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The Vatican Imagines A MILIEU Of Its Own–A “Pro-Transhuman” One

SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE SERIES—THE MILIEU: PART 2

ALSO SEE:  PART 1

By Dr. Thomas R. Horn, proud leader of The Milieu

In November 2017, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture hosted a plenary assembly on “The Future of Humanity—New Challenges to Anthropology” that included top-level scientists and cardinals as well as bishops from around the world. The conference deliberated on changing attitudes toward using new and emerging fields of science—gene editing, robotics, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, brain-machine interfacing, and other powerful technologies—to modify what it means to be human. At the outset, the council stated: “The general aim of the Plenary is to open up a dialogue about the future of humanity.”[i] Different topics were discussed and issues raised over what interdisciplinary approach might help the Church avoid a “technocratic paradigm, which makes the method and aims of science and technology the exclusive epistemological paradigm that shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. Such a paradigm generates a reductionist or unidimensional approach to life and needs to be complemented with the insights of other forms of wisdom. This implies a cultural approach that could foster ‘a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational program, a lifestyle and a spirituality.’”[ii] The pro-transhumanist approach was considered, as well as general challenges some may find regarding its compatibility with traditional Christian philosophy. Because a universally accepted model for nature or creation is no longer agreed upon—either by philosophers or scientists—the vision of mankind redesigned through applied sciences raised questions involving “speciation” and whether modified humans will still be considered homo sapiens? Other issues raised involved inequalities that could develop between enhanced and unenhanced entities, whether mankind 2.0 will have a soul, and so on.

Of some interest to myself was the deeper question of what guiding worldview may have steered the Vatican’s attendees on such heady matters, a serious reservation I raised when the fact came to light during the assembly that the council had unanimously approved a petition to be sent to Pope Francis requesting that the monitum (a warning issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to a cleric whose teachings may inspire heresy) against Pierre Teilhard de Chardin be removed. In their appeal to the pope, the council discussed how “the seminal thoughts of the Jesuit Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, anthropologist and eminent spiritual thinker” had influenced their consideration throughout the meeting and that they had unanimously agreed that “his prophetic vision has been and is inspiring theologians and scientists.” They also pointed out that four popes, including Benedict and Francis themselves, had made “explicit references” to his work.[iii] Gerard O’Connell, associate editor of the Jesuit Review and America’s Vatican correspondent, added: “They concluded by expressing their conviction that ‘this act not only will acknowledge the genuine effort of the pious Jesuit to reconcile the scientific vision of the universe with Christian eschatology [emphasis added], but will represent a formidable stimulus for all philosophers, theologians…and scientists of good will to cooperate towards a Christian anthropological model that, along the lines of the encyclical ‘Laudato Si’,’ fits naturally in the wonderful warp and weft of the cosmos.”

The fact that “Christian eschatology” (the study of “end-times” events and the ultimate destiny of humanity), combined with “human-modifying technology” and the transhuman worldview of Chardin, was on everybody’s mind during a Vatican-sponsored conference on “The Future of Humanity” is eyebrow-raising, especially when one understands that Chardin wrote his own “Divine Milieu” (translated into English in 1960) and is widely considered to be one of the first to positively articulate a transhumanist worldview in which mankind will take control of evolution, and during a technological Singularity, transcend our current status as “humans” to become part of a higher cosmic intelligence.

Chardin’s Guiding Light for Vatican Council Members

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest and mystical philosopher who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. He is renowned for his devotion to Darwinism, and he famously assisted in the discovery of Peking Man and Piltdown Man, two alleged human ancestors. The Peking Man was said to be a skull from Homo Erectus—an extinct species of hominid that supposedly lived 1.8 million years ago. While casts and written descriptions remain, the original fossils mysteriously disappeared, casting doubt on discovery. Even worse, the Piltdown Man was an infamous hoax entailing fabricated bone fragments misrepresented as the fossilized remains of a “missing link” allegedly collected in 1912 from a gravel pit at Piltdown, East Sussex, England. In truth, the remains consisted of a dog tooth, a hippopotamus tooth, an elephant molar, an Orangutan jaw, and a six-hundred-year-old medieval human skull, albeit the hoax was not exposed for some forty years.[iv] Chardin’s role in this fraud is unclear, but many assert he was also duped.

