Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Teilhard de Chardin Was Annoying

Jesuitical bimbo

My first reaction to skimming the Google Translate version of the theological sections of the upcoming Papal Encyclical was that it read like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin on acid. But then I decided out of charity that perhaps the Google Translate versions of anything might sound like Pierre Teilhard de Chardin on acid. So we withhold judgment until Thursday.

Then again, the Encyclical does explicitly reference Teilhard de Chardin. As far as I know it is the first encyclical that ever has, which is not surprising considering that Teilhard de Chardin was, if not a formal heretic, at least formally heterodox. On numerous occasions he was prohibited by the Church from teaching and his books were proscribed. Yes, I know that, for reasons still somewhat unclear or at least diverse, recent (and pre-Francis) Popes have made the occasional favorable Teilhard de Chardin references, the relatively isolated occurrences of which are of course rubbed in within the upcoming Encyclical, but still.

But back to Teilhard de Chardin and how annoying he was. Here are a few choice quotes, helpfully annotated by the scholarly gnomes of Mahound's Paradise. All of them are by the Omega Man himself, except the first:
The above-mentioned works (by Teilhard de Chardin) abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine... For this reason, the most eminent and most revered Fathers of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers. This was from a 1962 monitum from the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, signed by Pope John XXIII himself. Could a saint be wrong?
Now here's Tielhard: 
Under the weight of converging evidence collected by notably diverse men, I see the possibility of another hypothesis growing: that the Chinese are ‘held-back’ primitives, ‘infantile’ and their anthropological substance would be inferior to ours… Moreover, their mass emanates an insuperable power of leveling and ‘dissolution’. Among them, all that tends to elevation is brought down immediately to zero. Everything that lives for long amidst them is psychologically diminished and enfeebled…Neither the Christian approach of love for all men, nor the human hopes of an organized society, must make us forget that their ‘human level’, is not, perhaps, homogeneous? If such is the case, it would be necessary to find for the Chinese, as for negroes, a special function that is perhaps not (because of the biological impossibility) the same one as that for whites. Your Ku Klux Klan membership card will be arriving in the mail within 7-10 days, Monsieur Tielhard. Yeah, that Jesus and love thing has long been eclipsed by the concept of the Super Man.
In the beginning was Power. Thus spake Zarathustra.
You know already what is dominating my interests and my inner preoccupations and it is the effort to establish in myself, and to spread all around me, a new religion (call it even improved Christianity), in which the personal God ceases to be the great Neolithic master of the past to become the soul of the World that our religious and cultural era cries out for. Some wag once called Tielhard, Catholicism's L. Ron Hubbard. 
The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire. Okay, but I thought love was for Chinese sissies? 
Science alone cannot discover Christ. But Christ satisfies the yearnings that are born in our hearts in the school of science... Science will, in all probability, be increasingly impregnated by mysticism. Increasingly impregnated? See, this is why we have sex ed now. 
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. In principle there is no feeling which has a firm foundation in nature, or greater power. But in fact there is also no feeling which awakens so belatedly, since it can become explicit only when our consciousness has expanded beyond the broadening, but still far too restricted, circles of family, country and race, and has finally discovered that the only truly natural and real human Unity is the Spirit of Earth. You didn't help to "ghostwrite" a certain encyclical, did you? 
The Church, the reflectively christified portion of the world, the Church, the principal focus of interhuman affinities through super-charity, the Church, the central axis of universal convergence and the precise point of contact between the universe and Omega Point. You're a scientist? 
Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing — if not ultimately, at least essentially. To be more is to be more united — and this sums up and is the very conclusion of the work to follow. But unity grows, and we will affirm this again, only if it is supported by an increase of consciousness, of vision. That is probably why the history of the living world can be reduced to the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes at the heart of a cosmos where it is always possible to discern more. Are not the perfection of an animal and the supremacy of the thinking being measured by the penetration and power of synthesis of their glance? To try to see more and to see better is not, therefore, just a fantasy, curiosity, or a luxury. See or perish. This is the situation imposed on every element of the universe by the mysterious gift of existence. And thus, to a higher degree, this is the human condition. ...Er...how about those Blackhawks? 
Human Energy presents itself to our view as the term of a vast process in which the whole mass of the universe is involved. In us, the evolution of the world towards the spirit becomes conscious. From that moment, our perfection, our interest, our salvation as elements of creation can only be to press on with this evolution with all our strength. We cannot yet understand exactly where it will lead us, but it would be absurd for us to doubt that it will lead us towards some end of supreme value. From this there finally emerges in our twentieth century human consciousness, for the first time since the awakening of life on earth, the fundamental problem of Action. No longer, as in the past, for our small selves, for our small family, our small country; but for the salvation and the success of the universe, how must we, modern men, organize around us for the best, the maintenance, distribution and progress of human energy? ...well, they won the Stanley cup last night. 
And so on. I forgot one thing:
The goal of the journey of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been achieved by the risen Christ, the center of maturation universal.
That's not Tielhard, that's the quote from the Encyclical (section 83) that references Tielhard.

Don't blame me. And don't blame Pope Francis either. Blame Google Translate. No doubt, the official translation will sound much more like the Baltimore Catechism.

But one thing will remain true:

Teilhard de Chardin was annoying.


  1. Also: liar.

    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), a young Jesuit priest who completed his training in Hastings around the time of the Piltdown discoveries. Teilhard first met Dawson in 1909 and then started helping Dawson and Woodward with the dig at Piltdown in May 1912. He found the canine tooth, a crucial piece of evidence. Teilhard was considered the most likely culprit by Stephen J Gould, writing in 1980. He went on to become a famous philosopher.


    1. Interesting. I didn't know that. It's not referenced in the critical anti-Tielhard pieces that I've read, but they mostly focus on his writings. I'll try to track that down tomorrow.

  2. Not sure if Teilhard was then and there a liar, but he was one main suspect (one of two possible ones, basically) and if innocent rather incompetent.