According to the entheogen theory of religion: religion is essentially rooted in the experience of intense psychedelic tripping, the world religions consist of collections of stories which serve as metaphorical descriptions of psychedelic experiences (in particular the experience of mystical death and rebirth/ressurection/transformation).

This theory fits with the scientific evidence that entheogenic drugs trigger mystical/religious type experiences when they are administered in an appropriately conducive setting (the recent Johns Hopkins psilocybin study concluded this).

It would be interesting to get the atheist take on this theory, the issue here isnt religious beliefs (such as the belief in God) but rather religious/mystical/transcendent experiences of the kind that people commonly experience under the influence of entheogenic/psychedelic substances.

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@Gallups- I am a person who have had these experiences from drugs and other means that do not require carpet bombing my brain with chemicals. And even  i really can not understand how the hell they draw these conclusions from it. Just because it is a real subjective experience does not mean the experience in any way correlates to objective reality. For me to accept that would it not logically require objective proof?

Gallup- "Oi, he's just makin' it up as he goes along!"- life of Brian.

@Gallups- I am a person who have had these experiences from drugs and other means that do not require carpet bombing my brain with chemicals.

So, like me, you're a Scotsman, Rocky john. Any scotsman who has blown his brains out on drugs would draw the same conclusions as these sky pilots. Thus, like me, you're not a "true" Scotsman and never will be.

And even  i really can not understand how the hell they draw these conclusions from it.

There's nothing here to understand, which is exactly the reason to dismiss it, albeit with a sympathetic laugh. They are acid casualties, talking gibberish. It's woo woo.

Just because it is a real subjective experience does not mean the experience in any way correlates to objective reality. For me to accept that would it not logically require objective proof?

Asking a woo-woo artist for scientific proof, independent verification of the facts, or to operate based on reason is a waste of time. That is, aside from the entertainment value s/he provides in lying and fumbling for excuses as to why these things don't apply to the sacred woo.

@ Gallup's Mirror

"It only "makes sense" if you blow your brains out on psychedelic drugs"

You need to take psychedelic drugs in order to know what these kind of experiences are like, but it is still possible to understand to some extent that psychedelic drugs cause religious experiences without ever taking the drugs because there is plenty of testimony and scientific evidence about what the drugs do.

Gallup: [paraphrasing Jimmy's claim] "It only "makes sense" if you blow your brains out on psychedelic drugs"

John Burrows: You need to take psychedelic drugs in order to know what these kind of experiences are like,

Then I'm afraid you and Jimmy are at loggerheads. According to him, total mushroom obliteration is essential to understanding the etheogen theory of religion-- not the experience of being stoned-- since he said otherwise it's "pointless to ask for opinions or thoughts on a theory like this of those who have never had these types of experiences".

but it is still possible to understand to some extent that psychedelic drugs cause religious experiences without ever taking the drugs because there is plenty of testimony and scientific evidence about what the drugs do.

The "evidence" for the so-called "religious" aspect consists of the testimony of those who have had the experience of being stoned. The "plenty of scientific evidence" is a factor, but only in that subjective experience as witness testimony has been proven to be unreliable as scientific evidence.

Kindly stop telling an atheist that people had religious experiences on drugs simply because they say they had religious experiences on drugs. That is ignorance in a clown suit, not scientific evidence.

@Gallup's Mirror Untrue. I replied in an earlier post that I'm in total agreement with John's comment, so I'm not at loggerheads. I rephrased my comment to say that it's pointless to ask the thoughts and opinions of people who are completely close-minded about this topic, as there are many here. Because if you refer to my original comment, I do make reference to the backlog of experiences I've had with some of the users here at TA who completely and flat-out deny the evidence, such as yourself.

But I do disagree with your statement that psychedelics do not cause "religious experience," because as John said, there's plenty of scientific evidence backing the fact that they do cause these type of experiences. So, would you kindly stop denying the evidence? Well, you're obviously not, and that's exactly what I mean by the backlash of close-minded responses.

@Gallup's Mirror Untrue. I replied in an earlier post that I'm in total agreement with John's comment, so I'm not at loggerheads. I rephrased my comment to say that it's pointless to ask the thoughts and opinions of people who are completely close-minded about this topic, as there are many here.

It's not that we're closed-minded, Jimmy. It's that you're psychotic and ignorant.

Because if you refer to my original comment, I do make reference to the backlog of experiences I've had with some of the users here at TA who completely and flat-out deny the evidence, such as yourself.

You haven't produced evidence for a religious experience while stoned on psychedelic drugs. You've produced a barrage of subjectivity, conjecture, and euphemism, and then claimed falsely that it is evidence.

