Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
|Pierre Teilhard de Chardin|
May 1, 1881|
April 10, 1955
New York, New York, USA
Paleontology, philosophy, theology cosmology,
|Known for||The Phenomenon of Man, The Divine Milieu, the synthesis of theology and science|
|Influences||St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Henri Bergson|
|Influenced||Henri de Lubac, Thomas Berry, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Pope Benedict XVI|
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ (French: ; May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. He conceived the idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving) and developed Vladimir Vernadsky's concept of noosphere.
Many of Teilhard's writings were censored by the Catholic Church during his lifetime because of his views on original sin. However, in July 2009, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said: "By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author who shouldn’t be studied." and he has been praised by Pope Benedict XVI.
Teilhard de Chardin's paleontological work is uncontroversial amongst scientists, but his evolutionary theorizing is today outdated. Steven Rose wrote that "Teilhard is revered as a mystic of genius by some, but amongst most biologists is seen as little more than a charlatan." Teilhard's theological and philosophical writings have been read and thought about by very few biologists; those disparaging his work tend to be the more militant atheistic skeptics.
- Early years 1.1
- Academic career 1.2
- Paleontology 1.3
- Service in World War I 1.4
- Research in China 1.5
- World travels 1.6
- Death 1.7
- Teachings 2
- Relationship with the Catholic Church 3
- Evaluations by scientists 4
- Legacy 5
- Bibliography 6
- See also 7
- References 8
- Further reading 9
External links 10
- Pro 10.1
- Contra 10.2
- Other 10.3
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in the Château of Sarcenat at Orcines, close to Clermont-Ferrand, France, on May 1, 1881. On the Teilhard side he is descended from an ancient family of magistrates from Auvergne originating in Murat, Cantal, and on the de Chardin side he is descended from a family that was ennobled under Louis XVIII. He was the fourth of eleven children. His father, Emmanuel Teilhard (1844–1932), an amateur naturalist, collected stones, insects and plants and promoted the observation of nature in the household. Pierre Teilhard's spirituality was awakened by his mother, Berthe de Dompiere. When he was 12, he went to the Jesuit college of Mongré, in Villefranche-sur-Saône, where he completed baccalaureates of philosophy and mathematics. Then, in 1899, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Aix-en-Provence, where he began a philosophical, theological and spiritual career.
As of the summer 1901, the Waldeck-Rousseau laws, which submitted congregational associations' properties to state control, prompted some of the Jesuits to exile themselves in the United Kingdom. Young Jesuit students continued their studies in Jersey. In the meantime, Teilhard earned a licentiate in literature in Caen in 1902.
From 1905 to 1908, he taught physics and chemistry in Cairo, Egypt, at the Jesuit College of the Holy Family. He wrote "... it is the dazzling of the East foreseen and drunk greedily ... in its lights, its vegetation, its fauna and its deserts." (Letters from Egypt (1905–1908) — Éditions Aubier)
Teilhard studied theology in Hastings, in Sussex (United Kingdom), from 1908 to 1912. There he synthesized his scientific, philosophical and theological knowledge in the light of evolution. His reading of L'Évolution Créatrice (The Creative Evolution) by Henri Bergson was, he said, the "catalyst of a fire which devoured already its heart and its spirit." His views on evolution and religion particularly inspired the evolutionary biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky. Teilhard was ordained a priest on August 24, 1911, at age 30.
From 1912 to 1914, Teilhard worked in the paleontology laboratory of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, in Paris, studying the mammals of the middle Tertiary period. Later he studied elsewhere in Europe. In June 1912 he formed part of the original digging team, with Arthur Smith Woodward and Charles Dawson, to perform follow-up investigations at the Piltdown site, after the discovery of the first fragments of the (fraudulent) "Piltdown Man", with some even suggesting he participated in the hoax. Professor Marcellin Boule (specialist in Neanderthal studies), who so early as 1915 astutely recognised the non-hominid origins of the Piltdown finds, gradually guided Teilhard towards human paleontology. At the museum's Institute of Human Paleontology, he became a friend of Henri Breuil and took part with him, in 1913, in excavations in the prehistoric painted caves in the northwest of Spain, at the Cave of Castillo.
Service in World War I
Mobilised in December 1914, Teilhard served in World War I as a stretcher-bearer in the 8th Moroccan Rifles. For his valour, he received several citations including the Médaille militaire and the Legion of Honour.
