeed, that we find the most radical difference between the doctrine of the Church and Teilhard de Chardins theology fiction. Teilhards Christ is no longer Jesus, the God-man, the epiphany of God, the Redeemer. Instead, He is the initiator of a purely natural evolutionary process and, simultaneously, its end the Christ-Omega. An unprejudiced mind cannot but ask: Why should this cosmic force be called Christ?

It would be utter naivet to be misled by the mere fact that Teilhard labels this alleged cosmogenic force Christ or by his desperate effort to wrap this pantheism in traditional Catholic terms. In his basic conception of the world, which does not provide for original sin in the sense the Church gives to this term, there is no place for the Jesus Christ of the Gospels; for if there is no original sin, then the redemption of man through Christ loses its inner meaning.

In Christian revelation, the stress is laid on the sanctification and salvation of every individual person, leading to the beatific vision and, simultaneously, to the communion of saints. In Teilhards theology, the stress is laid on the progress of the earth, the evolution leading to Christ-Omega. There is no place for salvation through Christs death on the Cross since mans destiny is part of pancosmic evolution.

Teilhard redefines basic Christian doctrineTeilhards conception of man and his implicit denial of free will, his tacit amoralism and his totalitarian collectivism cut him off from Christian revelation and this notwithstanding his efforts to reconcile his views with the Churchs teaching. He writes: Yes, the moral and social development of humanity is indeed the authentic and natural consequence of organic evolution. For such a man, original sin, redemption, and sanctification can no longer have any real meaning. Yet Teilhard does not seem quite aware of this incompatibility:

Sometimes I am a bit afraid, when I think of the transposition to which I must submit my mind concerning the vulgar notions of creation, inspiration, miracle, original sin, resurrection, etc., in order to be able to accept them.

That Teilhard applies the term vulgar, even if not in the pejorative sense, to the basic elements of Christian revelation and to their interpretation by the infallible magisterium of the Church should suffice to disclose the gnostic and esoteric character of his thought. He writes to Leontine Zanta:

As you already know, what dominates my interest and my preoccupations is the effort to establish in myself and to spread around a new religion (you may call it a better Christianity) in which the personal God ceases to be the great neolithic proprietor of former times, in order to become the soul of the world; our religious and cultural stage calls for this.

Not only, then, is the Christ of the Gospels replaced by a Christ-Omega, but also the God of the old and new covenants is replaced by a pantheistic God, the soul of the world and again on the strength of the unfortunate argument that God must be adapted to the man of our scientific age.

Teilhard banishes grace and the supernaturalNo wonder Teilhard reproaches St. Augustine for introducing the difference between the natural and the supernatural. In Teilhards pantheistic and naturalistic religion there is no place for the supernatural or the world of grace. For him, union with God consists principally in assimilation into an evolutionary process not in the supernatural life of grace which is infused in our souls through baptism.

Why does the one tend to exclude the other? If Teilhards notion of a participation in an evolutionary process were reality, it could only be a form of concursus divinus. Yet great and mysterious as is the concursus divinus that is, the support God gives at every moment of our natural existence, without which we would sink back into nothingness there is an abyss separating this natural metaphysical contact from grace.

Whether or not Teilhard explicitly denies the reality of grace does not matter much: His ecstasy in the presence of the natural contact with God in the alleged evolutionary process clearly discloses the subordinate role, if any, that he assigns to grace. Or, to put it otherwise: After Teilhard has replaced the personal God, Creator of heaven and earth, by God the soul of the world, after he has transformed the Christ of the Gospels into the Christ-Omega, after he has replaced redemption by a natural evolutionary process, what is left for grace? Maritain makes the point admirably. After granting that Teilhards spectacle of a divine movement of creation toward God does not lack grandeur, he observes:

But what does he tell us about the secret path that matters more for us than any spectacle? What can he tell us of the essential, the mystery of the Cross and the redeeming blood, as well as of the grace, the presence of which in one single soul has more worth than all of nature? And what of the love that makes us co-redeemers with Christ, what of those blissful tears through which His peace enters into our soul? The new gnosis is, like all other gnoses, a poor gnosis.

