Notes on Teilhard's Omega Point: Part 4, The Omega Point

i. The Omega Point
The most provocative (or loony) claim that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin makes in The Phenomenon of Man concerns his notion of the Omega Point.

We have already noted how Teilhard suggests that evolution is directional, pushing the material universe toward greater and greater complexity (what Teilhard calls complexification, p. 48). Further, as we noted in the last post, due to the Law of Complexity and Consciousness (p. 61), as the material universe grows complex consciousness is growing more and more complex right along with it.

What happens, therefore, is that great swaths of the material universe become conscious. A "thinking layer" of consciousness is now spread over parts of the material universe. These parts of "thinking layer" eventually interact and converge to create an aggregate. Teilhard named this the Noosphere. The word comes from the Greek word "nous" which means mind or intellect. In the poetic words of Teilhard (p. 182-183):

"A glow ripples outward from the first spark of conscious reflection. The point of ignition grows larger. The fire spreads in ever widening circles till finally the whole planet is covered with incandescence. Only one interpretation, only one name can be found worthy of this grand phenomenon. Much more coherent and just as extensive as any preceding layer, it is really a new layer, the 'thinking layer'...In other words, outside and above the biosphere there is the noosphere...The earth 'gets a new skin'. Better still, it finds its soul."

Where is the noosphere and matter heading? To summarize, Teilhard saw two forces in play:

1. Complixification: Matter moves from the simple toward the complex.
2. Law of Complexity and Consciousness: As matter grows complex a thinking layer emerges which reinforces and continues the push toward greater complexity.

In short, like the electromagnetic wave the rise of one field (e.g., electric) gives rise to the other field (e.g., magnetic) driving the wave forward at the speed of light. Matter grows complex begetting consciousness which begets greater complexity in matter. The physical cosmos and the noosphere start driving each other toward a climax. This climax is called the Omega Point.

Teilhard saw the Omega Point as a point of convergence, as the place where both the physical and "spiritual" (consciousness) would unite. This place, the Omega Point, is where the cosmos meets God.

What is interesting about this vision is how it plays with a variety of Christian ideas and gives them a twist. Physical and spiritual are united in an eschatological event. Yet all this is the lawful and inevitable product of the cosmos. The Divine is more immanent than transcendent in this process, although nothing in Teilhard's vision rules out a transcendent God. In fact, Teilhard states that the Omega Point, to act as a point of convergence, must stand outside of the cosmos. In the language of Scripture, God is "drawing all things to Himself" so that, in the end, "God will be all in all."

ii. Non-crazy Aspects of the Omega Point
What are we to make of the Omega Point? Let me end these posts by pointing out what I consider to be some non-crazy aspects of Teilhard's idea, to show points of convergence between Teilhard and other credible thinkers. And at the end I want to conclude this series with a question I've been thinking about for some time. In fact, this whole series has been simply giving you the background necessary to understand the question when I finally ask it!

To begin, let me overview the main points of Teilhard's thesis using a series of pictures depicting the rise of consciousness to the Omega Point.

First, however, I'd like to depart a bit from Teilhard. Teilhard believes that the Omega Point is one of convergence. I'm not so sure I even know what that means. In contrast, I'd like to think of the Omega Point as being a moment of coverage. Let me begin to illustrate:

Above is a picture representing the rise of consciousness. The material layer of the cosmos is the black background. Consciousness is represented by the colored dots. These are of different sizes to reflect the early stages of life. Some are snails, some are fish, some are mammals. Some dots might even represent early stages of Man. The picture is depicting how some facets of matter have consciousness associated with them.

The next picture depicts what I'll call "convergence."

I don't mean here to represent snail consciousness merging with human or fish consciousness. Rather, I'm trying to represent the rise of culture in the most sophisticated forms of consciousness. That is, human consciousness becomes, as it grows more and more complex, both integrated and distributed. We call this culture. It involves language, symbols, social mores, historical context, value systems, worldviews, etc. In point of fact, you can't even become a human "person" without participating in this shared and distributed layer of thought. Teilhard called this the Noosphere:

Once this cultural "thinking layer" is in place it comes to dominate the biosphere (even to the point where the noosphere can destroy the biosphere).

