The Future of Man
By Pierre Teillhard de Chardin
Book Summary by Maggie Spilner
(Editor's note: Given the increasing interest in the future of consciousness, it is time to renew our acquaintance with one of the very
first person's to predict where consciousness is heading. Teillhard de Chardin's notions of a noosphere and the Omega point have influenced
futurists for years. What follows is a summary of his most important book.)
A Note on Progress
While evolution of the species of man seems to have stopped thousands of years ago, the ability of mankind
to know itself and to know its environment (consciousness) can be seen as the current medium for evolution of humanity.
While that evolution may not be found in any one individual, it can be apprehended through the cumulative knowledge and development of mankind.
The species of man has developed the power of awareness and self-awareness as an organism, but as yet, has not developed the
knowledge to understand who we truly are and we are driven, as a species, to know what our deepest reality is.
Christ consciousness, seen as the constructive thrust, the tip of mankind's evolution, is fulfilled through individual members
of the species.
Every human helps to complete the Body of Christ. Put another way. Christ as the spiritual culmination of humanity is fulfilled
through the evolution of men (and women) on earth.
Social Heredity and Progress
In addition to the passing on of characteristics from one generation to the next, through the physical organism,
if one observes animals, on sees that the knowledge they gain during their lives is also passed on to their offspring through instruction
of their young.
In mankind, this process is extended through education and the written word.
While at first glance, one may see only quantity, not quality, in the civilization of mankind, closer scrutiny shows Mankind
gradually learning about it's birth, history, natural environment and inner terrain.
An individual's life span and activity, from birth to maturity, can be seen as a metaphor for the growth of Mankind, from infancy to maturity.
Mankind continues to expand its knowledge of itself and the unity of the world around us and within us.
Education furthers the whole of mankind, helping to develop the overall human community. This tend towards socialization is evident in all life.
"In the present day, human education is spreading its net over the earth in an unprecedented scale and by means of unprecedented
methods of expression and diffusion." (This is pre-world wide web!)
Educations alternate purpose is to effect the incorporation of the World with the Word (Loving energy of Christ)
The Grand Option
Christianity is the incarnation of God into the world which He created. This incarnation occurs gradually and
is accelerated through more souls entering into the world (expansion of numbers) as well as the maturing of the collective consciousness
at it embodies greater and more complete visions of what Christ is, means and expresses.
This is the incorporation of Heaven on Earth. Therefore, an educator is an instrument of Creation, a part of the divine plan for the unfoldment of mankind to its highest creation. Through education, the varying world views of men converge towards a collective humanism and Divinity.
Humanity grew from isolated families to tribes to nationalistic social organization. Current world wide war (I) suggest that
Mankind, through it's natural growth, is on the brink of another stage, common to all species, which must ensue to further coordinate all
of it's parts into a cohesive unity.
Man must use his self-reflective capabilities to move into this next level of socialization.
There are three options to consider for the future path of Mankind.
A.) Optimism or pessimism? Is the Universe pointless? Or does it have meaning and is it working towards greater and great fulfillment?
B.) Withdrawal or Alignment? If we choose the path of Optimism, do we find out purpose in withdrawing from the physical world,
seeing it as illusory and turning within to the "no-thingness" of oriental wisdom traditions?
Do we separate the our spirit from the material
world as though the material world cannot "come along" with the evolution of spirit?
Or do we have such faith in the ability of the Universe that we see that matter and spirit combined, not withdrawal, provides
the most optimistic path for our future—through the alliance, rather than the separation of the two?
C.) Plurality or Unity? Does each man follow his own dream of expansion or does each man progress towards unity with the whole,
without diminishing self.
Because man is not guided by instinct, he must use his mind to plot his course. As man applies a sense of structure to the world,
using his thoughts, what world does he see?
One that is disorderly or ordered. One that is old or young. One that is divergent or convergent?
Each man for himself may bring ecstasies, but that man loses the joy of union and the joy of a sense of a conscious loss of self.
