On this day in 1881, a son was born to Emmanuel Teilhard de Chardin and his wife Berthe Adèle de Dompierre d’Hornoy. They named him Pierre Marie Joseph. He was their fourth child and second son. Eventually they would have eleven children, with no reason to think Pierre would be special among them, much less leave a lasting impact on the world.
The time period in France that Pierre was born into was later called La Belle Epoque by historians. The power of electricity was just being harnessed. New inventions included the car, the electric light and cinema. The Eiffel tower would soon be constructed in Paris. The speed of world communications was as fast as trains and ships could make it.
Who could have foreseen that little Pierre would grow up to achieve a global vision informed by world travels that would take him to Great Britain, Egypt, China, North America, India, Java, and Africa, among other places. His scientific expertise in reading the past and the dynamic emergence of the cosmos, conjoined with a spiritual intuition of the divine in all matter, led him to a vision of cosmogenesis, the noosphere, and to evolution being unfinished– for which we now share responsibility.
And 136 years later we celebrate the insights he proposed, with the resolution to see what further insights they may yet yield.
Happy Birthday, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin