Moses was stoned. No, really?

ResearchBlogging.orgFor its inaugural issue, the new interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal Time and Mind has seen fit to publish a paper suggesting that Moses, among others of his time, didn't actually commune with any god, but was simply high on a local psychotropic plant extract. Ya think?

In "Biblical Entheogens: a Speculative Hypothesis," (10.2752/175169608783489116) Hebrew
University pyschology prof Benny Shannon draws on "comparative experiential-phenomenological observations" (his own drug trips), along with the documented effects of the psychoactive substances available to the ancient Hebrews. He came up with "five episodes in Moses' life that struck me as exhibiting patterns that are typical of psychedelic experiences."

Somebody should nominate this guy for the most articulate restatement of the bleedingly obvious. Consider this startling conclusion, as offered to the Guardian:

"The thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet which the Book of Exodus says emanated from Mount Sinai could just have been the imaginings of a people in an altered state of awareness," writes Shanon. "In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation, the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings."

We can now look forward to the sequel research paper: "John's Fungal Revelations: The Ultimate New Testament Trip."


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Why try to explain the bizarre behaviors of bizarre characters in bizarre stories?

I figure Moses was no more real than Pecos Bill or Cap'n Crunch.

By Nelson Muntz (not verified) on 09 Mar 2008 #permalink

Perhaps we need to consider an equally challenging hypothesis - These findings might in fact BACK UP the notion that Moses actually communed with God, but perhaps psychotropic plant extract is in fact necessary to do so in order for our minds to tap into that realm. It might help explain the similarity of experiences that people using such substances have described.

So the real challenge is this: Do you cavalierly dismiss the notion of religious experiences by chalking them up to the effects of drugs without subjecting it to the rigors of scientific tests? Or do we focus more actual scientific research into drugs and how they interact with the mind and see if any useful discoveries can be had?

By Justin Levine (not verified) on 13 Mar 2008 #permalink

Uhm, right Justin.
And just how might it be proven that such hallucinations are "god contact" and not just the perceived physiological affects on the brain?

By Gallstones (not verified) on 13 Mar 2008 #permalink