Throughout these years of war he developed his reflections in his diaries and in letters to his cousin, Marguerite Teillard-Chambon, who later edited them into a book: Genèse d'une pensée (Genesis of a thought). He confessed later: "...the war was a meeting ... with the Absolute." In 1916, he wrote his first essay: La Vie Cosmique (Cosmic life), where his scientific and philosophical thought was revealed just as his mystical life. He pronounced his solemn vows as a Jesuit in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, on May 26, 1918, during a leave. In August 1919, in Jersey, he would write Puissance spirituelle de la Matière (the spiritual Power of Matter). The complete essays written between 1916 and 1919 are published under the following titles:
- Ecrits du temps de la Guerre (Written in time of the War) (TXII of complete Works) – Editions du Seuil
- Genèse d'une pensée (letters of 1914 to 1918) – Editions Grasset
Teilhard followed at the Sorbonne three unit degrees of natural science: geology, botany and zoology. His thesis treated of the mammals of the French lower Eocene and their stratigraphy. After 1920, he lectured in geology at the Catholic Institute of Paris, then became an assistant professor after being granted a science doctorate in 1922.
Research in China
In 1923 he traveled to China with Father Emile Licent, who was in charge in Tianjin of a significant laboratory collaboration between the Natural History Museum in Paris and Marcellin Boule's laboratory. Licent carried out considerable basic work in connection with missionaries who accumulated observations of a scientific nature in their spare time. He was known as 德日進 (pinyin: Dérìjìn) in China.
Teilhard wrote several essays, including La Messe sur le Monde (the Mass on the World), in the Ordos Desert. In the following year he continued lecturing at the Catholic Institute and participated in a cycle of conferences for the students of the Engineers' Schools. Two theological essays on Original Sin sent to a theologian at his request on a purely personal basis were wrongly understood.
- July 1920: Chute, Rédemption et Géocentrie (Fall, Redemption and Geocentry)
- Spring 1922: Notes sur quelques représentations historiques possibles du Péché originel (Notes on few possible historical representations of original sin) (Works, Tome X)
The Church required him to give up his lecturing at the Catholic Institute and to continue his geological research in China.
Teilhard traveled again to China in April 1926. He would remain there more or less twenty years, with many voyages throughout the world. He settled until 1932 in Tientsin with Emile Licent then in Beijing. From 1926 to 1935, Teilhard made five geological research expeditions in China. They enabled him to establish a general geological map of China.
In 1926 Teilhard’s superiors in the Jesuit Order forbade him to teach any longer. In 1926–1927 after a missed campaign in Gansu, he traveled in the Sang-Kan-Ho valley near Kalgan (Zhangjiakou) and made a tour in Eastern Mongolia. He wrote Le Milieu Divin (the divine Medium). Teilhard prepared the first pages of his main work Le Phénomène Humain (The Human Phenomenon). The Holy See refused the Imprimatur for Le Milieu Divin in 1927.
He joined the ongoing excavations of the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian as an advisor in 1926 and continued in the role for the Cenozoic Research Laboratory of the Geological Survey of China following its founding in 1928.
He resided in Manchuria with Emile Licent, then stayed in Western Shansi (Shanxi) and northern Shensi (Shaanxi) with the Chinese paleontologist C. C. Young and with Davidson Black, Chairman of the Geological Survey of China.
After a tour in Manchuria in the area of American Museum of Natural History with Roy Chapman Andrews.
Henri Breuil and Teilhard discovered that the Peking Man, the nearest relative of Pithecanthropus from Java, was a faber (worker of stones and controller of fire). Teilhard wrote L'Esprit de la Terre (the Spirit of the Earth).
Teilhard took part as a scientist in the Croisiere Jaune (Yellow Cruise) financed by Andre Citroen in Central Asia. Northwest of Beijing in Kalgan, he joined the Chinese group who joined the second part of the team, the Pamir group, in Aksu. He remained with his colleagues for several months in Urumqi, capital of Sinkiang. The following year the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) began.
In 1933, Rome ordered him to give up his post in Paris.
Teilhard undertook several explorations in the south of China. He traveled in the valleys of Yangtze River and Sichuan in 1934, then, the following year, in Kwang-If and Guangdong. The relationship with Marcellin Boule was disrupted; the museum cut its financing on the grounds that Teilhard worked more for the Chinese Geological Service than for the museum.
During all these years, Teilhard strongly contributed to the constitution of an international network of research in human paleontology related to the whole Eastern and south Eastern zone of the Asian continent. He would be particularly associated in this task with two friends, the English/Canadian Davidson Black and the France or the United States only to leave these countries to go on further expeditions.
