Wolfgang Smiths's Critique of Teilhard de Chardin

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"This book is, as it claims, a thorough analysis and refutation of the teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Composed by a physicist and mathematician who has also studied deeply into philosophy and theology, it brings to bear upon Teilhard's writings the exacting scrutiny of a scientist and the comprehensive overview of an educated believer.

Smith has read almost all of the available published works of Teilhard. He quotes from them with precision as he analyzes their content. For instance, as he tells us early on (14) that "for Teilhard, not only is evolution a fact: it is the all-important fact," he quotes here and elsewhere from Teilhard to prove his observation. In the telling, Teilhard's thoughts become much better organized by Smith than they ever were in Teilhard's own mind, and, as their content is gradually presented and weighed, one clearly sees their true place both in the reality of Smith's framework and in the fantasy of Teilhard's. Whoever wants a concise idea of what de Chardin really said and of what it really means can do no better than to read Smith's masterful analysis of Teilhard's vision of the world.

Dr. Smith is, among other things, an expert on geometrical spaces. It is intriguing to witness how he handles, in mathematical terms, the unscientific geometrical notions in Teilhard's view of the cosmos: that Heaven is neither 'above' nor 'within,' but ahead of us in time (34); that "it is the nature of Matter, when raised corpuscularly to a very high degree of complexity, to become centered and interiorized" (49); that the 'Omega Point' is the ultimate term of cosmogenesis and coincides in reality with Christ (80); that in the evolving universe God is not conceivable (either structurally or dynamically) except insofar as he coincides with ... the center of convergence of cosmogenesis, ... a God who is functionally and totally 'Omega'" (118); that "creation, incarnation and redemption are not facts which can be localized [Teilhard's emphasis] at a given point of time and space" (123).

When Smith tells us (19) that there is "no evidence at all" for the transformist hypothesis in which Teilhard so firmly believed, he is speaking as a scientist and on the basis of the most up-to-date scientific data. And he shows us (22-23) that the transformist dream is based on faith alone, as de Chardin admitted and as recent discoveries in biology are demonstrating ever more clearly."

- John McCarthy [1]


(as argued in his book: Theistic Evolution: The Teilhardian Heresy, 1988; originally published as: Teilhardism and the New Religion.)

From the Wikipedia:

"Wolfgang Smith, an American scientist versed in Catholic theology, devotes an entire book to the critique of Teilhard's doctrine, which he considers neither scientific (assertions without proofs), nor Catholic (personal innovations), nor metaphysical (the "Absolute Being" is not yet absolute),[54] and of which the following elements can be noted (all the words in quotation marks are Teilhard's, quoted by Smith) :

* Evolution: For Teilhard, evolution is not only a scientific theory but an irrefutable truth "immune from any subsequent contradiction by experience "; it constitutes the foundation of his doctrine. Matter becomes spirit and humanity moves towards a super-humanity thanks to complexification (physico-chemical, then biological, then human), socialization, scientific research and technological and cerebral development;[57] the explosion of the first atomic bomb is one of its milestones,[58] while waiting for "the vitalization of matter by the creation of super-molecules, the remodeling of the human organism by means of hormones, control of heredity and sex by manipulation of genes and chromosomes [...]".

* Matter and spirit: Teilhard maintains that the human spirit (which he identifies with the anima and not with the spiritus) originates in a matter which becomes more and more complex until it produces life, then consciousness, then the consciousness of being conscious, holding that the immaterial can emerge from the material.At the same time, he supports the idea of the presence of embryos of consciousness from the very genesis of the universe: "We are logically forced to assume the existence [...] of some sort of psyche" infinitely diffuse in the smallest particle.

* Theology: Affirming that "God creates evolutively", he denies the Book of Genesis, not only because it attests that God created man, but that he created him in his own image, thus perfect and complete, then that man fell, that is to say the opposite of an ascending evolution. That which is metaphysically and theologically "above" - symbolically speaking - becomes for Teilhard "ahead", yet to come; even God, who is neither perfect nor timeless, evolves in symbiosis with the World,[note 1] which Teilhard, a resolute pantheist,[65] venerates as the equal of the Divine. As for Christ, not only is he there to activate the wheels of progress and complete the evolutionary ascent, but he himself evolves.

* New religion: As he wrote to a cousin: "What dominates my interests increasingly is the effort to establish in me and define around me a new religion (call it a better Christianity, if you will)...", and elsewhere: "a Christianity re-incarnated for a second time in the spiritual energies of Matter". The more Teilhard refines his theories, the more he emancipates himself from established Christian doctrine: a "religion of the earth" must replace a "religion of heaven". By their common faith in Man, he writes, Christians, Marxists, Darwinists, materialists of all kinds will ultimately join around the same summit: the Christic Omega Point."