Saturday, November 21, 2009


Welcome to Omega Quest, a short story conveying
the ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin--i.e., his
theories of Cosmogenesis and Christogenesis.
Go to the very last post, which is the "Introduction"
and move your way forward.

(2) The Attractor

Unless we are an atheist, most of us ponder on the nature
of our existence as related to God. And if we study history,
cultural anthropology, evolutionary theory, it doesn't take
much to fall into wondering why we seem to be moving
forward--albeit, even in the midst of dreadful steps backward,
we eventually continue our march towards complexity and
greater levels of consciousness.

Can it all be just random? Mistakes, mutations? We do
definitely see mutations when it comes to our genetic code.
Perhaps this is the freedom we are allowed in order to evolve?
Gads! I hate speculation. But here I am, basking in its midst.

If somehow we come to believe that there is an Intelligence
that stands behind all this process we call Creation, indeed
what we call Life, well is it in our human nature to depersonalize
this Intelligence? Some of us do, but most of us don't.
After all, we are "persons."

So maybe it was not so outrageous that Teilhard tended to
personalize this Cosmic Plenum as the Cosmic Christ.

At this point, I felt that I stood at a crossroad. Where might
I turn in this regard? Somehow I felt empty just leaving
this Intelligence as a cold "there," if you will. Though I knew
that whatever I might choose as a personal name for "God,"
it was my choice. I had grown beyond simply culturally
inheriting a religious concept that endowed a Name upon
the Creator.

Still I harkened back to Teilhard's Cosmic Christ. I remembered
the thrill that I felt when I first saw the Pantocrator, the Christ in
Majesty, in that Byzantine-style cathedral. A mosaic of the
Lord of the Universe is just that, but it conveys the portrait of
thought conceived through long lines of generations--to reach
this point of theological discovery in their minds.

Pehaps we will never know *exactly* the nature or personality
of our Creator, but it's possible to spy a steady train of thought
operable down through the ages. Perhaps God works in our
minds, drawing us forward--ever towards more sophisticated
concepts of who this great Cosmic Plenum might be?

I suspect we will never tire trying to answer this question.

(1) The Attractor

Chapter Six. The Attractor

Somewhere along the line I picked-up a small historical
booklet that featured the world travels of Teilhard. Incredible,
but this good Jesuit seemed to go just about everywhere.
And much to my surprise, I noted that in his last years that
he even visited the Lawrence Laboratories here at Berkeley.
He was given a tour of the old Cyclotron, though nowadays
accelerators have expanded into ever new territories beyond
high-energy physics.

I have to give Teilhard credit, in that he kept in touch with
the scientific developments of his day! For a few years I
had dropped my interest in Teilhard, but this little booklet
ended my hiatus. Discovering the fact that this great
Jesuit actually stepped on the same ground where I work
seemed to fire my interest once again.

I latched onto another element of Teilhard's thought. He
believed that God or the Omega was an *Attractor.* He
spoke of this consideration in terms such as the "Ahead"
or implied that the Future beckoned us forward. Like a
magnet? Goodness, I began to realize that the cyclotron
works within a magnetic field. Curious, this coincidence,
if you will.

So this coincidence over Teilhard's visit to Berkeley started
me to wonder over his ideas in a new way. It was easy to
figure that Omega was the *magnet* drawing us forward
towards ever greater consciousness. Teilhard's "Center"
was the magnet, drawing forth all of Creation to a grand

In turn, this led me to meander into my own theological

(4) Consciousness & Complexity

Just looking around, in my own professional environment, it was
easy to figure that Teilhard was moving in the right direction when
it came to his ideas.

Today there are thousands of interlinking computer networks
representing all the domains of the planet. Not only are academic
researchers and scientists connected, but creative minds of every
stripe are connected as well by the computer. And there is a growing
expectation that the enhancement of computer sophistication and
capability points towards the eventuality of a global brain. Yet,
something more seems to be required than the linkage of computers
as we know them. Indeed, something is looming on the horizon.
Almost as if emerging out of an evolutionary destiny, there is the
advent of "Artificial Intelligence," (AI).

Through the efforts of AI researchers and cognitive theorists, we
are steadily arriving towards the conclusion that the realm of
Intelligence may indeed consist of intricate, interlaced knowledge-
processing networks whether housed in animal, human, computer,
or cosmic!

(3) Consciousness & Complexity

In the cell, Teilhard believes that "we have...the stuff of the universe
reappearing once again with all its characteristics...only this time
it has reached a higher rung of complexity," and thus has advanced
"still further in interiority, i.e., in consciousness." Teilhard labels
this vast network of living creatures the *biosphere.*

This biosphere, this advancing network of life, has thus far
resulted in the culminating development of man. With the advent
of man, Teilhard believes that cosmic evolution has finally become
conscious of least on this planet, which is woven into the
cosmic whole. Teilhard opines that the destiny of man is to culminate
into a consciousness of the species.

This consciousness of mankind will ultimately become the "thinking
layer of the Earth," which Teilhard calls the *noosphere.*

Cosmic evolution will not cease with the noosphere. Teilhard does
not consider the human species to be the epitome of the universe;
rather, he believes that Nature provides us with yet anothrer
evolutionary opening...that of a "super-soul above our souls." The
whole "gigantic psycho-biological operation" of cosmic evolution
points toward a "mega-synthesis" of all the thinking elements of the
Earth forcing an entree into the realm of the super-human.

Teilhard refers to the super-human as the "Omega Point." It is, for
him, the apex of cosmic evolution.

(2) Consciousness & Complexity

Teilhard stresses a sense of building-up, of an accumulation
of a cosmic reflective nature. He puts it thus: "Under the free
and ingenious effort of successful intelligences, *something*...
irreversibly accumlates...and is transmitted, at least collectively
by means of education, down the course of ages."

On Earth the person individually, and humanity collectively,
represent cosmic consciousness at its present stage of
development. Teilhard declares" man as a definite turning
point, an upgrading of the cosmic process towards consciousness.
But he does *not* consider man separate from Nature! "Man
emerged from a general groping of the world. He was born
a direct lineal descendent from a total effort of life, so that the
species has an axial value and a pre-eminent dignity."

