Worshipping Waterfalls: The Evolution of Belief

Chimpanzee
May 12, 2017

Jane Goodall has seen wild chimpanzees dance and bristle with excitement around roaring waterfalls - and she thinks it’s an experience of awe and wonder - and possibly a precursor to animistic religion.

But can we ever know why our ancient human ancestors developed spiritual beliefs? Can evolutionary science uncover the roots of religion?  

At some point our ancestors went from admiring waterfalls to worshipping them - and all kinds of spirits and gods. They developed sacred rituals and turned stones into totems. And then came the Battle of the Gods.

This episode was produced in partnership with the Center for Humans and Nature, an organization that brings together scholars from a diversity of disciplines to think creatively about our relationships with nature and each other. What do you think evolution can tell us about love and morality? Share your thoughts at humansandnature.org. This episode was made possible through the support of the John Templeton Foundation.

 
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