The Phenomenon of Man (Harper Perennial Modern Thought)

We are, at this very moment, passing through a change of age.

The age of industry the age of oil, electricity and the atom; the age of the machine, of huge collectivities and of science — the future will decide what is the best name to describe the era we are entering. The word matters little. What does matter is that we should be told that, at the cost of what we arc enduring; life is taking a step, and a decisive step, in us and in our environment. After the long maturation that has been steadily going on during the apparent immobility of the agricultural centuries, the hour has come at last, characterized by the birth pangs inevitable in another change of state. There were the first men — those who witnessed our origin. There are others who will witness the great scenes of the end. To us, in our brief span of
life, falls the honor and good fortune of coinciding with a critical change of the noosphere.

In these confused and restless zones in which present blends with future in a world of upheaval, we stand face to face with all the grandeur, the unprecedented grandeur, of the phenomenon of man. Here if anywhere, now if ever, have we, more legitimately than any of our predecessors, the right to think that we can measure the importance and detect the direction of the process of Hominization. Let us look carefully and try to understand. And to do so let us probe beneath the surface and try to decipher the particular form of mind which is coming to birth in the womb of the earth today.

Our earth of factory chimneys and offices, seething with work and business, our earth with a hundred new radiations — this great organism lives, in final analysis, only because of, and for the sake of, a new soul. Beneath a change of age lies a change of thought. Where are we to look for it, where are we to
situate this renovating and subtle alteration which, without appreciably changing our bodies, has made new creatures of us? In one place and one only — in a new intuition involving a total change in the physiognomy of the universe in which we move — in other words, in an awakening.

What has made us in four or five generations so different from our forebears (in spite of all that may be said), so ambitious too, and so worried, is not merely that we have discovered and mastered other forces of nature. In final analysis it is, if I am not mistaken, that we have become conscious of the movement which is carrying us along, and have thereby realized the formidable problems set us by this reflective exercise of the human effort. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; The Phenomenon of Man; Pages 214-215.