Teilhard believes that man may be pivotal in this cosmogenic
outreach towards greater consciousness. Humankind
collectively, says Teilhard, is in a "state of continuous additive
growth, in numbers and inter-connections." It is becoming
more "tightly concentrated upon itself."

Teilhard calls for a push toward a new dimension of cosmic
reality. He calls for the human collectivity to erect a "sphere of
mutually reinforced consciousness, the seat, support and
instrument of super-vision and super-ideas. Mankind has to
build the noosphere!

Optimistic, Teilhard believes that the human collectivity has
already made some progress towards achieving the construction
of the noosphere. Teilhard puts it: "In every past generation
true seekers, those by vocation or profession, are to be found,
but in the past they were no more than a handful of individuals,
generally isolated, and of a type that was virtually abnormal.
But fields embracing every aspect of physical matter,
life and thought, the research workers are to be numbered in the
hundreds of thousands, and they no longer work in isolation but
in teams endowed with penetrative powers, in
process of becoming a major, indeed the principal, function of
humanity." Teilhard definitely believes that humanity is
"cerebralizing" itself, and slowly but surely building the noosphere..."

(1) Consciousness & Complexity

Chapter Five. Consciousness & Complexity

Though I was initially disappointed when I found out that
Teilhard engaged in religious speculation after he had a
special experience, I still was very much attached to his
earlier sense of Cosmogenesis. After awhile I once again
approached his idea about what he coined as the
"Cosmic Law of Complexity Consciousness."

Teilhard explains it thus: "if the universe regarded siderealy,
is in process of spatial expansion (from the infinitesimal to
the immense), in the same way and still more clearly it
presents itself to us, physico-chemically, as in process of
organic involution upon itself (from the extremely simple to
the extremely complex...and, moreover, this particular
involution of complexity is experimentally bound up with a
correlative increase in interiorization, that is to say in the
psyche or consciousness."

Whew! Teilhard's prose is heavy! Just for my own sake I
had to break down his Cosmic Law into more understandable
language. As I dipped more into Teilhard, studying what he
believed about Consciousness evolving, becoming more
complex, I stumbled across more specifically his ideas about
what he called the "Biosphere" and the "Noosphere." They
are the steps towards Complexity.

(4) Cosmic Christ

On the other hand, I could not shake off Teilhard's idea of
Christogenesis. Of course I realized that lots of people are
gripped by a special, need I say "spiritual," experience. The
central issue in all this, however, is about how one might
interpret this experience.

Was Teilhard's special experience a vision, or something
that slipped out into his consciousness during meditation?
I don't know, in that he only alluded to it. But I do remember
his once writing about meditation techniques, like peering
into a flame, being drawn out of oneself, etc. Perhaps what
he had experienced was a deep kind of *intuition*?

I decided to drive north, up into nearby Sonoma County to
visit the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Established a
number of years back, it essentially concentrated on special
mental phenomena from a scientific perspective. What I hoped
to gain from this visit was more of a contemporary understanding
of Intutition that wasn't necessarily connected with magical or
even spiritual thinking.

Having made an appointment, I spent a few days on a
personal retreat at IONS talking with some of the experts
who studied the subject of Intuition.

Admitting that Intuition could take many forms, their task was
to discern between wishful thinking and what they deemed
"pure" Intuition. So how do you do that? Well wishful thinking
is mainly about fooling yourself. It also can involve projection,
where you can project on another person or on a relationship
or on a form of faith in your deep set wishes.

Could Teilhard have projected onto the Historical Jesus his
wish to make his idea of the Cosmic Christ *real*?

And exactly what might Intuition be? Interestingly, specialists
today believe that true intuition centers in your body. That
surprised me. Researchers are discovering that true intuition
seems to be accompanied by excitement, joy, fulfillment--all
a kind of "brightness" that more than often is first felt by your

Then comes our mental images when it comes to Intuition.
One need carefully to analyze this initial sensation, asking
one's self whether the experience is actually residue from
recent experiences for example. Finally, if one comes to
realize that what they have experienced is a true intuition,
they will eventually be comfortable with it, calm after analysis
of such, and then integrate it into their life.

Well--coming off this retreat, I wasn't sure how scientifically
sound these present understandings of Intuition were. At
least these researchers were trying to approach this
phenomenon "generically" instead of attaching magical or
spiritual significance to such.

Nonetheless, driving home, I realized that I--or anyone else-
would ever be able to explain away Teilhard's special
experience. Whether intuition or not, historically Intuition
is a human capacity that has resulted in profound expressions
of genius. And it would seem that Teilhard was such a case!

(3) Cosmic Christ

Following my examination of Teilhard's "Christogenesis," I
had to admit that I felt disappointed. Earlier in my theological
training, I felt shot down by all the recent academic studies of
the Historical Jesus. And now it would seem that Teilhard
indulged in religious *speculation.*

Again I felt shot down. During my youth I was so enraptured
by Teilhard's thought, accepting the "surface" of his thought
with then no idea how he came about it. Sometimes it hurts
being a scientist. And as a careful theologian, now more
scholarly aware, I felt sad.

Still I refused to write-off Teilhard. Basically he was trying to
get a grip on the biggest Mystery we face: the meaning of the
universe, the meaning of our role in it. And I have no doubt
he was sincere in his faith. For him, it somehow all made
sense to declare the Historical Jesus and the Cosmic Christ
as one and the same.

But the question arises: what about the billions of other people
on this planet who are not Christian? Can they be forced-fed
to believe Teilhard? Of course not. Even his own Church
silenced Teilhard for nearly his entire adult life. Earlier I felt
this a cruel infringement on academic freedom, but now I
must take pause and wonder.

Still, after his death, Teilhard's thought was published--and
thousands upon thousands of Christians (and even maybe
others) took hope that we were engaged in a majestic
universal process that really was about helping to build the
Body of Christ in a grand and new way. Even today, some
hope--though the memory of Teilhard has faded considerably.

Yet, his old idea of Cosmogenesis keeps being refreshed by
today's scientists--employing new scientific theoretics enabled
by modern technology. But most no longer dare to give a
name to this phenomenon that we still witness.

(2) Cosmic Christ

Scraping through these specifics proved long and tedious.
Teilhard was really difficult to read--and sometimes equally
hard to understand. But I was persistent and came-up with
what I determined was his pattern of thought about the
Cosmic Christ.

