Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation

Evolving the Universe

Friday, June 8, 2018


Evolving the Universe
Friday, June 8, 2018

Contemplation hastens the evolution of the human species. Whoever finds this out and practices it will hasten the evolutionary future of the human family. —Thomas Keating [1]

Consider what Franciscan scientist and sister Ilia Delio, a scholar of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has to say about the technology that comes from human creativity and ingenuity:

In Teilhard’s view, the world is not . . . hurtling itself into aimless expansion . . . but is moved by Christ to Christ that God may be all in all. . . . The future of the material universe is intimately linked to the fulfillment [i.e., the evolutionary completion] of human beings in whom the world has come to consciousness. What we do matters to the “matter” of the universe, because by our choices we influence the life of the universe. [2] . . . The Parousia, or second coming of Christ, will ultimately be determined by the choices of the human community. . . .

Teilhard indicated that “the total Christ is only attained and consummated at the end of universal evolution.” [3] . . . That is, the Christ of the physical universe, the Christ of all humanity, the Christ of all religions. In this respect, Christ is not a static figure, like a goal post with a gravitational lure, toward which the universe is moving. Rather, Christ is in evolution because we, human and nonhuman creation, are in evolution. . . . We must take seriously the impact technology and science are causing on the shape of life in the universe. . . .

Technology can be defined as the organization of knowledge for the achievement of practical purposes. We may also describe it as the development of mechanical devices by the human community in its efforts to control or exploit the forces of nature. Throughout history, humans have been inventive in various ways, enhancing human life through means of technology. . . . The development of technology expresses the human’s self-development and self-expression through matter [i.e., the human capacity to be creative]; it is integral to being the image of God and thus integral to authentic self-realization. . . .

The notion of the human as a dynamic image of God, with a vocation to develop this image by evolving dialogue with the material cosmos, sets technology in a wider framework that provides strong religious, moral, and humanistic controls on its exploitation. . . . [4]

Teilhard saw that creativity and invention would forge the modern path of evolution, but he also saw that science alone cannot fulfill the cosmic longing for completion. God rises up at the heart of cosmic evolution through the power of love, which science and technology can facilitate but not surpass. The future of the earth, therefore, lies not in science and technology, but in the spiritual power of world religions and the power of love. We are born out of love, we exist in love, and we are destined for eternal love. . . . It is time to reinvent ourselves in love. [5]

[1] Thomas Keating, Reflections on the Unknowable (Lantern Books: 2014), 96-97.

[2] Summarizing [Karl] Rahner’s thoughts, [Denis] Edwards states that “what we do in our history has final and definitive value.” See [Denis] Edwards, Jesus and the Cosmos (Wipf & Stock Publishers: 1991), 97.

[3] Jean Danielou, “The Meaning and Significance of Teilhard de Chardin,” trans. John Lyon, Communio 15 (Fall 1988): 355.

[4] Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution (Orbis Books: 2008), 157-159.

[5] Ilia Delio, “Love at the Heart of the Universe,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013, out of print), 22.

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Contemplation hastens the evolution of the human species. Whoever finds this out and practices it will hasten the evolutionary future of the human family. —Thomas Keating
Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.