From 1927 to 1928 Teilhard stayed in France, based in Paris. He journeyed to Leuven, Belgium, to Cantal, and to Ariège, France. Between several articles in reviews, he met new people such as Paul Valéry and Bruno de Solages, who were to help him in issues with the Catholic Church.
Answering an invitation from Henry de Monfreid, Teilhard undertook a journey of two months in Obock, in Harrar and in Somalia with his colleague Pierre Lamarre, a geologist, before embarking in Djibouti to return to Tianjin. While in China, Teilhard developed a deep and personal friendship with Lucile Swan.
From 1930–1931 Teilhard stayed in France and in the United States. During a conference in Paris, Teilhard stated: "For the observers of the Future, the greatest event will be the sudden appearance of a collective humane conscience and a human work to make."
From 1932–1933 he began to meet people to clarify issues with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, regarding Le Milieu divin and L'Esprit de la Terre. He met Helmut de Terra, a German geologist in the International Geology Congress in Washington, DC.
Teilhard participated in the 1935 Yale–Cambridge expedition in northern and central India with the geologist Helmut de Terra and Patterson, who verified their assumptions on Indian Paleolithic civilisations in Kashmir and the Salt Range Valley.
He then made a short stay in Java, on the invitation of Professor Ralph van Koenigswald to the site of Java man. A second cranium, more complete, was discovered. This Dutch paleontologist had found (in 1933) a tooth in a Chinese apothecary shop in 1934 that he believed belonged to a giant tall ape that lived around half a million years ago.
In 1937 Teilhard wrote Le Phénomène spirituel (The Phenomenon of the Spirit) on board the boat the Empress of Japan, where he met the Raja of Sarawak. The ship conveyed him to the United States. He received the Mendel Medal granted by Villanova University during the Congress of Philadelphia in recognition of his works on human paleontology. He made a speech about evolution, origins and the destiny of Man. The New York Times dated March 19, 1937 presented Teilhard as the Jesuit who held that man descended from monkeys. Some days later, he was to be granted the Doctor Honoris Causa distinction from Boston College. Upon arrival in that city, he was told that the award had been cancelled.
1939: Rome banned his work L’Énergie Humaine.
He then stayed in France, where he was immobilized by malaria. During his return voyage to Beijing he wrote L'Energie spirituelle de la Souffrance (Spiritual Energy of Suffering) (Complete Works, tome VII).
1941: Teilhard submitted to Rome his most important work, Le Phénomène Humain.
1947: Rome forbade him to write or teach on philosophical subjects.
1948: Teilhard was called to Rome by the Superior General of the Jesuits who hoped to acquire permission from the Holy See for the publication of his most important work Le Phénomène Humain. But the prohibition to publish it issued in 1944, was again renewed. Teilhard was also forbidden to take a teaching post in the College de France.
1949: Permission to publish Le Groupe Zoologique was refused.
1950: Teilhard was named to the French Academy of Sciences.
1955: Teilhard was forbidden by his Superiors to attend the International Congress of Paleontology.
1957: The Supreme Authority of the Holy Office, in a decree dated 15 November 1957, forbade the works of de Chardin to be retained in libraries, including those of religious institutes. His books were not to be sold in Catholic bookshops and were not to be translated in other languages.
1958: In April of this year, all Jesuit publications in Spain (“Razón y Fe”, “Sal Terrae”,“Estudios de Deusto”) etc., carried a notice from the Spanish Provincial of the Jesuits, that de Chardin’s works had been published in Spanish without previous ecclesiastical examination and in defiance of the decrees of the Holy See.
1962: A decree of the Holy Office dated 30 June, under the authority of Pope John XXIII warned that “... it is obvious that in philosophical and theological matters, the said works [Teilhard’s] are replete with ambiguities or rather with serious errors which offend Catholic doctrine. That is why ... the Rev. Fathers of the Holy Office urge all Ordinaries, Superiors, and Rectors ... to effectively protect, especially the minds of the young, against the dangers of the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and his followers”. (AAS, 6 August 1962).