However, right off, I must make mention that it would seem that
Teilhard's ensuing thinking about the Cosmic Christ came *after*
a special experience he admitted having. This strange experience
assumingly left him with a unique insight, wherein he began to
understand that the Jesus of History was also the Cosmic Christ.

Teilhard proceeded. As a faith-filled Jesuit he strived to under-
stand and undertake what he deemed a "unity" between Jesus
and the Cosmic Christ--and further along, a unity that included all
of humanity.

Following through with Teilhard's idea of a Cosmogenesis,
alone it presented a "faceless God." As others have discovered,
the cosmology in Teilhard's day, the cosmology of our own times,
seems impersonal. Perhaps the most that we can make of it--in
terms of familiarity--is as the Plenum or Prime Mover of the

But Teilhard stressed that, indeed, this Plenum was the Cosmic
Christ. He endowed Personality upon the universe. And he
seriously believed that this great Person came to Earth in the
form of a man--Jesus of Nazareth! Jesus became the face of
God, Western Civilization's *Imago Dei.*

Teilhard also focused on what both St. John and St. Paul--and
the later Christian Fathers--proclaimed, that Jesus was the
"Incarnation of the Logos." Again, we must remember that the
early Greek philosophers considered the Logos to be the
Godhead, the Cosmic Plenum.

At this point, I knew that Teilhard could no longer be observed
as a dispassionate scientist. After his special experience, he
followed what he perceived to be an insight into the Truth. And,
thus, he declared that the crux of his particular faith system was
that Truth.

Teilhard felt that the whole movement of the universe is converging
upon God. And as he put, "if we accept the evidence that the
Christ of revelation is identical with the Omega of evolution, then
a way out begins to shine through in the most distant future."

At this point, Teilhard delves into some interesting detail. He
believed that the eucharistic presence was the symbol and
concrete sign of Christ's "kenosis into matter." In other words
the Incarnation! And ultimately, via evolution, humanity would
share in the Resurrection of Christ.

For Teilhard "evolution" was essentially an ascent towards
humanity's reflective consciousness. He also believed that the
universe was converging towards some ultimate center--a
Supreme Center. And though millions upon millions years
away , this Great Center that Teilhard also called "Omega"
was the ultimate end of the whole evolutionary process.
And to repeat, Teilhard sincerely believed in the "evidence"
that the Christ of Revelation was identical to the Omega of

(1) Cosmic Christ

Chapter Four. Cosmic Christ

Since Teilhard others have moved into this idea of a Cosmic Christ.
Since Teilhard these additional perspectives add new facets to the
whole conception of a universal Christ. However, I decided that I
needed to delve far more deeply into Teilhard's effort to unify his
faith in Jesus as the Christ with his conception of the Cosmic Christ.

If I may, I should like directly to quote a three-step approach that
Teilhard set forth when it came to this effort towards unity:

• "A first step would consist in developing (along the lines of the
"perennial philosophy;" primacy of being, act and potency) a
correct physics and metaphysics of evolution. I am convinced
that an honest interpretation of the recent achievements of scientific
thought justifiably leads not to a materialistic but to a spiritualistic
interpretation of evolution:--the world we know is not developing
by chance, but is structurally controlled by a personal Centre of
universal convergence.

• "The second step concerns dogmatic theology and would consist
in articulating a Christology which would be in keeping with the
dimensions of the universe as we know them today. This would
mean a recognition that, along with those strictly human and divine
attributes chiefly considered by theologians up to now, Christ
possesses, by virtue of the mechanism of the Incarnation, attributes
which are universal and cosmic, and it is these which constitute
him that personal Centre hypothetically invoked by the physics and
metaphysics of evolution. Such a perspective is in striking harmony
with the most fundamental texts of St. John and St. Paul, and with
the theology of the Greek Fathers.

• "A third step concerns the spiritual life and would consist in
developing an evangelism of human conquest. This third step
follows automatically from the second, since it is indeed impossible
for Christians to have a clearer vision of Christ as the summit of the
world's evolution without at the same time appreciating more deeply
the supernatural value of human effort carried out in Christ Jesus.
The universal Christ enables us to understand that the most direct
way to heaven is not to let go of earth as quickly as possible, as
could sometimes appear, but to bring this earth to fulfilment, since
we see it now as a much vaster thing, more unfinished than we ever
suspected. In this way fundamental Christian attitudes would thrive
and move ahead forcefully, without in the least deviating from their
traditional course."
[Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, "Quelques reflexions sur la conversion
du monde, 1936, Oeuveres," ix, 161-162.]

Now to the specifics, when it comes to Teilhard's Christ.

(4) Jesus Unto Christ

Also, the idea that Jesus as the Incarnate Logos had come to
*illuminate* creation is indeed fascinating! The late great Church
scholar, Jaroslav Pelikan, wrote that "by becoming incarnate
in Jesus, the Logos had enabled human beings to transcend
themselves and, in a pregnant phrase of the New Testament, 'to
become partakers in the divine nature' [2 Pet. 1:4]. The Logos of
God has become human, 'so that you might learn from a human
being how a human being may become divine.'
[Clement of Alexandria, EXHORTATION TO THE GREEKS, 1.8.4]

"Indeed, the Logos was 'the true light that enlightens every man!'
As the Word of God, the Logos has spoken in the life
and teachings of Jesus. As the Reason of God, the Logos made
sense out of the maddness of the world and the power of evil. As
the structure of the Cosmos, the Logos held forth the promise that
there could be a *system* and a connection between the disparate
elements of the Universe as it was experienced. As the Savior of the
Cosmos, the Logos had not snatched humanity out of the goodness
of the created order, but had transformed the created order into a fit
setting for a *transformed humanity.*"
[ Gregory of Nyssa, ON THE MAKING OF MAN, 22.5]

"Thus pondering over the idea of the Christ as the Incarnate Logos,
perhaps St. Paul sums it up most magnificently: "He is the image of
the invisible God, the first-born of all Creation; for in him all things
were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether
thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were
created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him
all things hold together." [Col. 1: 15-19]

Hence studying through all this Christology of the Early Church,
it was easy to put two-and-two together when it came to Teilhard's
approach to the "Cosmic Christ." He was dealing with a Continuum
of Thought, leading from the Logos-Pneuma unto Christ--and he
surely knew it.