Let's pause and note something interesting about the noosphere. As the noosphere grows it becomes inherently moral, and grows more moral as it develops in complexity. Why do I say this? Well, as convergence emerges and grows we become increasingly aware of how our individual interests are intimately intertwined. We note how dependent we are upon each other. In short, the moral logic of the Golden Rule appears embedded in the fabric of the universe. Complexity produces convergence, convergence produces interdependence, interdependence produces morality.

Before you reject this as idle speculation read Robert Wright's book Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny. Wright makes just this argument: There is a cooperative logic driving the evolution of the cosmos.

Similarly, Spinoza in his Ethics makes much the same claim. Specifically, he notes that the logic of self-interest necessarily implies mutual cooperation between persons. For example, Spinoza states that all ethics and virtue are founded upon natural self-interest:

Part 4, Proposition 18, Scholium:
"...the very foundation of virtue is this very striving to preserve one's own being, and that happiness consists in a man's being able to preserve his being."

Yet, this very self-interest demands that you and I work together in mutual harmony:

"Again, it follows that we can never bring it about that we require nothing outside ourselves to preserve our being, nor that we live without having dealings with things outside us...There are, therefore, many things outside us which are useful to us, and on that account to be sought."

What are these things that aid us? Spinoza continues,

"To man, then, there is nothing more useful than man. Man, I say, can wish for nothing more helpful to the preservation of his being than that all should so agree in all things that the minds and bodies of all would compose, as it were, one mind and one body; that all should strive together, as far as they can, to preserve their being; and that all, together, should seek for themselves the common advantage of all."

In sum (to use a formulation borrowed from David Sloan Wilson's Evolution for Everyone:

What is good for the group = Virtue
What is bad for the group = Vice

And, interestingly, this moral logic seems inherent in evolution, both material and psychical.

iii. My Big Question
What is the relationship between consciousness and matter? (BTW, this isn't my big question. It comes at the end.) Is consciousness superfluous? Or does it contribute something to the evolution of matter?

I, personally, don't think consciousness is superflous. I think its existence has an impact upon the trajectory of evolution. More specifically, I think consciousness makes two contributions.

First, consciousness appears to preserve complexity. That is, once a complex system develops consciousness appears to work at preserving the structural integrity of the entity. Consciousness, at its most basic, is approach/avoidance and pleasure/pain. All of consciousness and all of morality is an elaboration upon these primary themes. And we note that approach/avoidance and pleasure/pain exist to preserve the structural integrity of the agent.

Thus I conclude that consciousness is a form of inertia. Specifically, a kind of informational or complexity inertia that causes complex structures to persist longer than if consciousness did not exist. For example, think of those very rare disorders where people are born congenitally insensitive to pain. These persons only live a few years due to the amount of biological damage they quickly accrue (from overheating to unfelt tissue damage to failing to detect sunburn) in contrast to what you or I easily, and unconsciously, avoid. Consciousness is primarily about maintaining and prolonging your structural integrity.

And, if Spinoza is correct, this basic aspect of consciousness--preserving structural integrity--is also the root of morality. Spinoza based his ethical system on the notion of conatus, the desire of the person to preserve and maintain integrity. As Spinoza wrote,

Part 3, Propositions 6 and 7
"Each thing, as far as it can by its own power, strives to persevere in its being."

"The striving by which each thing strives to persevere in its being is nothing but the actual essence of the thing."

Upon this notion of conatus Spinoza derived this theory of ethics and virtue:

Part 3, Proposition 9, Scholium
"From all this, then, it is clear that we neither strive for, nor will, neither want, nor desire anything because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we judge something to be good because we strive for it, will it, want it, desire it."

