Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest-theologian and a distinguished geologist-paleontologist, who was born in France in 1881 and died in New York City in 1955. Following teaching posts in Paris and Cairo, he was assigned to China for many years. In China Teilhard became imbued with a vision of working to build the future. By the future he meant more than the building up of the physical world; he envisaged the irreversible ascent, through man's collective efforts materially and mentally, to reach what he called the Omega Point. For Teilhard the Omega was the cosmic apex, the Christ who was the Spirit of the Earth. He began writing out his ideas. Teilhard the scientist began to view the cosmos as a holistic entity in process. The foundation of his ideas is scientific, based on the principles of geological and biological evolution. Teilhard the theologian intermixed these evolutionary cosmic concepts with Christian creedal theology. Because of these innovative efforts he was considered subversive and so he was silenced by the Vatican throughout much of his adult life. His works, written over a period from 1924 to 1955, were only published after his death. This essay will deal mainly only with those aspects of Teilhard's cosmosgenesis theory that are based on the rationale of geological and biological evolution. Although the essay will certainly consider Teilhard's cosmological and ontological ideas, it will *not* address his religious creedal theories. The main thrust of Teilhard's gnosis was a foundational understanding of the Universe, which was expressed in his theory of Cosmogenesis. According to Teilhard, the universe is no longer to be considered a static order, but rather a universe in process. And it is a continuing, upslope trajectory of evolution that Teilhard declares a cosmogenesis. The process of Teilhard's holistic cosmos is broken into the following categories: the Without and Within of things; the evolution of matter, life, consciousness; and the Omega Point. The world without consists of inorganic and organic matter. Looking at elemental matter, Teilhard notes that the characteristic of minerals have "chosen a road which closed them prematurely in upon themselves." He calls this condensed matter. Eventually, in order to develop, molecules of an innate structure have in some way to get out of themselves. They do. Teilhard observes that atoms aggregate, in geometrical patterns, into simple groups, then into more complex groupings. This is crystallization. During this crystallizing state of elemental matter, Teilhard observes that energy was constantly being released. The earth's energy became capable of building up "carbonates, hydrates, and nitrates." This led to polymerization, in which molecular particles "group themselves and exchange position," thus developing into "larger and more complex" organic compounds. Teilhard considers the earth's early inorganic and organic developments to be "two inseparable facets of one and the same telluric operation." Teilhard's refrain to this is boggling: "In the world, nothing could ever burst forth as final across the different thresholds successively traversed by evolution which has not already existed in an obscure and primordial way." Teilhard believes that there is a Within in the heart of things! Teilhard specifically stresses that the Within is used to "denote the psychic fact of that portion of the stuff of the cosmos enclosed from the beginning of time within the narrow scope of the early earth." The exterior world is lined with an interior one! He links this Within with enfoldment. He notes that the very individualization of the earth suggests that a "certain mass of elementary consciousness was originally emprisoned in the matter of the earth." Teilhard is alluding to a kind of embedded cosmic intelligence or encoded information. Moving from inanimate matter, the next step in Teilhard's cosmic process is the outburst of life. The cell is the "natural granule of life." The cell merges "qualitatively and quantitatively" into a multitude of living and even more complex individualized and personalized forms. In the cell, Teilhard believes that "we have...the stuff of the universe reappearing once again with all its characteristics...only this time it has reached a higher rung of complexity," and thus has advanced "still further in interiority, i.e. in consciousness." Teilhard labels this vast network of living creatures the *biosphere.* This biosphere, this advancing network of life, has thus far resulted in the culminating development of man. With the advent of man, Teilhard believes that cosmic evolution has finally become conscious of itself...at least on this planet, which is woven into the cosmic whole. Teilhard opines that the destiny of man is to culminate into a consciousness of the species. This consciousness of mankind will ultimately become the "thinking layer of the earth," which Teilhard calls the *noosphere.* Cosmic evolution will not cease with the noosphere. Teilhard does not consider the human species to be the epitome of the universe; rather, he believes that Nature provides us with yet another evolutionary opening...that of a "super-soul above our souls." The whole "gigantic psycho-biological operation" of cosmic evolution points toward a "mega-synthesis" of all the thinking elements of the earth forcing an entree into the realm of the super-human. Teilhard refers to the super-human as the Omega Point. It is, for him, the apex of cosmic evolution. Teilhard, scientifically speaking, can only imagine what the reality of Omega might be like...a *pure conscious energy.