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A More Perfect UnionHolistic Worldviews and the Transformation of American Culture after World War II$
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Linda Sargent Wood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377743

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377743.001.0001

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Cosmic Dimensions

Cosmic Dimensions

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point

(p.111) 4 Cosmic Dimensions
A More Perfect Union

Linda Sargent Wood (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter profiles the life and work of Jesuit priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Born in France, the priest worked for much of his adult life as a scientist in China, including participation on the dig that uncovered “Peking Man.” Merging Catholicism and science, Teilhard asserted that evolution was God's ongoing creative act, that matter and spirit were one, and that all was converging into one complete, harmonious whole. Though controversial, his organismic ideas offered an alternative to reductionistic, dualistic, mechanistic evolutionary views. They satisfied many who were looking for ways to reconnect with nature and one another; who wanted to revitalize and make personal the spiritual part of life; and who hoped to tame, humanize, and spiritualize science. In the 1960s many Americans found his book The Phenomenon of Man and other mystical writings appealing. He attracted Catholics seeking to reconcile religion and evolution, and he proved to be one of the most inspirational voices for the human potential movement and New Age religious worshipers. Outlining the contours of Teilhard's holistic synthesis in this era of high scientific achievement helps explain how some Americans maintained a strong religious allegiance.

Keywords:   Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, catholic, evolution, human potential movement, new age religion, paleontology, science, China, Peking Man, Phenomenon of Man

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