This might, on first blush, be a recipe for moral disaster. But we've already noted that, for Spinoza, what conatus will persue is cooperation and morality, not isolated self-interest. We are finite creatures and cannot, in the end, control our destinies. People have tried this, even using violence, but they always fail in the end.

But I digress. To recap, what does consciousness do? I've suggested it does two things the first of which is acting as a kind of complexity inertia.

The second thing consciousness does has to do with free will.

First, let me clarify. By "freedom" I don't mean "causally unconstrained." In fact, the freedom I'm speaking of is actually built upon a deterministic model. The freedom I'm talking about is closer to "political freedom," or range of choice. When we speak of setting slaves "free" this is what we are speaking of, freedom from constraints and making available a greater range of options. Thus, there is no such thing as a "free will." Only a "freer will."

In this sense, then, it seems clear that consciousness is intimately involved in making us freer. That is, as we move up the ladder of consciousness, from snails to dogs to humans, we see how consciousness, due to its expanded pain/pleasure sensitivities and representational talents, aids the creature in gaining greater and greater volitional range. In this sense, a human is freer than a dog as a human has, due to her greater complexity, a greater range of choices before her.

Now we are finally getting to the question I've been thinking about for over a year. If we combine the two functions of consciousness what do we get? To recap:

Function 1: To preserve structural integrity
Function 2: Greater volitional range

I think that both Function 1 and Function 2 are self-evidently true, almost axiomatic. And yet, if we endorse them both an interesting outcome emerges. Specifically, you have something close to Teilhard's position. That is, as consciousness grants agents greater and greater volitional range that volitional range will be leveraged into the task of preserving structural integrity against the tides of entropy. What does this mean? It means that, as a finite creature, my volitional horizon is bounded. Thus, as Spinoza stated, my self-perservation efforts will always be thwarted by things outside of my control. But as my volitional range grows I'm able to calculate the causal chains that adversely affect me (or promote my existence) more and more deeply and deeply. My volitional horizon expands. Similar to those supercomputers that can calculate chess moves deeper and deeper into the game to where they now beat the World Chess Champion. What if consciousness, as it seems it must, is able to calculate deeper and deeper into the causal laws of the universe?

Which leads, finally, to my big question: What if this process continued? Specifically, what if consciousness computed ALL the causal chains, enabling it to choose, perfectly, the "moves" that would allow consciousness to permanently stave off entropy and extinction? Would the consciousness, at that point, fully "cover" the material world and reach the Omega Point?:

And if consciousness reached this point, where consciousness overlapped the causal flux, could it "hold" or preserve (per Spinoza's conatus) its structure indefinitely? And if it was able to accomplish this would this not mean, as we have argued, that the universe would have culminated in love, in the full consummation of mutual interdependence?

If so, then Teilhard might have been right.

Infinite Love.

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24 thoughts on “Notes on Teilhard's Omega Point: Part 4, The Omega Point”

  1. Hello Everyone,
    I'll be away from the blog for the month of June.

    If you've followed this entire Omega Point series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) I'm curious what you think about it. As I said, the questions at the end of the post have been knocking around in my head for some time.

    Given that I won't be able to defend myself until I get back, if some kind soul would like to try to argue for me, even just for Socratic functions, I'm sure all the people commenting would like the back and forth.

    Look for me in July.

  2. Isaac Asimov made an argument or narrative for overcoming the second law of thermodynamics also. If you Google/Wikipedia the words Asimov and "The Last Question" you can read about his 1956 short story by that title. He doesn't give details. But, I think you'd like it. Some believe it to be one of the best science fiction short stories ever. I would say it comports with yours in spirit.

  3. Richard, you should read Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near." Very similar proposals, but rather than "infinite love," something more along the lines of an omega point of accelerated understanding - with a vast number of structural markers supporting his thesis.

    Ultimately, he sees consciousness and matter as inseparable - seen as the building blocks of all creation; a creation with an overarching intelligent inertia built-in to its operating system.

