Spirit of Fire: The Life, Vision, & Legacy of Teilhard de Chardin
Most people are unfamiliar with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). That is unfortunate because Teilhard was a 20th-Century French luminary whose light could help guide us through present confusion. Who was Teilhard and why should we pay attention to his thought and vision now?
First, Teilhard was a scientist, a paleontologist of the first rank, whose collected works fill eleven volumes. The caliber of his scientific oeuvre earned him induction into both of France's premier scientific bodies as well as several prestigious British societies.
Second, Teilhard was a Jesuit priest, so devout in his faith that he wished to die at Easter, a wish granted by a massive heart attack on the afternoon of April 10, 1955 (Easter Sunday). And yet, as a scientist of human origins who religiously carried a geology hammer on every outing, Teilhard fully embraced evolutionary theory as the guiding principle of the cosmos.
Third, Teilhard was a mystic whose successful struggle to synthesize science and spirituality serves as a model for all those seeking an integrity that reconciles rational and intuitive modes of knowing.
Among the terms coined by Teilhard are cosmogenesis, complexification, noosphere, spirit-matter, and Omega Point. In this course, we will review his exemplary life, explore his extraordinary ideas, and examine his legacy.
Dave Pruett is Professor Emeritus of applied mathematics at JMU, a former NASA researcher, and author of Reason and Wonder: A Copernican Revolution in Science and Spirit, two chapters of which are devoted to the integrative thought of Teilhard de Chardin. Dave has taught or team-taught a baker's dozen LLI courses since his retirement in 2012.
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