Rediscovering Teilhard’s Fire

by Jeremy Johnson


The following is an excerpt from a recent (academic) publication. The author, John Haught, explains why Teilhard’s philosophy is compatible with evolutionary theory as it stands today. I thought the read was interesting, but be warned, it’s not a light essay!

I had been thinking of these recently, and will work on posting an article on Teilhard’s spiritual vision of the world (instead of focusing on his most known and more scientific work, The Phenomenon of Man). What strikes me as interesting is that Teilhard’s understanding of matter is deeply imaginative and multi-layered. A rock is not just a rock. From the perspective of “Omega,” a rock holds in it the seeds of all future modes of being. If we look at the physical universe not through our biological eye but our third eye, we can perhaps get a little closer to understanding Teilhard’s vision. He, much like Steiner (in my opinion) had a deep appreciation for imagination, and it is through this looking glass he viewed biological evolution. There are some points in his writing where he begins to sound deeply mystical, talking about a “place” where all things are one (Omega) and the unity that is hidden within all things has become apparent. I suppose you could summarize this view as: matter itself is divine, when you are looking at it through your own divine vision; it is only a matter of making that manifest and apparent.

At any rate, here is a snippet or two of the highlights: 
Teilhard and the Question of Life’s Suffering 

Teilhard’s many writings imply, the fact of an evolving, and hence unfinished, universe, alters dramatically the cosmic context in which theology and theodicy must now function if they are to be believable. If the universe, as Teilhard emphasizes, is still coming into being, if it is even now being drawn toward a new future from its original condition of fragmentation and simplicity, it could never have existed in any initial state of perfection. The universe, in a sense, does not fully exist even yet, so how could it have been fully actualized in the past? Teilhard’s synthesis of faith and evolution makes it clear that in the absence of any past state of completed creation the idea of restoration is no longer applicable.

Teilhard proposes an alternative cosmological framework, one that is fully supported by science, to serve as the context for theology’s reflections on the meaning of suffering—and here I am talking about all of life’s suffering and not just our own. In a universe that is still unfinished—one that is even today emerging from the “nothingness” of primal multiplicity—the attribute of perfection can be applied only to a future cosmic unity that will occur in the everlasting care of a God who calls the universe into being from up ahead in the future.