We noted elsewhere that there are discussions in Rappahannock related to the Pope’s encyclical on the environment (here and here). Those who are following this may find it interesting to learn that one of the seminal influences on the encyclical was a Jesuit scientist who was almost excommunicated for his views and whose work was originally censored by the Catholic Church.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French Jesuit priest and scientist (paleontology and geology) who died in 1955. A fairly remarkable fellow. He was a WWI veteran who was awarded the Legion of Honour for his work as a stretcher bearer. He was part of the team that discovered the Peking Man. Almost all of his influential essays and books were issued after his death, though written up to 30 years earlier, because the Jesuits forbid him from publishing them because of their controversial nature.
Chardin wrote two comprehensive works, The Phenomenon of Man and The Divine Milieu. They are fairly complicated philosophical works, heavily influenced by Chardin’s scientific training and also by his deep religious beliefs. To describe Chardin’s thesis is difficult, but I’ll give it a try:
- We are privileged to be able to learn more about God through scientific advancement. Church doctrine should not be at odds with scientific learning. The more we know about God, the more we can become like him.
- Nature (in total) is evolving and “becoming”, and it is moving to a unified point of consciousness.
- Education of people worldwide is important. It encourages evolution and progress in order to become more like God. “No evolutionary future awaits anyone except in association with everyone else.”
- A person can live consciously and constantly in a form of spirituality he called “the divine milieu.”
For the reader who would like to learn more, I recommend the book by Louis Savary. He explains, in clear language, the interrelationships and meaning of Chardin’s essays.
Considering that most of Chardin’s thoughts were first put in writing more than 80 years ago, and that they are considered at the forefront of religious thinking today, is amazing. He is worth examination by any serious student of religion or philosophy. Mr. Savary’s book is a good place to start.
Book Title: Teilhard de Chardin The Divine Milieu Explained Author: Louis M. Savary
by Jim Blubaugh, Washington VA