Teilhard inverts the hierarchy of valuesIn Teilhard we find a complete reversal of the Christian hierarchy of values. For him, cosmic processes rank higher than the individual soul. Research and work rank higher than moral values. Action, as such (that is, any association with the evolutionary process) is more important than contemplation, contrition for our sins, and penance. Progress in the conquest and totalization of the world through evolution ranks higher than holiness.

The vast distance between Teilhards world and the Christian world becomes dramatically clear when we compare Cardinal Newmans priorities with Teilhards. Newman says in Discourses to Mixed Congregations:

Saintly purity, saintly poverty, renouncement of the world, the favor of Heaven, the protection of the angels, the smile of the blessed Mary, the gifts of grace, the interposition of miracles, the intercommunion of merits, these are the high and precious things, the things to be looked up to, the things to be reverently spoken of.

But for Teilhard it is otherwise:

To adore once meant to prefer God to things by referring them to Him and by sacrificing them to Him. Adoring today becomes giving oneself body and soul to the creator associating ourselves with the creator in order to give the finishing touch to the world through work and research.

Teilhardism is incompatible with ChristianityTeilhards ambiguous use of classical Christian terms cannot conceal the basic meaning and direction of his thought. We find it impossible, therefore, to agree with Henri de Lubac that Teilhards theology fiction is a possible addition to Christian revelation. Rather, the evidence compels our argeement with Philippe de la Trinit that it is a deformation of Christianity, which is transformed into an evolutionism of the naturalistic, monistic, and pantheistic brand.

Teilhards theories are based in equivocationsIn his works, he glides from one notion to another, creating a cult of equivocation deeply linked with his monistic ideal. He systematically blurs all the decisive differences between things: The difference between hope and optimism; the difference between Christian love of neighbor (which is essentially directed to an individual person) and an infatuation with humanity (in which the individual is but a single unit of the species man). And Teilhard ignores the difference between eternity and the earthly future of humanity, both of which he fuses in the totalization of the Christ-Omega. To be sure, there is something touching in Teilhards desperate attempt to combine a traditional, emotional attraction to the Church with a theology radically opposed to the Churchs doctrine. But this apparent dedication to Christian terms makes him even more dangerous than Voltaire, Renan, or Nietzsche. His success in wrapping a pantheistic, gnostic monism in Christian garments is perhaps nowhere so evident as in The Divine Milieu.

Teilhard substitutes efficiency for sanctityTo many readers, the terms Teilhard uses sound so familiar that they can exclaim: How can you accuse him of not being an orthodox Christian? Does he not say in The Divine Milieu, What is it for a person to be a saint if not, in effect, to adhere to God with all his power? Certainly, this sounds absolutely orthodox. Nonetheless, his notion of adhering to God conceals a shift from the heroic virtues that characterize the saint to a collaboration in an evolutionary process. Attaining holiness in the moral sphere through obeying Gods commands and imitating Christ is tacitly replaced by an emphasis on developing all of mans faculties with this seems the appropriate word efficiency.This is clearly the case, although Teilhard veils the point in traditional terminology:

What is it to adhere to God fully if not to fulfill in the world organized around Christ the exact function, humble or important, to which nature and supernature destine it?

For Teilhard, then, the very meaning of the individual person lies in his fulfillment of a function in the whole in the evolutionary process. The individual is no longer called upon to glorify God through that imitation of Christ which is the one common goal for every true Christian.

Teilhards religion is worldlyThe transposition of the Cross into the Christ-Omega is also wrapped in apparently traditional terms:

Towards the summit, wrapped in mist to our human eyes and to which the Cross invites us, we rise by a path which is the way of universal Progress. The royal road of the Cross is no more nor less than the road of human endeavor supernaturally righted and prolonged.

Here, Christian symbols conceal a radical transformation of Christianity that takes us out of the Christian orbit altogether into a completely different spiritual climate. Sometimes, however, Teilhard does discard the Christian guise, and openly reveals his true stand. In 1934,in China, he wrote:

If in consequence of some inner revolution, I were to lose my faith in Christ, my faith in a personal God, my faith in the spirit, it seems to me that I would continue to have faith in the world. The world (the value, infallibility, and goodness of the world) this is definitely the first and only thing in which I believe.