* Teilhard proclaims this cosmic energy almost in the mode of poetry. "In the discovery of the sideral world, so vast that it seems to do away with all proportion between our own being and the dimensions of the cosmos around us, only one reality seems to survive and be capable of succeeding and spanning the infinitesimal and the immense: energy... that floating, universal entity from which all emerges and into which all falls back as into an ocean; energy...the new spirit; energy...the new god." Now I would like to move more deeply into Teilhard's model of the cosmic process. The structural outline of this model is as follows: the Ground of All Existence; Matter; Consciousness; and the Cosmic Apex. THE GROUND OF ALL EXISTENCE: The stuff of the universe, according to Teilhard, necessarily has a "double aspect to its structure." By this, he means that in every region of time and space, the stuff of the universe has an inner aspect of itself: "co-extensive with their Without, there is a Within to things." At the very depths of the ground of all existence, Teilhard believes that there exists a special energy. For Teilhard, "somehow or other, there must be a single energy operating in the world" that holds everything together. Teilhard talks of an interdependent energy between the Within and the Without; he believes that this energy is "psychic" in nature, but that it is divided into two distinct components: a tangential energy and a radial energy. Teilhard believes that tangential energy "links an element with all others of the same order." Radial energy draws an element towards "ever greater complexity and centricity," which for Teilhard means spiritual perfection. This psychic, radial energy follows what Teilhard coins the Cosmic Law of Complexity-Consciousness. Teilhard explains it thus: "if the universe, regarded siderally, is in process of spatial expansion (from the infinitesimal to the immense), in the same way and still more clearly it presents itself to us, physico-chemically, as in process of organic involution upon itself (from the extremely simple to the extremely complex)...and, moreover, this particular involution of complexity is experimentally bound up with a correlative increase in interiorization, that is to say in the psyche or consciousness." MATTER-INANIMATE AND ANIMATE: Teilhard considers that matter has three faces: plurality, unity, energy. Our sensory experience, as it pursues the depths, the minuteness of matter, breaks down into an abstraction. The world becomes blurred in its plurality. And yet, says Teilhard, the more we artificially (through instruments) observe matter, the more "insistently it proclaims its fundamental unity." The realm of the atom is co-extensive with that of every other atom. There is a "collective unity" bonded by energy. Each element of the cosmos is positively woven from all the others. There is no dichotomy in this universe. Teilhard states that "Everything, in some extremely attenuated extension of itself, has existed from the very first." Teilhard uses a marvelous term to explain this: *cosmic embryogenesis.* This cosmic embryo implies development. Though referring to the earth, Teilhard could be commenting on cosmogensis. The "earth...is passing through a consecutive series of moving equilibria; and...in all probability it is tending towards some final state. It has a birth, a development, and presumably a death ahead." The ascent of life is an exciting expression of this cosmogenesis. Coming from the point of view of biology, Teilhard declares that "there is an ascent of life that is invincible." There is movement within life at all levels; and Teilhard detects certain characteristic attitudes in this movement. They are profusion, indifference, and ingenuity. Life is a milieu of unlimited multiplication. Accepting the concepts of Darwinian evolution, still prevalent in his day, Teilhard admits that "millards of germs and millions of adults jostling, shoving and devouring one another, fight for elbow room and for the best and largest living space." And the individual unit of life seems to count for little in the process *at this state.* Admitting that there appears to be a lot of ferocity and waste, Teilhard submits that underlying all this is a certain efficiency in the struggle for life. "By reckless self-reproduction life takes its precautions against mishap. It increases its chances of survival and at the same time multiplies its chances of progress." Teilhard believes that groping...or grasping...is directed change. There is an ingenuity in all this groping Teilhard declares. Pervading life tries out all the paths, it mutates, and eventually it accumulates in "stable and coherent aggregates." This is reflective of cleverness. Not only does life "invent" itself, but it has to "design" itself. Life also ramifies, expanding into natural hierarchial units. Even early on there is the intimation of information, of intelligence in the process of cosmogenesis. This wonderful groping, grasping movement, at least on this planet, has led to the globalization of life, a "living substance spread over the earth." For Teilhard, this stage of the cosmic process has culminated into the "unity of the biosphere that lies beyond the plurality and essential rivalry of individual beings." What lies ahead? For Teilhard it is the development of consciousness. Beatrix Murrell // firstname.lastname@example.org RestonScholar Alternatives Research Click here to go to the second article. Click here to return to Yuri's Welcome (Index) Page.