1963: The Vicariate of Rome (a diocese ruled in the name of Pope Paul VI (who had just become Pope in 1963) by his Cardinal Vicar) in a decree dated 30 September, required that Catholic booksellers in Rome should withdraw from circulation the works of Teilhard, together with those books which favour his erroneous doctrines. The text of this document was published in daily L’Aurore of Paris, dated 2 October 1963, and was reproduced in Nouvelles de Chretiente, 10 October 1963, p. 35.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin died in New York City, where he was in residence at the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, Park Avenue. On 15 March 1955, at the house of his diplomat cousin Jean de Lagarde, Teilhard told friends he hoped he would die on Easter Sunday. In the Easter Sunday evening of 10 April 1955, during an animated discussion at the apartment of Rhoda de Terra, his personal assistant since 1949, the 73-year-old priest suffered a heart attack; regaining consciousness for a moment, he died a few minutes later. He was buried in the cemetery for the New York Province of the Jesuits at the Jesuit novitiate, St. Andrew's-on-the-Hudson in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York.
Teilhard de Chardin has two comprehensive works. The first, The Phenomenon of Man, sets forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity to ultimately a reunion with Christ. Following the leads of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, he abandoned literal interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of allegorical and theological interpretations.
His second comprehensive work is The Divine Milieu, in which he attempted to do two things. First, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a belief among some Catholics and other Christians that in order to be “holy” one had to devote oneself to purely religious activity and that secular work had no lasting value. Teilhard de Chardin, consistent with the Jesuit motto of “finding God in all things”, wanted to demonstrate that secular work (including his own scientific work) was an integral element of creation and the Incarnation, so that for religious reasons, Christians should be committed to whatever work they were doing and offering it up for the service of God. Teilhard wants to show how all human activities and efforts toward personal growth and human progress can be used to help the growth and development of the Body of Christ. Not only are human efforts useful in this regard, but they are also somehow necessary. Even though people perform these actions as ordinary human beings, and they look like ordinary human actions, they are simultaneously being transformed in the divine milieu and become actions done in, with, and through Christ.
In his posthumously published book, The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard writes of the unfolding of the material cosmos, from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is "pulling" all creation towards it. He was a leading proponent of orthogenesis, the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal driven way, argued in terms that today go under the banner of convergent evolution. Teilhard argued in Darwinian terms with respect to biology, and supported the synthetic model of evolution, but argued in Lamarckian terms for the development of culture, primarily through the vehicle of education.
Teilhard makes sense of the universe by its evolutionary process. He interprets complexity as the axis of evolution of matter into a geosphere, a biosphere, into consciousness (in man,) and then to supreme consciousness (the Omega Point.)Teilhard's life work was predicated on the conviction that human spiritual development is moved by the same universal laws as material development. He wrote, "...everything is the sum of the past" and "...nothing is comprehensible except through its history. 'Nature' is the equivalent of 'becoming', self-creation: this is the view to which experience irresistibly leads us. ... There is nothing, not even the human soul, the highest spiritual manifestation we know of, that does not come within this universal law." There is no doubt that The Phenomenon of Man represents Teilhard's attempt at reconciling his religious faith with his academic interests as a paleontologist. One particularly poignant observation in Teilhard's book entails the notion that evolution is becoming an increasingly optional process. Teilhard points to the societal problems of isolation and marginalization as huge inhibitors of evolution, especially since evolution requires a unification of consciousness. He states that "no evolutionary future awaits anyone except in association with everyone else." Teilhard argued that the human condition necessarily leads to the psychic unity of humankind, though he stressed that this unity can only be voluntary; this voluntary psychic unity he termed "unanimization." Teilhard also states that "evolution is an ascent toward consciousness", giving encephalization as an example of early stages, and therefore, signifies a continuous upsurge toward the Omega Point, which for all intents and purposes, is God.
Relationship with the Catholic Church
In 1925, Teilhard was ordered by the Jesuit Superior General Wlodimir Ledóchowski to leave his teaching position in France and to sign a statement withdrawing his controversial statements regarding the doctrine of original sin. Rather than leave the Jesuit order, Teilhard signed the statement and left for China.
This was the first of a series of condemnations by certain ecclesiastical officials that would continue until after Teilhard's death. The climax of these condemnations was a 1962 monitum (reprimand) of the Holy Office cautioning on Teilhard's works. From the monitum:
However, it is noteworthy that the Holy Office did not place any of Teilhard's writings on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Index of Forbidden Books), which existed during Teilhard's lifetime and at the time of the 1962 decree.
