Teilhard de Chardin & Having Faith in the World

faith-in-the-worldThe 20th century Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a remarkable figure in that he was both a highly trained scientist and defender of the Christian faith—someone who realized that the entire structure of Christ’s mythology had to be reworked to fit new scientific discoveries. Having forged that new structure through the crucible of his own experiences and knowledge, he not only strengthened his faith in humankind’s divinity but his faith in the Father’s kingdom here on earth, as it is in heaven.

Unlike most of his Catholic contemporaries, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin did not see the world as something inherently corrupt (as being in a fallen state) but as inherently good. By viewing the world in such a way, Teilhard was less likely to experience those crises of faith that so often afflict more orthodox Christians, whose Christ mythology demands that they leave reason at its doorstep. For Teilhard not only are you and I “the light of the world” (Matt. 4:14) but the world is a light unto itself.1 The following quote is a profound summation of his faith:

If, as a result of some interior revolution, I were successfully to lose my faith in Christ, my faith in a personal God, my faith in the Spirit, I think that I would continue to believe in the World. The World (the value, the infallibility, the goodness of the World): that, in the final analysis, is the first and the last thing in which I believe. It is by this faith that I believe. It is by this faith that I live, and it is by this faith, I feel, that at the moment of death, mastering all doubts, I shall surrender myself.


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  1. Throughout my life, through my life, the world has little by little caught fire in my sight until, aflame all around me, it has become almost completely luminous from within – Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu []