Last week , the New York Times carried an article about Dr. Jane Goodall , the remarkable woman who has spent 50 + years of her life studying chimpanzees in the wild . Much of this time she has spent among the chimpanzees , observing them , and as a result she has developed great insight into the way they think. By coincidence , last week I also watched the DVD of a lecture by the great mythologist , Dr. Joseph Campbell. During the course of the lecture, Dr. Campbell related an incident from Jane Goodall’s field studies.
It seems that Jane Goodall was on a hillside in East Africa one morning observing a group of chimpanzees across the valley, on the hillside opposite her. It was cold and rainy and the chimpanzees were huddled in misery under whatever shelter they could find . All of a sudden , there was a loud clap of thunder , louder than most . At once the chimpanzees went into a frenzy , swinging from branches and uttering loud cries in a show of defiance . This was exactly the way they behave when confronted by a formidable predator , the show of strength being meant to scare the attacker off. It is not a great stretch of the imagination that they felt threatened by the loud ” voice ” of an unseen enemy . Is it not possible also , that mankind first postulated the existence of a Higher Power , ” God ” if you will , upon hearing just such a roll of thunder ? In Norse mythology , one of the chief gods is Thor , the hammer wielding god of storms , thunder and lightning . I don’t think that it is a coincidence .