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Christians: a Bunch of Spaced-Out Potheads

Whoa! A certain Israeli researcher had better watch his back. Let’s just say that what Salman Rushdie is to millions of enraged Moslems, Benny Shanon is to their Christian counterparts .

Nobody likes to have the rug pulled out from under them. And for millions of gung ho Christians — especially the ones who use the Bible as an excuse for the War on Drugs — the proverbial rug has been yanked. Wheee! Going Down!

If you’re a devout Christian AND you think that people who use illegal drugs should be locked up and thrown away — sit down and take a deep breath before reading any further. Would you believe …[drumroll  ]…Moses was high on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments . Fuckin’ Hippie!!!

Benny Shanon is a professor of cognitive psychology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He writes:

“As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics.

Shanon thinks Moses was also high on psychedelics when he saw the burning bush.


In the Amazon rainforest, people use psychedelic drugs (i.e. Ayahuasca) in their religious ceremonies; and these drugs can induce people to “see” music. Shanon says: “The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a clasic phenomenon.

In the Middle East, acacia bark has these same psychedelic qualities. And acacia is frequently mentioned in the Bible.

Oh. My. God.

The above information is not true. It CANNOT be true. NOOO!!!!! I’m going to bury my head in the sand until it goes away.

Then I’m going to go to church and pray and pray and pray. And when I come home I’m gonna write to my congressman and tell him we need a big crackdown on DRUGS!

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5 Responses to “Christians: a Bunch of Spaced-Out Potheads”

  1. HA! I was just about to put up a post on this, coupled with the news that scores of young Iraqi’s are rejecting Islam due to the violence spread in no small part by firebrand mullahs!

    It’s a good day for reality!

    And yes, I think the “Moses on drugs” hypothesis has much merit…burnin g bushes? C’mon…

    pass the bong Mo’

  2. The difference between Salman Rushdie and Benny Shanon is that Benny Shanon doesn’t have to fear a violent death as revenge.

  3. I’m supposed to feel that the rug has been pulled out from under me because “a professor of cognitive psychology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem” does not believe the text at the very foundation of the Jewish religion? Because he thinks that his culture’s religion is based upon a drug induced haze rather than on genuine experience? Sorry but I’m less than impressed. You’re going, I’m afraid, to have to do much better than this if you intend to convince us that drug use is not bad for the individual user, not bad for society and is not a poor basis for one’s opinions on the realities of the world.

    There is a very good argument for switching from a system of punishment for users to one of clinical help but the opinion of a professor of cognitive psychology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem is perhaps the least compelling argument for decriminaliz ation or legalization that I’ve ever heard and as a deconstructi on of current, traditional Christian belief, it’s just as silly. After all, if miracles happened to everyone every day, they wouldn’t be called miracles; they’d be called everyday experience. The definitional aspects of the word preclude the experience to more than a few and to anything but rarity.

    So then, the fact that a professor of cognitive psychology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem or a modern day atheist (hi, Ken) find “Moses on drugs” to be a more compelling model for faith than “Moses chosen specifically for rare appearances of the Almighty for a foundational relationship between the Almighty and the human race” doesn’t exactly shake my world and the rug seems securely under my feet even as I type this.

    Craig R. Harmon

  4. Craig,
    No offence is meant, but what would convince you that the rug had been pulled out from under you? I mean, it’s not like there’s a slew of evidence for the Bible being true outside of the passionate and sincere belief of Christians.

  5. Paul,

    No offense taken. I take some three thousand years of Jewish faith based upon belief that God appeared to Moses (not that he was hallucinatin g it all) as some pretty powerful evidence. The fact that the enlightenmen t has been hacking away at anything supernatural for over two hundred years but that faith is still going strong says something. Of course, one could say that what it says is that people are gullible. Okay. Sure. But that works both ways. People can be as easily gulled by “the assured results of scientific inquiry” into events from the standpoint of three thousand years after the fact as they can be by a guy showing up in Egypt claiming to have had a message from God in a burning bush who then proceeds to lead an enslaved people to freedom and occupation of a home land. What makes anyone think that a professor of cognitive psychology has any more accurate insight into what happened three thousand years ago than three thousand years of believers?

    However, I am not beyond being swayed, even in regard things of my own religious tradition. For example, my Lutheran Church teaches that the Bible, at least with regard to the original manuscripts of each of the biblical documents, are the inspired word of God and inerrant. Well, okay…but what we’ve got are not original documents or even handwritten copies of handwritten copies of handwritten copies of original documents but error-filled  , handwritten copies many generations removed from the originals. No two are exact copies. None of them can be presumed to have been identical to the original. Since the enlightenmen t, specialists in textual criticism have set out to try to reproduce the originals by comparing the extent manuscripts and reasoning how so many variants came into being and, thus, which of the many variants was the original. Suffice to say, no one claims to have, with total certainty, reproduced the original reading of any of the documents.

    Most in my Church handle this by saying that most of the variations are obvious errors and that the correct reading is usually pretty obvious, that most of the variations are of a trivial nature and do not effect the central doctrines or teachings of the Bible.

    But my own studies in the science of textual criticism lead me to different conclusions, and so does my reason. I am not at all so sure that reconstructi ng the original text of the biblical documents is possible and that some of the variants are anything but trivial. But mostly my reason tells me this: if knowing the exact words used by God in giving his word were all that important, he’d have taught Moses how to construct a printing press which could reproduce exact duplicates with each copy rather than waiting til the, what, 15th century to bring into being the printing press, forcing a several-mill enia-long reliance upon error prone handwritten copies. Or, he could have miraculously preserved exact copies from one generation to the next even though handwritten. As it is, the only thing most communities of faith had for a Bible was an error-filled single copy, from which obviously no conclusive reconstructi on of the original text was possible. So if God did not deem the retention of an inerrant text to be necessary to the nurturing and extension of faith in a given place and only made the means of scientifical ly reconstructi ng approximatio ns of the original text available in the 17-18th century, it seems to me that an inerrant text was not all that important to God.

    I’ve also noted, in my studies comparing, say, the four Gospels of the Bible with one another, that there are, to be the most generous in stating it, apparent inconsistenc ies of facts, wording, details etc. between four documents purporting to faithfully pass on historical events surrounding the birth, life, words, deeds, of Jesus and his followers. These inconsistenc ies have been known and pointed out by non-Christia ns and non-Jews for like 1,500 years or more and Christians have gone to great lengths to try to reconcile these inconsistenc ies. Unfortunatel y, the efforts have been less than totally convincing, leading me to think that maybe the Gospels are less concerned with faithfully passing on historical facts than they are with convincing people that Jesus is the son of God and savior of sinners, with comforting Christians who are being rejected and persecuted by the world, who are facing uncertainty and foundering in their faith, with passing on the faith from one generation to the next. Maybe trying to convince unbelievers that there are no actual inconsistenc ies is not so important, after all.

    It’s a good thing that I’m not a pastor any more. I would have to either teach what I think is not true or leave my Church, which I love even though I don’t agree with every thing she teaches. So I can be convinced by sufficient hard-data evidence that what I once thought was true is not true but that’s a long way from someone trying to convince me that three thousand years of faith was based upon hallucinatio n’s under the influence not of interactions with God but with mind-bending drugs. I’m not sure what would convince me of that but it would have to be more than I’ve seen here.

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