A convergent world, no matter how much the sacrifice, is worth the effort, in the long run. It will take mankind to its highest
form of life. Whereas individuality pursued exclusively –each man for himself – will ultimately lead to destruction.
But the arguments between the camps which prefer individual freedom over the success of the whole are mistakenly perceived as
polar opposites. In fact, in nature, each individual part is important and is exalted within the whole, not lost in it.
True union differentiates the individual parts, rather than drowns out or submerges the individual parts. Unity depends on the
plurality of individual consciousness.
The appearance of thought, as a part of biological evolution, allows this. While evolution appears
to have reached the apex in the physical form, and a degree of conformity, thought allows interior plurality which helps the mankind continue
Love is the medium for growth that deters mechanization or totalitarianism, where the part becomes merely a "cog" in the machine.
Love is what generates creativity in the union of people (by minds and bodies.) And by unity, the individual achieves completion
without loss of self. [Much like Cayce's notion of "to know oneself to be oneself, yet one with the Creator."]
Convergence, being the best and highest solution, will ultimately be the choice of the mass of mankind, as it follows the same
patterns set in biological evolution.
Life moves in a definite direction and convergence is part of that direction. One can see that physical
evolution and specialization supports expanding consciousness.
Some Reflections On Progress
Despite apparent setbacks, when taken from the long point of view, Mankind has made incredible progress in
a very short period of time, compared to the age of the planet and man's appearance in it. The slow movement of the universe makes it sometimes
difficult to perceive that progress.
The universe, through the science of paleontology, can be seen as ascending in progress. Man is the apex of physiological progression.
World War II, seen in the context of evolutionary progress in the long run, can be seen as a crisis in the emerging intention towards global
For man to continue progressing, without blowing himself, or the earth to bits, there must be a passionate longing to grow emerging
And that growth must be with unification in mind. As the earth becomes smaller (more people, same space) man, by some force,
will bring a common soul to mankind. Inwardly and in freedom, we must choose to come together.
The current choices seem to be between Heaven and Earth. Do we renounce the earth and try to climb towards heaven, leaving the
material world behind? Or is this premature and an attempt to try to escape the slow progress of evolution? Do we live in the earth to master
and perfect it?
We need to learn to have faith in God as well as faith in the world and not see them as divergent concepts, but to recognize
them different aspects of the same energy. These two positive concepts must be merged in our minds.
The common scientific theme of the day has been disintegration and entropy. But we are discovering an equally powerful force
in nature, noogenesis, which is the concentration of matter and consciousness, which creates spontaneity, creativity and spiritual energy.
"The earth is exploding upward toward God and God is taking root and finding nourishment in the earth."
This is the new soul for the new world, a synthesis of matter and spirit.
The New Spirit 1942
Two changes affecting human consciousness at the deepest level at this time.
1. The perception of time (the conic curvature of time)
2. The adjustment of human values to a new perspective on Time
The concept of time has always been an element of human consciousness. But we once thought of time having a beginning and an
end, and the Universe being only a few thousand years old. And we thought that people or phenomenon could occur at any given point in time,
But now we know have the concept of infinity, as well as the idea that nothing stands alone, but is connected to everything around it.
We now see space and time acting together—Space is a portion of time, a "momentary section of flow" surrounded by the depth
of Time. We stand between the abysses of Past and Future. And yet we know that everything that happens in between is a network of interlocking
actions, movements, particles – the space-time continuum.
Can we get a perspective of where we are going in this space-time continuum?
The form of space-time can be seen as a cone; matter converged and tightened by thought into synthesis. This Cone can be seen
as a form for the evolution of Mankind towards some higher version of Mankind….when man is unified in an organically, ultra complex system.
While some have felt the concept of evolution swallowed mankind into a vast flow of time and in the same way that the loss of
the concept of the earth as the center of creation diminished the importance of God as lord of creation, instead, Man is now engaged in transforming
our previous ideas of evolution.
A new concept is evolving in our collective minds – which is the concept of Noogenesis: a world that is being born, instead of a world that IS.
Noogenesis is the creation of a sphere of being enveloping the earth, above the biosphere, an envelope consisting of
human thoughts. This is called the Noosphere, the planetary consciousness.