Shortly thereafter, prominent clerics began a strong theological defense of Teilhard's works. Henri de Lubac (later a Cardinal) wrote three comprehensive books on the theology of Teilhard de Chardin in the 1960s. While de Lubac mentioned that Teilhard was less than precise in some of his concepts he nevertheless affirmed the orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin with a stinging rebuke to Teilhard's critics "We need not concern ourselves with a number of detractors of Teilhard, in whom emotion has blunted intelligence". Later that decade a German theologian, Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) spoke glowingly of Teilhard's Christology in Ratzinger's famous Introduction to Christianity:
“It must be regarded as an important service of Teilhard de Chardin’s that he rethought these ideas from the angle of the modern view of the world and, in spite of a not entirely unobjectionable tendency toward the biological approach, nevertheless on the whole grasped them correctly and in any case made them accessible once again. Let us listen to his own words: The human monad “can only be absolutely itself by ceasing to be alone”. In the background is the idea that in the cosmos, alongside the two orders or classes of the infinitely small and the infinitely big, there is a third order, which determines the real drift of evolution, namely, the order of the infinitely complex. It is the real goal of the ascending process of growth or becoming; it reaches a first peak in the genesis of living things and then continues to advance to those highly complex creations that give the cosmos a new center: “Imperceptible and accidental as the position they hold may be in the history of the heavenly bodies, in the last analysis the planets are nothing less than the vital points of the universe. It is through them that the axis now runs, on them is henceforth concentrated the main effort of an evolution aiming principally at the production of large molecules.” The examination of the world by the dynamic criterion of complexity thus signifies “a complete inversion of values. A reversal of the perspective... This leads to a further passage in Teilhard de Chardin that is worth quoting in order to give at least some indication here, by means of a few fragmentary excerpts, of his general outlook. “The Universal Energy must be a Thinking Energy if it is not to be less highly evolved than the ends animated by its action. And consequently ... the attributes of cosmic value with which it is surrounded in our modern eyes do not affect in the slightest the necessity obliging us to recognize in it a transcendent form of Personality.”
Over the next several decades prominent theologians and Church leaders, including leading Cardinals, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI all wrote approvingly of Teilhard's ideas. In 1981, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, on behalf of Pope John Paul II, wrote on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, l'Osservatore Romano:
"What our contemporaries will undoubtedly remember, beyond the difficulties of conception and deficiencies of expression in this audacious attempt to reach a synthesis, is the testimomy of the coherent life of a man possessed by Christ in the depths of his soul. He was concerned with honoring both faith and reason, and anticipated the response to John Paul II's appeal: 'Be not afraid, open, open wide to Christ the doors of the immense domains of culture, civilization, and progress.
Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. said in 2004:
"In his own poetic style, the French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin liked to meditate on the Eucharist as the firstfruits of the new creation. In an essay called The Monstrance he describes how, kneeling in prayer, he had a sensation that the Host was beginning to grow until at last, through its mysterious expansion, 'the whole world had become incandescent, had itself become like a single giant Host.' Although it would probably be incorrect to imagine that the universe will eventually be transubstantiated, Teilhard correctly identified the connection between the Eucharist and the final glorification of the cosmos."
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn wrote in 2007:
"Hardly anyone else has tried to bring together the knowledge of Christ and the idea of evolution as the scientist (paleontologist) and theologian Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., has done. ... His fascinating vision ... has represented a great hope, the hope that faith in Christ and a scientific approach to the world can be brought together. ... These brief references to Teilhard cannot do justice to his efforts. The fascination which Teilhard de Chardin exercised for an entire generation stemmed from his radical manner of looking at science and Christian faith together."
Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Spirit of the Liturgy incorporates Teilhard's vision as a touchstone of the Catholic Mass:
“And so we can now say that the goal of worship and the goal of creation as a whole are one and the same—divinization, a world of freedom and love. But this means that the historical makes its appearance in the cosmic. The cosmos is not a kind of closed building, a stationary container in which history may by chance take place. It is itself movement, from its one beginning to its one end. In a sense, creation is history. Against the background of the modern evolutionary world view, Teilhard de Chardin depicted the cosmos as a process of ascent, a series of unions. From very simple beginnings the path leads to ever greater and more complex unities, in which multiplicity is not abolished but merged into a growing synthesis, leading to the “Noosphere”, in which spirit and its understanding embrace the whole and are blended into a kind of living organism. Invoking the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, Teilhard looks on Christ as the energy that strives toward the Noosphere and finally incorporates everything in its “fullness’. From here Teilhard went on to give a new meaning to Christian worship: the transubstantiated Host is the anticipation of the transformation and divinization of matter in the christological “fullness”. In his view, the Eucharist provides the movement of the cosmos with its direction; it anticipates its goal and at the same time urges it on.”
