Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard de Chardin

French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Visionary and Jesuit Priest

Author Quotes

The outcome of the world, the gates of the future, the entry into the super-human--these are not thrown open to a few of the privileged nor to one chosen people to the exclusion of all others. They will open only to an advance of all together, in a direction in which all together can join and find completion in a spiritual renovation of the earth.

Thus the whole phenomenon of consciousness, when submitted to scientific investigation, gives the impression of dissolving and melting away, like an illusion, in the uniform flood of a universal determinism: as well might one try to grasp a rainbow.

We may, perhaps, imagine that the creation was finished long ago. But that would be quite wrong. It continues still more magnificently, and at the highest levels of the world.

You who are divine energy and living irresistible might: since of the two of us it is you who are infinitely the stronger, it is you who must set me ablaze and transmute me into fire that we may be welded together and made one. Grant me, then, something even more precious than that grace for which all your faithful followers pray: to receive communion as I die is not sufficient: teach me to make a communion of death itself.

The physical reasons are structural: it is the nature of union to consolidate - so long as the unification continues. And the psychological reasons are based on logical necessity: if the biological unification of the World could be conceived as being bound sooner or later to come to a halt, the anticipation of such an ending (see below) would be sufficient to produce an us an abhorrence of super-living and so kill our evolutive effort of co-reflection. And probably (in so far as to create is to unify) every possible Universe.

To get out of bed in the morning is, inchoately and indirectly, to affirm the existence of God.

We must add one stitch, no matter how small it be, to the magnificent tapestry of life.

Your creatures can come into being only, like shoot from stem, as part of an endlessly renewed process of evolution.

The presence of the Incarnate Word penetrates like a universal element. It shines at the heart of all things.

To love is to approach each other center to center.

We must admit that if the neo-humanisms of the twentieth century de-humanize us under their uninspired skies, yet on the other hand the still-living forms of theism - starting with the Christian ? tend to under-humanize us in the rarified atmosphere of too lofty skies. These religions are still systematically closed to the wide horizons and great winds of Cosmogenesis, and can no longer truly be said to feel with the Earth - an Earth whose internal frictions they can still lubricate like a soothing oil, but whose driving energies they cannot animate as they should.

The quintessential good and beauty in life is what each has to offer to others valuing the gesture ourselves into confluence with the Word of God.

To the common sense of the 'man in the street' and even to a certain philosophy of the world to which nothing is possible save what has always been, perspectives such as these will seem highly improbable. But to a mind become familiar with the fantastic dimensions of the universe they will, on the contrary, seem quite natural, because they are simply proportionate with the astronomical immensities.

We must enlarge our approach to encompass the formation taking place before our eyes ? of a particular biological entity such as has never existed on earth-the growth, outside and above the biosphere, of an added planetary layer, an envelope of thinking substance, to which, for the sake of convenience and symmetry, I have given the name of the Noosphere.

The scientist cannot prove directly that the hypothesis of a single Adam should be rejected. But he can show indirectly that the hypothesis has been made scientifically untenable by everything we believe we presently know about the biological laws of "speciation" (or "genesis of species")... This leaves us with two options. Either the essence of the scientific laws of speciation will change (which is hardly likely) or (which seems fully in accord with recent advances in exegesis) theologians will come to see one way or another that, in a universe as organically structured as ours where today we are in process of awakening a human solidarity far closer than the one they seek "in the bosom of Mother Eve," is readily found in the extraordinary internal liaison of a world in a state of cosmo- and anthropogenesis around us.

To write the true natural history of the world, we should need to be able to follow it from within. It would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts. Right at its base, the living world is constituted by conscious clothes in flesh and bone.

We must try to penetrate our most secret self, and examine our being from all sides. Let us try, patiently, to perceive the ocean of forces to which we are subjected and in which our growth is, as it were, steeped... I took the lamp and, leaving the zone of everyday occupations and relationships where everything seemed clear, I went down into my inmost self, to the deep abyss whence I feel dimly that my power of action emanates. But as I moved further and further away from conventional certainties by which social life is superficially illuminated, I became aware that I was losing contact with myself. At each step of the descent a new person was disclosed within me of whose name I was no longer sure, and who no longer obeyed me. And when I had to stop my exploration because the path faded from beneath my steps, I found a bottomless abyss at my feet... At that moment... I felt the distress characteristic of a particle adrift in the universe, the distress which makes human wills founder daily under the crushing number of living things and stars. And if someone saved me, it was hearing the voice of the Gospel... speaking to me, from the depth of the night: It is I, be not afraid.

The stars are laboratories in which the evolution of matter proceeds in the direction of large molecules.

Today, of course, we all inevitably think and act as if the World were in a state of continual formation and transformation. This is far from meaning, however, that this general frame of mind has yet reached its final and complete expression in our thought. At a first stage, and that the vaguest, to evolve can mean to change, irrespective of the nature and modalities of the changing: they may be irregular or methodical, continuous or periodical, additive or dispersive and so on. At this elementary level, we may say that so far as Physics and Biology are concerned there is no longer any uncertainty. The movement that animates the Stuff of the Universe in and around us, is no mere agitation and no mere drifting into the homogeneous.

We see not only thought as participating in evolution as an anomaly or as an epiphenomenon; but evolution as so reducible to and identifiable with a progress towards thought that the movement of our souls expresses and measures the very stages of progress of evolution itself. Man discovers that he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself.

The truth is, indeed, that love is the threshold of another universe. Beyond the vibrations with which we are familiar, the rainbow-like range of its colors is still in full growth. But, for all the fascination that the lower shades have for us, it is only towards the ultra that the creation of light advances. It is in these invisible and, we might almost say, immaterial zones that we can look for true initiation into unity. The depths we attribute to matter are no more than the reflection of the peaks of spirit.

Unquestionably, Jesus is still he who bears the sins of the world; in its own mysterious way suffering makes reparation for moral evil? The full and ultimate meaning of redemption is no longer seen to be reparation alone, but rather further passage and conquest.

We're not human beings having a spiritual experience; we're spiritual beings having a human experience.

The two-fold crisis whose onset began in earnest as early as the Neolithic age and which rose to a climax in the modern world, derives in the first place from mass-formation (we might call it a 'planetization') of mankind. Peoples and civilizations reached such a degree either of frontier contact or economic interdependence or psychic communion that they could no longer develop save by interpenetration of one another. But it also arises out of the fact that, under the combined influence of machinery and the super-heating of thought, we are witnessing a formidable upsurge of unused powers. Modern man no longer knows what to do with the time and the potentialities he has unleashed. We groan under the burden of this wealth. We are haunted by the fear of 'unemployment'. Sometimes we are tempted to trample this super-abundance back into the matter from from which it sprang without stopping to think how impossible and monstrous such an act against nature would be.

Until man, it is true enough that living branches develop primarily by stifling and eliminating one another - the law, in fact, of the jungle. By contrast, starting with man and within the human group, this is no longer true: the play of mutual destruction ceases to operate. Selection, no doubt, is still at work and can still be recognized, but it no longer holds the most important place; and the reason for this is that the appearance of thought has added a new dimension to the Universe. Through spirit's irresistible affinity for its own kind, it has created a sort of convergent milieu within which the branches, as they are formed, have to come closer together in order to be fully living. In this new order of things, the whole balance is changed, though with no diminution of the system's energy. It is simply that force, in its earlier form, expresses only man's power over the extra- or the infra-human. It has been transformed, at the heart of mankind, among men, into its spiritual equivalent - an energy not of repulsion, but of attraction.

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Teilhard de Chardin
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French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Visionary and Jesuit Priest