Within this planetary consciousness, the movements of materialism or humanism and Christianity can both be seen as moving toward
the same ends. Humanism finds room for God and Christianity finds room for the world.
Life and the Planets: What is happening this moment on Earth?
The crisis of modern times can be seen as part of evolution , as a part of planetary change.
The creation of technologies that can penetrate the stars and galaxies and give us some idea of the dimensions of space create
a truly overwhelming picture of the Universe.
What is the significance of the planets in this Universe? Science says that they occurred, not as easily as the stars, but by
a very chance occurrence of two stars coming very close together and pluuing, by force of attraction, matter out of the star which broke
into a string of separate globes.
They are not the norm. And the earth, with it's specific conditions for life, is a rarity. This sense of overwhelming smallness
in the face of the immensity of a universe that seems inhospitable to life can make a person feel impossibly small and humanity equally
unimportant and doomed to extinction in time.
But perhaps we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.
When viewing the universe through the ascending complexity of things, then the planets are the place where greater evolution
has a chance to take place.
The stars are the birthplace of the planets, the planets the birthplace of organic life and organic life the
birthplace of consciousness – all increasing in centric-complexity (Not just more parts but concentrated around a center of organization,
as opposed to, say, a lump of sand.)
As mankind grows and interfaces, slowly forming a matrix around the entire planet, seemingly closing in upon itself in terms
of the number of people, the space available, and the interrelationship of our economies, our politics, our thoughts and aspirations, what
is occurring is the "planetary totalisation" of human consciousness, a "brain of brains." Through this brain of brains, mankind is faced,
through increasing complexity to a higher awareness of itself.
It is through this sighting of an higher consciousness, a higher step in evolution, that mankind gains hope and heart, to work
through the present chaos and strife in the world, rather than to give up and give in to pure pleasure seeking: we are working towards a
new world, a world in which interior attraction (that of the heart and mind) and not exterior coercion and enslavement, creates a new consciousness.
This is both possible and necessary to avoid extinction.
We cannot live well within the idea that the earth will die and everything that mankind has been will be as nothing.
Theorizing an Omega point, a place of convergence, a divine center in the universe, let's imagine constant radiations outward, which only
mystics have perceived, will warm the earth psychically, even as the earth goes cold physically (The sun diminishes and dies.)
can be seen as maturing to the point where it can leave the earth and stars falling back into nothingness as it joins with the Omega Point
--- a seeming death but in reality, a metamorphosis, which allows for the convergence of all that is best in Mankind.
The Planetization of Mankind (more reflections on planetisation)
Basically, the roiling of human society by wars and conflicts is an inevitable part of evolution as it seeks
to move humanity towards a spirit of collaboration and cooperation – to a higher unity. The basic difference between men, boils down to those
who don't believe in progress, and those that do.
Some reflections on the Spiritual Repercussions of the Atom Bomb
The atom bomb was the result of immense cooperation and collaboration. And although the effects were devastating,
the act of pulling off the collaborative effort and reaching this level of technological innovation must have been incredibly energizing
to the scientist involved.
At the same time, using the bomb in Hiroshima induced a state of psychic shock. Mankind needs to decide if the ultimate attitude
is man against nature, individualism at all costs, or if the Christian spirit is to reign: service. The spirit of force or the spirit of
love? Which summit does man decide is his destiny?
Faith In Peace
Attitudes of resignation and despair poison the minds of men following world war II. But peace is possible.
It is a mistake to forecast the fate of man based on animal tendencies.
Man is a new creation and unlike animals who tend to spread out,
man comes together and merges. People build towns, cultures, the whole word is part of the new evolution.
In the past cultures fought for survival, for land, game, food. But the diverging nature of man is no converging and instead
of destroying what the other has, we need it for our progress, our survival. Peace is now the natural and best alternative.
The wars we see are an upheaval of old structures, as deep underneath merging is happening everywhere.