    Far from rigid materialism, Kurzweil acknowledges that "consciousness is the most important ontological question" and attempts to build a theory of transcendence with respect to emergence; that "the singularity will ultimately infuse the entire universe with spirit." In some ways, Kurzweil seems informed by NT thinking, though he would deny religious baggage.

  4. John,

    "The Singularity is Near' sounds interesting, and I am going to go to Amazon for it along with Wright's "Nonzero."


    And Richard,

    Two reservations about Teilhard's approach, one important endorsement of it, and a concern that it needs considerable re-interpretation in light of potent counterexamples.

    The first reservation is easily remedied, I think, and I mention it has a big impact on the initial credibility of Teilhard's ideas: Most people--I venture to guess--would agree that all animal life has at least a rudimentary spark of consciousness. But the idea that matter itself does is a real stretch for most of us. The easy remedy would be to hold that the universe tends toward the development of life, in which consciousness arises. I may be missing something important, but I do not see--at this point--how that diminishes the significance of Teilhard's view in any critical way.

    Second concern--and I quote Kant from 227 years ago: "...our understanding, in its application to appearances and their mere form, is an art concealed in the depths of the human soul, whose real modes of activity nature is hardly likely ever to allow us to discover..." (1st Critique, pp. 110-11) Here's one where I would love to be found completely off base, but is there any reason to think that conceptual traction is being made on the question of consciousness as a quiddity--our one-and-only experienced thing-in-itself? (To clarify, when that which studies tries to be the thing studied, where is the conceptual traction to be had?)If there is no good answer, it seems that Teilhard and anyone else following in his footsteps, i.e, Richard, is doing metaphysics or theology--and maybe good metaphysics or theology--but not science. It would be good to be clear about that, either way.

    Next, the endorsement-attraction: Tillich, late in life, stated that, "...I happened to read Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's book 'The Phenomenon of Man.' It encouraged me greatly to know that an acknowledged scientist had developed ideas about the dimensions and processes of life so similar to my own." (Intro to his Systematic Theology, Vol. III) That Tillich took Teilhard to be doing "science" (given my reservation) means that I am not unambiguously happy about his endorsement, but I also note that endorsement of Teilhard's work in application to "life processes," which I take as a nod to my first point. And since I am a great admirer of Tillich generally--and have not read Teilhard!--I am inclined to accept the endorsement of my intellectual superior in an area of very little personal investigation.

    That said, I want to insist that without considerably greater sophistication, your interpretation of Teilhard is not true to the observable facts of history.

    Taking a functional approach, you state two "almost axiomatic" truths about consciousness (and I agree that they are so): that it serves "to preserve structural integrity" and has to do with increasing free will, in the sense of producing "greater volitional range."

    Yet the facts of history make it clear that that set of functional truths does not translate into a Spinozan trust in the ontologically guided emergence of morality out of self-interest. To cite the most glaring counterexample, Hitler got neighboring countries to sign non-aggression pacts with Germany, and then used their moral trustworthiness against them by using the resulting peacetime to build up his military for blitzkrieg attacks. But cow birds laying their eggs in other birds' nests is equally a counterexample, on the more benign side of "life," as is everything inbetween--that is, unless one assumes that God is guiding the process, so it can't go wrong.

    One must deal with the problem of conscious beings who have differing versions of "the common good" that are in competition with each other before Teilhard can be even tentatively endorsed. But, if that is done, then I do tentatively endorse him.

    I think that you will want a stronger "champion" than that, but for those still reading, the remainder of the Into the World posts will offer just the needed sophistication to back up Teilhard's view. And I'm pretty sure that Richard set things up precisely so that that could happen. But then, Richard's consciousness has yet to merge with the rest of ours in the Omega Point, so this is only a guess!

    I might end up as a champion of this view, but need to know more first--if that is even possible in at least one crucial sense...


  5. Science fiction writers have been exploring this subject for years. Vernor Vinge ("The Peace War", "Marooned in Realtime") is among the best. These writers often consider the feedback loop you describe when applied to machines (i.e., AI).