As for the Historical Jesus, well (like millions of others down through
the centuries) I can only say that it is a matter of faith. And Teilhard
held tight to his faith in Jesus as the Incarnation.

Of course through all these centuries, there's what is known as the
"Christ of Faith" that shape-shifts in our minds. Without going much
into this, scholars have traced how we humans have "fit" our faith
in Christ to our immediate milieu--whether the Middle Ages, whether
the Renaissance, whether the Enlightenment, whether Revolutionary
periods, whether during Wars, whether the cry for Liberation and

And in today's world, too, we are starting to look towards the Christ
of Faith from a cosmic, universal perspective that probably runs well
ahead of any faith system or institution. Teilhard's Cosmogenesis,
his Christogenesis, eventually unto the Omega Point, points the way.

(3) Jesus Unto Christ

Indeed early Christian philosophers, many known as the "Christian
Fathers," were oft classically trained, declaring over and over that
Jesus was the *Incarnation of the Logos.* They were harkening
back to the earlier Greek concepts of the Logos--as put:

• The Logos represents the heart of the cosmic pattern
and the source of existence, its emblem is the sun, which
is the source of life and light. 

• For the Greeks and Romans the "Invincible Sun" was
the master of all nature, creator and preserver of men. 

• Like God, the sun eternally gives forth from itself without
ever being diminished, thus establishing itself as the most
perfect symbol of the ineffable First Cause. 

• Commonplace in Hellenistic thought, if the sun can be
seen as the material reflection of the First Cause, by analogy
the First Cause can be represented as the Spiritual or
Intelligible Sun. 

• Philo refers to God as the Intelligible Spiritual Sun, and
the Logos his offspring, as the Son of God.

• "The Logos is God's Likeness, by whom the whole
kosmos was fashioned." [Philo Judaeus] 

• "We speak of God, of the Son, his Word, and of the Holy
Spirit; and we say that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are
united in power. For the Son is the intelligence, reason, and
wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit is an effluence, as light
from fire." [Athenagoras] 

• The nature of the Logos was also represented by the
natural principle of musical harmony. It is through the power
of harmony that all parts of creation are reconciled into a
greater whole.

• The Logos is in the arche, the Beginning, Source or Fount
of existence. As the underlying harmonic pattern of creation,
all things were made through the Logos, which contains the
principles of Life and Light.

(2) Jesus Unto Christ

However, there's another batch of writing when it comes to Jesus.
The Epistles by St. Paul were letters to various communities of the
Early Church. But Paul the Apostle barely touches upon any
historical elements about Jesus, though he must have had some
knowledge in that he was occasionally in touch with James, the
older brother of Jesus. James the Just headed the Jerusalem
church after Jesus' death. I can only surmise that Paul would have
heard some historical detail about Jesus through this contact.

But Paul evidently had other plans, actually a matter of contention
between the Jerusalem church and him. Paul decided to announce
Jesus as the Christ to the Gentiles, more specifically to potential
converts who lived within the Greco-Roman cultures. Hence his
many trips to places like Cornith, Ephesus, Antioch, and Athens.

However, Paul puts his own "spin" into who Jesus was! For any
one who has studied Classical Greek Philosophy some of Paul's
interpretations of Christ sounded very familiar. Paul was obviously
literate and aware of the Greek sense of the "Logos," the Ground
of Being. Basically he preached Jesus as the Logos come among
us. The Logos chose to become a "slave," incarnated as a human

Quoting St. Paul:
• "To a God Unknown"...For the God who made the
world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not
dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands; nor does he receive
man's service as if he were in need of it. Rather, it is he who gives
to all life and breath and everything else. From one stock he made
every nation of mankind to dwell on the face of the earth. It is he
who set limits to their epochs and fixed the boundaries of their
regions. They were to seek God, yes to grope for him and perhaps
eventually to find him--though he is not really far from any one of us.
In him we live and move and have our being..."for we too are his
offspring." [Acts. 17: 23-28] 

• Since the creation of the world, invisible realities, God's
eternal power and divinity, have become visible, recognized
through the things he has made. [Romans. 1: 20] 

• is not those who hear the law who are just in the
sight of God; it is those who keep it who will be declared just. When
Gentiles who do not have the law keep it as by instinct, these men
although without the law serve as a law for themselves. They show
that the demands of the law are written in their hearts.
[Romans. 2: 13-15] 

• ...this hope will not leave us disappointed, because
the love of God has been poured out in our ears through the Holy
Spirit who has been given to us. [Romans. 5: 5] 

• All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God...
The Spirit himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children
of God. [Romans. 8: 14, 16] 

• Christ is the end of the law. Through him, justice
comes to everyone who believes. [Romans. 10: 4] 

• The earth and its fullness are the Lord's.
[1 Corinthians. 10: 26] 

• The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord
is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled
faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image
by the Lord who is the Spirit. [2 Corinthians. 3: 17-18] 

(1) Jesus Unto Christ

Chapter Three. Jesus unto Christ

I felt that I had to return to what theologians deem as the "Historical
Jesus," before I swept into Teilhard's idea(s) of the Cosmic Christ.
Reading through Teilhard, I have no doubt he believed that Jesus
was the Christ. He felt that Jesus--as the Incarnation--was God's
Gift to the world.

But the modern quest for the Historical Jesus was barely under-
way when Teilhard was undertaking his probe into Christ. In
more recent times a considerable bulk of scholarship about Jesus
has become more available.

To begin, there has been an intense focus on the Four Gospels
that provide the major account of Jesus' life. Of course even I
knew that they were not written by scribes following him around,
jotting down his every word or action. But what did astound me
was how long after Jesus' death that these Gospels were written.

Tradition has it that the disciples--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John--were the authors of the Gospels named after them. The
only trouble with this was that it is now fairly well known that the
Gospels were written decades and decades after Jesus' crucifixion.
For example, it is believed as follows: Mark in 70 c.e.; Matthew in
90 c.e.; Luke in 90 c.e.; and John at the end of the 1st century c.e.