But I do disagree with your statement that psychedelics do not cause "religious experience," because as John said, there's plenty of scientific evidence backing the fact that they do cause these type of experiences. So, would you kindly stop denying the evidence? Well, you're obviously not, and that's exactly what I mean by the backlash of close-minded responses.

Show me the evidence I am denying. Specifically, produce the scientific evidence for a religious experience while stoned, as opposed to a non-religious experience while stoned. Let's see it. Show me the proof I am denying.

That's the problem, Jimmy. It doesn't exist. You're just insane.

The Johns Hopkins study confirmed that psilocybin causes mystical type experiences, and that study was an update of the psilocybin study at Harvard in the sixties which concluded the same thing, psilocybin is a 'mystagenic' compound. It is very well established now that this is what the 'entheogenic' class of drugs do, it is the reason the name 'entheogen' was coined in the first place. Entheogen means something like 'causing an experience of God'.

As Mckenna acknowledged with his comment about 'psychedelic and clueless', this does create a broad division between the psychedelic insiders who know about the awesome potential of these drugs, versus the 'clueless' outsiders who havent discovered the psychedelic cognitive dynamics.

Hoffman explains how the esoteric interpretation of religious myth is only recognised by the psychedelic initiates. The 'clueless' outsiders interpret religious myths as literal stories of actual people and historical events, whereas the esoteric psychedelic insiders recognise the religious myths as descriptions of their own altered state experiences.

Jesus explains the 'psychedelic or clueless' principle in Mark 4 with his 'parable of the sower':

"Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,

“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
    and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]

13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?"

The Johns Hopkins study confirmed that psilocybin causes mystical type experiences, and that study was an update of the psilocybin study at Harvard in the sixties which concluded the same thing, psilocybin is a 'mystagenic' compound.

Thanks for confirming that.

Not religious experiences.
Not mystical experiences.
Mystical-type experiences.

Now what do you suppose is the difference between a mystical experience and a mystical-type experience? Why the hedging distinction between mysticism and something else which only seems like mysticism?

It is very well established now that this is what the 'entheogenic' class of drugs do, it is the reason the name 'entheogen' was coined in the first place. Entheogen means something like 'causing an experience of God'.

Then the name contains a built-in assumption fallacy, unless the person who named it also provided scientific evidence that God exists.

As Mckenna acknowledged with his comment about 'psychedelic and clueless', this does create a broad division between the psychedelic insiders who know about the awesome potential of these drugs, versus the 'clueless' outsiders who havent discovered the psychedelic cognitive dynamics.

Hoffman explains how the esoteric interpretation of religious myth is only recognised by the psychedelic initiates. The 'clueless' outsiders interpret religious myths as literal stories of actual people and historical events, whereas the esoteric psychedelic insiders recognise the religious myths as descriptions of their own altered state experiences.

@John Burrows I've never heard McKenna's distinction elaborated in such a way, but I like the way you've laid it out there. I've always felt the same way in terms that if a person has not had experience is, in a way, are only in reliance of their ego to attempt to understand his/her situation, i.e. their life and their place in the universe, etc. while the person who has had this experience then interprets or recognizes, as you said, religious language or metaphors as kind of attributes or, I like your use of description instead, of this state of mind which I believe it goes without saying that we all kind of tap into this universal state in that there's universal and archetypal motifs in this experience, because if there weren't, then of course, we wouldn't be able to "recognize" it as so, as well as the the allusions that accompany this state of the very ego itself being part of this "illusion," and once you have all that, you, as Terence once said, "can return to everyday life more like an actor on a stage rather a person caught in a universe they can't understand."

Here's the full quote by Terence that relates to this, I believe, it was his response when asked, "What is a shaman?":

"The shaman visits the end. All that precedes the end, in other words, it's like turning to the last page of the novel and finding out how it all comes out, once you know how it all comes out, you're free from the ordinary anxiety of worry and concern, you return to your place in time more like an actor on a stage rather than a person caught in a universe they can't understand. That's the key thing, they shaman understands the universe in which he or she is living and the rest of us are only provisionally groping to understand, and this understanding is achieved through this higher dimensional view point. The shaman literally looks down on time as a king looks down on his kingdom from his castle." -Terence McKenna

Jimmy it is nice to see a person who has done their entheogenic homework, you are clearly very well read on this subject.

