The Future of Mankind by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., was professor of geology at the Catholic Institute in Paris, director of the National Geologic Survey of China, and director of the National Research Center of France. He died in New York City in 1955. Published by Harper & Row, New York and Evanston, 1959. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
1. The End of die World
NOTE BY FRENCH EDITOR. To conclude these writings on the Future of Man we quote the following extract from a work to be published at a later date, Mon Univers. Summarizing in a luminous synthesis the thinker and priest’s intimations of the End of the World, it ends with the words of St. Paul, quoted on the last page of Teilhard de Chardin’s journal, which express his supreme vision: ‘God all in all.’ (‘In Latin: Erit in ominibus omnia Deus. In Greek: En pasi panta Theos. 1 Corinthians xv, 28.)
. . . Pressed tightly against one another by the increase in their numbers and relationships, forced together by the growth of a common power and the sense of a common travail, the men of the future will in some sort form a single consciousness; and because, their initiation being completed, they will have measured the power of their associated minds, the immensity of the universe and the narrowness of their prison, this consciousness will be truly adult, truly major. May we not suppose that when this time comes Mankind will for the first time be confronted with the necessity for a truly and wholly human act, a final exercise of choice -- the yes or no in face of God, individually affirmed by beings in each of whom will be fully developed the sense of human liberty and responsibility?
It is difficult to imagine what form the ending of a World might take. A sidereal disaster would correspond nearly enough to our individual deaths. But this would entail the ending of the Earth rather than of the Cosmos, and it is the Cosmos itself that must disappear.
The more I ponder this mystery the more it assumes in my dreams the aspect of a ‘turning inward’ of consciousness, an eruption of interior life, an ecstasy. There is no need for us to rack our brains in trying to understand how the immensity of the material universe might vanish. It is enough that the spirit should be reversed, that it should enter another sphere, for the face of the World to be instantly altered.
As the end of time approaches a terrifying spiritual pressure will be brought to bear on the limits of the Real, born of the effort of souls desperately straining in their desire to escape from the Earth. This pressure will be unanimous. But the Scriptures teach us that at the same time it will be rent by a profound schism between those who wish to break out of themselves that they may become still more masters of the world, and those who, accepting Christ’s word, passionately await the death of the world that they may be absorbed with it into God.
And no doubt it is then, in a Creation brought to the paroxysm of its aptitude for union, that the Parousia will occur. The unique process of assimilation and synthesis, pursued from the beginning of time, being at length revealed, the universal Christ will appear like a flash of lightning amid the storm-clouds of a slowly consecrated World. The trumpets of the angels are but a weak symbol. It is in the grip of the most powerful organic attraction conceivable (the force which held the Universe together!) that the monads will pour into that place whither they are irrevocably destined by the total maturing of all things and the implacable irreversibility of the whole history of the World -- some of them spiritualized matter in the limitless fulfillment of an eternal communion, and others materialized spirit in the conscious agonies of an interminable decomposition.
At this moment, St. Paul tells us (I Corinthians XV, 23 et seq.), when Christ shall have emptied of themselves all the powers created (rejecting that which is an element of dissociation and super-animating all that is the force of unity) He will consummate the universal unification by delivering Himself, in His entire and adult body, with a capacity for union that is at length perfected, to the embrace of the Deity.
Then the organic complex will have been constituted of God and the World, the Pleroma -- the mysterious reality that we cannot do better than call simply God, since although God might dispense with the world we cannot regard it as being wholly an accessory without rendering Creation incomprehensible, the Passion of Christ meaningless and our own struggle uninteresting.
Et tunc erit finis.
Like a vast tide the Being will have dominated the trembling of all beings. The extraordinary adventure of the World will have ended in the bosom of a tranquil ocean, of which, however, each drop will still be conscious of being itself. The dream of every mystic will have found its full and proper fulfillment. Erit in omnibus omnia Deus.
Unpublished, Tientsin, 25 March 1924.