Primates stand at a turning point in the course of evolution. Primates are to the biologist what viruses are to the biochemist. They can be analysed and partly understood according to the rules of a simpler discipline, but they also present another level of complexity: viruses are living chemicals, and primates are animals who love and hate and think.
We belong to that order of mammals, the primates, distinguished by its propensity for repeated single litters, intense parental care, long life-spans, late sexual maturity, and a complex and extensive social existence... Our protracted biological and psychological helplessness, which extends well into the third year of life, intensifies the bond between infant and parents, making possible a sense of generational continuity. In contrast to other primates these bonds are not obliterated after sexual maturity.
Louise J. Kaplan
I'm always keen to use my body in my work, so I'm looking forward to the motion capture for Smaug. Both Gollum and King Kong were primates, whereas I'm playing a serpent, so it'll be interesting - I'll have to tie my legs together, possibly, or else they'll be kind of splayed out to the side as a reptile's should be.
No, nothing is sacred. And even if there were to be something called sacred, we mere primates wouldn't be able to decide which book or which idol or which city was the truly holy one. Thus, the only thing that should be upheld at all costs and without qualification is the right of free expression, because if that goes, then so do all other claims of right as well.
Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material.
George Gaylord Simpson
I am entitled to say, if I like, that awareness exists in all the individual creatures on the planet-worms, sea urchins, gnats, whales, subhuman primates, superprimate humans, the lot. I can say this because we do not know what we are talking about: consciousness is so much a total mystery for our own species that we cannot begin to guess about its existence in others.
Put away these frozenjawed primates and their annals of ways beset and ultimate dark. What deity in the realms of dementia, what rabid god decocted out of the smoking lobes of hydrophobia could have devised a keeping place for souls so poor as is this flesh. This gawky wormbent tabernacle.
Contrary to general belief, humans imitate apes more than the reverse. The sight of monkeys or apes induces an irresistible urge in people to jump up and down, exaggeratedly scratch themselves and holler in a way that must make the primates wonder how this otherwise so intelligent species has come to depend on such inferior means of communication.
Frans de Waal
Actually, the highest form of human organization is not realized in the democratic individual. It is realized in a dimension none of us have ever penetrated, which is the mind of the species, which is actually the hand at the tiller of history. . . . It is an organized entelechy of some sort, and human history is its signature on the primates.
The belief that the animals exist because God created them - and that he created them so we can better meet our needs - is contrary to our scientific understanding of evolution and, of course, to the fossil record, which shows the existence of non-human primates and other animals millions of years before there were any human beings at all.
Beware the beast man, for he is the devil's pawn. Alone among God's primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.
I think that intelligence is such a narrow branch of the tree of life - this branch of primates we call humans. No other animal, by our definition, can be considered intelligent. So intelligence can't be all that important for survival, because there are so many animals that don't have what we call intelligence, and they're surviving just fine.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
They were two human primates carrying another primate. One was the master of the earth, or at least believed himself to be, and the other was a nimble dweller in trees, a cousin of the master of the earth. Both species, the human and the monkey, were in the presence of another life form, which was older and more powerful than either of them, and was a dweller in blood.
I'm obsessed with insects, particularly insect flight. I think the evolution of insect flight is perhaps one of the most important events in the history of life. Without insects, there'd be no flowering plants. Without flowering plants, there would be no clever, fruit-eating primates giving TED Talks.
The human species - mammalian primates though undoubtedly (s)he is, and made out of the dust of exploded suns - does have the need for the transcendent, the numinous, even the ecstatic. I wouldn't trust anyone who hadn't had this. This has to do with landscape, light, music, love and an awareness of the transience of all things, and the melancholy that invests all this. So it isn't just gaping happily at the sunset while listening to music, and doing that while knowing that it can't last very long. But there is no need for the supernatural in this at all. There is no dimension of the supernatural of which this gives one a share.
