The term “Noosphere” was coined by the French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1898-1955). Here is how he described it in Chapter 10 of his collection of essays, The Future of Man, “…a particular biological entity such as has never before existed on earth—the growth, outside and above the biosphere, of an added planetary layer, an envelope of thinking substance, to which, for the sake of convenience and symmetry, I have given the name of the Noosphere.”
Teilhard regarded his purely scientific worldview as a metamorphosis of the Christian religion, capable of evolving a harmonious society at the global scale. This gave his writing an uplifting quality that causes him to be widely read and beloved to this day. He has largely been forgotten by scientists, however, even though he was highly respected as a scientist during his day.
That is the objective of the Science of the Noosphere project, as one initiative of . The project is directed by David Sloan Wilson, one of the foremost living evolutionary scientists who, like Teilhard, includes all aspects of humanity in addition to the biological world as within his scientific purview. He is collaborating on the project with filmmaker Alan Honick. The research being conducting under Science of the Noosphere will serve as the basis for a documentary film, currently in development.
In this series of video conversations, Wilson interviews some of the world’s greatest scientists on the full arc of Teilhard’s vision, including:
- The formation of the universe.
- The origin of life.
- Major transitions in the scale of biological organisms.
- The origin of humans.
- Increase in the scale of societies in human history, leading up to the present.
- The future of humanity in the Internet Age.
All of this can be understood from an evolutionary perspective, as Teilhard was among the first to appreciate.
Each conversation is available as a video recording, a print transcript, and an outline of major points.
In addition to the series of conversations, Wilson has written a review article titled “Reintroducing Teilhard de Chardin to Modern Evolutionary Science”, which will be published with commentaries in the academic journal Religion, Brain, and Behavior. A preprint of the article is available here.
Thanks to the Science of the Noosphere project, the concept of the Noosphere can be placed firmly on a modern scientific foundation.