Part 1 of 3
The subject of this post results from a small crowd of blog comments and emails following the posts about my conference presentation,“Untangling Hellish Visions,” and the documentary Hellbound? For example, here are quotes from two typical comments:
- It’s terrifying that such a god might exist and is actually believed to exist by millions and millions of people. I agree with the other poster who said they pray that religion isn’t real: such a possibility is a nightmare.
- I don’t know what to believe any more, and I am so afraid. What is wrong with religion?
The June, 2012 issue of Nature magazine carried an interesting report about the closeness of our genetic relationship with apes. Scientists have known for several years that we share almost 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, our closest relatives. Now bonobos, the chimps’ sibling species, have joined them in our DNA pool. It seems we share 98.7% of the DNA of both species.
Reading further on the topic, what I find most fascinating is the behavioral complexity of this news. Chimpanzees are known to be aggressive, hostile toward strangers, power-hungry, often violent to the point of murderous. Male dominated, they form attack gangs to roam their territory looking for outsiders to fight and kill; a male will kill unprotected infant chimps not his own.
Bonobos, the siblings from the opposite side of theCongo River, are the only peaceful ape. They are reported to be cooperative, curious rather than hostile toward outsiders, and alpha-female-dominated. Unlike chimps, bonobos share easily, even sharing food with strangers; they do not patrol the borders of their territory or practice infanticide.
It is not that bonobos do not experience conflict; they do. However, saysDuke University researcher Brian Hare, bonobos will bite, but they won’t kill. Primatologists say they are hyper-sexual, preferring to “make love not war” as a way of resolving conflicts. Whereas chimps tend to address conflict with violence, bonobos of both genders prefer to settle scores with (non-procreative, sometimes homosexual) sex. Journalist Andrew Sullivan reports about one laboratory experiment that “at times the chimps were too busy fighting each other to complete tasks. But the sexually hyper-promiscuous bonobos could focus…” How very intriguing. [Read more…] about What about religion and distressing NDEs?