Mind, Matter, and the Power of Evolution

“Consciousness is the mirror that the universe has evolved to reflect upon itself
and in which its very existence is revealed” – Peter Todd


: “I heard Ilia talk about quantum entanglement on “Bible for normal people” and that all matter has some form of consciousness. Could it be that the consciousness that all matter has is from God, including ours? That we are only stewards of the consciousness that God has imparted in us?”


Robert: The situation of consciousness permeates the entirety of nature. In her stunning book Making All Things New, Ilia Delio explains:

“Consciousness is integral to all aspects of cosmic life. The universe is brimming with consciousness all the way from the most elementary particles to vast galaxies, from the Big Bang to Einstein. We can trace our consciousness back to something we share in a basic sense with every living thing, what physicists call quantum coherence. Perhaps we can say it this way: In the beginning was the quantum, and the quantum was with God, and the quantum was God.[1]

Unlike the billiard ball universe of Newtonian physics, the discoveries of modern science have furnished us with a new view of existence, one in which the physical and mental world are no longer seen as separate from each other but are radically interconnected. Thanks to Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity, in other words, we now know that matter (the physical) and energy (the mental) are interconvertible—that is to say, they are essentially two forms of the same “thing” constantly co-mingling in a creative relationship that forms reality, a reality frequently referred to as quantum wholeness. English physicist and astronomer James Jeans writes of this intrinsic principle of wholeness at the heart of the cosmos:

The universe looks more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accident intruder into the realm of matter […] Mind may be the creator and governor of the realm of matter—not of course our individual minds, but the mind in which the atoms of which our individual minds have grown and exist as thoughts. The quantum phenomena make it possible to propose that the background of the universe is mindlike.[2]

It was Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s awareness of this integral wholeness—this organizing and regulating energy streaming its way through the veins of existence—that led him to suggest that consciousness itself is the stuff of the universe. As a paleontologist, he carefully traced the line of evolution back to simple, less “consciously advanced” forms of materiality where he identified an ongoing process of complexification—a primordial power of magnetization leading all life to greater union and thus more sophisticated levels of consciousness. Therefore, he considered matter and consciousness as “two aspects [or energies] of the same cosmic stuff.”[3] For him, matter always serves as the energy of attraction (tangential) that manifests in greater physical organization while increased consciousness, as a result of unified matter, serves as the energy of transcendence (radial)—both of which generate a necessary and indispensable interaction that slowly gives rise to spirit. Jungian psychologist John Dourley puts it well: “Teilhard understands the [energy] of evolution moving to spirit as it unites matter in ever greater patters of physical complexity supporting greater consciousness and ultimately self-consciousness.”[4]

In the mind of Teilhard, the culmination (but not the termination) of evolution is the self-conscious, self-reflective human person: the new matter through whom the ongoing spiritualization of historical consciousness is made possible. We are now co-responsible for actualizing a much more unified and integrated human community, one that leads to greater spirit, that is, one whose individual vision of goodness, beauty, and truth is intensified by its authentic inter-relational to a deepening communal convergence. This process of personal differentiation through our conscious commitment to connectivity renders the universal power of union more distinct, more real, and more complete. To quote physicist David Bohm: “[T]he universe has created a mirror to observe itself.”[5] We are the mirror of the universe called to enhance this divine focus of mind by reflecting the profound pattern of “Relationship” at the root of our becoming.


[1] Ilia Delio, Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (New York: Orbis Books, 2015), 56-57.

[2] James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe (New York: Macmillian, 1931), 158.

[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, trans. Bernard Wall (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), 56-59.

[4] John Dourley, “C.G. Jung and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Is There a Border Between Psychic Energy and Evolutionary Energy?” in Fred R. Gustafson, ed., Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Carl Gustav Jung Side by Side (Cheyenne, WY: Fisher King Press, 2015), 103.

[5] David Bohm, The Undivided Universe (London: Routledge, 2002), 389.

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  1. Steve Hansen on May 19, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you. We need more articles helping us understand the insights science contributes to evolving religion.


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