My first job was actually as a social worker. And then later, I got my PhD in anthropology. And I've always been interested in humans as well as primates. We are all kind of have the same emotions, the same goals and lives really. But to me, when I first got to Madagascar I realized that the lemurs lives are very closely related to what the humans are doing; partially because they've got both looking for natural resources. And if we can make some way that both humans and lemurs can live together peaceably and happily, that would be my goal for Madagascar.
People, as curious primates, dote on concrete objects that can be seen and fondled. God dwells among the details, not in the realm of pure generality. We must tackle and grasp the larger, encompassing themes of our universe, but we make our best approach through small curiosities that rivet our attention - all those pretty pebbles on the shoreline of knowledge. For the ocean of truth washes over the pebbles with every wave, and they rattle and clink with the most wondrous din.
Stephen Jay Gould
In a sense, the Earth is mounting an immune response against the human species. It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of the concrete all over the planet, the cancerous rot-outs in Europe, Japan and the United States, thick with replicating primates, the colonies enlarging and spreading and threatening to shock the biosphere with mass extinctions. Perhaps the biosphere does not 'like' the idea of five billion humans.
It's not that humans and non-humans are identical... but the lack of understanding that led to the slave trade is the same lack of understanding many people have about animals today. When slaves were brought over from Africa, many people believed they were not humans, that they didn't have feelings. Many people believe that primates and other animals don't have feelings, too, but they do.
I'd been traveling in Asia long enough to know that monkeys there are nothing like their trombone-playing, tambourine-banging cousins I'd seen on TV as a kid. Free-living Asian primates possess a characteristic I found shocking and confusing the first time I saw it: self-respect. If you make the mistake of holding the gaze of a street monkey in India, Nepal, or Malaysia, you'll find you're facing a belligerently intelligent creature whose expression says, with a Robert DeNiro-like scowl, 'What the hell are you looking at? You wanna piece of me?' Forget about putting one of these guys in a little red vest.
We are inescapably the result of a long heritage of learning, adaptation, mutation and evolution, the product of a history which predates our birth as a biological species and stretches back over many thousand millennia... Going further back, we share a common ancestry with our fellow primates; and going still further back, we share a common ancestry with all other living creatures and plants down to the simplest microbe. The further back we go, the greater the difference from external appearances and behavior patterns which we observe today.
Humans have evolved levels of cooperation that are unprecedented among primate species. You can see it even in babies. Say you are playing with a baby and begin to put the toys in a box. If you point to one of the toys, the baby is likely to put it in the box (Liebal et al. 2009)... Human babies are more likely than other primates to follow another's pointing or gaze. Thus, even before adults have socialized them, babies show tendencies to be in sync with the social behavior of others, to infer others' intentions to cooperate, and to prefer cooperation in others.
After all, what else did we have going for us? Nothing, except we ran like crazy and stuck together. Humans are among the most comunal and cooperative of all primates; our sole defense in a fang-filled world was our solidarity, and there's no reason to think we suddently disbanded our most crucial challenge, the hunt for food. I remembered what the Seri Indians told Scott Carrier after the sun had set on their persistence-hunting days. "It was better before, " a Seri elder lamented. "We did everything as a family. The whole community was a family. We shared everything and cooperated, but now there is a lot of arguing and bickering, every man for himself." Running didn't just make the Seris a people... it also made them better people.
When gorillas smell danger, they run around and call out to the rest of the primates in the jungle to warn them something evil is coming. And when one of their own dies, they mourn for days while beating themselves up in sadness for failing to save that gorilla, even if the cause of death was natural. And when one colony is mourning, their chilling echoes migrate to other colonies - and those neighbors, even if they are territorial rivals, will also grieve with them. When faced with a common danger, rivals turn into allies. And when faced with death, the loss of just one gorilla becomes the loss of the entire jungle.