Chardin conceived the idea that evolution was progressing to a goal—the maximum level of complexity and consciousness—called the Omega Point (discussed below). Along with the Ukrainian geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, he also developed the concept of Noosphere, a creative term denoting the numinous sphere of collective human thought. During his prime, he was condemned as a heretic because his mystical Darwinian syncretism severely conflicted with the teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church, particularly regarding human origins and the doctrine of Original Sin (which resulted in the monitum the plenary council has now requested Pope Francis remove). His primary book, The Phenomenon of Man, presented an evolutionary account of the unfolding of the cosmos that abandoned biblical theology for an occult pantheistic monism. Interestingly, extraterrestrials were also an extension of Chardin’s cosmic evolution. He wrote:

In other words, considering what we now know about the number of “worlds” and their internal evolution, the idea of a single hominized planet in the universe has already become in fact (without our generally realizing it) almost as inconceivable as that of a man who appeared with no genetic relationship to the rest of the earth’s animal population.

At an average of (at least) one human race per galaxy, that makes a total of millions of human races dotted all over the heavens.

Confronted with this fantastic multiplicity of astral centres of “immortal life”, how is theology going to react, if it is to satisfy the anxious expectations and hopes of all who wish to continue to worship God “in spirit and in truth”? It obviously cannot go on much longer offering as the only dogmatically certain thesis one (that of the uniqueness in the universe of terrestrial mankind) which our experience rejects as improbable.[v]

In light of those millions of alien races, Chardin wrote, “We must at least, however, endeavor to make our classical theology open to the possibility of their existence and their presence.”[vi]

According to Chardin, in his The Future of Man (1950), the universe is currently evolving towards higher levels of material complexity and consciousness, and ultimately will reach its goal, the Omega Point. Chardin postulated that this is the supreme aspiration of complexity and consciousness, an idea also roughly equivalent to the “Technological Singularity” as expressed in the writings of transhumanists like Ray Kurzweil. Indeed, one finds a remarkable coalescence of all non-Christian systems under the banner of Singularity, Monism, and Omega Point. Yet, like the nebulous “Christ consciousness” advocated by occultists, Chardin’s writings are easily misunderstood because he not only created new vocabulary for his Darwinian religion; he also redefined biblical terminology to mean something alien to its original intent. For instance, when Chardin writes about “Christ,” he usually does not mean Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, he is describing the Ultra-Man, the all-encompassing end of evolution at the Omega Point. As an example, consider when Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Chardin exegetes this as, “I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill Evolution.”[vii] To most Christians, this probably seems overtly heretical, but its infiltration into Roman Catholic thought and the dangerous transhumanist implications it brings with it has infiltrated the highest levels at Rome—including the papacy.

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Unbeknownst to most Roman Catholics, emeritus Pope Benedict is a Chardinian mystic of the highest order. The pope’s book, Credo for Today: What Christians Believe (2009), follows the lead of the Jesuit and states unequivocally that a belief in Creationism (the idea that life, the earth, and the universe as we know it today did not “evolve,” but rather were created by the God of the Bible) “contradicts the idea of evolution and [is] untenable today.”[viii] Following his rejection of Creationism and support of evolution, Benedict uses the doctrine of the Second Coming of Christ to advance Chardin’s “Omega Point,” in which a “new kind” of God, man, and mind will emerge. From page 113, we read:

From this perspective the belief in the second coming of Jesus Christ and in the consummation of the world in that event could be explained as the conviction that our history is advancing to an “omega” point, at which it will become finally and unmistakably clear that the element of stability that seems to us to be the supporting ground of reality, so to speak, is not mere unconscious matter; that, on the contrary, the real, firm ground is mind. Mind holds being together, gives it reality, indeed is reality: it is not from below but from above that being receives its capacity to subsist. That there is such a thing as this process of ‘complexification’ of material being through spirit, and from the latter its concentration into a new kind of unity can already be seen in the remodeling of the world through technology.[ix]

