Do we reach the present after billions upon billions of years of evolution, and then suddenly stop evolving? Or, if evolution continues, what does the future hold for us? Do we or can we become extinct? Is there a future?
All matter is in a constant state of genesis. Our dynamic, evolving universe is a mass in transformation.
We cannot deny that, deep within ourselves, an interior appears at the heart of beings. That is enough to leave Teilhard to suggest that, in one degree or another, this interior should assert itself as existing everywhere in nature from all time.
Life advances by mass exertions of multitudes flung into action without apparent plan.
We see consciousness developing and concentrating in upon itself through the perfecting of ever-better nervous systems.
From the cell to man, as from the atom to the cell, a single process—a constant increase of the ‘within’—continues without interruption, and always in the same direction: forward.
Mankind slowly became outlined and linked up. Slender and granular as this first membrane might have been, a sphere of thought—there and then—began to close in upon itself and to encircle the Earth.
From this envelope of living things a glow ripples outward from the first spark of conscious reflection. The point of ignition grows larger, the fire spreads in ever-widening circles until, finally, the whole planet is covered with incandescence. It is a new layer; the thinking layer.
Above and transcending the biosphere there is the noösphere: the sphere of the mind. And so we have another, added, planetary layer: an envelope of thinking substance. A sort of living, growing organism of collective human thought.
The greatest revelation open to science and to religion today is to perceive that everything precious, active, and progressive—originally contained in that tiny cosmic fragment from which our world emerged—is now concentrated in a crowning noösphere. A spherical Earth gets a new skin. Better still, it finds itself.
Man discovers that he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself.
Man is not the center of the universe—as once we assumed in our simplicity—but something much more wonderful. He is the arrow pointing the way to the final unification of the world in terms of life. Man alone constitutes the last born, the freshest, the most complex, the most subtle of all successive layers of life.
What are the minimal requirements to be fulfilled before we can say that the way ahead of us is open? First: that there is—for us, in the future, under some form or another—not only the possibility and hope of a survival on Earth, but also of a superior form of existence. Secondly, to imagine, discover, and reach this super-life, we have only to walk in the direction in which the lines passed by evolution take on their maximum coherence—in other words, where consciousness is at its greatest.
Mankind, forced to develop in a confined area, has now found itself subjected to an intense pressure. This pressure—combined with the nature of our thinking souls to coalesce—causes the radial energies of consciousness to concentrate toward a sort of super-consciousness.
Mankind has cosmic roots.
The Earth is not only becoming covered by innumerable grains of thought, but it is becoming encased in a single thinking envelope which forms a single, huge grain of thought. All of the individual particles of reflective thought grouping themselves together and reinforcing each other in a single, unanimous reflection. Mankind: a sort of collective human organism that is now forming a layer of thinking substance of planetary dimensions. A noösphere that develops and intertwines its fibers to reinforce all men in the living unity of one single tissue.
The noösphere comprises a single closed system in which each thinking element experiences for itself the same thing as all others. Mega-synthesis: the sum total of all human beings.
What is the result of human works if not to create in and through each of us a supremely original center in which the universe uniquely reflects itself? And these centers are our very selves and personalities. Resonance to the All: an expectation and awareness of a Great Presence.
The more other they become in the process of uniting, the more they discover themselves as Self.
If there were no internal tendency to unite, even at a rudimentary level—as, for example, the attraction of atom to atom, molecule to molecule, or cell to cell—love could not appear at a higher level within us.
It is through love and within love that we must search for our deepest Self, in the life-giving coming-together of humankind.