Teilhards optimism wins converts to his viewsYet, clear as is the heterodoxy of Teilhards theology, some Catholics have elevated him to the rank of a Doctor, indeed, even a Father of the Church. For many unsophisticated Catholics, he has become a kind of prophet. That progressive Catholics relish Teilhard is, of course, not surprising. The new theologians and the new moralists welcome Teilhards views because they share his historical relativism his conviction that faith must be adapted to modern man. Indeed, for many progressive Catholics, Teilhards transposition of Christian revelation does not go far enough.

But it is astonishing, on the other hand, that many faithful Christians are carried away by Teilhard that they fail to grasp the complete incompatibility of his teaching with the doctrine of the Church. This popularity, however, becomes less surprising when viewed in the context of our contemporary intellectual and moral climate. In a period familiar with Sartres nausea and Heideggers conception of the essentially homeless man, Teilhards radiant and optimistic outlook on life comes for many as a welcome relief. His claim that we are constantly collaborating with God (whatever we do and however insignificant our role) and that everything is sacred understandably exhilarates many depressed souls. Another reason for such enthusiasm perhaps more important is that Teilhard is credited with having overcome a narrow asceticism and false supernaturalism.

Teilhard claims Catholicism disparages natureThere is no doubt that in the past many pious Catholics considered natural goods primarily as potential dangers that threatened to divert them from God. Natural goods even those endowed with high values (such as beauty in nature and in art, natural truth, and human love) were approached with suspicion. These Catholics overlooked the positive value that natural goods have for man. They frequently advocated the view that natural goods should only be used, that they should never evoke interest and appreciation for their own sake.

But in this view, they forgot the fundamental difference betwen natural goods and wordly goods (such as wealth, fame, or success). They forgot that natural goods, endowed as they are with intrinsic value, should not only be used, but appreciated for their own sake that it is worldly goods that should be used only.

It cannot be denied, moreover, that this unfortunate oversimplication often gained currency in seminaries and monasteries, notwithstanding the fact that it was never part of the doctrine of the Church.

This is why Teilhard is able with superficial plausibility to accuse the Catholic tradition of disparaging nature; and because he himself praises nature, it is understandable that for many his thought has seemed to be a just appreciation of natural goods.

Teilhard accuses Christianity of dehumanizing manAnd Teilhards related claim that traditional Christianity has created a gap between humanness and Christian perfection has also impressed many sincere Catholics. In The Divine Milieu he attributes to traditional Christianity the notion that men must put off their human garments in order to be Christians.

Again, it cannot be denied that Jansenism reflects this attitude, or that certain Jansenistic tendencies have crept anonymously into the minds of many Catholics. For instance, the arch-Christian doctrine that insists that we must die to ourselves in order to be transformed in Christ has often been given an unwarranted dehumanizing emphasis in certain religious institutions. The view has been encouraged in some monasteries and seminaries that nature must, in effect, be killed before the supernatural life of grace can blossom. In the official doctrine of the Church, however, such dehumanization is flatly rejected. As Pope Pius XII said:

Grace does not destroy nature; it does not even change it; it transfigures it. Indeed, dehumanization is so far from being required for Christian perfection that this may be said: Only the person who is transformed in Christ embodies the true fulfilment of his human personality.

Teilhards own theories dehumanize man Now, the point we wish to make is that Teilhard himself ignores the value of high natural goods and that, contrary to his claim, a real dehumanization takes place in his monistic pantheism. We have seen that his ideal of collective man and superhumanity necessarily implies a blindness to the real nature of the individual person and, derivatively, to all the plenitude of human life. But dehumanization also follows inevitably from his monism which minimizes the real drama of human life the fight between good and evil and reduces antithetical differences to mere gradations of a continuum.

Teilhard misses the supernatural aspect of natural goodsTeilhards failure to do justice to the true significance of natural goods is clear at the very moment he stresses their importance for eternity. Anyone can see that in dealing with natural goods he is primarily concerned with human activities, with accomplishments in work and research. He does not mention the higher natural goods and the message of God they contain, but only activities, performances, and accomplishments in the natural field. Teilhard applies to these actions the biblical words opera ejus sequuntur illos (His deeds follow them.), but he does so in contradistinction to the original meaning of opera, in which works are identical with morally significant deeds.

