Studies of chimpanzee and bonobo social and learning behaviours, as well as diverse
explorations of language abilities in primates, suggest that the attribution of ‘culture’ to
primates other than humans is appropriate. The underestimation of primate cultural and
cognitive characteristics leads to minimising the evolutionary relationship of humans and
other primates. Consequently my claim in this reflection is about the importance of primate
studies for the enhancement of Christian thought, with the specific observation that the
bifurcation of nature and culture may be an unsustainable feature of any world view, which
includes extraordinary status for humans (at least, some humans) as a key presupposition.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS : The scientific literature concerning
primate studies is typically ignored by Christian theology. Reaping the benefits of dialogue
between science and religion, Christian thought must engage and respond to the depth of
primate language, social, and cultural skills in order to better interpret the relationship of
nature and culture.
This article represents a
theological reflection on the
Faculty Research Theme (FRT)
of the Faculty of Theology,
University of Pretoria, entitled
Ecodomy - Life in its fullness.
The theme is portrayed from
the perspective of various
theological disciplines. A
conference on this theme was
held on 27–28 October 2014.