Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ ( May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of both Piltdown Man and Peking Man. Teilhard conceived the idea of the Omega Point and developed Vladimir Vernadsky’s concept of Noosphere. Some of his ideas came into conflict with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and several of his books were censured.
Teilhard’s primary book, The Phenomenon of Man, set forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos. He abandoned traditional interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of a less strict interpretation. This displeased certain officials in the Roman Curia and in his own order who thought that it undermined the doctrine of original sin developed by Saint Augustine. Teilhard’s position was opposed by his Church superiors, and some of his work was denied publication during his lifetime by the Roman Holy Office. The 1950 encyclical Humani generis condemned several of Teilhard’s opinions, while leaving other questions open. More recently, Pope John Paul II indicated a positive attitude towards some of de Chardin’s ideas. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI praised Teilhard’s idea of the universe as a “living host” although the ecclesiastical warnings attached to his works remain.