Pierre Teilhard De Chardin was a Jesuit priest who also became a noted geologist. Through his geological studies as well as his spiritual orientation Teilhard developed a God-centered theory of evolution which he articulated through many writings, most notably Phenomenon of Man.
Teilhard was also a mystic who expressed his deep belief that God permeated all of creation and in fact was a continuing creative force in all of life. Teilhard believed that evolution indeed was real, that God was the driving Force within evolution, and that all of life was evolving toward a point of completion and unity with God — what Teilhard called the omega point. Teilhard’s acceptance of evolution as a scientific reality got him into trouble. The Vatican in essence made an effort to silence him.
Teilhard died some years before his Church accepted his works, thanks in part to the overall renewal initiated by St. John XXIII. Teilhard’s theories received much attention during the 60s but are much less known nowadays. That may change.
There is increasing interest in the notion of “Cosmic Christ”, articulated in part by Matthew Fox (another rebel!). This notion bears striking similarity to Teilhard’s theories of God as the driving force in all of creation, moving all of creation forward toward a Unifying Point.
Teilhard, like Carl Jung, is not easy to read and I certainly do not believe I have a full understanding of his theories. But he has enriched my life by helping me to see God throughout all of creation and, more importantly, to see the invitation for all of us to participate in God’s continuing creation. As he wrote in the more accessible Divine Milieu, “We may imagine that creation was completed long ago but that would be quite wrong because it continues still and at the highest levels of the world.” (p.62)
I’ve come to believe that this notion of creation continuing is an important spiritual and ethical imperative. It calls us first of all to be respectful of all of creation. It also calls us to nurture and develop our own creative potential. Just as Freud postulated a will to pleasure and Frankl a will to meaning, I’ve come to believe that we are all endowed with a will to create. Not all of us are gifted painters or dancers or musicians but we are all called to be creative in our approach to life and living. As I’ve written elsewhere, it is my firm belief that, at the very least, we all have a Poet Within, waiting to be activated.
I’ve come to see that my own journey of faith needs to embrace science, not reject it. Teilhard has provided one of the lamps unto my feet along the way.
Reflection: 1. How have you been nurturing your creativity?
2. Does science enrich your spiritual journey in any way?
Further Reading: As noted above, reading Teilhard is not easy. I would recommend Ursula Kings’ collection of his writings that appears in the Orbis Modern Spiritual Masters Series. I’d also recommend my personal favorite The Divine Milieu. Finally, I highly recommend William Ockham’s excellent blog at <www.teilhard.com>