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The Emergence of Teilhard de Chardin

Gaudium et spes, the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965), is revolutionary for many reasons, not least for making the following two statements: “The human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one. In consequence there has arisen a new series of problems...calling for efforts of analysis and synthesis.” And: “A hope related to the end of time does not diminish the importance of intervening duties but rather undergirds the acquittal of them with fresh incentives.”

It is nearly impossible to read these words and not find in them some of the key ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955). Early in the twentieth century, this controversial Jesuit geologist and innovative religious thinker expressed the same sentiments—although more powerfully and emphatically—in numerous unpublished essays and in his major books (both published posthumously), The Human Phenomenon (English translation, 1959) and The Divine Milieu (English translation, 1960). During his lifetime, the Vatican prevented the priest from publishing most of his reflections on evolution and Christian faith. In 1962, it even issued a monitum about his ideas, warning seminary...

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About the Author

John F. Haught, author of God after Evolution and many other books, is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University.