This makes a person hard pressed to believe that those first
disciples, some likely illiterate fishermen, could write the texts
of the Gospels. Matthew the Tax Collector perhaps was literate
in that we know he could count. And Luke the Physician was
likely literate--and probably spoke and wrote Greek, which was
actually the major language of commerce in the Hellenistic World.
But can we say the disciples from Capernaum, whose language
was Aramaic, could speak and write easily in Greek--the original
lingo found in the earliest versions of the Gospels that were
written so very long after Jesus' death.

Scholars also believe that the Synoptic Gospels--Matthew,
Mark, and Luke--were based upon Oral Tradition, or upon
another earlier record that is referred to as the Q-document.
This supposed unknown document has never been discovered.
As for John's Gospel, presumably written in Ephesus, it's more a
spiritual testament written maybe by several authors. (Computers
were being used to determine the writing styles of the Gospel
writers. Using this technological tool, the idea that there was
more than one writer in some texts was made more firm.)

And back in 1945 there was the discovery of what is called the
"Nag Hammadi Library." An Egyptian peasant discovered jars
full of codexes --ancient books--that contained *other* Gospels.
Presumed to have been part of the library of an early Christian
monastery located in the desert, scholars surmise that the monks
hid these books so as not to be persecuted. These other Gospels
are part and parcel of the dichotomy between the orthodox and
the heterodox groups in the Early Church. They represent,
probably at a later date, another perspective when it comes to
understanding Jesus Christ .

Some of these other Gospels were considered to be gnostic
writings, some not. Gnosticism actually existed before and
outside of Christianity, but there were also Christian gnostics.
And "gnosis" was about knowing, about a special insight, when
it comes to understanding God. There were Christian gnostic
bishops and leaders, just as there was in that other part of
Christianity that tended towards orthodoxy. But the crux of the
problem between the two groups would seem to have been
about "authority," mainly human authority. The differences in
outlook regarding this issue was like a wide chasm.

In time Christian orthodoxy seemed to have won the day,
mainly by eliminating Christian gnostics--usually by driving
them underground or by killing them.

Nevertheless, these new Gospels replete with new perspectives
about Jesus have emerged. Upon their discovery at Nag Hammadi,
scholars quickly translated the codexes--with the financial help of
the United Nations--and they are now available to the public.

(4) Modern Comparisons

I suppose I could write about more contemporary comparisons
when it comes to Teilhard's "scientific" ideas. As I discovered,
all I would have to do is look around. It's kind of curious that
Teilhard, himself, suffered so much when it came to his own
efforts. Though, nowadays, his sense of evolutionary science
may seem quaint, he truly believed that he had discovered the
Cosmic Christ alive and active in the world, in the universe.

Teilhard was a true man of faith, only different. His own church
authorities "silenced" him. Literally, during his entire adult life,
as a Jesuit, he was not allowed to publish any of his writing
when it came to his view of the Cosmic Christ. For these church
authorities, Teilhard's thought simply did not compute with their
doctrine or dogma. Teilhard was a man ahead of his time!

As for myself, at this point, I surely felt confused. Yes, I could
make modern scientific comparisons when it came to Teilhard's
thinking about Energy, about the Noosphere, even perhaps
about a Plenum undergirding our physical world; but I had yet
to understand any of this within the context of the Cosmic Christ.

Beyond this, when I was studying Christology (at the Jesuit
school in Berkeley), I felt that at most I was delving more into
theological speculation rather than observing Reality. I finally
had come to realize that the job of a theologian was not
necessarily the same as that of a scientist. Though I would
have liked it to be.

Still--even in a faith system--there need somehow be a basis
for "Truth." Still when it came to my studies of the Historical
Jesus, there was all this exposure when scholars started
integrating biblical studies with archaeology and cross-cultural
studies. These scholarly undertakings seemed to undermine
Jesus as we mainly understood him in the Church.

Of course I had to realize that before I began to study Christology
I was coming from a parochial background that didn't necessarily
lend towards deep study. So, yes, I was disappointed that my
originally small ideas about Jesus were being challenged. I
wanted a comfortable Jesus in whom I could take comfort.

Regardless, I decided to plod on with Teilhard. Perhaps I
might eventually come to understand the Cosmic Christ as he did.
However, even when it comes to Christology, approaching the idea
of the Cosmic Christ makes one a pioneer probing into the Unknown.

(3) Modern Comparisons

I even discovered some earlier material written by the late
Jonas Salk that I felt might also relate to Teilhard's earlier thought.

Salk was a medical biologist remembered especially for his
development of a polio vaccine. He was also the founder of and
directed the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (in La Jolla,
California) until his death.

As one of the world's pre-eminent biologists, Salk deeply
considered the emergence of Mind in terms of cosmic evolution.
And, for him the mind is part and parcel with the brain and is a
natural outcome of our biological development.

He believes that evolution sparked by our internal environment
brought forth the development of human intelligence. It brought
forth the qualities of not only intelligence, but imagination and
ingenuity as well.

Now that "contemplation, abstract thought, science and technology"
have finally appeared in man--Salk asks: then what is the nature
and meaning of these abilities?

For Salk ideas lead to new, unpredictable experiences--
and ideas possess a characteristic as tangible as material
substances. "Ideas evolve just as do living things." In their way
ideas are a kind of evolutionary feedback system, cycling from
the evolutionary process and in turn prompting further, higher
evolutionary jumps.

Salk stresses that by employing our mind both individuals and
society must share in the "talents and orientations which give
purpose or evolutionary direction to man, leading to still newer
and higher purposes. By becoming more aware of how value
judgments operate, are motivated, we can in a sense begin to
exercise a determined course over our own individual
development--and we could do the same at the societal level.

Salk believes that we need to come to understand evolution
better--both cosmic and biological. We need to come to under-
stand better the natural "arrangements" exhibited in living systems.

So--though Salk does *not* bring a divinity or even a cosmic
plenum into his thinking, he does focus on evolution and how
Mind has finally emerged into a fairly recognizable Noosphere--
albeit fairly new born, if you will.

What fascinated me was that Salk definitely brought-up the
need for personal and societal *responsibility* when it came to
our evolutionary development. Like David Bohm, Salk believes
that we are dealing with an evolutionary feedback system that
is connected with "ideas." It's just that Salk leaves it at that,
never referring to a Plenum or Implicate Order, much less a
Within vis-a-vis a Without. Still he conveys that evolutionary
sense that far earlier had "set off" Teilhard on his journey.

