Darwin's narcissistic mortification
Next year will be the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution continues to provoke creationists to this day. Alexander Görlach met the legendary primate researcher Jane Goodall in London and asked about the concept of man in biology.
Jane Goodall is the most famous primate scientist in the world.
() Jane Goodall is the most famous primatologist in the world.
Also read: Wolfram Eilenberger: The laws of the jungleCharles Darwin presented his work on the origin of species 150 years ago. Creationism would now like to repress these insights. I believe in Charles Darwin's knowledge of the evolution of nature. But for me that doesn't mean that the existence of God is in any way called into question. The more we learn through science, the better we can understand the wonders of nature. I don't see any conflict between science and religion. Do you understand the narcissistic offense that lies in a biological relationship between humans and monkeys? Monkeys are not our direct ancestors. Apes and humans have the same ancestor, from there we evolved differently. To be honest, knowing how we became what we are isn't that important. It is much more important to know how we get along with one another today, how we resolve conflicts, and that on a planet that we have messed up quite a bit. Can we learn something from our relatives, the monkeys? What we can learn is that we have aggressive behaviors that we and the chimpanzees inherit from the same ancestors. But with our brains, unlike monkeys, we are able to resolve conflicts without violence. Unfortunately, there are still wars fought for economic or other treacherous reasons. But that has nothing to do with old instinct-driven territorial claims. What Makes Us Human? The language with which we can make moral decisions. We don't leave ourselves to instinct. What are the differences between humans and chimpanzees? It is the ability to discuss and to be able to speak about abstract things that do not really exist but are in our mind's eye. It is through this ability that our intellect has developed so explosively. Do you think chimpanzees have a soul? If we have a soul, then chimpanzees have one too. By the way, you can also observe the same emotions in them as we humans - for example joy, sadness or anger. I see the soul as part of our life energy. When you started studying chimpanzee behavior in Tanzania's Gombe Stream National Park, you had no academic training. You developed your own method. To study chimpanzee behavior, I used the only method I knew, and that was: observe, write down what I saw, and think about it. I finally learned scientific work in Cambridge. Why chimpanzees? It could have been any other animal. But my sponsor Professor Leakey has just suggested that I watch chimpanzees. He had just excavated and discovered human fossils. He argued that knowing more about our closest relatives could help us find out more about the behavior of our ancestors. Unlike your colleagues, you gave the animals names. Why? Why not! Every animal I owned up to that point had a name. Also, I didn't know at the time that it was customary for scientists to give chimpanzees numbers. I couldn't have memorized numbers anyway. Chimpanzee number twelve does this, chimpanzee number six does that. No, it didn't even cross my mind to give the chimpanzees numbers. Do women research differently than men? Yes I think so. I find that women are able to understand complex social relationships better than men because they have always played this role in the family. By having to understand babies' needs and behaviors without babies being able to express those needs, women have an advantage in research on primates. How has life in the jungle influenced you? That is hard to say. I was already quite shaped before I did research in the forest. Even as a child, I climbed trees to watch animals. With field research, I have fulfilled my dream. Interview conducted by Alexander Görlach Photo: Picture Alliance