Do Chimpanzees Have Spiritual Experiences?

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Wildlife biologist Laura Kehoe made a remarkable discovery in West Africa. She found that chimpanzees throw large rocks at hollow trees. Only certain rocks, only designated trees. And she wonders, do chimps consider these sacred trees? The discovery has sparked a lot of debate among primatologists. In this sound-rich story, Steve Paulson talks with Kehoe, as well as skeptics Frans de Waal and Barbara King. And we hear Jane Goodall reflect on watching chimps dance in front of waterfalls, which she believes is an experience of awe and wonder. Could this offer some clues about the earliest human religions?

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 This episode was made possible through the support of the John Templeton Foundation.