Peace is inevitable when seen as an aspect of evolution that is increasing unification and complexity by forced interaction
and compression. Man evolves because the universe is unstoppable in its drive toward complexity and fulfillment.
It is not the official protestors of war, pacifist or conscientious objectors who hold the future of peace in their hands. It
is those turned in a totally different direction than war that reassure (Chardin) of the future of man.
Men and institutions that search for knowledge, that look for progress in all areas of learning are the harbingers of peace. They are directed towards fulfillment of Mankind's destiny, rather than fighting against man's old images of war.
Peace must not be misunderstood as a fantasy of tranquility that would be boring and deadly, but as a new tension of emergence,
straining together toward ever ne heights of consciousness. It is warefare in a sublimated form.
The Formation of the Noosphere
Noos = mind. The noosphere is a thinking substance that is an added planetary layer above the biosphere.
Previous to man, evolution of living things fanned out. Each species branched off into new forms. With man, due perhaps to reflective
capabilities, the species "folds into itself." Through sharing of thoughts, knowledge, passion etc,
Nature has created a species that covers the globe both diverse in its individual elements and unified by its basic characteristics – a "super organism."
There heredity of example and education are passed on through the noosphere, rather than by chromosomes so that the species
individual parts are enriched by the whole, by the exteriorization of knowledge in the noosphere.
Man has tools instead of converting his body into tools (i.e. claws, hooves, etc.) This helps to maintain his ability to adapt
quickly to future situations. We have machines that are evolving along with us, and we can consider them part of nature's plan as well.
Our tools are shared phenomenon, what starts as an individual insight, idea or project becomes a global phenomenon. The noosphere
is the organic brain of individual brains – each one reflective in its own right. TV and Radio are man's mechanical tools—his paws, claws
and beaks – that connect our brains function as part of the noospheric brain.
Computers revolutionize research; telescopes allow our eyes to see into outer space and inner space. A world wide network of
thinking is encompassing the globe through machines. With each passing day we become so much more intertwined that it is difficult to act
any way, except collectively.
The more we are compressed on the planet by growing population and less land space, the more tension and energy are created,
looking for an outlet. Research, once a luxury pursuit has become a main function of the brain.
Thousands cooperate, forming teams, networks, societies – creating one brain. Humanity is cerebralizing itself. The noosphere is a stupendous thinking machine.
Phases and Future of the Noosphere
Seeing the noosphere as a natural, biological progression, we can project its future. With this supreme aggregation
of collective thought and energy, a power of sympathy and telepathy will be normal.
Like the power that attracts atoms and molecules, humans
will generate, through the noosphere, a noospheric heart.
Seemingly impossible changes are occurring on the planet daily. Why not in the
feeling world? We can move from hatred to love.
And where will the apex of this Cone of organization be? From the lowest, elementary consciousness to the noospherical reflection
which may take several million years – humanity will reach this apex of super reflection and complete its growth.
Humanity will survive but will burst through to a new level of ultra center of unification. This burst in growth will propel us out of the material world and into
the transcendent world.
Nature builds complexity.
Small units make up larger units of organization. Cells build organisms and men build societies
and psychic organizations to get better results.
Man's peculiarity, as stated by Nietsche, is not only that he knows, but he knows that he knows.. He is self-aware and self-reflective
and he must commune with others to fulfill and expand himself.
Unlike animals who appear to live for the sake of the species, Man lives also
for the sake of himself – seemingly disintegrating social order.
But planetisation – the sense of evolution toward a new level - suppresses the ego towards the common good of mankind. The planetisation
needs to be set forth by the spirit of love, emanating entirely from the heart rather than externally, from some form of prescriptive or
Planetisation personalizes us more at the same time that it unifies us. Will this sense of evolution arise in time to avoid
self-destruction? Will we approach unification through the closer contact of bodies and minds?
The noosphere has been impacted by the World Wars. But there is a new growth in it. People now think in terms of the progress
and future of THE PLANET –this is an impact of the noosphere.
People are attracted to others who have hope and strive for progress, despite differences in race, creed, and ethnicity. They
sense each other and gather together.
