Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Fri Apr 29 2005 - 20:58:22 EDT

Randy, I know little about Teilhard de Chardin's ideas as I have read little
of his work. After reading a few passages in his _Hymn to the Universe_, it
was clear that he was the rare combination of a scientist-theologian-mystic.
The rarest part is the mystic, and it is that which invests his writings
with a profound sense of his being at one with the universe, a sense common
especially among mystics of the catholic tradition (I think of Hildegard of
Bingen in the 12th century). If you go to, you'll find a complete chapter of
Charles P. Henderson's book, _God and Science_ (1986; now hypertext edn.)
devoted to Teilhard. (The book was given a thumbs up by Richard Bube when it
first came out.) It's an informative read. Here are a few quotations from
his writings in this chapter that perhaps capture the mystical train of
Teilhard's vision of the universe.

From: _The Divine Milieu_
"All around us, to right and left, in front and behind, above and below, we
have only to go a little beyond the frontier of sensible appearances in
order to see the divine welling up and showing through. But it is not only
close to us, in front of us, that the divine presence has revealed itself.
It has sprung up universally, and we find ourselves so surrounded and
transfixed by it, that there is no room left to fall down and adore it, even
within ourselves.
"By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us,
penetrates us and moulds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible,
whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers. In eo vivimus [in him
we live]. As Jacob said, awakening from his dream, the world, this palpable
world, which we were wont to treat with the boredom and disrespect with
which we habitually regard places with no sacred association for us, is in
truth a holy place, and we did not know it. Venite, adoremus [Come, let us
adore him]."

And this one from _Christianity and Evolution_, in which Teilhard connects
Christ with evolution:

"If we Christians wish to retain in Christ the very qualities on which his
power and our worship are based, we have no better way - no other way,
even - of doing so than fully to accept the most modern concepts of
evolution. . . . Surely the solution for which modern mankind is seeking
must essentially be exactly the solution which I have come upon."

I have the impression that while Teilhard's writing went through a period of
disfavor, not only with the Catholic Church but with scientists (and Stephen
Jay Gould wrote some uncomplimentary things about him), his ideas are
beginning to have an influence again, particularly among Roman Catholic
thinkers. The person who most readily comes to mind is John F. Haught. His
books on God and evolution speak favorably about Teilhard's writing. Ursula
King has also written a spiritual biography of him.

I'd recommend that someone who knows more than I do write a piece for PSCF.

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy Isaac" <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 12:18 PM
Subject: Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!

> Speaking of de Chardin, it recently came to my attention that 2005 is the
> 50th anniversary of his death. And I just learned that he is buried at
> Maryknoll, about 25 miles from our house. It turns out that Thomas Lee,
> the
> historian who translated de Chardin's works into Chinese, attends our
> church. Anyway, I wondered if any of you historians were interested in
> writing a few paragraphs about his influence in the dialog on science and
> Christian faith? Maybe as a commentary or note in PSCF or a short blurb
> in
> the newsletter? Bob's comments are a good start!
> Randy
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Robert Schneider" <>
> To: "Michael Roberts" <>; "Ted Davis"
> <>; <>; "Keith Miller" <>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 9:20 PM
> Subject: Re: New Pope on Darwinism - NO!
> .......
>> One of the great thinkers of our age, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, wrote
>> the following: "Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis? It is
>> much more it is a general postulate to which all theories, all
>> hypotheses,
>> all systems much henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to
>> be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts,
>> a
>> trajectory which all lines of though must follow this is what evolution
>> is." Of course, some scientists, as well as some philosophers and
>> theologians, disagree with some parts of Teilhard's teachings; the
>> acceptance of his worldview falls short of universal. But there is no
>> doubt at all that Teilhard was a truly and deeply religious man and that
>> Christianity was the cornerstone of his worldview. Moreover, in his
>> worldview science and faith were not segregated in watertight
>> compartments, as they are with so many people. They were harmoniously
>> fitting parts of his worldview. Teilhard was a creationist, but one who
>> understood that the Creation is realized in this world by means of
>> evolution.
>>........ Bob
Received on Fri Apr 29 21:00:30 2005

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