Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Forbidden fruits

I think Chimps are awesome. They keep reminding us that we're not so different. I also like the way they organize their society, especially the bonobo. You can see in them some inkling of culture, society, morality and altruism. Proof that you don't need religion to have those. Sometimes chimps can also be violent, selfish and cruel. Proof that religion hasn't invented those either. I must confess that I've never read the bible growing up, I didn't need to, popular culture already shoves those stories down your throat. So when I finally got my hands on one, I skipped straight to the end, and read about the apocalypse which at least had some entertainment value. Genesis particularly seemed awfully simplistic and a thinly veiled metaphor about why Adam shouldn't have banged Eve. How did Adam convince her? Well maybe by giving her an apple... at least that's what the chimps would do according to PLOS one:

"The sharing of wild plant foods is infrequent in chimpanzees, but in chimpanzee communities that engage in hunting, meat is frequently used as a ‘social tool’ for nurturing alliances and social bonds. Here we report the only recorded example of regular sharing of plant foods by unrelated, non-provisioned wild chimpanzees, and the contexts in which these sharing behaviours occur. From direct observations, adult chimpanzees at Bossou (Republic of Guinea, West Africa) very rarely transferred wild plant foods. In contrast, they shared cultivated plant foods much more frequently (58 out of 59 food sharing events). Sharing primarily consists of adult males allowing reproductively cycling females to take food that they possess. We propose that hypotheses focussing on ‘food-for-sex and -grooming’ and ‘showing-off’ strategies plausibly account for observed sharing behaviours. A changing human-dominated landscape presents chimpanzees with fresh challenges, and our observations suggest that crop-raiding provides adult male chimpanzees at Bossou with highly desirable food commodities that may be traded for other currencies."

So here you go, chimp males exchange fruits for sex, and they are willing to take great risks in order to get the fruits. Shows you things haven't changed much since our last common ancestor...


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do you know that chimps aren't religious?

Anonymous Coward said...

All I know is that they don't have organized religion. I don't know if they sometimes contemplate where they come from or why they are alive. I suspect those metaphysical questions require an inner monologue and a developed language. But give them enough time and maybe they'll evolve into something that doesn't want to accept it has a shared common ancestor with humans.

Mark Twain said...

"Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven."

Anonymous said...

Since you admit you haven't read Genesis, I'll just point you to the very first chapter - you know the one with all the creationist nonsense (only a small percentage of the book deals with Adam and Eve by the way) - where after the creation of humans they are instructed to 'be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,' and instruction later given to Noah. It seems to me that that's a "thinly veiled metaphor" that Adam *should* "have banged Eve."

Anonymous Coward said...

from wikipedia:

In the philosophical novel Ishmael, the story of eating the forbidden fruit is described as a metaphor for the loss of quality of life caused by the change from hunter-gatherer culture to an agriculture-based society.

The term most generally refers to any indulgence or pleasure that is considered illegal or immoral and potentially dangerous or harmful, particularly relating to such things as human sexuality (underage, extramarital, or incestual), recreational drug use, and underage alcoholic beverage consumption.

In some biblical interpretations, the 'apple' was a metaphor for sexuality, 'the first sin' and so forth. This is heavily disputed, especially since the first commandment[2] given to Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis was to "be fruitful and multiply."