  6. I just saw that an organization (to which I've been a member for decades) has just released a series of essays and interviews on the concept of Singularity. "pecs" (above) mentions Vernor Vinge - he is included among the essayists. Here:

    One essay that might be of special interest to your readers is entitled "Waiting for the Rapture." :-)

  7. Richard, I'm jumping into this late (been busy with assimilating and converging in a different part of the country) one assumption is that more complexity brings more convergence, and if I understand you correctly, then it leads to more similarities - which you state develops a common moral sense of being a good neighbor. I'd have to agree with Tracy that our recent history of killing for a "our common good" seems to go against that. For at the same time that complexity is developing more points of convergence, aren't we also developing more nodes of conflict and more points of divergence? I don't think it is an either/or situation - I think convergence and divergence happens at the same time in developing complexity. The internet is a good example. But this also means that escalating conflict will also be the result as more and more people develop their own "common good." What do you think?

    John Vaught

    Tracy - would love to hear from you!

  8. Hi John,

    Your thoughts do converge with mine.

    As I indicated above, my guess is that Richard made this post his last one till July because my following posts serve as--unintended on my part but, again, I suspect intended on Richard's--commentary on an element of Teilhard's thought that needs further work...

    With that in mind, I think I'll post the next chapter, rather than elaborate directly here.



  9. John, Tracy,

    Although there is often conflict, I think our ultimate destination is convergence. For example, all this 'banging together' since 09-11-2001 will ultimately bring us (Christians and Muslims) closer. It may 50 or 100 years but just as Japan and the USA are cooperating now, even though they fought a deadly conflict back in the 1940's.

  10. Hi Philip,

    I certainly LIKE the view that we are converging on a point of infinite consciousness and love. But as much as I would like it to be so, there is a countervailing possibility, and it seems to be built into the nature of the Omega Point: call it "Alpha Reversion."

    Here's my concern. Doesn't an ever increasing connection bring with it an ever increasing need for trust? And doesn't an ever increasing need for trust bring with it an ever increasing vulnerability to betrayal?

    To be specific, it's as if an "Alpha" female or male--or perhaps an Alpha pair--could spoil everything if the Omega Point were ever reached. We might even want to give the Alphas names; perhaps Adam and Eve?!

    And once such an Alpha couple fell from the state of Infinite Love, perhaps they would need to be expelled from it--that is, if they hadn't already brought down the house...

    Furthermore, given the fact that we are hypothesizing a state of Infinite Love from which they have fallen, if those who had to expel the Alphas wanted to make it possible to restore fellowship in Infinite Love again, well, perhaps a willingness to be made into the image of a Being completely identified with Infinite Love would be a prerequisite! We might even want to call that Being "Jesus."

    But a necessary prerequisite of being re-grafted into Omega would have to be this: Any possibility of egocentricity creating a polarizing point in opposition to Infinite Love would have to be eliminated. And the practical marker of this elimination would be an unbreakable commitment to sacrifice self-interest to love for all in any and all circumstances in which that possibility arises (due to the trust and vulnerability inherent in moving toward the Omega Point).

    Yes, this is a self-interested plug for my view being elaborated in the posts filling Richard's absence, but I also think that it is a nice overview of the Christian oeuvre.

    And, allowing for grace, it just might be that You and I can address the problem of separate egos creating a permanent countervailing possibility to the Omega Point...

    But I must say that the idea of the Beatific Vision animates my squeamish imagination more readily than does this "merging" talk focused on an Omega Point.

    Then again, perhaps that's just "Omega envy" speaking (And that in turn makes me wonder whether a grade-school boys' version of the fall is, symbolically, the most profound. Go figure.)

  11. Tracy,

    You have stimulated some new ways of looking of things.

    Here are a couple of thoughts:

    Perhaps there is a cyclic nature to merging and separating. I believe that Carl Sagan pointed out that scientists believe that the universe may go through a complete cycle every 8 billion years. Maybe as long as there is a universe, there will "alpha beings" creating separations and disharmony. But I see this feature always as temporary and illusionary in the sense that we are not really separate (either from each other or God).

