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Teilhard de Chardin and Me

I have been reading Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. In there is a passage about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit priest, paleontologist, philosopher and in my mind a poet.

I first read his work in the 1970s and frankly have not been back much since. So what I write here is what I remember fogged by 30 years and interspersed with my own ideas. But those early readings changed the way I think about the world and about time.

What I remember most is that he believed humankind has a reason to be on earth. We are at the leading edge of consciousness and thus at the leading edge of all evolutionary forces. We can comprehend and understand. In generations to come humankind will reach point Omega. A point of all understanding. He does get extreme, but still he speaks truths that have become the foundation of my belief.

He says we cannot judge our human condition by looking at how humankind has lived over a hundred years or thousands of years. They are just blinks of the eye.

We must take a much bigger look and when we do, we will see that all things are possible.

So he goes back in time to the Geosphere. The time when there was no conscious life. Only rocks and gases. If a rational observer could have seen all this, it would say, no conscious being can grow from these rocks and gases. But alas they did and we moved into the Biosphere, the sphere when tiny life forms made the way for more and more conscious life forms.

The Biosphere was, and is, a time to struggle to sustain life. The preoccupation is in meeting biological needs. Teilhard de Chardin said humankind is just moving out the age of the Neanderthal. But in time we will learn to meet those biological needs and move in the era of the Noosphere. The era of the mind.

Of course, if we believe, and it is an act of faith, that all creation on earth has happened so we might be at the cutting edge of greater understanding then we have an obligation to all things past and present. An obligation to search for ways to allow humankind to grow beyond the Biosphere, beyond the age of the Neanderthal, into the Noosphere, the age of the mind.

We do that by sharing knowledge for that is how conscious will continue to grow. Of course, it also will require looking for ways for us to move beyond our Neanderthal roots.

Perhaps through collective thinking, through what so many of us are trying here on the web, we can inch just a little bit further down that evolutionary path.

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