(2) Modern Comparisons

Finally I finished my theology program with a newly minted Master's
degree attesting to such. By this time I was approaching my middle
years. So here I was, a physicist at the Laboratory who also was
a fledgling theologian. In due course I decided simply to *enjoy*
my Omega Quest as I started calling my foray into Teilhardian
thought. As it turned out, this quiet little decision gave me the
freedom to walk down a number of paths. I had no specific agenda,
hence no pressure.

However, I did have some pet interests. One was this whole idea
of the Noosphere--the mental sphere of the Earth, which (at this
point in evolution) was focused on humanity's development.
Teilhard, himself, felt that our sudden 20th century move into
research and technology was the major outset of the Noosphere.

Turned out that besides David Bohm, there were some other modern
thinkers entering my line-of-sight when it came to Teilhard's idea
of the Noosphere. For example, I discovered the comparative
thought of Ervin Laszlo--the Founder of Systems Philosophy.

Laszlo does not believe that evolution is teleological, but none-
theless it is directional in that it directs a given non-linear system
to move further and further from equilibrium. And thus, this leads
to not only life but to intelligence!

As for societal systems, Laszlo notes the obvious--they are
self-evolving, autopoietic systems! And convergence plays a big
part in societal systems--moving from tribes, villages, ethnic
communities, colonies, provinces, nation-states, etc. And if
these societal systems decline, reach a level of chaos, they can
either bifurcate into destruction or move to a higher level open to
new societal forms--that historically are shaped by "individual
action and interaction and modified by changes in collective
culture and public policy."

In the case of Humanity there is the natural jump to the subject
of "Mind." Laszlo considers the phenomenon of mind as the
most remarkable of all experienced phenomena--a matter-energy
system in the universe." However, the human mind is not simply
the subjective side of a mind-body entity; rather, it is the multi-
faceted "seat" of feelings, emotions, imagination, intuition, value,
as well as abstract thought.

The Mind "knows that it is knowing it." It's not only aware of its
environment, but can describe its sensations. For Laszlo the
Mind is a highly sophisticated entity--a special system that, too,
is prone to *error.* As Laszlo puts it: "Error is the price paid for

And now we are getting to the core of Laszlo's thinking, when
it comes to an evolving Noosphere. The human mind has led
to the creation of more technologically sophisticated socieites,
advanced societies that have somewhat freed themselves from
the basic sphere of survival. In turn, an advanced society--more
free from the raw struggle of survival--propagates culture. Of
course this is true for individuals too! Such advancement allows
both persons and socieities to pursue "higher needs" such as
aesthetics, intellectual pursuits, and the quest for ultimate meaning.

Laszlo ponders further, wondering that maybe this entity we call
"Mind" is really a vaster collective consciousness--the fount of *all*
consciousness. Considering a self-aware universe, Laszlo believes
that such a Cosmic Entity would be subject to conservation as a
"dynamic energy" phenomenon just as are all other phenomena
in the physical universe. Energy is conserved according to the law
of physics. "It is only transformed from one form to another, so that
nothing is lost in the universe."

For Laszlo there is the possibility of what he terms a "psi field," a
psychic field. Comparing this psi field to gravitational and electro-
magnetic fields, etc., it is here in which all individual experience
could be accumulated and deposited at the universal level. Laszlo
stresses that such a psi field would have to possess a "mental
dimension." In essence, this special "psi field" would represent
the "mental dimension of the universe."

(1) Modern Comparisons

Chapter Two: Modern Comparisons

Eventually I moved into my thesis work during the latter part
of my theological studies. I decided that I would write a
comparative study of Teilhard's Cosmogenesis with Bohm's
Theory of the Implicate Order. Trying--and I mean *only* trying--
I hoped to keep this thesis within a scientific bailiwick, if you will.
At this point I would focus strictly on Teilhard and Bohm's idea
that there is actually an Intelligent Plenum underlying our universe.

But before I move forward, for this little journal, I must introduce
some information about the late David Bohm, known in the
scientific community as the "Father of Quantum Mechanics."

An American, Bohm was one of the leading quantum physicists
of our age. Following a venerable career at the University of
California (Berkeley) and at Princeton's Institute of Advanced
Studies, he moved to become Professor of Theoretical Physics
at Birkbeck College of the University of London. During his later
years he linked a formidable knowledge of the history and
philosophy of science to his keen experience as a physicist.
Bohm attempted to explain an ontological basis for quantum

In this journal I won't move into serious explanations of quantum
theory. However, Bohm believes that at the very depths of the
ground of all existence there exists a special energy. For Bohm
it is the Plenum; it is an "immense background of energy." The
energy of this ground is likened to one whole and unbroken
movement. Bohm calls this the "Holomovement." It is the
Holomovement that carries the Implicate Order.

Bohm's Holomovement seems nearly a companion to Teilhard's
idea of a "Radial Energy." Bohm also refers to a law in the Holo-
movement. He theorizes that the 'order in every immediately
perceptible aspect of the world is to be regarded as coming out
of a more comprehensive Implicate Order, in which all aspects
ultimately merge in the undefinable and immeasurable Holo-

With this, Bohm's "Implicate Order" corresponds with Teilhard's
"Within," even to that ultimate merging into an Omega Point.
As for Teilhard's "Without," well we have Bohm's "Explicate Order."

Bohm's Explicate Order, however, is secondary--derivative. It flows
out of the law of the Implicate Order, a law that stresses the relation-
ships between the enfolded structures that interweave each other
throughout cosmic space rather than between the "abstracted and
separate forms that manifest to the senses."

In other words, there is an *inter-relationship* between the Inner
and Outer of this universe. This corresponds with Teilhard;s
consideration--that the Within and the Without are seamless,
weaving together. And how might this be achieved? Mainly by
becoming more *Conscious.*

For Bohm Consciousness can be "described in terms of a series
of moments." Basically, "one moment gives rise to the next, in which
context that was previously implicate is now explicate while the
previous explicate content has become implicate." Consciousness
is an interchange; it is a *feedback process* that results in a
growing accumulation of understanding.

