Does Pope Francis Support Conscious Evolution?

Does Pope Francis support the eco-theology of Teilhard de Chardin and Barbara Marx Hubbard? This article suggests that he does:

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French Jesuit and paleontologist who died a church outcast in New York City in 1955 at age 74. Vatican officials had suppressed his writings on sequential evolution in the universe.

Teilhard was not officially a heretic, but rather a victim of church officials who were ignorant and fearful of science.

A decade later after his death, Teilhard’s books were being taught in Jesuit schools. Today he has a global reputation on evolution and spirituality.

Long before the internet, Teilhard wrote of an emergent planetary consciousness as a scientific development. He also wrote of this “noosphere” in mystical terms, as mankind’s quest for closeness with the divine. And he sounded prescient notes of warning.

“There is a danger that the elements of the world should refuse to serve the world,” he wrote in The Phenomenon of Man, published in 1957. “What is forming and growing is nothing less than an organic crisis in evolution.”

Pope Francis sounded a lot like his fellow Jesuit at a May 21 general audience. “Creation is a gift,” he told 50,000 people at St. Peter’s Square, “that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all.”

“We are custodians of creation, not masters of creation,” the pope continued. His sermon would well fit an anthology on conscious evolution, a school of thought that bridges science and faith in arguing that humanity has an urgent moral duty for care of the planet.

“I am the master of creation but to carry it forward I will never destroy your gift,” the pope asserted. “And this should be our attitude towards creation. Safeguard creation. Because if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”

As usual, the ignorance of reporter Jason Berry is only matched by his arrogance. De Chardin was not “a victim of church officials who were ignorant and fearful of science.” He was disciplined not because of his scientific views, but because of his theological views. de Chardin was censored for his teachings about original sin, not for his scientific views. Furthermore, Pope St John Paul II, Benedict XVI and other orthodox theologians defend other elements of his work seeing his views as simply a modern expression of classic Christianity. Teilhard de Chardin was never condemned as a heretic and was only marginalized because he refused to be corrected by the church in his theological teachings.

Pope Francis’ recent teachings on our responsibility to the created order are not radical in any way, nor do they indicate some sort of radical ecological, New Age agenda. Classical Christianity has always taught that man is the steward of creation, not it’s overlord and that our duty is to be the steward of the world’s resources for the common good. The Church has always taught that we to safeguard and respect the created order and not abuse it.

Would this “fit an anthology on conscious evolution”? Perhaps, but then so would an essay on being kind to puppy dogs and kittens. There is nothing radical or unusual about the pope’s teaching.

We can’t say the same thing about Barbara Marx Hubbard’s New Age creepiness. She and her “The Shift” colleagues and the LCWR sisters who have gone all gaga over “conscious evolution” are teaching something very different from the simple Catholic view that we are the stewards of the earth’s resources. They teach that the earth, rather than being the creation of God is self conscious and we are interacting with this conscious creation to create a new reality. Hubbard says,

For me, the most vital source of meaning of conscious evolution is the Catholic understanding of God and Christ as the source of evolution, as its driving force as well as its direction,” said Hubbard.

“Through science, research, technology communications and virtually every other area of human activity, we are weaving a delicate membrane of consciousness, what Teilhard called the ‘noosphere’ or the thinking layer of Earth that is embracing and drawing into itself the entire planet.”

This is where we have to ask some questions. What exactly does Hubbard mean by “God and Christ”. Many New Agers use the term “Christ” as a catch all for “higher human consciousness”. “Christ” for Hubbard is certainly not the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God from God, Light from Light, Very God of Very God.

Neither do many New Agers define “God” in Christian terms. Instead they are pantheists. God is creation. Creation is God. Although Hubbard is very vague I suspect what she means by “God” is not a transcendent source of Being but more like “the energy force of creation”.

Her idea that “we are weaving a delicate membrane of consciousness” Teilhard’s “noosphere” is just as speculative and lacking in evidence now as it was in Teilhard’s day. While such a speculation may be inspiring to some it contradicts Catholic thought by being self made. Conscious evolution is a theory of humanity taking charge of its own destiny without grace and without God.

No wonder Cardinal Muller condemned it as nothing new, but just old Gnosticism dressed up in new clothes. Gnosticism was also about attaining higher levels of consciousness through higher levels of learning until one reached the point of salvation.

The idea that Pope Francis supports all this speculative Gnostic nonsense because he said we must be good stewards of creation is disingenuous and shows the author is either ignorant of Catholic theology or is distorting the pope’s words and intention on purpose.