Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
In our previous newsletter, we saw that the famous Catholic author Flannery O’ Connor was deeply influenced by the writings of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and that her receptivity to his evolutionary theology led her into a number of deceptions which are reflected in her writings. The first was that she lived in a “scientific age” in which the “fact” of evolution illuminated all knowledge and gave the faithful a “new and deeper understanding” of the Catholic Faith—an understanding, unfortunately, which called into question most of the doctrines of faith and morals that had been handed down from the Apostles. The second deception involved the error of thinking that we find meaning in suffering by seeing it as part of our evolution to the future Omega point, rather than as a way of uniting our sufferings to the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church. This error went hand in hand with the deception that goodness is the actualization of a potential into which we evolve, rather than a perfection that exists in God—and in His adopted children by grace; and which they express to the extent that they renounce sin and embrace those perfect acts of love that “He has prepared beforehand that they might walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Third Deception: Teilhard de Chardin the Martyr
In Flannery O’Connor’s writings on Teilhard de Chardin we find a concatenation of errors that mutually reinforce each other. Having accepted that she lived “in a scientific age” in which no serious person questioned the “fact” of molecules to man evolution, it was easy for O’Connor to believe that the censures to which Fr. Teilhard was subjected by his superiors were similar to the persecutions endured by other trailblazing saints like St. John of the Cross. She wrote:
The most important nonfiction writer is Pere Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. who died in 1955 and has so far escaped the Index [of Forbidden Books], although a monitum has been issued on him. If they are good, they are dangerous (Habit of Being 571)
Only a man of profound Catholic piety could have sustained his love for the Church and his order under these circumstances (publication of books prohibited), but Teilhard was a great Christian, his vision of Christ was as real as his love of science. (The Presence of Grace 86)
In reality, Fr. Teilhard was a pseudo-martyr like Arius or Martin Luther whose “persecution” at the hands of the Church only took place when they refused to renounce and correct their errors—errors which threatened to lead souls astray and to jeopardize their salvation. As Cardinal Ottaviani wrote in his famous monitum, “The works of Teilhard de Chardin contain serious errors which offend Catholic doctrine”—errors such as the denial of the historical reality of Adam and Eve, the rejection of the traditional doctrine of Original Sin, the reduction of sanctifying grace to a “biological” phenomenon, and the consequent invalidation of all of the doctrines central to the Church’s teaching on Redemption and Sanctification in their traditional formulation.
Fourth Deception: “All That Rises Must Converge”
According to the disciples of Fr. Teilhard, like Flannery O’ Connor, the “Christification of matter” preached by Fr. de Chardin leads the soul to reach out in love to all creatures in recognition of the presence of the Christ within them. In O’Connor’s short story “All that Rises Must Converge,” an ignorant, bigoted southern white woman reaches out in loving way to a black boy on a bus, and even though her gesture of giving the black boy money offends his mother and prompts her to assault his ”benefactor,” the disciples of Teilhard see in this spontaneous gesture the upsurge and diffusion of the loving energy of Christ that permeates all things, destroying the superficial differences that seem to divide one kind of organism or human being from another.
In reality, the proper foundation for Christian charity is the recognition that God created man in His own image, that every human being is a descendant of our first parents, Adam and Eve, created by God, and redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through the prayers of the “New Eve,” the Mediatrix of all Graces, the Mother of all the living in the order of divine grace. In truth, the unity for which all of Flannery O’ Connor’s characters secretly long is achieved by being baptized into Christ through Holy Baptism and by cooperating with His divine grace through good works, sustained by prayer and the sacraments—not through some kind of universal prompting of the energy of the cosmic Christ!
This deception is one of the most dangerous, since the Teilhardians’ notion of the Christification of matter and the upward drive of all material things toward the Omega point in the future, leads easily to the dissolution of the boundary between good and evil, since all things, willy-nilly participate in this upward movement of the universe. Indeed, Teilhard’s pivotal spiritual experience as a young man involved an encounter with “a presence” which he described as:
Turbid, equivocal, the combined essence of all good and of all evil who said to me, “Now I am established on you for life or for death. He who has once seen me can never forget me. He will either damn himself with me or save me with himself!”