Like Teilhard, Bohm considers the human individual to be an
"intrinsic feature of the universe, which would be incomplete--in
some fundamental sense" if the person did not exist. He believes
that individuals participate in the whole and consequently give it
meaning. Because of human participation, the "Implicate Order is
getting to know itself better."

It is this collective consciousness of mankind that is truly significant
for Bohm. It is this collective consciousness that is truly one and
indivisible, and it is the responsibility of each human person to
contribute towards the building of this consciousness of mankind,
this noosphere! Bohm also believes that the individual will eventually
be fulfilled upon the completion of cosmic noogenesis.

Friday, November 20, 2009

(4) Encountering Teilhard

Moving into Teilhard's ideas about tangential energy vis-a-vis
radial energy seemed somewhat strange. Though Teilhard's
science had become somewhat antiquated over time, his ideas
about Cosmogenesis--even about consciousness rising forth
out of complexity--made sense. In today's cosmology we have
become far more aware that our universe, indeed the Earth,
is a gigantic Complex System consisting of an infinitude of
complex systems. But when Teilhard declares that "all energy
is psychic in nature," he had crossed the border into speculation!

He notes that Energy is "divided into two distinct components:
a tangential energy, which links the element with all others of the
same order...and a radial energy which draws it towards ever
great complexity and centricity--in other words forwards."

At this point my scientifically-trained mind bulked. On the
other hand, as a trainee in theology, I had to admit that Teilhard
most certainly presented an adventurous approach when it came
to the idea of a Godhead. Fortunately I did not allow myself to
become conflicted when it came to modern cosmology and
theological theory.

I decided to follow the flow of Teilhard's thought, accepting
that the good Jesuit was trying to provide a more contemporary
context in which to place his archaic faith system. So I continued
to plow through Teilhard as he unabashedly submitted that the
"essence of the real...could well be represented by the 'interiority'
contained by the universe at a given moment."

Teilhard's radial energy was his way of arriving at the crux of
his universal "Within." For him there was an inner lining
juxta-positioned with the outer universe--and he felt that what
he deemed as mechanical energies (or tangential), that they
were driven by the Within (radial energy). As Teilhard put:
" The impetus of the world, glimpsed in the great drive of
consciousness, can only have its ultimate source in some *inner*
principle, which alone could explain its irreversible advance
towards higher psychisms."

His old-fashioned language sometimes nearly drove me up a
wall; but once I began better to understand his expressions,
I was more able to grasp Teilhard's thinking. For example, he
believed that the "universe is a collector and conservator..of
persons." Upon death he believed that "souls' break away,
carrying upwards their incommunicable load of consciousness"
unto that Cosmic Center, the Godhead he called OMEGA.

Continuing, Teilhard referred to Such as the "Omega Point."
Again declaring that "there can only be one possible point of
definitive emersion--that point at which, under the synthesizing
action of personalizing union, the Noosphere...will reach collectively
its point of convergence--at the end of the world."

Embroidered all through Teilhard's thought, he consistently put
that OMEGA was the Cosmic Christ, who was drawing forward
the world through evolution unto a final magnificent completion.

(3) Encountering Teilhard

According to Teilhard, the universe is no longer to be considered a
static order, but rather a universe in process. And it is a continuing,
upslope trajectory of evolution that Teilhard declares a "Cosmo-
genesis." The process of Teilhard's holistic cosmos is broken into
the following categories: the Without and Within of things; the
evolution of matter, life, consciousness; and the Omega Point.

The world Without consists of inorganic and organic matter. And
Teilhard specifically stresses that the Within is used to "denote
the psychic fact of that portion of the stuff of the cosmos enclosed
from the beginning of time within the narrow scope of the early
earth." The exterior world is lined with an interior one! He links
this Within with enfoldment. He notes that the very individual-
ization of the earth suggests that a "certain mass of elementary
consciousness was originally imprisoned in the matter of
the earth."

Moving from inanimate matter, the next step in Teilhard's
cosmic process is the outburst of life. The cell is the "natural
granule of life." The cell merges "qualitatively and quantitatively"
into a multitude of living and even more complex individualized
and personalized forms. In the cell, Teilhard believes that "we
have...the stuff of the universe reappearing once again with all
its characteristics...only this time it has reached a higher rung of
complexity," and thus has advanced "still further in interiority,
i.e. in consciousness." Teilhard labels this vast network of living
creatures the *Biosphere.*

This Biosphere, this advancing network of life, has thus far
resulted in the culminating development of man. With the
advent of Man, Teilhard believes that cosmic evolution has
finally become conscious of itself. This consciousness of
Mankind will ultimately become the "thinking layer of the
earth," which Teilhard calls the *Noosphere.*

Cosmic evolution will not cease with the Noosphere. Teilhard does
not consider the human species to be the epitome of the universe;
rather, he believes that Nature provides us with yet another
evolutionary opening...that of a "super-soul above our souls." The
whole "gigantic psycho-biological operation" of cosmic evolution
points toward a "mega-synthesis" of all the thinking elements of
the earth forcing an entree into the realm of the Super-Human.

Teilhard refers to the Super-Human as the *OMEGA POINT.*
It is, for him, the apex of cosmic evolution. Teilhard, scientifically
speaking, can only imagine what the reality of Omega might be
like...a *pure conscious energy.*

Teilhard talks of an interdependent energy between the Within
and the Without; he believes that this energy is "psychic" in nature,
but that it is divided into two distinct components: a tangential energy
and a radial energy. Teilhard believes that tangential energy "links
an element with all others of the same order." Radial energy draws
an element towards "ever greater complexity and centricity,"

(2) Encountering Teilhard

After taking this course on Teilhard, I had occasion in my remaining
years at Georgetown to attend some major conferences presented
there by various Teilhardian societies. At some of these meets
elite scientists from all the world came and talked not only about
Teilhard's theological concepts, but also made mention how his
thought oft directed their own scientific careers. I had heard enough,
in that then and there I decided to pattern my own career into a
Teilhardian mould.

However I must confess right off that I did not intend simply to be
a Teilhardian clone. I was not interested in rocks or fossils, not
even much when it came to Evolutionary Theory. Rather back in
my time at Georgetown, the New Physics was becoming popular.
I decided to major in Physics, with a minor in Mathematics. And
following Georgetown, I trekked up to Princeton where I took a
Phd in Physics. At this point I had to keep in mind my own career
track as well as to provide for myself. Luckily I secured a position
at the University of California, at Berkeley, as an Assistant Professor.

