Klinghoffer “Ain’t No Kin” Again

Two years ago we wrote Klinghoffer Ain’t No Kin to No Monkey. He hasn’t changed his mind. Creationists never do.

To demonstrate that, we present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from Now Chimps Practice “Sacred Rituals”, which appears at the creationist blog of the Discovery Institute. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

In the drive to eliminate the distinction between people and animals, chimps in particular, I should have guessed it would come this. Here’s a scientist who claims that chimps practice “sacred rituals” of their own devising. They not only use tools, they have something like religion!

Gasp — that’s preposterous! Creationists know that’s impossible, because only humans were created in the image of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — so only humans have religious rituals.

Klinghoffer launches into a description of a video and an article (Mysterious chimpanzee behaviour may be evidence of ‘sacred’ rituals) describing some odd behavior by some chimps. The article says:

What we saw on this camera was exhilarating – a large male chimp approaches our mystery tree and pauses for a second. He then quickly glances around, grabs a huge rock and flings it full force at the tree trunk.


[W]hat we discovered during our now-published study wasn’t a random, one-off event, it was a repeated activity with no clear link to gaining food or status – it could be a ritual. We searched the area and found many more sites where trees had similar markings and in many places piles of rocks had accumulated inside hollow tree trunks – reminiscent of the piles of rocks archaeologists have uncovered in human history.


So far we have two main theories. The behaviour could be part of a male display, where the loud bang made when a rock hits a hollow tree adds to the impressive nature of a display. … On the other hand, it could be more symbolic than that – and more reminiscent of our own past. Marking pathways and territories with signposts such as piles of rocks is an important step in human history. …

Even more intriguing than this, maybe we found the first evidence of chimpanzees creating a kind of shrine that could indicate sacred trees. Indigenous West African people have stone collections at “sacred” trees and such man-made stone collections are commonly observed across the world and look eerily similar to what we have discovered here.

Interesting, but highly speculative. Nevertheless, it’s enough to enrage the Discoveroids. Klinghoffer says:

I can think of instances where throwing or leaving rocks features in ritual or custom of religions today and of the past. Muslims practice the “Stoning of the Devil” rite as part of the Hajj. Jews leave pebbles on grave markers as a sign of having visited the spot, indicating that a loved one has not been forgotten. Throwing stones at an idol as part of ancient Roman worship is also attested. By the same token, “sacred trees” are well known from pagan worship.

Yes, but that’s human behavior. Klinghoffer knows it’s impossible for chimps! He declares (with his ellipsis):

It’s an intriguing parallel, but…come on. A symbol like this would obviously attest to abstract thought — that’s what a symbol is — and chimps and other animals don’t do that. I can also think of activities shared by humans and animals that appear in human ritual — eating, drinking, and sex are three examples. But chimps doing those things are not practicing sacred rituals.

Of course not. At the end, he dismisses the whole thing (again, the ellipsis is in his post):

Why then highlight a tenuous link with “ritual” if the intention is not to affirm the myth that human [sic] are hardly distinguishable from animals, including in our most sacred beliefs? Myth-making…that’s another things [sic] that humans do, and chimpanzees do not.

He’s referring to the myth of evolution, not the “reality” of the intelligent designer. It’s true, of course, that the designer created chimps to not only to look more like us than any other species, but also to have DNA that is very similar to ours — but those things mean nothing! He also could have designed chimps to conduct simian rituals. But Klinghoffer knows the designer didn’t do that. Why? Because Klinghoffer ain’t no kin to no monkey!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Klinghoffer “Ain’t No Kin” Again

  1. So – if humans aren’t animals what are we – vegetable or mineral?

  2. Eric Lipps

    And of course at least some animals, chimps and gorillas in particular, do show clear evidence of abstract thought, though of course not at a human level. But this terrifies creationists, so of course, as they see it, it just can’t be true. Especially since the Bible (more or less) says that only humans do abstract thought; that’s what we got from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” that so scared God that he kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden before either of them could eat from the “tree of eternal life” and “become as one of us.” (Us? Never mind.)

  3. michaelfugate

    Ravens can imagine being spied on. Is Klinghoffer smarter than a raven?

  4. I donno. If the great creator (blessed be his/hers/or its name) created anything in his/hers/its own image, he/she/it is probably an insect, since he/she/it made so many of them. And as others have pointed out above, at least some other mammals and some birds clearly have some ability for abstract thought. Hmm, maybe Klingelheimer is a kin of some monkey after all. Or at least a raven (nevermore).

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    Klinghoffer is just a stodgy literalist, or simply has no soul. The rock band “Counting Crows” is still making music 25 years after they started.

  6. Christine Janis

    Is Klinghoffer smarter than a raven?”

    Well, he certainly is a raven’ here.

    Or perhaps we should invoke the classic answer to “why is a raven like a writing desk” Because Poe wrote on both.

  7. If Klinghoffer is truly concerned about this, he could get with the Discovery Institute’s in-house primatology department and discuss with those best able to apply the scientific method. Maybe they could do some research or experiments right there in Seattle!

    I understand that not every scientific organization is able to have primatologists on staff, so Klinghoffer could always chat with any member of his team that makes a living studying vertebrate biology.

  8. Why then highlight a tenuous link with “ritual” if the intention is not to affirm the myth that human [sic] are hardly distinguishable from animals..

    Yep, that’s what truly motivates scientists.

    Why not ask her? https://theconversation.com/profiles/laura-kehoe-153942

    This is a comment and her response that appeared on the page when read the article:

    Pasi Jokela
    To me this seems more like a form of communication rather than any kind of ‘sacred’ ritual.

    Laura Kehoe
    It absolutely could be more to do with communication. The jury is still out on this….with more research and data we will hopefully be able to discover the true meaning.

    Doesn’t sound like a scientist bent on affirming a myth to me.

  9. Ed, why are you so mean?
    IDiot Klinkleclapper already doesn’t have anything to show for. Now you even want to rob him from his strawman!

  10. Mark Germano,

    I believe the DI does have a primatology department. It’s just that it’s green, and, um, a screen, most of the time.

  11. docbill1351

    When the Tooters get all worked up they make all kinds of spelling and grammatical errots. You’d think they’d proofread their copy but they are too excited to hit the publish button. The resulting quasi-English, Quinglish, only adds to spittle-flecked gibberish they publish.

    Koko the gorilla has a large vocabulary and has demonstrated abstract thought. Check out the many videos including the touching video in which she learns her kitten, Ball, has died.

    Finally, Klinkletinkle only demonstrates that he’s capable of irrational thought. Demons and witches, Klopperpopper? Srsly? Who’s throwing rocks at trees, now?

  12. But they held church services on Noah’s boat.