Still more important is the relation he sees between natural goods as such and God. Teilhard sees no message of Gods glory in the values contained in these great natural goods; nor does he find in them a personal experience of the voice of God. Instead, he posits an objective and unexperienced link between God and our activities that results from the concursus divinus. He says: God is, in a way, at the end of my pen, of my pickax, of my paintbrush, of my sewing needle, of my heart, of my thought.

The real object of Teilhards boundless enthusiasm, then, is not natural goods themselves, but an abstraction: the hypothesis of evolution. The nature that moves him is not the colorful, resounding beauty of which all the great poets sing. It is not the nature of Dante, Shakespeare, Keats, Goethe, Hlderlin, Leopardi. It is not the glory of a sunrise or sunset, or the star-studded sky the evidences of the natural world which Kant regarded, along with the moral law in mans breast, as the most sublime thing of all.

Teilhard levels the hierarchy of valuesThere is another way in which Teilhards thought necessarily results in a dehumanization of the cosmos and mans life. In his world view there is no place for an antithesis of values and disvalues. Yet every attempt to deny these ultimately important qualitative antagonisms always produces a kind of leveling, even a nihilism. The same thing happens when the hierarchy of values is overlooked, if only because man then responds to all levels of value with the same degree of enthusiasm.

The principle everything is sacred, which sounds so uplifting and exhilarating, is in reality fraught with a nihilistic denial of low and high, of good and evil. This fallacious and treacherous approach of praising everything actually results in denying everything. It reminds me of a remark made by a violinist I once met. I love music so much, he said, that I do not care what kind of music it is, as long as it is music. This statement, designed to suggest an extraordinary love for music, in fact revealed an absence of any true understanding of music and therefore of any capacity to love music. The same thing happens to man when qualitative distinctions are not made.

Let us now examine a little more closely the Christian view of nature, as compared with that of Teilhard. The revelation of God in nature has always been affirmed by the Christian tradition. The Sanctus says, pleni suns caeli et terra gloria tua. The Psalms are filled with praise of God as the Creator of the marvelous features of nature. St. Augustines exemplarism emphasizes time and again the message of God in the beauty of nature. The same idea is found in St. Francis love of nature.

Teilhards nature has no transcendent dimensionBut an appreciation of this natural revelation of God implies an upward direction toward God to use Teilhards terminology. Natural revelation speaks to us of God by suggesting the admirable wisdom that pervades creation and by providing a reflection, in the values of natural goods, of Gods infinite beauty and glory.

Our response to this revelation is either trembling reverence and wonder for the wisdom manifest in the finality of the cosmos and its mysterious plenitude, a looking up to God the Creator; or, at least, a deep awareness of the beauty of nature and of all the high natural goods. The latter also lifts up our vision. In either case, we are able to grasp the message from above; for all true values are pregnant with a promise of eternity. By lifting up our hearts we are able to understand that these authentic values speak of Gods infinite glory. All of this unmistakably implies an upward direction.

But Teilhards nature is not linked to an upward direction; it is not a message from above. Since, for Teilhard, God is behind nature, we are supposed to reach Him in the Christ-Omega by moving in a forward direction.

In Teilhards forward direction, where everything is involved in an evolutionary movement, natural goods lose their real value. The suggestion they contain of something transcendent is replaced by a merely immanent finality; they become links in the chain of evolution.

When evolution is viewed as the main and decisive reality when it is, in fact, deified then every natural good becomes, on the one hand, a mere transitory step in the forward movement of the evolutionary process, and, on the other hand, a mute thing, cut off by a leveling monism from its real, qualitative, inherent importance.

It follows that we can do justice to high natural goods only if we discern in them a reflection of an infinitely higher reality, a reality ontologically different from them. This message character of natural goods is admirably expressed in Cardinal Newmans remarks about music.

Can it be that those mysterious stirrings of the heart, and keen emotion, and strange yearnings after we know not what, and awful impressions from we know not whence, should be brought in us by what is unsubstantial, and comes and goes, and begins and ends in itself? It is not so; it cannot be. No; they have escaped from some higher sphere, they are the outpourings of eternal harmony in the medium of created sound; they are echoes of our home; they are the voice of angels, or the Magnificat of the Saints.

Teilhard overvalues industrializationAnother aspect of this problem deserves notice. The fact that Teilhard sees a higher stage of evolution in todays industrialized world reveals the lack of a real sense of the beauty of nature and of the qualitative message of God that it bears. Even the most enthusiastic progressive cannot deny that industrialization consistently ruins the beauty of nature.

