Science in Christian Perspective



Teilhard de Chardin


From: JASA 19 (September 1967): 92-93.

In the September, 1966, issue of the journal of the A.S.A. was reproduced the speech in praise of Teilhard de Chardin given by Professor Robert J. O'Connell, S. J. at the 1965 convention of the A.S.A. The present writer was apparently the first and so far the only person to criticize it. Being invited to comment here, I would like to say the following.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Roman Catholic priest and a scientist. His fame is the result of his theological and philosophical views rather than from his scientific work. His theological beliefs were so heretical that the Catholic Church forbade him to publish during his lifetime and removed him from his teaebing position. However, within ten years of his death Catholic spokesmen were praising him and making statements as, "Teilhard will become the Church's new philosophical system." An expert on the Second Vatican Council predicted that its outcome 11 will either reflect the Teilhard spirit or it will accomplish nothing of importance."

As a boy Teilhard collected nails and other pieces of metal to worship as idols. Despair overwhelmed him when he discovered that his idols rusted, and he searched for more durable idols. As an adult he confessed that his entire spiritual life seemed to him to be a development of this childhood belief.

The essence of his mature theology is that everything started as inanimate matter at a point which he calls Alpha and all things - all men, animals, and inanimate objects-are converging toward a point which he calls Omega and which is equivalent to God.

Evolution is the heart of Teilhard's philosophy. He said, "Evolution is the central condition to which all theories, all systems must bow, and which they must satisfy if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is the light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow." In an essay he described Christ as a presence radiating evolution. He concluded, "It gives me great strength to know that the whole effort of evolution is reducible to the justification and development of the love of God."

Teilhard was fond of saying that "a synthesis of the Christian's 'God-up-above' and the Marxist 'Godup-ahead' is the only God whom we can worship today 'in spirit and in truth."' The Communists have been preparing a translation of Teilhard's philosophy, which is to have a preface by the author of a book called God is Dead. Professor O'Connell told the A.S.A. members that "in Europe both Christians and Marxists find his thought the most hopeful thought this century offers between what once seemed their irreducibly opposing views." To the convened members of the A.S.A. Professor O'Connell hailed Teilhard as "the prophet of the 20th century."

It is amazing that an admirer of Teilhard would be invited to speak about him at an A.S.A. convention. It would seem that anyone who had signed the statement of faith of the A.S.A. and who had subscribed to the stated purpose of the organization would not tolerate a speech such as the one which was presented. But apparently nobody raised any question at all. The speech may very well have been followed by applause -it would be interesting to know if this was so.

If members of the A.S.A. were questioned about this, the reply most frequently given would no doubt be to the effect that this sort of thing is culturally broadening and it is desirable to learn more about such matters. This sounds good, but when it is presented favorably, some people are brainwashed instead of enlightened.

A person would react quickly if he heard something slanderous said about his family, but it has become fashionable to be "broadminded" about attacks upon Bible-centered Christian faith. This ought not so to be. Bible-believing Christians ought to know that we are engaged in a real warfare which is far from academic. In this warfare the "broadmindedness"is one-sided. The enemy is not broadminded. Let me cite just one example. In the December 5, 1958, issue of Science there is an article in which the author earnestly exhorts teachers to scrupulously avoid all telelogical implications in dealing with their classes. He goes so far as to say that the teacher should not say that hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water; he should say that they combine and (not to) form water, because the word to might convey an implication of purpose. This sounds like satire, but he is completely serious. He says that this is not quibbling. Students must not be given any opportunity to think in terms of purpose. He wams against the use of the term natural law, because some students might conclude that if there is such a thing as natural law there might be a Law Giver (God), and that would be very undesirable.

Teilhard is used by the enemies of the Christian faith; Teilhard is of no use to the Bible-believing Christian. Bible-believing Christians ought not to let themselves be caught in the pseudo-intellectual rush to board the Teilhard bandwagon. The eternal welfare of souls is at stake.

Bolton Davidheiser
13530 Fonseca Avenue
La Mirada, California 90638