The term “complexification’ was coined by Chardin (and the technological allusions it suggests are akin to transhumanism and Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity) and the pope’s complete devotion to this theology is again laid bare in his book, Principles of Catholic Theology (1987), which states:

The impetus given by Teilhard de Chardin exerted a wide influence. With daring vision it incorporated the historical movement of Christianity into the great cosmic process of evolution from Alpha to Omega: since the noogenesis, since the formation of consciousness in the event by which man became man, this process of evolution has continued to unfold as the building of the noosphere above the biosphere.[x]

This “noosphere” is taken very seriously today in modernist Catholic theology, academia, and even science. It is explained in the scientific journal, Encyclopedia of Paleontology, this way:

Teilhard coined the concept of the “noosphere,” the new “thinking layer” or membrane on the Earth’s surface, superposed on the living layer (biosphere) and the lifeless layer of inorganic matter (lithosphere). Obeying the “law of complexification/conscience,” the entire universe undergoes a process of “convergent integration” and tends to a final state of concentration, the “point Omega” where the noosphere will be intensely unified and will have achieved a “hyperpersonal” organization. Teilhard equates this future hyperpersonal psychological organization with an emergent divinity [a future new form of God]. (emphasis added)[xi]

The newly sanctioned doctrine of an approaching “emergent divinity” in place of the literal return of Jesus Christ isn’t even that much of a secret any longer among Catholic priests (though the cryptic Chardinian lingo masks it from the uninitiated). For instance, in his July 24, 2009, homily in the Cathedral of Aosta while commenting on Romans 12:1–2, the pope said:

The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host. (emphasis added)[xii]

This is overtly pantheistic and, of course, the text he was discussing (Romans 12) teaches the exact opposite: “Be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2a). While the pope thus aggressively promotes Chardin’s process of “noogenesis” in which the cosmos comes alive and everyone unifies as a “living host,” one can readily see that Brahman, Nirvana, and Singularity are roughly equivalent to this monistic concept. Interestingly, noogenesis (Greek: νοῦς =” mind”; γένεσις = “becoming”) actually has two uses: one in Chardin’s Darwinian pantheism—and another, more telling rendering—within modern astrobiology.

In Chardin’s system, noogenesis is the fourth of five stages of evolution, representing the emergence and evolution of mind. This is the stage we are said to be in currently, and as noogenesis progresses, so does the formation of the noosphere, which is the collective sphere of human thought. In fact, many Chardinians believe that the World Wide Web is an infrastructure of noosphere, an idea intersecting well with transhumanist thought. Chardin wrote, “We have as yet no idea of the possible magnitude of ‘noospheric’ effects. We are confronted with human vibrations resounding by the million––a whole layer of consciousness exerting simultaneous pressure upon the future and the collected and hoarded produce of a million years of thought.”[xiii]

However, this concept gets more translucent in astrobiology, where scientists have adopted noogenesis as the scientific term denoting the origin of technological civilizations capable of communicating with humans and traveling to earth—in other words, the basis for extraterrestrial contact.[xiv] Consequently, among many if not most of Rome’s astronomers and theologians, there is the widespread belief that the arrival of “alien deities” will promote our long-sought spiritual noogenesis, and according to a leading social psychologist, the world’s masses are ready for such a visitation and will receive them (or him) as a messiah.[xv] This is further reflected in a 2012 United Kingdom poll, which indicated that more people nowadays believe in extraterrestrials than in God.[xvi] Consequently, whether or not it is the ultimate expression, the noogenic “strong delusion” is already here.