Moreover, industrialization (though perhaps the process is inevitable) certainly cannot be considered a univocal progress, either from the point of view of increasing human happiness or of fostering higher culture and a real humanism. As Gabriel Marcel correctly shows in his Man Against Mass Society,industrialization implies the danger of a progressive dehumanization. The replacement of the organic in human life by the artificial from artificial insemination to social engineering is symptomatic of this dehumanization.

Yet Teilhard heedlessly jumps from an enthusiasm for nature to elation over the progress of technology and industrialization. We are thus again confronted with his blindness to antitheses, with his monistic leveling.

It is clear, nevertheless, that Teilhards first love is technological progress. The creation of God has to be completed by man not in St. Pauls sense, not by cooperating with nature, but by replacing nature with the machine.

Teilhard does not give the response due to matter and spiritThe poetic expressions that appear when Teilhard presents his vision of evolution and progress make clear that he never saw the authentic poetry of nature or of the classical forms of creation. Instead, he tries to project poetry into technology again revealing a monistic denial of the basic differences between the poetic and prosaic, the organic and the artificial, the sacred and the profane.

To be sure, it is always impressive when a man seems to have achieved a deep vision of being, and, instead of taking it for granted, gives it a full and ardent response. So with Teilhard. We are far from denying that he discovered in matter many aspects which had generally been overlooked. For example, the mysterious structure and the multiplicity of matter, which natural science is increasingly unfolding, call for genuine wonderment about this reality and respect for this creation of God.

But because Teilhard does not recognize the essential differences between spirit and matter and because his response to the spirit is not in proportion to his praise of matter (recall his prayer to matter) the advantage of this unusual insight into matter is, for him, quickly lost.

We must put this question of matter in its proper perspective. To overlook the marvels hidden in a creature that ranks lowest in the hierarchy of being is regrettable. But the oversight does not affect our knowledge of higher ranking creatures; it is therefore not a catastrophe.

On the other hand, to grasp the lower while overlooking the higher is to distort our entire world view; and that is a catastrophe. Moreover, to esteem a lower good as a higher is to misunderstand the hierarchical structure of being and thus to lose the basis for property evaluating either higher things or lower things.

Teilhards blindness to the real values in, for example, human love is shown in these unfortunate remarks about eros and agape:

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Critique of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin by Dr. Dietrich von ...

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December 18th, 2017 at 3:42 am

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin – The British Teilhard Association

Posted: November 25, 2017 at 5:44 pm


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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 - 1955) was a French Jesuit, a distinguished paleontologist and geologist, and especially well known as a religious writer, the author of The Human Phenomenon and The Divine Milieu, and other books. He was a fervent Christian mystic, a deeply caring pastor of souls, and a thinker who developed and projected forward the meaning of the Christian gospel in the light of modern science and evolution.

Teilhard (pronounced "Tay-yah") developed the concept of "the noosphere", the emergence of a layer of thought and spirit that surrounds the globe - as the biosphere is a layer of life surrounding the earth, and the atmosphere the layer of air over the earth. The noosphere embodies human influence and interaction, stimulating bonds of unity and "convergence" through increasing consciousness and "spiritualization" to an ultimate consummation in what he calls "Christ-Omega".

The spiritual heritage of the world religions Teilhard saw as of great importance in providing spiritual energy resources. We are responsible for our further evolution, for developing higher social and cultural values and unification of the human community, but this can only be achieved through spiritual rather than through material resources, the greatest of these being love - a theme that was central in his thought.

Teilhard attempted a meaningful explanation of the Christian faith in terms of bringing science, religion and mysticism together - reflecting on God and the world, and the figure of Christ in "three natures", human and divine, and what Teilhard tentatively called his "cosmic" nature - something he would leave to future theologians to develop. He reflected also on ecology, interfaith encounter, the greater unification of humanity, the place of the feminine and of love in creating greater unity, and the central importance of spirituality and mysticism in religious life - all ideas that need further development and discussion. Central, though, is his affirmation of the incarnation as a vision of the universal cosmic Christ, of significance for the whole world and for all human beings.

