This sudden deluge of cerebralisation, this biological invasion of a new animal type which gradually eliminates or subjects all forms of life that are not human, this irresistible tide of fields and factories, this immense and growing edifice of matter and ideas—all these signs that we look at, for days on end—to proclaim that there has been a change on the earth and a change of planetary magnitude.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Born: May 1, 1881

Died: April 10, 1955 (Age 73)

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. His early years were spent as a professor of geology at the Catholic Institute in Paris. After serving in the French army during World War I, de Chardin spent many years in China, India and Java studying evolution and the development of the human species, took part in the discovery of Peking Man, and became director of the National Geologic Survey of China and director of the National Research Center of France.

He conceived the vitalist 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 the noösphere.

Although many of Teilhard's writings were censored by the Catholic Church during his lifetime because of his views on original sin, Teilhard has been posthumously praised by Pope Benedict XVI and other eminent Catholic figures, and his theological teachings were cited by Pope Francis in the 2015 encyclical, Laudato si'. The response to his writings by evolutionary biologists has been, with some exceptions, decidedly negative.

Find out more