There is a new zone arising in the noosphere which is uniting those of common sympathy and understanding rather than enforced
politics. Class is no longer a barrier, it is the movement of the mind or the immobility of the mind that separates people.
Faith In Man
Mankind as an organic whole possesses a future which consists of some form of higher life form or "super life."
Mythology and folklore express this deeply rooted belief in a future for man that takes him from Earth to Heaven.
Man's growing pains during World War II can be seen as a hunger for higher being.
Man's faith in mankind must be tempered by belief in something greater than Man. While at present it seems that man is having
faith only in himself, this is a part of man's growth towards a more spiritualizing force.
The tendency towards unification—of religions
of culture, of technology, is a prevalent force throughout the world.
Universal truths acceptable to all cultures and religions will slowly be accepted by all mankind.
Marxism and Christianity will grow to to eventually come together. Both are based on inner spiritual aspirations which have
faith in man to overcome difficulties. And that faith is based, no matter how detached it may appear, from an inner wellspring of spiritual
strength that comes from Faith in God.
XII Some Reflections on the Rights of Man
In 1789, the declaration of the Rights of Man, presupposed that each person was to unfold to the highest of their possible development.
But the unification of the world, the forces which are making each man and woman more and more dependent on each other and on the underpinnings
of society is creating more and more of a conflict between what is good for the individual and what is good for the whole.
But this conflict is superficial. In reality, no man stands alone and it is only through association with others that a person
can fulfill his destiny.
The issue is not collectivization versus individuation – but how the individual rights are protected while the collectivation
occurs. It cannot come through totalitarian government, cannot be imposed from the outside in.
Rather the progress of man comes through the
inner desire for harmony with the group, the society, the other man due to sympathy and spiritual insight that leads to harmony.
The three principles that should govern society's growth are:
1. The absolute duty of the individual to develop his own personality
2. The relative right of the individual to be placed in circumstances favorable to that development
3. The absolute right of the individual not to be deformed or coerced into actions but to be internally persuaded towards conformity that also liberates him to his highest growth
The Human Rebound of Evolution and It's Consequences
There appears two separate views of evolution – the Darwinists and the Lamarkians.
The Darwinists have a mechanistic view of evolution. The Lamarkians see evolution as directed by an inner purpose.
Both can be seen as correct. Before man appeared, with his self-reflective capacity, natures progress can be seen as a random
progression based on numbers.
But with the appearance of man, and his capabilities to imagine and direct his future, even to the point of
altering his organic evolution through science, now through these capacities nature begins to have a conscious direction.
Born by what appears to be chance, Life now depends on purposefulness to raise itself to greater complexity and fuller consciousness.
For future progress to be assured, the aspects of matter and consciousness must be functionally linked. And the interplay of
social and economic forces upon societies will inevitably force humanity to a stance of mutual attraction rather than mutual repulsion.
Natural selection is followed by purposeful selection through Man, and Man must evolve a consciousness that has a sense of moral
order as well as a mystical understanding of it's future, that draws it ever forward to higher development.
Man, through science, sees a possibility of his own extinction. He appears to see into the future and sees
the death of the planet, the death of the sun, the end of the human race.
Though he may escape this planet and set up a society within an
artificial biosphere, would this not spell a psychic death and lead to the collapse of the species ---a species that cannot live in an artificial
world that is static, that does not grow, change and move toward some higher development?
When faced with the current discoveries of science, which seem to separate Man and Mankind from the equation of nature, the
future looks very bleak, uninviting and with out purpose.
Is it true that Man is just a brief spark of energy in an unending landscape of
darkness or swirling masses of stars and planets?
The future of Man does not depend on Well-being, on a static environment that provides the so called necessities of life. The
future of Mankind depends on More-Being ---on the continued evolution of the whole toward unification with God.
The continuing pressure brought to bear in the world, the "shrinking" of the planet, the increasing complexity and folding in
of the Noosphere, the arising within Mankind of a sense of love for oneself and others and of the world – all lead to full creation of the
Body of Christ, which when fully matured, merges with God.
"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."