Not uncritical of religion - including Christianity - as being too past-orientated, he recognised that all religions in their insights can inspire human thought and action. He saw humanity as being in need "of a faith", a "faith in a state of expansion", qualitively, by fostering world-transforming love and justice and by promoting worship "in spirit and in truth". The religions have an important role in providing essential ideas for the further development of the human community.

(The above is drawn from Prof. Ursula King's essay on Teilhard de Chardin, "Philosophy of Religion")

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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - The British Teilhard Association

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November 25th, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Noosphere – Wikipedia

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The noosphere (; sometimes nosphere) is the sphere of human thought.[1][2] The word derives from the Greek (nous "mind") and (sphaira "sphere"), in lexical analogy to "atmosphere" and "biosphere".[3] It was introduced by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1922[4] in his Cosmogenesis.[5] Another possibility is the first use of the term by douard Le Roy (18701954), who together with Teilhard was listening to lectures of Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky at the Sorbonne. In 1936, Vernadsky accepted the idea of the noosphere in a letter to Boris Leonidovich Lichkov (though he states that the concept derives from Le Roy).[6] Citing the work of Teilhard's biographerRene CuenotSampson and Pitt stated that although the concept was jointly developed by all three men (Vernadsky, LeRoy, and Teilhard), Teilhard believed that he actually invented the word: "I believe, so far as one can ever tell, that the word 'noosphere' was my invention: but it was he [Le Roy] who launched it."[7]

In the theory of Vernadsky, the noosphere is the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth, after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life). Just as the emergence of life fundamentally transformed the geosphere, the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere. In contrast to the conceptions of the Gaia theorists, or the promoters of cyberspace, Vernadsky's noosphere emerges at the point where humankind, through the mastery of nuclear processes, begins to create resources through the transmutation of elements. It is also currently being researched as part of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project.[8]

Teilhard perceived a directionality in evolution along an axis of increasing Complexity/Consciousness. For Teilhard, the noosphere is the sphere of thought encircling the earth that has emerged through evolution as a consequence of this growth in complexity / consciousness. The noosphere is therefore as much part of nature as the barysphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. As a result, Teilhard sees the "social phenomenon [as] the culmination of and not the attenuation of the biological phenomenon."[9] These social phenomena are part of the noosphere and include, for example, legal, educational, religious, research, industrial and technological systems. In this sense, the noosphere emerges through and is constituted by the interaction of human minds. The noosphere thus grows in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. Teilhard argued the noosphere evolves towards ever greater personalisation, individuation and unification of its elements. He saw the Christian notion of love as being the principal driver of noogenesis. Evolution would culminate in the Omega Pointan apex of thought/consciousnesswhich he identified with the eschatological return of Christ.

One of the original aspects of the noosphere concept deals with evolution. Henri Bergson, with his L'volution cratrice (1907), was one of the first to propose evolution is "creative" and cannot necessarily be explained solely by Darwinian natural selection.[citation needed]L'volution cratrice is upheld, according to Bergson, by a constant vital force which animates life and fundamentally connects mind and body, an idea opposing the dualism of Ren Descartes. In 1923, C. Lloyd Morgan took this work further, elaborating on an "emergent evolution" which could explain increasing complexity (including the evolution of mind). Morgan found many of the most interesting changes in living things have been largely discontinuous with past evolution. Therefore, these living things did not necessarily evolve through a gradual process of natural selection. Rather, he posited, the process of evolution experiences jumps in complexity (such as the emergence of a self-reflective universe, or noosphere). Finally, the complexification of human cultures, particularly language, facilitated a quickening of evolution in which cultural evolution occurs more rapidly than biological evolution. Recent understanding of human ecosystems and of human impact on the biosphere have led to a link between the notion of sustainability with the "co-evolution"[10] and harmonization of cultural and biological evolution.

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November 22nd, 2017 at 10:41 am

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin | French philosopher and …

Posted: November 11, 2017 at 11:45 am


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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

French philosopher and paleontologist

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, (born May 1, 1881, Sarcenat, Francedied April 10, 1955, New York City, New York, U.S.), French philosopher and paleontologist known for his theory that man is evolving, mentally and socially, toward a final spiritual unity. Blending science and Christianity, he declared that the human epic resembles nothing so much as a way of the Cross. Various theories of his brought reservations and objections from within the Roman Catholic Church and from the Jesuit order, of which he was a member. In 1962 the Holy Office issued a monitum, or simple warning, against uncritical acceptance of his ideas. His spiritual dedication, however, was not questioned.

