April 16th, 2016| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


The other day, the news reported on the bizarre behavior of chimpanzees. New footage shows these primates in West Africa banging and throwing rocks against trees, and chucking them into gaps inside trees, etc., all producing piles of rocks accumulating in and around trees. These piles did not seem to have any functional purpose, and looked suspiciously like ritual cairns (= mounds of stones) found throughout human history as memorials or markers.

As Joshua did, way back when, to commemorate the crossing of the Jordan.

So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel,
one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them,
“Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan,
and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder,
according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.
Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying,
‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them,
‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD ….
So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” …
Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan …,
and they are there to this day.
Joshua 4:4–7, 9

So did the patriarch Jacob, as he struck a pact of peace with his obstreperous father-in-law, Laban.

[Laban:] “So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I,
and let it be a witness between you and me.”
Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.
Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.”
So they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap.
Now Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed.
Genesis 31:44–47

[Gotta love that name: “Jegar-sahadutha” (= witness pile)!]

Chimps and other apes are pretty handy with tools created out of stone and wood, even using them as nutcrackers. But these stone edifices weren’t of any observable use, said scientists watching the footage taken by hidden cameras in the jungle.

This represents the first record of repeated observations of individual chimpanzees exhibiting stone tool use for a purpose other than extractive foraging at what appear to be targeted trees. The ritualized behavioural display and collection of artefacts at particular locations observed in chimpanzee accumulative stone throwing may have implications for the inferences that can be drawn from archaeological stone assemblages and the origins of ritual sites.”

Researchers suspect that this strange primate behavior is connected in some way with human religious rituals. In fact, the indigenous West African peoples also gather stones at sacred trees, “eerily similar to what we have discovered here,” one of the researchers declared.

Nothing like this had been seen before and it gave me goose bumps. The discovery could offer insights into the way that humanity’s sacred rituals began. Marking pathways and territories with signposts such as piles of rocks is an important step in human history.”

I don’t know what to make of all this. Do primates have a primitive sense of the transcendent? Who knows?

I know this: we humans do!

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen,
being understood through what has been made,
so that they are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

Listen, if chimps have an inkling of deity, how much more have we, made in the image of God?

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