Teilhardism and the New Religion

Teilhardism and the New Religion
Wolfgang Smith,
TAN books, 1988
272 pages
$16.50 + S&H

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Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. is perhaps more responsible than any other single person for bringing evolutionary thought into the Catholic Church. Teilhardism and the New Religion is critical reading for the person who would like to understand the thinking of Teilhard and like-minded progressive Catholic theologians and prelates, and their fascination with evolutionistic ideas.

Author Wolfgang Smith was born in Vienna in 1930 and has degrees in physics, philosophy, and mathematics. He is thus able to approach his subject from various angles. With this book he has turned his attention to the influential teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and shows them to be without either theological or scientific merit.

Teilhard de Chardin was born in France in 1881. His father was a farmer with an interest in geology and his mother was a descendant of Voltaire. Teilhard joined the Jesuits in 1899 and developed an interest in paleontology early on.

However, his heterodox theological views, especially on Original Sin, got him into some trouble and he was effectively exiled to China. He was able to continue his paleontological studies there, and eventually collaborated in the excavations which led to the discovery of “Peking Man,” a supposed “missing link.” This earned him some fame with which he was able to spread his evolutionary ideas in the Catholic Church.

Teilhard wrote during the first half of the 20th century when evolution seemed solidly established and before modern science began to show clearly the impossibilities of its working. He became so enamored with the concept of evolution that he considered everything subservient to it, including God himself! He wrote, “Evolution is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must henceforth bow and which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow.” He also wrote, “God cannot create except evolutively,” and “It is Christ, in very truth, who saves – but should we not immediately add that at the same time it is Christ who is saved by evolution?”

It is no wonder that his own personal views conflicted with the Catholic Church’s teaching on Original Sin. Teilhard said, “Whenever we try intellectually and vitally to assimilate Christianity with all our modern soul the first obstacles we meet always derive from original sin.” And again, “Evil, then, is tantamount to disorder, and disorders arise from a statistical necessity.” Rather than accept evil as malice and our fallen human nature as the consequence of Original Sin, Teilhard would rather recreate Christ in his own image!

Tielhard was enamored with science to the point of making it an idol. He said of science: it is “the source of life,” and that he enjoyed, “the divine taste of its fruit.” Further, “It will absorb the spirit of war and shine with the light of religions.” And also, “He who wishes to share in this spirit [of science] must die and be reborn …”

Teilhard misapplied the Theory of Evolution in the spiritual realm and taught that, “All that exists is matter becoming Spirit.” This is contrary to traditional teaching as expressed in the encyclical letter of Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis – On Certain False Opinions Which Threaten to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine – “the soul is immediately created by God.” For Teilhard, evolution was the driving force in the universe leading to what he called the “Omega Point” where we all become one with the “Cosmic Christ.”

In a letter to a friend, Teilhard wrote: “As you already know, what dominates my interest and my preoccupations is the effort to establish in myself and to spread around a new religion (you may call it a better Christianity) in which the personal God ceases to be the great neolithic proprietor of former times, in order to become the soul of the world; our religious and cultural stage calls for this.” He went on to explain that this new religion, “is burgeoning in the heart of modern man, from a seed sown by the idea of evolution.”

Albert Drexel, a Catholic ecclesiastic, explains: “The modernism or neo-modernism within Christianity, and especially within the Roman Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council, is above all characterized by a turning away from the supernatural and an exclusive predilection for this world, the “Aggiornamento” of Pope John XXIII interpreted one-sidedly and hence misapplied. Teilhard’s ideology was a definitive precondition for this. Inasmuch as he turned his back to the past, fused God and the supernatural with the process of a universal evolutionism, and proclaimed religion to be an active participation in a progressive development ending in Point Omega, the basis was given for a humanist cult of the secular.”

Smith’s critical review of Teilhard’s writings clearly shows that many of de Chardin’s ideas have no basis in traditional Catholic teaching or natural science. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “A false idea about the nature of creation always reflects itself in a false idea about God.” The false ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin have been used to create a new, naturalistic religion with evolution as the driving force, all wrapped in religious language. Many of the adherents of this new religion are in positions of responsibility within the Catholic Church. This book is a valuable tool in exposing the errors of Teilhard de Chardin and his followers.

Eric Bermingham
November 20, 2006