    And, I can more easily imagine the Beatific Vision through merging into the Omega point --- though I also believe that we can experience the Kingdom of Heaven right here, right now.

    I think everyone tends to fit the evidence into their pre-existing views, stories and language, but we seem to be talking about the same thing.

  12. Also, it seems to me that your ingenious "alpha beings" in opposition to the Omega Point fits with the statement from Revelations: “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” God is both --- and there is no separation.

  13. On this question I agree with your comment about "fitting evidence into one's pre-existing view." For faith it's important to have a sense of moral progress and how it will be realized, but as we project forward in faith it is clearly the imagination that will do the projection...

  14. Tracy, I really like your recent thoughts on "alpha reversion." I tend to see the OT and NT in grand, sweeping narrative such as this (leaving the details for theologians to bicker over) :-). Trust and betrayal as universal constants. Unity breaking into duality. Nice stuff. I wonder.. can your 'practical marker' remain a nameless concept or must it be personalized as the Way?

  15. Hi John,

    It's nice to discover someone so like-minded (i.e., your comment on viewing the Christian Bible in a "grand, sweeping narrative," your "serial entrepreneur" self-description in your blog, and your blog posts generally).

    I absolutely believe that the "practical marker" must be seen as more than just the content of Christian doctrine, which is to say, more than "Christian revelation as understood by Christians."

    There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that if Christian "truth" is to be more than just a word, it must be accountable to a reality that it both testifies to and is accountable to as the reality to which it testifies.

    Paul Tillich centers his analysis of the universal human theme at the center of the gospel narrative as the conquering of existential estrangement by the message of the cross (divine participation in existential estrangement) and the resurrection (with its consequent invitation to participate in divine conquering of the estrangement).

    Tillich believed that literalism distorts that universal meaning. The one way for the cross to be universal is for it to transcend every particular personal and religious conception of it--in other words, the
    Christian message is "the Way" only because it allows no one to say that there view is "the Way." What that means is that no one gets to say that there way is "the Way" in a way that creates an ego-centric--or ethnocentric, or nation or class centered, etc.--distortion of "the Way."

    If Tillich was correct, then being Christian requires continual moral "reformation." That means any static view of faith will tend to falsify Christianity's core message. A radical statement, but also true to the Faith's core and universal meaning, which makes it more conservative than all the views by which it is judged radical...

    Thanks for the wonderful question!

  16. Tracy,

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Sounds like Tillich treats the cross as a perfect symbol for man's salvation without addressing belief in particular doctrines such as 'substitionary atonement'. And, his approach does not exclude other paths to salvation which require to surrender to a higher power, found in all the developed religions.

    What are you thoughts about these things?


  17. Hi Philip,

    I suppose that the most important thing for me to say is that I'm sharing my reactions and views, but "insights" is too grand a word...

    My appreciation for Tillich has less to do with any particular perspective that he advocates than with his continual application of Christian thought to the world in an attempt to understand both better. Come to think of it, I suppose that's why I'm such a fan of Richard's blog.

    That underlying approach entails an outward-looking theological perspective. Tillich calls his approach "apologetic." But it is not in the sense of taking specific challenges to faith and responding to them. Rather, he is apologetic in the sense of creating a Christian framework that interacts with wider philosophical, artistic, scientific, etc. perspectives. To me that's the only interesting approach.

    But since this has strayed so far from Richard's post, let me take a stab at connecting these thoughts back to the post. If consciousness, whatever it is "scientifically," subjectively means the frame of one's experience, then it can only be expanded by being outwardly focused. Self-centered approaches to life would necessarily be spiritually self-defeating--and core Christian ethical teaching seems to address that... But more to the point here, Teilhard's "Omega Point" seems to me to be a way to visualize that spiritual truth--and I'm throwing this out--whether it's literally true or not.

    As to all developed religions having paths of salvation that can be reconciled with an approach like Tillich's, that certainly seems to be "in spirit" with his approach, but for me to make a judgment that presumes a very wide learning in world religions would be pure posing on my part--though I can say that I've read Huston Smith's work, and that is basically his position.