To assert that the universe has a purpose implies the universe has intent. And intent implies a desired outcome. But who would do the desiring? And what would a desired outcome be? That carbon-based life is inevitable? Or that sentient primates are life's neurological pinnacle? Are answers to these questions even possible without expressing a profound bias of human sentiment? Of course humans were not around to ask these questions for 99.9999% of cosmic history. So if the purpose of the universe was to create humans then the cosmos was embarrassingly inefficient about it.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
The living dead had taken more from us than land and loved ones. They'd robbed us of our confidence as the planet's dominant life form. We were a shaken, broken species, driven to the edge of extinction and grateful only for tomorrow with perhaps a little less suffering than today. Was this the legacy we would leave our children, a level of anxiety and self-doubt not seen since our simian ancestors cowered in the tallest trees? What kind of world would they rebuild? Would they rebuild at all? Could they continue to progress, knowing that they would be powerless to reclaim their future? And what if that future saw another rise of the living dead? Would our descendants rise to meet them in battle, or simply crumple in meek surrender and accept what they believe to be their inevitable extinction? For this alone, we had to reclaim our planet. We had to prove to ourselves that we could do it, and leave that proof as this war's greatest monument. The long, hard road back to humanity, or the regressive ennui of Earth's once-proud primates. That was the choice, and it had to be made now.
I think I have a very good idea why it is that anti-Semitism is so tenacious and so protean and so enduring. Christianity and Islam, theistic though they may claim to be, are both based on the fetishizing of human primates: Jesus in one case and Mohammed in the other. Neither of these figures can be called exactly historical but both have one thing in common even in their quasi-mythical dimension. Both of them were first encountered by the Jews. And the Jews, ravenous as they were for any sign of the long-sought Messiah, were not taken in by either of these two pretenders, or not in large numbers or not for long. If you meet a devout Christian or a believing Muslim, you are meeting someone who would give everything he owned for a personal, face-to-face meeting with the blessed founder or prophet. But in the visage of the Jew, such ardent believers encounter the very figure who did have such a precious moment, and who spurned the opportunity and turned shrugging aside. Do you imagine for a microsecond that such a vile, churlish transgression will ever be forgiven? I myself certainly hope that it will not. The Jews have seen through Jesus and Mohammed. In retrospect, many of them have also seen through the mythical, primitive, and cruel figures of Abraham and Moses. Nearer to our own time, in the bitter combats over the work of Marx and Freud and Einstein, Jewish participants and protagonists have not been the least noticeable. May this always be the case, whenever any human primate sets up, or is set up by others, as a Messiah.
Let's say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100, 000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100, 000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I'll take 100, 000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98, 000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98, 000 years. Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks 'That's enough of that. It's time to intervene, ' and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don't lets appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let's go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can't be believed by a thinking person. Why am I glad this is the case? To get to the point of the wrongness of Christianity, because I think the teachings of Christianity are immoral. The central one is the most immoral of all, and that is the one of vicarious redemption. You can throw your sins onto somebody else, vulgarly known as scapegoating. In fact, originating as scapegoating in the same area, the same desert. I can pay your debt if I love you. I can serve your term in prison if I love you very much. I can volunteer to do that. I can't take your sins away, because I can't abolish your responsibility, and I shouldn't offer to do so. Your responsibility has to stay with you. There's no vicarious redemption. There very probably, in fact, is no redemption at all. It's just a part of wish-thinking, and I don't think wish-thinking is good for people either. It even manages to pollute the central question, the word I just employed, the most important word of all: the word love, by making love compulsory, by saying you MUST love. You must love your neighbour as yourself, something you can't actually do. You'll always fall short, so you can always be found guilty. By saying you must love someone who you also must fear. That's to say a supreme being, an eternal father, someone of whom you must be afraid, but you must love him, too. If you fail in this duty, you're again a wretched sinner. This is not mentally or morally or intellectually healthy. And that brings me to the final objection - I'll condense it, Dr. Orlafsky - which is, this is a totalitarian system. If there was a God who could do these things and demand these things of us, and he was eternal and unchanging, we'd be living under a dictatorship from which there is no appeal, and one that can never change and one that knows our thoughts and can convict us of thought crime, and condemn us to eternal punishment for actions that we are condemned in advance to be taking. All this in the round, and I could say more, it's an excellent thing that we have absolutely no reason to believe any of it to be true.