I just saw this:

What do you make of the research? Does this change your perspective on anything? It changes a lot in my mind...what do you think about the idea that other species may believe in some sort of higher power?

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I dont think that demonstrates it conclusively. But based on observations recorded by Goodall and study chimps like Kenzi and gorillas like Koko i can dig that it is not a big leap. It is just a bit abstract nothing chimpzilla cant fathom. And no doubt rituals are at the genesis of theism.

Further there is precedent for primates to pass on their culture. Planet of the apes. Yeeha. Take my president Trump, please. (spinoff from Henny Youngman's take my wife please.)

I am fairly convinced that supernatural belief is an evolutionary advantage, if only for the cooperation it fosters. However a pile of rocks does not lead me to conclude that chimps believe or even comprehend the supernatural.


It aint no big thing. Really aint. Humans aint special creation. Primates are capable of theism. They think abstractly. They engage in formulaic behavior, are subject to depression and mental illness and the same distressing neuroses we are.

The funny thing is if chimps or apes were given religion it would be a shocking development for a lot of atheists who simply dont seem to know they are fooled by the notion of special creation.

So that's enough evidence for you huh? It is so typically human to suppose chimps have a god because they pile up some rocks. And I do believe that human development is unique in biological history. in a relatively short time we have complete domination and possible destruction of the planet via unprecedented cooperation, common vision/abstract thinking and sophisticated communication. Try to get 50,000 gorillas to just watch a football game.

No, i said I dont believe that conclusively demonstrates the same. And typically human in saying what hot shits we are is your attitude. Different in degree? Sure thing. Unique? No cotton pickin way.

When Goodall did her pioneering research observing wild chimps and published her conclusions they shattered the notions held by science. She saw rivalries and shifting alliances, war and friendship, love and despair, tool use, infanticide, rape. She saw a glimpse of humankind or an eerie similarity. The establishment scientists rebuked her as being a naive woman and attributing human characteristics to dumb animals. She was anthropomorphic, they thought. Animals were going on instinct. How sad that the tinge of Christian thinking had infected their "scientific" minds. It would have been incongruous and unexpected if hominids emerged from instinct alone, right? But their assumption was the opposite.

I am suggesting that theism is not beyond primates.

It certainly isn't, given that we are primates.  (But I am pretty sure I know what you meant.)

I think that if chimps had a great capacity for abstract thought they would have advanced like our species. The traits we do share with them are what holds us back. Oh yeah, I do think we are the shit when compared to other earthly species. We completely dominate to the point of stewardship. Thousands of homo sapiens cooperate flexibly to create a 747 jetliner or create a food industry. Two troops of monkeys will just fight. Other animals aren't even close. Now perhaps the human experience is an evolutionary mistake, but we are uniquely poised to even deny natural evolution with genetic research and engineering.

I suspect our religious tendencies come from a propensity to see agency at work even among inanimate objects (for my purposes here that includes plants, that aren't motile and can't move even parts of themselves rapidly enough to discern).  Spotting agency is one of those things you need to do.  The famous example is grass moving.  Is it because of a leopard or because of the wind?  You're better off falsely concluding it's a leopard than falsely concluding it's the wind.  Animals like deer and antelope just spook at unexpected motion; we actually use our experience to make a quick diagnosis.  If chimps are enough like us, they could be doing the same thing without much reliance on abstract thought...though I do suspect this sort of thing is a precursor to abstract thought.

So maybe they don't think abstractly so much as think inanimate objects have a mind of their own.

And i suspect that religious tendencies are encouraged through ritual. Those rituals engender religious thoughts and feelings. Other primates (catch that Steve?) also spot agency and have abstract thought. In fact monkeys have look-outs who signal the troop as soon as danger is present. And those look-outs are discerning. The danger signal indicates the nature of the danger so that the others know where and how to flee.

I have little doubt that chimps, gorillas and orangs could be indoctrinated. I hope that some research scientist in Kalamazoo does not get the notion. Leave the poor fuckers alone. They are already victims of horrible experimentation. Chimps get a lot of the same diseases that we do.

 In fact monkeys have look-outs who signal the troop as soon as danger is present. And those look-outs are discerning. [...]

True. Even crows can recognize different people (by face, iirc), and communicate it to other crows.

As far as indoctrinating non-human primates, I think it's unlikely to instill much intellectual understanding of any kind of dogma, especially when their language abilities are so minimal even in the most intensive training pressed upon them by humans. Emotionally, sure, they can probably be conditioned into various kinds of PTSD type behaviors. (I'll bet the CIA could help with that.)

Consider how long our species failed to advance all the while possessing abstract thought. There is a scientific school of thought that holds our brain capacity has shrunk and with it our intelligence. If we are so gifted then why did not our intelligence immediately propel us to greatness?

And why do we stay fixed and fixated in endlessly destructive patterns inimical to the long range survival of our species. We are like monkeys.

And no doubt you would have been one of those scientists who looked down on Jane Goodall with her preposterous notions likening chimps to humans.

And no doubt you would have been one of those scientists who looked down on Jane Goodall with her preposterous notions likening chimps to humans.

Don't presume you know what others think. Instead of being preposterous, the similarities between human and great apes societies are very obvious to anyone who doesn't have creationism as an agenda. Perhaps some feel it was a great discovery observing a chimp using tools. I don't. She enjoyed a time when logistics made the her study possible and she made good use of the media. I see her more as a great conservationist. Some scientists did have issues with her methods of observation and interaction, but I feel some of them may have had other motives.

We are like monkeys.

Yes, in our worst ways. When we fight each other that's our monkey heritage. When we cooperate in huge numbers with rational and abstract thoughts, that is the human difference that put us on the Moon and propelled our population out of control. T-Rex doesn't even come close to domination levels like we have, such as the waves of extinctions we are causing right now.

Apes, unlike us (and our close, somewhat integrated relatives like Neanderthals) went down a very different evolutionary path. Sure, apes may well have conceived abstract gods, and we can't prove they have not, but I resist jumping to conclusions until we observe them extorting bananas to be in the good graces of Coco the Savior.


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