Evaluations by scientists
In 1961, the Nobel Prize-winner Peter Medawar, a British immunologist, wrote a scornful review of The Phenomenology Of Man for the journal Mind, calling it "a bag of tricks" and saying that the author had shown "an active willingness to be deceived": "the greater part of it, I shall show, is nonsense, tricked out with a variety of metaphysical conceits, and its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself".
The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins called Medawar's review "devastating" , and The Phenomenology of Man "the quintessence of bad poetic science".
"Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" by Theodosius Dobzhansky draws upon Teilhard's insistence that evolutionary theory provides the core of how man understands his relationship to nature, calling him "one of the great thinkers of our age". Key researchers credit Teilhard for the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis that accounts for natural selection in the light of Mendelian genetics.
Evolutionary biologist Jeremy Griffith described Teilhard as a "visionary" philosopher and a contemporary "truth-sayer" or "prophet".
Brian Swimme wrote "Teilhard was one of the first scientists to realize that the human and the universe are inseparable. The only universe we know about is a universe that brought forth the human." 
Teilhard and his work continue to influence the arts and culture. Characters based on Teilhard appear in several novels, including Jean Telemond in Morris West's The Shoes of the Fisherman (mentioned by name and quoted by Oskar Werner playing Fr. Telemond in the movie version of the novel) and Father Lankester Merrin in William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. In Dan Simmons' 1989–97 Hyperion Cantos, Teilhard de Chardin has been canonized a saint in the far future. His work inspires the anthropologist priest character, Paul Duré. When Duré becomes Pope, he takes Teilhard I as his regnal name. Teilhard appears as a minor character in the play Fake by Eric Simonson, staged by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2009, involving a fictional solution to the infamous Piltdown Man hoax.
References range from occasional quotations—an auto mechanic quotes Teilhard in Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly – to serving as the philosophical underpinning of the plot, as Teilhard's work does in Julian May's 1987–94 Galactic Milieu Series. Teilhard also plays a major role in Annie Dillard's 1999 For the Time Being. Teilhard is mentioned by name and the Omega Point briefly explained in Arthur C. Clarke's and Stephen Baxter's The Light of Other Days. The title of the short-story collection Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor is a reference to Teilhard's work. The American novelist Don DeLillo's 2010 novel Point Omega borrows its title and some of its ideas from Teilhard de Chardin. Robert Wright, in his book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, compares his own naturalistic thesis that biological and cultural evolution are directional and, possibly, purposeful, with Teilhard's ideas.
Teilhard's work also inspired philosophical ruminations by Italian laureate architect Paolo Soleri, artworks such as French painter Alfred Manessier's L'Offrande de la terre ou Hommage à Teilhard de Chardin and American sculptor Frederick Hart's acrylic sculpture The Divine Milieu: Homage to Teilhard de Chardin. A sculpture of the Omega Point by Henry Setter, with a quote from Teilhard de Chardin, can be found at the entrance to the Roesch Library at the University of Dayton. Edmund Rubbra's 1968 Symphony No. 8 is titled Hommage à Teilhard de Chardin.
The dates in parentheses are the dates of first publication in French and English. Most of these works were written years earlier, but Teilhard's ecclesiastical order forbade him to publish them because of their controversial nature. The essay collections are organized by subject rather than date, thus each one typically spans many years.
- Le Phénomène Humain (1955), written 1938–40, scientific exposition of Teilhard's theory of evolution
- Letters From a Traveler (1956; English translation 1962), written 1923–55
Le Groupe Zoologique Humain (1956), written 1949, more detailed presentation of Teilhard's theories
- Man's Place in Nature (English translation 1966)
Le Milieu Divin (1957), spiritual book written 1926–27, in which the author seeks to offer a way for everyday life, or the secular, to be divinised.