  18. Dr. Beck,

    I'm curious as to whether you've read any of Terrence McKenna's theories dealing with Novelty/Complexity Theory and his so called "teleological attractor" pulling the universe towards greater complexity and the eschaton. Lots of similarities between his ideas and the ones in this series.

  19. I tend to agree with earlier commenters who have pointed to the problem of evil as a fly in Teilhard's ointment...that is, if the Omega Point is to be achieved by man acting in his own inherent capacities. We still seem to regress from time to time, taking steps forward, and then steps backward. (I'm speaking both of individuals and of our ensembles at various scales.)

    In each case (progression or regression), however, we learn more about the system in which we live, and we have to adapt or perish. So this reminds me of the work of Clare Graves (Dr. Mike Armour has written a helpful text that applies Graves to church life, for example) on the parallel processes of (a) increasing environmental/experiential complexity and (b) the emergence of higher-order thinking systems that allow humans to cope with the increased complexity.

    The ideas of [presumably irreversible] trajectory in history, information, and moral development echo the chaotic phenomena that have been identified in nonlinear dynamical systems at many scales. Apparent corollaries and analogies are everywhere. But the question as to whether or not the Omega Point is ultimately achievable, it seems to me, hinges on a "bifurcation" between two strange attractors, "good" and "evil." What tips our human ensemble into one attractor or the other is a mystery that just seems to require God; and in fact, the story of the Fall seems to suggest that tumbling into the evil attractor is the default trajectory, so that any bifurcation that drives us into the alternative attractor must have a spiritual (dare I say "divine") dimension to it.

    This all leaves us (I'm just brainstorming here) with a field of play for Scripture again, such as the universality of phrases like "God is love" and "I am THE way...noone comes to the [Omega Point?] except by Me."

    The legend of the tower of Babel also seems to suggest that a strictly humanist edition of Teilhard is doomed to self-immolation.



  20. A very good intro on Teilhard. Several things need to be noted about him and his acceptance today. First, Teilhard's understanding of evolution does not follow from Darwin but Bergson. This has major repercussions and the foremost is Teilhard's unwavering adherence to ontogenesis: that one can make a value judgement in the evolutionary scheme from younger and lesser life-forms to older and greater ones. What is important in considering Teilhard is that he does this across phylum and regardless of environment. Current evolutionary scientists would not dare make these claims and instead follow a more Darwinian line. I believe someone has mentioned this already in reference to Gould. Secondly, people constantly compare him to Hegel and others with 'grand narrative' schemes. While his grand historical scheme might in some places increase his explanatory power unfortunately the philosophical trends of today (see Lyotard's *The Postmodern Condition*) seem to make whipping boys out of such cases. And for good reason, for when the particularity of human experience and suffering tend to get brushed over in the push towards convergence or just the working of Geist for Hegel something is missing in the explanation. Teilhard's theodicy is just insufficient in this case.

    But, as others have remarked, his conception of the Noosphere seems to be prophetic of the internet and, even more, that the rise of consciousness utterly changes the trends of evolution to the point that if one wants to understand humanity's future, a purely biological explanation is inadequate. Perhaps evolutionary scientists should consider this tenet.

  21. A documentary film recently highlighted interviews with computer engineers and programmers after the newest IBM supercomputer annihilated the two Grand Champions on the TV game show "Jeopardy".  

    As I understand it, most now agree that within the next 20-30 years (perhaps sooner) a point will be reached where computers are more complex in every way than the most intelligent human brain, and that they will have become conscious and self-replicating.

    If Teilhard and you are correct, these new beings will be moral, due to the manner in which matter becomes conscious.  My own particular consciousness is able to consider, however, that you both may be incorrect in your assumptions regarding self-interest and morality.  Therefore, I am able to imagine a day, perhaps within our lifetimes, when our former machines become our masters, and we lose whatever of that "freer will" that we may still possess.

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