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Kweli ndugu yanga—the Religious Horizons of "Humans Are Primates"

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

The opening Swahili phrase, meaning "Truly my kin", was uttered by Dian Fossey's guide when both encountered their first free-living gorilla. The theme of kinship, often deemed the ultimate in evolutionary connection and a privileged relationship recognized by all ethical systems, can be used to connect our species not only to primates and mammals, but to all life. But examples abound of religious leaders who have resisted this connection, denying that humans really belong in the categories "mammal" or "primate" or, perish the thought, "ape" or "animal". Less well known is that many religious and cultural traditions have recognized these connections in profound ways, thereby providing a religious horizon for the evolutionary point of view.

Affiliations: 1: Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA


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