Renaissance Man

teilhard-de-chardin.jpg

I went through a Teilhard de Chardin phase a few years ago, and just stumbled on some biographical information about this modern polymath that I thought may interest readers here:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a visionary French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher, who spent the bulk of his life trying to integrate religious experience with natural science, most specifically Christian theology with theories of evolution. In this endeavor he became absolutely enthralled with the possibilities for humankind, which he saw as heading for an exciting convergence of systems, an “Omega point” where the coalescence of consciousness will lead us to a new state of peace and planetary unity. Long before ecology was fashionable, he saw this unity he saw as being based intrinsically upon the spirit of the Earth:

“The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth.”

Teilhard de Chardin passed away a full ten years before James Lovelock ever proposed the “Gaia Hypothesis” which suggests that the Earth is actually a living being, a collosal biological super-system. Yet Chardin’s writings clearly reflect the sense of the Earth as having its own autonomous personality, and being the prime center and director of our future — a strange attractor, if you will — that will be the guiding force for the synthesis of humankind.

“The phrase ‘Sense of the Earth’ should be understood to mean the passionate concern for our common destiny which draws the thinking part of life ever further onward. The only truly natural and real human unity is the spirit of the Earth. . . .The sense of Earth is the irresistable pressure which will come at the right moment to unite them (humankind) in a common passion.

“We have reached a crossroads in human evolution where the only road which leads forward is towards a common passion. . . To continue to place our hopes in a social order achieved by external violence would simply amount to our giving up all hope of carrying the Spirit of the Earth to its limits.”

To this end, he suggested that the Earth in its evolutionary unfolding, was growing a new organ of consciousness, called the noosphere. The noosphere is analogous on a planetary level to the evolution of the cerebral cortex in humans. The noosphere is a “planetary thinking network” — an interlinked system of consciousness and information, a global net of self-awareness, instantaneous feedback, and planetary communication. At the time of his writing, computers of any merit were the size of a city block, and the Internet was, if anything, an element of speculative science fiction. Yet this evolution is indeed coming to pass, and with a rapidity, that in Gaia time, is but a mere passage of seconds. In these precious moments, the planet is developing her cerebral cortex, and emerging into self-conscious awakening. We are indeed approaching the Omega point that Teilhard de Chardin was so excited about.

This convergence however, though it was predicted to occur through a global information network, was not a convergence of merely minds or bodies — but of heart, a point that he made most fervently.

“It is not our heads or our bodies which we must bring together, but our hearts. . . . Humanity. . . is building its composite brain beneath our eyes. May it not be that tomorrow, through the logical and biological deepening of the movement drawing it together, it will find its heart, without which the ultimate wholeness of its power of unification can never be achieved?”

One may wonder where all these spiritual giants have gone, and why have they seemingly abandoned us?

Truth is, the Pierre Teilhard de Chardins of the world left a legacy that we may either follow or ignore. The choice is up to us. We can’t keep expecting them to magically appear in order to hold our hands during difficult times.

Besides, if we look around, we can see that the giants have not completely died off.

If we look inside, we can see that such a thing is impossible.

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7 thoughts on “Renaissance Man

  1. Hawk Sr. says:

    During my theological studies in the 60’s and 70’s, I occasionally found moments of ecstacy reading Teilhard de Chardin. But I was functioning in an environment of rather stiff conservatism in which I seldom felt the freedom to share those moments. Pity!

    But, like you say, the legacy is here with us now. The power of unification must become a river that inexorably carries us to a sense of oneness, of belonging, of universal worth and status. An illusion? Okay. Dream and live!

  2. adreampuppet says:

    It’s a miracle that you’ve emerged as whole and contented as you have, Hawk. That you were exposed to the likes of Teilhard de Chardin foreshadowed the transformations you’d already begun at that time — changes that moved you out of the Dark Ages of fundamentalism into a living spirituality that brings bliss, joy and ecstasy to your days. I’m glad to have been around to see it — and to benefit from the model you’ve provided.

  3. edward says:

    wow, i am going to have to pick up some of his books.

  4. seekingfor says:

    Mike,

    You keep recommending excellent and intriguing material.

    I do appreciate how you are often pointing in a direction that I am looking for.

    How will I find the time to catch up on it all?

  5. adreampuppet says:

    Gregor,

    Sorry to be so uncommunicative the past couple days — we’re having some domestic issues of the housemate type, as well as some spiritual breakthroughs that have required total focus at times. In other words, blogging has had to wait — which is something I think you engaged in this week, so I know you understand.

    I know how you feel about having so much to read — that’s been me all my life, and I just keep acquiring more titles. I learned it from Hawk, Sr.!

  6. seekingfor says:

    Mike,

    No worry. It was not a problem at all. However, its great to hear from you again. You are right I was a bit busy myself, spent some time on the road.

  7. Allen says:

    It is hard to reconcile TDC philosophy with his scientific pursuits. His involvement with Piltdown man is disturbing.

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