It is altogether fitting and proper to begin the new year with a post on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. His ideas were recently featured on the public radio program On Being, which explores scintillating ideas in religion, science, ethics, and culture through interviews by Krista Tippett. The thoughts of people influenced by Teilhard de Chardin reminded me of his deep effect on me when I read him decades ago. At the time I was trying to be an atheist but still intensely connected to my Catholic upbringing.
Teilhard’s The Phenomenon of Man thrilled me with its marriage of science and spirituality, and that it was authored by a Catholic priest satisfied my desire to stay inside Catholic thought. I felt safe in the bosom of Catholic theology, even while I was trying to be an atheist! The irony occurred to me then too.A world-renowned paleontologist, he helped verify fossil evidence of human evolution. A Jesuit priest and philosopher, he penned forbidden ideas that seemed mystical at the time but are now coming true — that humanity would develop capacities for collective, global intelligence; that a meaningful vision of the earth and the universe would have to include, as he put it, "the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter."
From Teilhard and Jung I learned to consider the dichotomy of inner and outer, the interior of reality and its exterior or what our outer senses can register. They let me appreciate spiritual reality free of both religious and atheist dogma.
May the new year nudge my readers toward the same.