Need I say that Berkeley was a great place for a fledgling physicist.
Lots of famous physicists had worked there, are still there, so the
scientific environment was truly enriching. After a few years there,
after I was safely settled academically, I began to look around
where I might acquire a theological education--part time. Like
Teilhard I not only wanted to be a scientist, but also a theologian.
But the kind of theology I was looking for might be hard to find.
However, residing in Berkeley, I was fortunate in this case.

The Graduate Theological Union, located in Berkeley, is basically
a Consortium of different denominational schools. Though I had
no intention becoming a priest or joining the Jesuit Order, I checked
out the Jesuit School of Theology located not far from where I lived.
Beforehand I had checked out the school's offerings, and frankly
I wasn't sure it could provide what I wanted to do--mainly link
Teilhard's cosmic spirituality with the theoretics of modern physics.
The school's M.A. program in Theology was two years full-time,
four years part-time. And looking at the Jesuit school's brochure,
there was an area of study called "Christian Spirituality" that could
focus on contemporary understandings of such.

So I made an appointment and talked with a Jesuit official at the
school. He was fascinated that a physicist would even be interested
in a theology degree. I told him of my encounter with Teilhard's
spirituality when an undergraduate at Georgetown, and how I would
like to blend Teilhard's thought with contemporary physics. After all,
it might fit the upcoming theological field of "Science and Religion."

The Jesuit official bit the bait, and I was given application forms with a
temporary proviso of acceptance after review. Fortune was with me,
and once again I was studying under the tutelage of the Jesuits!

Interestingly, too, at the same time I was about to embark on my
theological degree, I made a significant move as a physicist.
Leaving my teaching duties at the university, I took a research
position at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory which was
situated on a hill overlooking the university. So I hadn't moved far.
However, this government laboratory--under the management of
the University of California--gave me much more freedom to pursue
my studies at the Jesuit School of Theology. On top of that, talking
one day with a new found friend, I discovered that David Bohm,
the "Father of Quantum Mechanics," who once worked at the
Laboratory, had developed a theory that he called the "Implicate
Order." His theory, mostly based on the New Physics, allowed for
a corresponding inner universe in relation to an outer universe.

Immediately I realized that Bohm's theory about an universal
Implicate Order also might relate to Teilhard's idea of a "Within"
that was an inner lining of the universe. I decided that I would
pursue a comparative study of Teilhard and Bohm's respective
theories as my thesis subject.

And beyond this, there were other theological subjects that I had
to pursue. Outside of Teilhard, I felt the most helpful courses
should relate to Christology, which simply put is the study of
"Who is the Christ." I needed a historical approach, if you will,
when it came to this question. I needed to understand the
theoretical territories covered by Christology, from Early
Christianity to the Christ of Faith through the centuries down to
the the present day. No mean task taking these courses. They
proved to be an eye-opener, however,and they brought me to
Teilhard's doorstep.

But before I could dip deep into the intricacies of Teilhard's
religious thought about the Cosmic Christ, I first had to work into
his scientific theory of "Cosmogenesis"-- which alone proved
a rigorous challenge.

(1) Encountering Teilhard

Chapter One. Encountering Teilhard

When he died, I was born. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin--a Jesuit
theologian and paleontologist--died on Easter Sunday, 1955,
in New York City in the midst of skyscrapers; and I, James
Venable, was born on Easter Sunday, 1955, in a Virginia village
that stood in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Over time
I would come to realize how much the spirit of Teilhard imbued
my own soul. Whether coincidence, whether fate, I will never
know--though I have an opinion that I'll keep to myself.

My life story has been patterned after Teilhard's own life, though
nuanced. Like Teilhard I received an early Catholic education.
My parents sent me to a nearby military academy, managed by
Benedictine Sisters of all people! Later I was enrolled at
Georgetown University, run by the Jesuit Order. And at the
beginning of my sophomore year I encountered the thought of
Teilhard in a required class. Though I was barely sophisticated
enough to grasp even the major points put by this good Jesuit, I
grasped enough to be thrilled by his idea of the "Cosmic Christ."

Curiously, at this time, I had occasion to visit the Shrine of the
Immaculate Conception (now a basilica) across town at the
Catholic University of America. Walking into this Byzantine-style
cathedral during mid-week, I nearly had this huge place to
myself. Sitting quietly in a pew, I looked towards the altar, and
behind it--on the back wall-- was a very large mosaic of the
Christ. The mosaic took my breath away. It depicted a majestic,
powerful Christ, with shoots of fire above his head. Nearly
instinctively, I knew what I was seeing was the Cosmic Christ.

My instinct was on the mark. Walking out of the cathedral, I
asked a docent about this mosaic. He gave a fascinating
account. The nearly blonde Christ image came from a painting
found in the Roman Catacombs. His face was powerful, strong
and serious, though not fierce. Dressed in a royal red robe, his
arms were stretched upright, with saints of the Church bowing
before his throne. The docent said that this mosaic depicted the
"Christ in Majesty," the Western representation of the earlier
Byzantine "Pantocrator."

What blew me away was that I had never heard of the Pantocrator.
As it turned out, Christ as the Pantocrator was the major Imago Dei
of Early Christianity. Christ the Pantocrator was the Ruler of All,
the Lord of the Universe! Yes, early Christians definitely believed
in the Cosmic Christ.

So it became obvious to me that Teilhard was *not* just picking
out of the blue when it came to his concept of the Cosmic Christ.
Rather he was tapping into History, though for so many Christians
today this concept of the Pantocrator, the Lord of the Universe,
seems very much lost. Teilhard would bring back this great concept
of the Cosmic Christ for some of us, though now linking this Incarnate
Logos, this Plenum of the Universe, with modern scientific develop-
ments. As a paleontologist, Teilhard would approach the Cosmic
Christ via Evolution.


This is a short story, a fictional account of a physicist-theologian
who is enamored by the thought of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
He follows the great thought of Teilhard, his theories about
Cosmogenesis and Christogenesis that attempt to explain and
give meaning to not only our own human development but also
the evolutionary process of the universe.