Son of a gentleman farmer with an interest in geology, Teilhard devoted himself to that subject, as well as to his prescribed studies, at the Jesuit College of Mongr, where he began boarding at the age of 10. When he was 18, he joined the Jesuit novitiate at Aix-en-Provence. At 24 he began a three-year professorship at the Jesuit college in Cairo.

Although ordained a priest in 1911, Teilhard chose to be a stretcher bearer rather than a chaplain in World War I; his courage on the battle lines earned him a military medal and the Legion of Honour. In 1923, after teaching at the Catholic Institute of Paris, he made the first of his paleontological and geologic missions to China, where he was involved in the discovery (1929) of Peking mans skull. Further travels in the 1930s took him to the Gobi (desert), Sinkiang, Kashmir, Java, and Burma (Myanmar). Teilhard enlarged the field of knowledge on Asias sedimentary deposits and stratigraphic correlations and on the dates of its fossils. He spent the years 193945 at Beijing in a state of near-captivity on account of World War II.

Most of Teilhards writings were scientific, being especially concerned with mammalian paleontology. His philosophical books were the product of long meditation. Teilhard wrote his two major works in this area, Le Milieu divin (1957; The Divine Milieu) and Le Phnomne humain (1955; The Phenomenon of Man), in the 1920s and 30s, but their publication was forbidden by the Jesuit order during his lifetime. Among his other writings are collections of philosophical essays, such as LApparition de lhomme (1956; The Appearance of Man), La Vision du pass (1957; The Vision of the Past), and Science et Christ (1965; Science and Christ).

Teilhard returned to France in 1946. Frustrated in his desire to teach at the Collge de France and publish philosophy (all his major works were published posthumously), he moved to the United States, spending the last years of his life at the Wenner-Gren Foundation, New York City, for which he made two paleontological and archaeological expeditions to South Africa.

Teilhards attempts to combine Christian thought with modern science and traditional philosophy aroused widespread interest and controversy when his writings were published in the 1950s. Teilhard aimed at a metaphysic of evolution, holding that it was a process converging toward a final unity that he called the Omega point. He attempted to show that what is of permanent value in traditional philosophical thought can be maintained and even integrated with a modern scientific outlook if one accepts that the tendencies of material things are directed, either wholly or in part, beyond the things themselves toward the production of higher, more complex, more perfectly unified beings. Teilhard regarded basic trends in mattergravitation, inertia, electromagnetism, and so onas being ordered toward the production of progressively more complex types of aggregate. This process led to the increasingly complex entities of atoms, molecules, cells, and organisms, until finally the human body evolved, with a nervous system sufficiently sophisticated to permit rational reflection, self-awareness, and moral responsibility. While some evolutionists regard man simply as a prolongation of Pliocene fauna (the Pliocene Epoch occurred about 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago)an animal more successful than the rat or the elephantTeilhard argued that the appearance of man brought an added dimension into the world. This he defined as the birth of reflection: animals know, but man knows that he knows; he has knowledge to the square.

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Another great advance in Teilhards scheme of evolution is the socialization of mankind. This is not the triumph of herd instinct but a cultural convergence of humanity toward a single society. Evolution has gone about as far as it can to perfect human beings physically: its next step will be social. Teilhard saw such evolution already in progress; through technology, urbanization, and modern communications, more and more links are being established between different peoples politics, economics, and habits of thought in an apparently geometric progression.

Theologically, Teilhard saw the process of organic evolution as a sequence of progressive syntheses whose ultimate convergence point is that of God. When humanity and the material world have reached their final state of evolution and exhausted all potential for further development, a new convergence between them and the supernatural order would be initiated by the Parousia, or Second Coming of Christ. Teilhard asserted that the work of Christ is primarily to lead the material world to this cosmic redemption, while the conquest of evil is only secondary to his purpose. Evil is represented by Teilhard merely as growing pains within the cosmic process: the disorder that is implied by order in process of realization.

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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin | French philosopher and ...

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November 11th, 2017 at 11:45 am


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