Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is a fascinating figure, one I first heard about in Catholic school. He was a man of enviable energy, as I'm learning in the book The Jesuit & the Skull, written by Amir Aczel. A Jesuit priest by vocation, he also had a strong scientific curiosity, leading him to the study of human origins. Plus a stint as a stretcher-bearer in the Great War, showing what's described as a "contempt for danger."
Teilhard de Chardin advanced a kind of post-Darwin mysticism that the entire cosmos was evolving toward the body of Christ. I'm not sure I agree with this, but it has a certain beauty. The world if ideas is poorer without some that acknowledge substance in the universe beyond the mechanical.
He might have a more difficult time of it now, being both a man of faith and a dedicated amateur scientist. Admitting to any kind of religious faith seems to cost scientists a lot of respect now. On the other side, religious poeple who angrily reject evolution, science, and seemingly the idea of evidence are an organized political force now. Of course the amount of trouble he got from the Vatican was bad enough. Plus ça change, perhaps.
There's also this blackly humoroous anecdote about Teilhard de Chardin's cohort, Canadian anatomist Davidson Black
Black procured cadavers for research, obtained from the Peking pilice department. These cadavers were mostly of people who had been executed for various crimes; the police regularly sent Black truckloads of the bodies of these executed convicts. Execution in China was by beheading, and thus the cadavers Black received lacked heads and had mutilated necks. After some time, he asked the police whether there was any possibility of getting better dead bodies for research—corpses that were intact. The next day, he received a shipment of convicts, all chained together, with a note from the police asking him to kill them in any way he chose. Hoffified, Black sent the prisoners back to the police, and thereafter obtained all his cadavers from the city morgue.Um, yikes.