Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
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Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) was a Jesuit priest, an archaeologist, and a scholar. A Catholic for his entire life, he faced, at times, exile (first to China, then to New York) and punishment for disagreeing with the Catholic church on two central points: first, he believed in evolution, and second, he rejected the doctrine of original sin.
Teilhard is an uncommon figure in the matter of the role of religion in science (and especially evolution), because he saw religion and science as eminently compatible. His ideas went beyond the toleration expressed in non-overlapping magisteria, or the idea that religion and science need not conflict: Teilhard's union went far deeper than that. Rather, he believed that religion and evolution were inextricably linked, such that Christianity did not make sense without evolution. He first propounded the "Omega Point" theory — that mankind evolves towards Godhood, abetted by Jesus Christ, making evolution, Hegel-style, a theological as well as physical transition in forms.
Teilhard was instrumental in the discovery during World War II of "Peking Man", a transitional form of pre-historic humanity (homo erectus) found in China. He was also involved in the excavations that produced the notorious hoax Piltdown Man, and some people have theorised that he was responsible.
- Amir D. Aczel, The Jesuit and the Skull
- Study reveals culprit behind Piltdown Man, one of science's most famous hoaxes, Michael Price, Science, August 9, 2016
- Tinkering, John Maynard Smith, London Review of Books vol 3 no 17, 17 September 1981, p 9