died this day 10th April 1955 -
"To see as Teilhard saw is a challenge, but increasingly his vision is becoming
available to us. I fully expect that in the next millennium Teilhard will be
generally regarded as the fourth major thinker of the Western Christian
tradition. These would be St. Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Teilhard."
Teilhard's primary book, The Phenomenon of Man,
set forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos. He abandoned a literal interpretation of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of a metaphorical interpretation. This displeased certain officials in the Catholic Curia, who thought that it undermined the doctrine of original sin developed by Saint Augustine. Teilhard's position was opposed by his church superiors, and his work was denied publication during his lifetime by the Roman Holy Office.
The Phenomenon of Man states that the Omega Point
must possess the following five attributes.
- Already existing.
- Only thus can the rise of the universe towards higher stages of consciousness be explained.
- Personal – an intellectual being and not an abstract idea.
- The increasing complexity of matter has not only led to higher forms of consciousness, but accordingly to more personalization, of which human beings are the highest attained form in the known universe. They are completely individualized, free centers of operation. It is in this way that man is saidunites creation, and the more it unites, the increasing complexity of the universe aids in higher levels of consciousness. Thus, as God creates, the universe evolves towards higher forms of complexity, consciousness, and finally with humans, personality, because God, who is drawing the universe towards Him, is a person.
to be made in the image of God, who is the highest form of personality. Teilhard expressly stated that in the Omega Point, when the universe becomes One, human persons will not be suppressed, but super-personalized. Personality will be infinitely enriched. This is because the Omega Point
- The Omega Point cannot be the result of the universe's final complex stage of itself's own consciousness. Instead, the Omega Point must exist even before the universe's evolution, because the Omega Point is responsible for the rise of the universe towards more complexity, consciousness and personality. Which essentially means that the Omega Point is outside the framework in which the universe rises, because it is by the attraction of the Omega Point that the universe evolves towards Him.
- That is, free from the limitations of space (nonlocality) and time (atemporality).
- That is attainable and imperative; it must happen and cannot be undone.
Like Creative Evolution before it Teilhard’s masterwork, The Human Phenomenon,
based its evolutionary speculations on widely accepted scientific knowledge, but it took an unusual turn by remaining strictly rooted in the theological wisdom afforded him by his deep Christian faith. Although his theories regarding the future cosmic evolution of consciousness didn’t win him many converts in the Catholic Church (which officially condemned his writings and prohibited him from publishing anything while alive), he has left a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of numerous evolutionary thinkers who have followed in his wake. In particular, many theorists have found immense value in Teilhard’s focus on the back-and-forth interplay of individuality and collectivity over the course of cosmic history. Teilhard envisioned the possibility that human beings, like molecules and bacteria before them, may one day come together in a higher integration, or “mega-synthesis,” of spiritual unification and collective consciousness—uniting in a kind of “thinking envelope” surrounding the earth. He dubbed this the “noosphere,” a psychic field of shared intelligence that was already beginning to slowly encompass the planet, transcending and including the geosphere (of insentient matter) and the biosphere (of life). And Teilhard foresaw the fulfillment of all evolution, both cosmic and human, in an ultimate convergence of matter and consciousness that he called the “Omega Point”—a concept that has also inspired many futurists and science fiction writers over the last fifty years.
Shortly before his death in 1955, Teilhard made the following reflection on his life and work, proving that despite the intense ideological adversity he encountered, his faith in the ever-ascending evolutionary power of divinity remained unshaken to the end:
When all is said and done, I can see this: I managed to climb to the point where the Universe became apparent to me as a great rising surge, in which all the work that goes into serious inquiry, all the will to create, all the acceptance of suffering, converge ahead into a single dazzling spearhead—now, at the end of my life, I can stand on the peak I have scaled and continue to look ever more closely into the future, and there, with ever more assurance,
see the ascent of God.
You are not big enough to accuse the whole age effectively, but let us say you are in dissent. You are in no position to issue commands, but you can speak words of hope...Be human in this most inhuman of ages;
- Thomas Merton
Access: Public Print views (400)