While we aren’t suggesting a direct equivocation per se, the conceptual intersection between the two uses of noogenesis (the occultic and astrobiological) is thought provoking, especially in light of Clarke’s scenario in Childhood’s End, where noogenesis in the astrobiological application (the arrival of the alien Overlords) was the impetus for evolution toward the Overmind and dissolution of humanity. It seems Rome has connected these dots for us. In his sanctioned treatise, Kenneth J. Delano linked the concept of maximum consciousness and alien contact, truly noogenesis in both senses of the word:

For man to take his proper place as a citizen of the universe, he must transcend the narrow-mindedness of his earthly provincialism and be prepared to graciously accept the inhabitants of other worlds as equals or even superiors. At this point in human history, our expansion into space is the necessary means by which we are to develop our intellectual faculties to the utmost and, perhaps in cooperation with ETI, achieve the maximum consciousness of which St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in Summa Theologica:

This is the earthly goal of man: to evolve his intellectual powers to their fullest, to arrive at the maximum of consciousness, to open the eyes of his understanding upon all things so that upon the tablet of his soul the order of the whole universe and all its parts may be enrolled.[xvii]

Viewed through this lens, the Vatican’s promotion of Darwinism and astrobiology intrigues and might even usher in the Fifth Element of the Omega Point known as “Christogenesis.” (Author’s note: One cannot help recall the movie, The Fifth Element, which involved a priesthood who protects a mysterious Fifth Element that turns out to be a messianic human who ultimately combines the power of the other four elements [noogenesis] to form a “divine light” that saves mankind.) In Chardin’s book, The Phenomenon of Man, the five elements of evolution are: 1) “geogenesis” (beginning of earth); 2) “biogenesis” (beginning of life); 3) “anthropogenesis” (beginning of humanity); 4) noogenesis (evolutionary consolidation to maximum consciousness); leading to finally 5) “Christogenesis,” the creation of a “total Christ” at the Omega Point. With that in mind, be aware that astrobiology and transhumanist philosophy suggest this noogenesis is being driven by an external intelligence, whether it be respectively artificial or extraterrestrial. This is fascinating given how interwoven the ideas are between transhumanism, a coming technological Singularity, and what some believe to be highly advanced “aliens” that similarly took charge of their evolution long ago, contrasted with the conservative Christian theology that fallen angels in “the days of Noah” modified humans a long time ago, and the prophecy of Jesus Christ that those signs would return just before His return.

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[i] (http://www.cultura.va/content/dam/cultura/docs/pdf/events/PlenaryTheme2017_en.pdf).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] (https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfarrell/2017/11/24/vatican-council-asks-the-pope-to-exonerate-jesuit-scientists-writings/#4f2cce5c45e8).

[iv]Richard Harter, “Piltdown Man: The Bogus Bones Caper,” Talk Origins (1996), last accessed February 12, 2013, (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/piltdown.html).

[v] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (New York, NY: A Harvest Book, 1971), 232.

[vi] Ibid., 234.

[vii] Malachi Martin, The Jesuits (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988), 290.

[viii] Pope Benedict XVI, Credo for Today: What Christians Believe (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009), 34.

[ix] Ibid., 113.

[x] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, translated by Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.n.d. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), 334.

[xi] “Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre,” Encyclopedia of Paleontology, s.v, last accessed January 26, 2013, (http://www.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://www.credoreference.com/entry/routpaleont/teilhard_de_chardin_pierre).

[xii] Pope Benedict XVI, “Homily of July 24, 2009,” in the Cathedral of Aosta, last accessed January 26, 2013, (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20090724_vespri-aosta_en.html).

[xiii] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (New York, NY: Harperperennial, 1955), 286.

[xiv] M. M. Ćirković, “Fermi’s Paradox: The Last Challenge for Copernicanism?” Serbian Astronomical Journal 178 (2009), 1–20.

[xv] Robert Emenegger, UFOs, Past, Present, and Future (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1975), 130–147.

[xvi] Lee Speigel, “More Believe in Space Aliens than in God According to U.K. Survey,” Huffington Post, October 18, 2012, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/alien-believers-outnumber-god_n_1968259.html), accessed 12/07/2012.

[xvii] Kenneth J. Delano, Many Worlds, One God, 104.

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