- The Divine Milieu (1960) Harper Perennial 2001: ISBN 0-06-093725-4
L'Avenir de l'Homme (1959) essays written 1920–52, on the evolution of consciousness (noosphere)
- The Future of Man (1964) Image 2004: ISBN 0-385-51072-1
- Hymn of the Universe (1961; English translation 1965) Harper and Row: ISBN 0-06-131910-4, mystical/spiritual essays and thoughts written 1916–55
L'Energie Humaine (1962), essays written 1931–39, on morality and love
- Human Energy (1969) Harcort Brace Jovanovich ISBN 0-15-642300-6
L'Activation de l'Energie (1963), sequel to Human Energy, essays written 1939–55 but not planned for publication, about the universality and irreversibility of human action
- Activation of Energy (1970), Harvest/HBJ 2002: ISBN 0-15-602817-4
Je M'Explique (1966) Jean-Pierre Demoulin, editor ISBN 0-685-36593-X, "The Essential Teilhard" — selected passages from his works
- Let Me Explain (1970) Harper and Row ISBN 0-06-061800-0, Collins/Fontana 1973: ISBN 0-00-623379-1
- Christianity and Evolution, Harvest/HBJ 2002: ISBN 0-15-602818-2
- The Heart of the Matter, Harvest/HBJ 2002: ISBN 0-15-602758-5
- Toward the Future, Harvest/HBJ 2002: ISBN 0-15-602819-0
- The Making of a Mind: Letters from a Soldier-Priest 1914–1919, Collins (1965), Letters written during wartime.
- Writings in Time of War, Collins (1968) composed of spiritual essays written during wartime. One of the few books of Teilhard to receive an imprimatur.
- Vision of the Past, Collins (1966) composed of mostly scientific essays published in the French science journal Etudes.
- The Appearance of Man, Collins (1965) composed of mostly scientific writings published in the French science journal Etudes.
- Letters to Two Friends 1926–1952, Fontana (1968) composed of personal letters on varied subjects including his understanding of death.
- Letters to Léontine Zanta, Collins (1969)
- Correspondence / Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Maurice Blondel, Herder and Herder (1967) This correspondence also has both the imprimatur and nihil obstat.
- de Chardin, P T (1952). "On the zoological position and the evolutionary significance of Australopithecines". Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences (Mar 1952) 14 (5): 208–10.
- de Terra, H; de Chardin, PT; Paterson, TT (1936). "Joint geological and prehistoric studies of the Late Cenozoic in India". Science (6 March 1936) 83 (2149): 233–236.
- Stephen Jay Gould (2006). The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould. W.W. Norton. pp. 69–.
- "Teilhard and the Piltdown 'Hoax'"
- Smulders, Pieter Frans ♦ The design of Teilhard de Chardin: an essay in theological reflection 1967
- Smulders, Pieter Frans ♦ The design of Teilhard de Chardin: an essay in theological reflection 1967
- "Pierre Teilhard De Chardin".
- "Teilhard de Chardin, Orthogenesis, and the Mechanism of Evolutionary Change" on YouTube by Thomas F Glick.
- Teilhard de Chardin: "A Note on Progress"
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), 250–75.
- Warning Considering the Writings of Father Teilhard de Chardin, Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, June 30, 1962.
- Cardinal Henri Cardinal de Lubac, S.J. – The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin, Image Books (1968)
- Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal; Pope Benedict XVI; Benedict; J. R. Foster; Michael J. Miller (2010-06-04). Introduction To Christianity, 2nd Edition (Kindle Locations 2840-2865). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
- Cardinal Agostino Casaroli praises the work of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin to Cardinal Paul Poupard, then Rector of the Institut Catholique de Paris – L'Osservatore Romano, June 10, 1981 @ TraditionInAction.org
- A Eucharistic Church: The Vision of John Paul II – McGinley Lecture, University, November 10, 2004
- Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith, Ignatian Press (2007)
- – Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal; Pope Benedict XVI (2009-06-11). The Spirit of the Liturgy (Kindle Locations 260–270). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
- Richard Dawkins (5 April 2000). Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 320–.
- "Introduction" by Brian Swimme, in The Human Phenomenon by Teilhard de Chardin, trans. Sarah Appleton-Webber, Sussex Academic Press, Brighton and Portland, Oregon, 1999 p. xv.
- Holy Women, Holy Men. Church Publishing Inc. 2010. pp. 320–321.
- Moss, R.F. (Spring 1978). "Suffering, sinful Catholics". The Antioch Review (Antioch Review) 36 (2): 170–181.
- """Bill Blatty on "The Exorcist. www.geocities.com, retrieved from the Wayback machine. Archived from the original on 2002-01-23. Retrieved 2009-11-13.
- Simmons, Dan (1 February 1990). The Fall of Hyperion. Doubleday. p. 464.
- Dick, Philip K. (1991). A Scanner Darkly. Vintage. p. 127.
- May, Julian (April 11, 1994). Jack the Bodiless. Random House Value Publishing. p. 287.
- Dillard, Annie (8 February 2000). For the Time Being. Vintage.
- Clarke, Arthur c. (2001). The Light of Other Days. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC. p. 331.
