In your book "Reason for Hope," you speculate that chimpanzees might also have spiritual lives of their own. You've written, for instance, about a beautiful waterfall they go to. You suggest that they may even have some experience of awe.
Well, they sometimes pass there when they go from A to B, but it's what happens when they're near that. You can hear the roar of the falling water. It falls about 80 feet. The chimpanzees, usually the males, will bristle a little bit with excitement. And as they get near, they start these rhythmic displays, swaying from foot to foot, often upright. They may climb the vines and push out into the spray. And afterward, they may sit watching the water as it falls, watching as it flows past them. What is it? What is this strange substance which is always coming and always going and always here? You can't help feeling that if they had a language like ours, they could discuss whatever feeling it was that led them to these dramatic displays, which would turn into some kind of animistic religion. Watching these displays, you can't help feeling that it must be something that we would describe as awe or wonder or amazement, which can turn into the worship of things that we don't understand.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I think I like this religion. How does one sign up? Jane Goodall interviewed in Salon: