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Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - The Great Work - species



Type of Spiritual Experience


Species introduction is planned and carefully designed, it is not accidental

How is a new species introduced? We have never seen a major function change so we have nothing on which to base a judgement.  Much of Darwinian theory applies to the introduction of minor variants to a species enabling it to survive in a changed environment.  But there is no real scientific theory as to how major species introductions were made or, for that matter major changes in function.

All the evidence seems to point to the idea that the introduction is planned – that a whole series of design changes are worked out in great detail and are then implemented in one go as a specific increment.

One of the more interesting examples de Chardin provides is that leading to the introduction of 'man' .  A whole series of design changes had to be implemented simultaneously to enable man to be implemented as an increment, walking in two feet, design of hands, size of brain, position of eyes and so on.

Another example that de Chardin provides is the switch over from cell division to male/female reproduction.

There does seem to be the possibility that each of these innovations was trialled separately in a series of prototypes, but once the separate innovations had been proven, they were all brought together into one design package we now know as 'man'

A description of the experience

Pere Teilhard de Chardin – Phenomenon of Man

Life must have been preparing a whole group of factors for a long time and simultaneously – though nothing at first sight could have given grounds for supposing that they would be linked together 'providentially'.

It is true that in the end, from the organic point of view, the whole metamorphosis leading to man depends on the question of a better brain.  But how was this cerebral perfecting to be carried out – how could it have worked – if there had not been a whole series of other conditions realised at just the same time?

If this creature from which man issued had not been a biped, his hands would not have been free in time to release the jaws from their prehensile function, and the thick band of maxillary muscles which had imprisoned the cranium could not have been relaxed … and thanks to this too, that the eyes, brought closer together on the diminished face, were able to converge and fix on what the hands held and brought before them.

.............We no more dream of being astonished at the prodigious invention [from cell division to male/female reproduction] than at the discoveries of fire, bread or writing.  Yet what chances and what fumblings and what endless ages therefore – were necessary before this fundamental discovery from which we have sprung was matured

The source of the experience

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre

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