I don't know how new or old this story and video clip are but they are related in today's Daily Telegraph
At a US zoo a 210-pound ape [15-stone or 95-kg] noticed a young bird struggling in a pond. It picked a leaf from a tree and tried to get the bird to grasp it in its beak. After several attempts the chick did so and was saved from drowning. The orangutan placed the bird on the grass and proceeded to stroke it gently. The video is captivating. 
The origins of mammalian compassion to mammals who are not of their own genus or species are not limited to the religious and non-religious world of Homo sapiens
I wrote "atheist orangutan" to attract special attention and to strongly emphasise a point because christians----with their anti-atheist stance----like to claim morality and benevolence for themselves. A fundamentalist religious writer might try to pretend that the ape was displaying the principles of christian charity and love. Instead, it was displaying the best principles of human charity and love. 
Certainly, orangutans and other apes are neither christian nor muslim, although presumably not knowingly 'atheist' or 'non-theist' either---- because they have no fictional theism to contend with as we atheists and humanists have. Of course, aside from this, some mammalian mothers do like to nurture foundlings of other species.  
This event visibly demonstrates that some non-human primates can express emotional and caring rationality, coupled with kindness, mercy and tenderness, towards others of the mammal kingdom who would otherwise drown and die. 

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Proof positive in my opinion that compassion does not require the existence of god.This evidence speakes for itself.
You are certainly right that compassion does not require the existence of a god. It is widespread in our species as the result of natural selection.

That is, those of our species that randomly acquired altruistic traits took better care of their young. Because of this their young had a better chance to survive. This provided a natural advantage for altruistic traits over non-altruistic traits to become endowed in our species. Moreover, those of our species having altruistic traits more readily cooperated with each other enabling them to better survive through teamwork in hunting, building and defending themselves. Eventually, they outnumbered the tyrantically oriented and killed them in self-defense. Therefore, altruism (compassion, morality, desire for the common good) became a feature of our species through the process of natural selection driven completely by survival.

The same occurred to varying degrees in other species.

Theism did not introduce compassion but rather exploited it. That is, compassion had already been held in high esteem and theism sold the proposition that one could not be compassionate without subscribing to it.
Yeah, but the theists can still twist their brains into a pretzel to convince themselves that animals are just displaying 'Godly' traits because they're also part of God's creation.  Never mind the sort of nonsense that liberal theists will make up for no reason at all.
I find intriguing not only the fact that this orangutan saved the bird, but the means by which he saved it. He had the ingenuity to think "Maybe if I stretch this leaf toward the bird, it can clamp on with its beak." That takes levels of reasoning that are lacking in some humans (well, quite a few humans actually). I've also seen an ape using a tree branch to measure the depth of a lake and a primate able to recognize that it was being cheated in a card game! With that and the damn near identical DNA material and chromosomes, what more proof do you need that humans and primates share a common ancestor?

". . .  I've also seen an ape using a tree branch to measure the depth of a lake and a primate able to recognize that it was being cheated in a card game!"


Albert: Do tell us more about the primate and the card game. This must be a good story.


P.S. The only primate I can think of who is capable of playing cards is an archbishop of somewhere or other!  

I saw it on the British science show Brainiac about five years ago, and I'm a bit fuzzy on details. There was a human and some species of chimp playing Blackjack. Basically, the human player would pull cards out of his pockets or trade cards with the dealer instead of just taking them and the dealer would act as though he didn't notice. The chimp would respond by dropping its jaw, ripping his cards, and folding his arms. I was amazed to say the least.

By the way, I completely agree with your postscript. I know of a Catholic church here that regularly hosts poker nights, alcohol included.
Catholic churches have no problem with alcohol.  You're thinking of some of the Protestants.  Hell, they started giving it to me, on Sundays, when I was in 1st or 2nd grade.
Oh so Catholics don't mind alcohol? Well they don't sound like such bad people. :)
Except for that whole child-rape coverup thing ... and the assistance of the spread of AIDS, by spreading lies about condoms ... and the persecution of homosexuals in Africa ... and the support of Hitler ... and the
That orangutan has clearly not been reading Ayn Rand!
Thank you Stephen for telling us about this informative and literally uplifting event.
Very intriguing. As I wrote earlier, because I think we as a species value altruism more than selfishness I don't think we would be as fascinated by a lower animal demonstrating selfish behavior as we are in one demonstrating loving behavior.




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