- "The Divine Milieu by Frederick Hart". www.jeanstephengalleries.com. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- "UDQuickly Past Scribblings". campus.udayton.edu. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Amir Aczel, The Jesuit and the Skull: Teilhard de Chardin, Evolution and the Search for Peking Man (Riverhead Hardcover, 2007)
- Pope Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatian Press 2000)
- Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity (Ignatius Press, Revised edition, 2004)
- John Cowburn, S.J., Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Selective Summary of His Life (Mosaic Press 2013)
- Claude Cuenot, Science and Faith in Teilhard de Chardin (Garstone Press, 1967)
- Andre Dupleix, 15 Days of Prayer with Teilhard de Chardin (New City Press, 2008)
- Robert Faricy, SJ, Teilhard de Chardin's Theology of Christian in the World (Sheed and Ward 1968)
- Robert Faricy, SJ, The Spirituality of Teilhard de Chardin (Collins 1981, Harper & Row 1981)
- Robert Faricy, SJ and Lucy Rooney SND, Praying with Teilhard de Chardin(Queenship 1996)
- David Grumett, Teilhard de Chardin: Theology, Humanity and Cosmos (Peeters 2005)
- Dietrich von Hildebrand, Teilhard de Chardin: A False Prophet (Franciscan Herald Press 1970)
- Dietrich von Hildebrand, Trojan Horse in the City of God
- Dietrich von Hildebrand, Devastated Vineyard
- Thomas M. King, SJ, Teilhard's Mass; Approaches to "The Mass on the World" (Paulist Press, 2005)
- Ursula King, Spirit of Fire: The Life and Vision of Teilhard de Chardin (Orbis Books, 1996)
- Richard W. Kropf, Teilhard, Scripture and Revelation: A Study of Teilhard de Chardin's Reinterpretation of Pauline Themes (Associated University Press, 1980)
- David H. Lane, The Phenomenon of Teilhard: Prophet for a New Age (Mercer University Press)
- Lubac, Henri de, SJ, The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin (Image Books, 1968)
- Lubac, Henri de, SJ, The Faith of Teilhard de Chardin (Burnes and Oates, 1965)
- Lubac, Henri de, SJ, The Eternal Feminine: A Study of the Text of Teilhard de Chardin (Collins, 1971)
- Lubac, Henri de, SJ, Teilhard Explained (Paulist Press, 1968)
- Mary and Ellen Lukas, Teilhard (Doubleday, 1977)
- Jean Maalouf Teilhard de Chardin, Reconciliation in Christ (New City Press, 2002)
- George A. Maloney, SJ, The Cosmic Christ: From Paul to Teilhard (Sheed and Ward, 1968)
- Mooney, Christopher, SJ, Teilhard de Chardin and the Mystery of Christ (Image Books, 1968)
- Murray, Michael H. The Thought of Teilhard de Chardin (Seabury Press, N.Y., 1966)
- Robert J. O'Connell, SJ, Teilhard's Vision of the Past: The Making of a Method, (Fordham University Press, 1982)
- Noel Keith Roberts, From Piltdown Man to Point Omega: the evolutionary theory of Teilhard de Chardin (New York, Peter Lang, 2000)
- James F. Salmon, S.J., 'Pierre Teilhard de Chardin' in The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)
- Louis M. Savory, Teilhard de Chardin – The Divine Milieu Explained: A Spirituality for the 21st Century (Paulist Press, 2007)
- Robert Speaight, The Life of Teilhard de Chardin (Harper and Row, 1967)
- Helmut de Terra, Memories of Teilhard de Chardin, (Harper and Row and Wm Collins Sons & Co., 1964)
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's books in the Internet Archive
- Chardin, Pierre Teilhard de ♦ The Phenomenon of Man Scanned book in the Internet Archive
- Chardin, Pierre Teilhard de ♦ The Phenomenon of Man in ePub, MOBI and PDF formats (without illustrations)
- Teilhard de Chardin (A site devoted to the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin)
- The Teilhard de Chardin Foundation
- The American Teilhard Association
- Teilhard de Chardin A personal website
- Warning Regarding the Writings of Father Teilhard de Chardin The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, 1962
- Medawar, Peter ♦ The Phenomenon of ManA review of Mind, N.S., 70 (1961) pp. 99–106
- McCarthy, John F. ♦ by Wolfgang SmithTeilhardism and the New ReligionA review of 1989
- Works by or about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Web pages and timeline about the Piltdown forgery hosted by the British Geological Survey