Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Teilhard de Chardin

French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Visionary and Jesuit Priest

Author Quotes

There is the evidence contained in the superiority of my vision compared with what I had been taught - even though there is at the same time an identity with it. Because of their very function, neither the God who draws us to himself, nor the world whose evolution we share, can afford to be, the former less perfect a Being, the latter less powerful a stimulant, than our concepts and needs demand. In either case ? unless we are going to accept a positive discord in the very stuff of things ? it is in the direction of the fullest that the truth lies. Now, as we saw earlier, it is in the ?Christic? that, in the century in which we are living, the Divine reaches the summit of adorability, and the evolutionary the extreme limit of activation. This can mean only one thing, that it is in that direction that the human must inevitably incline; there, sooner or later, to find unity.

We are aware of being contained in a World whose two halves (the physical and the mystical) are slowly closing in with planetary force upon a Mankind that is born of their approach to one another. And then we realize that we are moving into a hyper-milieu of Life, produced by the coincidence of an emergent Christ and a convergent Universe.

What would become of our souls if they lacked the bread of earthly reality to nourish them, the wine of created beauty to intoxicate them, the discipline of human struggle to make them strong? What puny powers and bloodless hearts Your creatures would bring to You were they to cut themselves off prematurely from the providential setting in which You placed them!

There is the evidence provided by the contagious power of a form of Charity in which it becomes possible to love God ?not only with all one?s body and all one?s soul? but with the whole Universe-in-evolution. It would be impossible for me, as I admitted earlier, to quote a single ?authority? (religious or lay) in which I could claim fully to recognize myself, whether in relation to my ?cosmic? or my ?Christic? vision. On the other hand, I cannot fail to feel around me ? if only from the way in which ?my ideas? are becoming more widely accepted ? the pulsation of countless people who are all ? ranging from the border-line of unbelief to the depths of the cloister - thinking and feeling, or at least beginning vaguely to feel, just as I do. It is indeed heartening to know that I am not a lone discoverer, but that I am, quite simply, responding to the vibration that (given a particular condition of Christianity and of the world) is necessarily active in all the souls around me. It is, in consequence, exhilarating to feel that I am not just myself or all alone, that my name is legion, that I am ?all men?, and that this is true even in as much as the single-mindedness of tomorrow can be recognized as throbbing into life in the depths of my being.

We are faced with a harmonized collectivity of consciousnesses equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness. The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by myriads of grains of thought, but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope so as to form, functionally, no more than a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale, the plurality of individual reflections grouping themselves together and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection.

When I say ?neither among the religions of the Ahead?, I speak advisedly. It may be because they are nervous of admitting the reality of a biological convergence of Mankind upon itself and the consequences that this entails; or it may be because they persist in seeing in the evolutive rise of the Psychic no more than an ephemeral epi-phenomenon: whatever the reason, all the existing forms of Humanism (even the least materialist) are demonstrably equally incapable of giving Man the stimulus of confidence that is indispensable to his advance towards a supremely desirable and ?what is even more important ? indestructible goal, lying at the term of his activities. Whether the reason be the depersonalizing socializing of individuals or the unexorcized threat of a total death, there is not a single one of the ?religions? as yet produced by Science in which the Universe does not become hopelessly icy, hopelessly closed (and that ultimately means uninhabitable) ahead, in its ?polar? zones. There you have the truth!

This fundamental discovery that all bodies owe their origin to arrangements of single initial corpuscular type is the beacon that lights the history of the universe to our eyes. In its own way, matter obeyed from the beginning that great law of biology to which we shall have to recur time and time again, the law of ?complexification.?

We have the beginning of a new age. The earth 'gets a new skin.' Better still, it finds its soul.

When the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the illness that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me; when the painful moment comes to which I suddenly awaken to the fact that I am growing ill or growing old; and above all at the last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all these dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you (provided only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself.

This is the general form in which, by analogy and in symmetry with the past, we are led scientifically to envisage the future of mankind, without whom no terrestrial issue is open to the terrestrial demands of our action.

We have used the term mega-synthesis. Within a better understanding of the collective, it seems to me that the world should be understood without attenuation or metaphors when applied to the sum of all human beings. The universe is necessarily homogeneous in its nature and dimensions. Would it still be so if the loops of its spiral lost one jot or tittle of their degree of reality or consistence in ascending ever higher? The still unnamed Thing which the gradual combination of individuals, peoples and races will bring into existence, must needs be supra-physical, not infra-physical, if it is to be coherent with the rest. Deeper than the common act in which it expresses itself, more important than the common power of action from which it emerges by a sort of self-birth, lies reality itself, constituted by the living reunion of reflective particles.

When we consider the increasing compression of elements at the heart of a free energy which is also relentlessly increasing, how can we fail to see in this two-fold phenomenon the two perennial symptoms of a leap forward of the 'radial'--that is to say, of a new step in the genisis of mind?

Throughout my life, by means of my life, the world has little by little caught fire in my sight, until a flame all around me, it has become almost luminous from within. Such has been my experience in contact with the Earth. The diaphany of the divine at the heart of the universe on fire... a fire capable of penetrating everywhere, and gradually spreading everywhere.

We imagine the Divine as distant and inaccessible, whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.

Whether we admit it or not, we have today no choice: we have all become ?evolutionists?. Through the narrow Darwinian crack opened a century ago in zoology, the feeling of Duration has now so completely and permanently colored the whole of our experience that we have to make an effort, for example, to get back to those not so distant days (about 1900) when the formation of species was still a matter for bitter argument, and we had not the vaguest suspicion that fifty years later the whole economy of mankind would be based on the birth of the Atom.

Thus a general human life is irresistibly being constituted around our own private lives. This is not a matter of a vague symbiosis' which would simply ensure, through mutual assistance, the continued existence, as individuals, of the members of the community, or even their further development. Certain 'effects' are already emerging from the association that has been formed, and these are specifically proper to collectivity. We take no notice of such effects, and yet we can see countless examples of them on all sides. Take simply the case of an aircraft, or a radio, or a Leica: and consider the physics, the chemistry and mechanics such things presuppose for their existence - the n-Lines, laboratories, factories, arms, brains, hands. By virtue of its construction (and this is undeniable) each one of these devices is, and cannot but be, only the convergent result of countless disciplines and techniques whose bewildering complexity could be mastered by no single worker in isolation. In their conception and manufacture, these familiar objects presuppose nothing less than a complex reflective organism, acting per modum unius, as a single agent. Already we see in them the work not simply of man, but of mankind.

We may say that competent observers today are in agreement about the general picture of an Evolution which may be compared, broadly speaking, to a river made up of amorphous streams (Entropy) within which countless eddies are individualized by a counter-current. ?Phenomenally? speaking, we see the World not merely as a system that is simply in movement, but as one that is in a state of genesis ? a very different matter. Across the metamorphoses of Matter something is being made (and at the same time being unmade) in accordance with a particular global orientation ? and this irreversibly and cumulatively.

You must overcome death by finding God in it.

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.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Teilhard de Chardin
Birth Date
Death Date

French Philosopher, Paleontologist, Geologist, Visionary and Jesuit Priest