Jane Goodall, animal researcher, author and activist, recently appeared on The Real Bottom Line, Trinity Television’s live forum in which leaders in society discuss how their personal values direct their public lives.
...[B]ecause chimps are so like us biologically and behaviorally, this is a way to help people understand that we are not separated from but are part of the animal kingdom... ...I believe there’s this great spiritual power which, because of the religion I was brought up in, we call God. But other people would call it Tao or Brahmin or something like that. And I feel that within us, each of us, there is this spark of this great spiritual power or a spark of the divine which we call a soul. And I believe that there is a spark of this great spirit power in all these different living things.
The way that this is expressed will differ according to the state of complexity of the brain. But that each creature in its own right through the process, the long process of evolution, has evolved as a special unique being, and we are just one of those special and unique beings.
Because our brain is so well-developed -- and because perhaps more than anything else we’ve developed this sophisticated spoken language so that we can teach our children about things that aren’t there -- you and I can sit here and discuss an idea... ...And then we can involve the people in the church, and the idea can grow again from the accumulated wisdom of the group, so that this has given us the power to develop culturally, morally, and even discuss spiritual development. That is what sets us apart from the other animals. I don’t believe they are capable of this kind of growth through discussion.
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In my family when I grew up we did have a very enlightened mother. And we spent a lot of time talking about the different religions around the world, and she always said that she was convinced there was one God, or one spiritual power, and that the different names that people gave this power were just a reflection of their particular culture and how they grew up and what they were taught.
And Louis Leakey [Ms. Goodall’s mentor] felt exactly the same, and neither my mother nor Louis felt that there was any conflict between believing in God and religion and spirituality, and the wonders of science. Because the more science teaches us about this universe, the more amazing it is. You know, there are people who believe that science will answer everything, that every little mystery will be explained. I would be very, very surprised - not in my lifetime, I don’t think in anybody’s lifetime. Not with the tools that we have now.
For full transcript of Jane Goodall’s interview, see The Real Bottom Line’s website: http://www.realbottomline.org