Teilhard du Chardin

Here is a fine article from The Rose in the CrossTeilhard and me.I’ll just pick out a couple of points, because I don’t want disputes about evolution and creationism. I also don’t want any discussions about politics. I do not promote Marxism any more than anything else. My emphasis.

I remember as a seminarian of the Society of St. Pius X reading a polemical article against Teilhard’s theology in a reactionary Catholic magazine. Like the proverbial boy who learns how to sin from the vademecum manual of confessors, I came away thinking that, even if Teilhard’s thought was wrong, at least it was pretty. In my days of a more mystical bent, I suppose I was tempted often by pantheism, which is perhaps the reason I became enamored with Eastern Christian spirituality. Nevertheless, at least then, I was always of the opinion that Teilhard was wrong, that it was safer to stick with “official Church teaching”, and that one must keep an absolute wall between science and religion, and so on.

(…)

In the 1950 papal encyclical, Humani Generis, which condemned the “New Theology”, and the writings of Henri de Lubac in particular (though not by name), the long suffering Teilhard proved to be a secondary target, and it is thought that this official document definitively put him on the papal “persona non grata” list. What was seen as being at stake in the absolute division of nature and grace? Theologically, the answer is everything. Christian orthodox theology is predicated on the idea of the absolute gratuity of God’s working in the world. That is, God must be completely separate from the world, and if he does anything for it, even the act of creation, it is posited that he very well could not have done it. If this is not the case, then pantheism is sort of a logical conclusion: the world and God are one, our actions and very selves are deified, and lofty divine ideals mean nothing as they are the same as cosmic laws such as gravity and the speed of light. In other words, there is no freedom in the universe, and our actions don’t mean anything.

(…)

Just from reading about Teilhard, I find that the major issue at stake is the reality and relevance of truth. If something is true, it must be incarnate in everyday life and inform every corner of human knowledge. Many Catholic conservatives will assert that Teilhard’s crime, like Galileo’s, was that of not respecting the absolute wall between science and theology. That is basically the same problem as that of nature and grace as explained above.

The issue is dualism, and I found that one characteristic of the Celtic tradition and Pelagianism is the refusal of dualism. Like the author of this article, I have not read any Teilhard, but I have to admit I’m curious, especially since finding that Tyrrell’s books had no smell of sulphur! To the contrary!

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2 Responses to Teilhard du Chardin

  1. ed pacht says:

    There cannot be a wall between science and theology as science is no more than the study of God’s creation, and every observation of science is subject to the will of God. Neither science nor theology makes any sense at all if pursued with the idea that either God or His creation can be entirely understood by finite mankind. Neither science nor theology has the capability of putting limits on God or of identifying the fullness of his being.

    A corrolary to this is that science is just simply not a source of knowledge as such, but rather a provisional way of attempting to make sense of what is observed. If one says, “Science says…” one is beginning with a faulty premise. Science does not assert. It asks, and posits possible answers, with the intent that they be disproved, as ultimately all hypotheses, theorems, and theories are either disproved or drastically modified.

    If science attempts to say something about God, theology is duty bound to answer it from a different direction, and it must be realized that neither is capable of full understanding. We are not capable of that. infinity will not fit into a finite brain.

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