Love: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

​Looking last week at E. Stanley Jones’ all-encompassing theology of love provides us the opportunity to see the same thing scientifically through the writing of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who saw love as the physical structure of the universe. Love is the divine milieu. [1]  For him, love is the energy attracting all things to each other.  He saw it in atoms, gravity, orbits, photosynthesis, ecosystems, electromagnetic systems, and human relations.  Moreover, he saw the existence of the cosmos in a dynamic way–as a movement toward love, the Omega point.

Amazing and awesome as this is, it is not surprising, because we would expect there to be congruence between the Creator and the creation.  It would make no sense for God to make a world at cross purposes with the Divine nature.  God is love, and what God makes is love.

At the personal level, this means none of us can ever rightly see ourselves as anyone other than God’s beloved.  We are God made, love made.  We are made in God’s likeness.  This reality both defines who we are and motivates us to develop who we are in deeper and wider ways.  When we do so, as Teilhard would tell us, we are on the trajectory God has in mind for us all.  We are on the never-ending journey into Love.

In this view, Teilhard is in concert with the ideas of growth and maturation that we have seen in Underhill and Jones (indeed, in every other person we have highlighted), but he treats it in the context of science.  For him as a paleantologist, this meant observing how the created order is undergoing evolution–a persavive development of all things from lower to a higher order.  For him as a priest, this meant a spiritual evolution into fulness of life in Christ.  It is most clearly seen in the development of increasingly mature relationships with each other. [2]. Love daws into ever deepening and widening fellowship, community, and oneness.

For Teilhard de Chardin, love is literally and figuratively our DNA.  Love is the essence of what is most passed on from one generation to another.  It is the divine dance in the cosmos.  It is the spring in our step.

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, ‘The Divine Milieu.’He wrote the book in 1926-27, but it was banned by Roman Catholic censors, only finally to be published in English in 1960.  

[2] Louis Savary & Patricia Berne, ‘Teilhard de Chardin on Love’ (Paulist Press, 2017).

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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