Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1 May 1881 - 10 April 1955) was a French Jesuit priest trained as a paleontologist and a philosopher, and was present at the discovery of Peking Man.


  • We only have to look around us to see how complexity and psychic temperature are still rising: and rising no longer on the scale of the individual but now on that of the planet. This indication is so familiar to us that we cannot but recognize the objective, experiential, reality of a transformation of the planet as a whole.
    • The Heart of Matter (1950)
  • There is neither spirit nor matter in the world; the stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could produce the human molecule. I know very well that this idea of spirit-matter is regarded as a hybrid monster, a verbal exorcism of a duality which remains unresolved in its terms. But I remain convinced that the objections made to it arise from the mere fact that few people can make up their minds to abandon an old point of view and take the risk of a new idea... Biologists or philosophers cannot conceive a biosphere or noosphere because they are unwilling to abandon a certain narrow conception of individuality. Nevertheless, the step must be taken. For in fact, pure spirituality is as unconceivable as pure materiality. Just as, in a sense, there is no geometrical point, but as many structurally different points as there are methods of deriving them from different figures, so every spirit derives its reality and nature from a particular type of universal synthesis.
    • A Sketch of a Personalistic Universe.
  • The reality of spirit-matter is inevitably translated into and confirmed by a structure of the spirit.
    • A Sketch of a Personalistic Universe.
  • Since once again, O Lord, in the steppes of Asia, I have no bread, no wine, no altar, I will raise myself above those symbols to the pure majesty of reality, and I will offer to you, I, your priest, upon the altar of the entire earth, the labor and the suffering of the world.
    Receive, O Lord, in its totality the Host which creation, drawn by your magnetism, presents to you at the dawn of a new day. This bread, our effort, is in itself, I know, nothing but an immense disintegration. This wine, our anguish, as yet, alas! is only an evaporating beverage. But in the depths of this inchoate Mass you have placed —I am certain, for I feel it— an irresistible and holy desire that moves us all, the impious as well as the faithful to cry out: "O Lord, make us one!"
    • Prayer for Easter Sunday in the Ordos Desert of Inner Mongolia published in article “The Priest Who Haunts the Catholic World” Saturday Evening Post (12 October 1963)
  • The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
    • Peking, February 1934, "The Evolution of Chastity" in Toward the Future, London: Collins, 1975: 86-87.

The Phenomenon of Man (1955)

  • Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth.
  • A universal love is not only psychologically possible; it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love.
  • If there were no internal propensity to unite, even at a prodigiously rudimentary level—indeed in the molecule itself— it would be physically impossible for love to appear higher up, with us, in hominized form. . . . Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being.
  • Our century is probably more religious than any other. How could it fail to be, with such problems to be solved? The only trouble is that it has not yet found a God it can adore.


  • All abstract knowledge is a faded reality: this is because to understand the world is not enough, you must see it, touch it, live in its presence and drink the vital heat of existence in the very heart of reality.
  • Great truths are felt before they are expressed.
  • He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.
  • In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.
  • Is the Kingdom of God a big family? Yes, in a sense it is. But in another sense it is a prodigious biological operation— that of the Redeeming Incarnation.
  • It is not our heads or our bodies which we must bring together, but our hearts. . . . Humanity. . . is building its composite brain beneath our eyes. May it not be that tomorrow, through the logical and biological deepening of the movement drawing it together, it will find its heart, without which the ultimate wholeness of its power of unification can never be achieved?
  • Love is the most powerful and still most unknown energy in the world.
  • Nothing is precious except that part of you which is in other people, and that part of others which is in you. Up there, on high, everything is one.
  • Our duty, as men and women is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.
    • variant: It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.
  • The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the Earth.
  • The conclusion is always the same: love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.
  • The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others.
  • The resources at our disposal today, the powers that we have released, could not possibly be absorbed by the narrow system of individual or national units which the architects of the human earth have hitherto used. The age of nations has passed. Now, unless we wish to perish we must shake off our old prejudices and build the earth. The more scientifically I regard the world, the less can I see any possible biological future for it except the active consciousness of its unity.
  • These perspectives will appear absurd to those who don't see that life is, from its origins, groping, adventurous, and dangerous. But these perspectives will grow, like an irresistible idea on the horizon of new generations.
  • The whole of life lies in the verb seeing.
  • To love is to approach each other center to center.
  • We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
    • (often attributed to Wayne Dyer who has often quoted this statement, and to Stephen Covey)
  • We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.
  • We can envisage a world whose constantly increasing 'leisure' and heightened interest would find their vital issue in fathoming everything, trying everything, extending everything ; …a world in which, as happens already, one gives one's life to be and to know, rather than to possess. That, on an estimate of the forces engaged, is what is being relentlessly prepared for us.
  • What we are aware of is only the nucleus which is ourselves. The interaction of souls would be incomprehensible if some Aura did not extend from one to the other, something proper to each one and common to all.
  • Someday, after mastering winds, waves, tides and gravity, we shall harness the energy of love; and for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire

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