These words should have been sufficient to alert O’Connor and all of Teilhard’s readers to the diabolical source of his ideas on evolution. Instead, the perverse and anti-Christian notion of the spirit of the world animating all of the matter and organisms in the universe and working through them to achieve its purposes fascinated Flannery O’Connor and stimulated her creative imagination. Just how dangerous this deception could be stands plainly revealed in the life of Adolf Eichmann, the man put in charge of the “final solution”—the elimination of the evolutionarily “inferior” Jewish population in the Nazi territories. When Eichmann was awaiting execution for his crimes in Israel after being kidnapped by the Israelis from his new home in South America, a protestant minister named William Hull attempted to call Eichmann to repentance and faith in Jesus as his Savior and Redeemer.
Although Eichmann had been raised a Christian, as a young man he had embraced the evolutionary hypothesis then in favor with most of the intellectual elite in Germany. At several critical points in his discussions with Pastor Hull, Eichmann made clear that he firmly believed in an evolutionary god who had evolved the first human beings through a natural process involving hundreds of millions of years of death, deformity, disease, and violent struggle for survival. Tragically, Pastor Hull sought to ignore Eichmann’s faith in evolution and to focus his attention on Jesus Christ, His Passion, death and Resurrection, and on the absolute necessity of faith in Him for salvation—but Eichmann continually challenged the reliability of the Gospel and the exclusive claims of Jesus on the grounds of the alleged scientific evidence for evolution. On one occasion, Eichmann asked:
Why did God wait … millions of years, from the beginning of creation, and only provide this salvation through His Son two thousand years ago?
On another occasion Eichmann quoted the philosopher Spinoza to the effect that “in this world there exists nothing that is evil in itself.” And Eichmann added his own comment:
Man, a product of development willed by the Creator, is still in the early stages of becoming, only on the way toward perfection . . . Our former animal instincts will disappear by our own efforts within ourselves. But human development toward perfection must be measured not in generations but in aeons.
Here we see that the Teilhardians’ belief that “everything that rises must converge” radically differs from the Christian doctrine of the soul’s ascent toward God. In the Teilhardian framework, embraced by Eichmann, all material things and individual men are carried upwards in spite of themselves to the Omega Point. In the Christian doctrine of the soul’s ascent to God, the soul must cooperate with divine grace; there is no upward ascent without the soul’s obedience to the moral law and her detachment from sin and the occasions of sin.
The Mystification of Complexification
The deception of “convergent evolution to the Omega point” finds a parallel in the Teilhardian doctrine of “complexification” which Flannery O’Connor seems also to have been deceived into accepting as a legitimate concept. It goes without saying that if the evolutionary hypothesis were true, then the ever-increasing complexity of living organisms over time would necessarily be a reality throughout the biosphere. A microbe could not turn into a human body over hundreds of millions of years unless a huge number of “beneficial” genetic mutations occurred over those long ages, to code for a dazzling multiplicity of new functions in the evolving lineage.
In reality, however, as Dr. John Sanford has demonstrated in his masterpiece Genetic Entropy, the scientific literature does not boast a single example of a genetic mutation that has added new functional information to the genome of any plant, animal or human being. Thus, the whole notion of “complexification” turns out to be a complete illusion, while the observational and experimental evidence in biology confirms the Catholic doctrine of the original perfection of man and the created kinds, followed by an inexorable “bondage to decay” (Romans 8) after the Original Sin.
I want to make clear that I do not question Flannery O’Connor’s talent, her sincerity, or her genuine insight as a writer. Nor do I wish to impugn her character. However, I believe that it is my duty to show that she was deceived so that Catholics of good will who are influenced by her writings can discern for themselves whether my discernment is correct and thus separate the wheat of genuine insight from the chaff of Teilhardian error. There is simply no doubt that the embrace of theistic evolution by prominent, devout, and intelligent Catholics creates a huge stumbling block for those who rightly admire them for their genuine contributions to the life of the Church. It is time for us to “discern the spirits whether they be of God,” and to speak the truth in charity to our fellow Catholics when we discern the spirit of deception in works that have been widely accepted by our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. I have been invited to give a Kolbe seminar at a Maronite parish in Florida on the weekend of February 18-19. I will be driving to Florida from Virginia and then to Texas before heading north again. If you can organize a Kolbe talk anywhere close to that route, I will be happy to oblige, but please let me know if you are interested in organizing something as soon as possible
P.P.S. We have decided to hold our 2022 annual leadership retreat at the headquarters of the Apostolate for Family Consecration in Bloomingdale, Ohio, again this year, from Sunday, August 28, until Saturday, September 3. For more information or to obtain a registration form, please email me at email@example.com.