Regarding Mckenna, thanks for posting that youtube link of Mckenna talking about Allegro's "Jesus=mushroom" theory. It is important to see the difference between Allegro's theories about christianity versus Michael Hoffman's theories about it. Hoffman agrees with Allegro that the historical Jesus didnt exist, the stories about Jesus are mythological symbolism not literal history. But Allegro differs from Hoffman in terms of their theories about what the symbolism actually symbolises (ie they disagree about the meaning of the symbols). Allegro interpreted the stories as references to physical amanita (not psilocybe) mushrooms, but Hoffman interprets them as references to entheogenic experiencing, psychedelic altered state phenomenology. This is the interpretation that Mckenna failed to recognise, he didnt see that Christianity is basically one massive arrow pointing to the psychedelic experience (particularly mystical ego death). As you can hear in that youtube clip, Mckenna even distances himself from Allegro's theory (he says "im not even sure if this is true" right after he introduces it)

So Mckenna got christianity completely wrong, and he didnt realise the maximal entheogen theory of religion. Michael Hoffman is a considerably more advanced thinker than Mckenna was in terms of his understanding of the altered state and its relevance to religion. The religiously transformed mind can interpret all religious/mystical/mythological symbolism as descriptions of altered state phenomena

Almost every idiot has heard by now the theory that the Eleusinian mystery initiates were tripping out on *something*, but it is a far more controversial claim to say that entheogenic experiences were what influenced the early christians (as opposed to an actual man named 'Jesus', but that's a whole other discussion).

@John Burrows You know, if I could find them, I'll try and link you to some other talks where McKenna differs in his view from John Allegro. McKenna didn't believe that Amanita muscaria was the culprit behind the Beatific vision of Christianity. He'd often make the point of Amanita muscaria being unreliable in producing the "ego death" phenomenon. He always argued over Wasson and Allegro that a psilocybin-containing mushroom is more likely to have been the original psychedelic.

The portion where he said that he wasn't sure if it were true or not is the idea of Jesus not existing as a person, but as symbolism.

One thing that I'm not sure about in Hoffman's theory is he relates this "ego death" experience to a fatalism. Terence was not a hard determinist, and the whole idea behind Hoffman's website is to define the "ego death" phenomenon as the revelation of hard determinism. Michael Hoffman mentions in his website the recently deceased guru of India, Ramesh Balsekar, who proclaims something similar of eastern religion, that the "enlightenment" emphasized in eastern religion is the insight of an Eternalism that is exactly aligned with Hoffman's concept on "ego death," except Ramesh doesn't pin psychedelics as the sole route to this enlightenment, but perhaps one path of many to it.

So how many prof/grad students that study M-theory are also heavy drug users? A few I expect, but I also expect that one does not 'need' DRUGS to do the work, but only a good clear mind. If you are some super-person, while on drugs, but otherwise 'no-one-special', off drugs, is this about an internal self perception, or are the results subject to peer review? If your brain is mush, I expect that the results would be just more of the same! Ever experienced 'word salad' from some of the mentally disturbed? It can be very interesting... 

Joe Rogan once asked Michio Kaku if he'd try out psychedelics, but Kaku declined. I'll post a link to that, because your question is sort of answered in this piece. I'm going to try and link to a specific portion of the video, but if you don't have an ad blocker on, it may start at the beginning. If it does, the spot is 1h14m58s.

Joe Rogan interviews Graham Hancock

Because this phenomenon is a phenomenon in consciousness, it's very hard for peer-review to tease apart exactly what's going on. I mean, neuroscience doesn't even have a description of consciousness, and so the topic is very slippery to begin with. However, the best we can do is basically what Dr. Rick Strassman has done with his research by administering these powerful psychedelics at various dose ranges, and then closely interviewing each volunteer over their impression of it. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Strassman's book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule," but he has detailed research involving intravenously injecting volunteers with pure N,N-Dimethyltryptamine.

I want to make a point relative to your question, James. Now, in my own experience with psychedelics and speaking to many others about it, one common theme I've noticed within these type of experience is the appearance of "fractals." These things at lighter doses, say, of psilocybin only appear as slight distortions in your vision, but if you are to raise the dose, then what initially appears as a subtle distortion that overlay anything you may be viewing then contorts everything within your view into fractals. It's very similar to the iron filings that will contort themselves into a specific pattern when in close contact with the magnet. Now, on the light doses, you can imagine these transparent hallucinatory distortions by metaphor of a magnet sort of being at a distance away from the iron filings to the point where the filings sort of slightly oscillate toward it, but don't necessarily all contort into this pattern due to the magnet not being within close enough range, also due to the fact that this is often the result of a light dose. Now, with the higher dose, it's as though the magnet comes within range to contort all the iron fillings into this pattern. Well, these hallucinations are something like that, and with the higher doses, you tend to see this very specific fractal pattern appear.

Now, as an aside, I believe I've mentioned Jason Padgett in other threads, who is basically your everyday average joe that is until one day he was mugged and brutally beaten. The severe concussion he sustained to his head caused brain damage on one portion of his brain that forced his brain to overcompensate in areas of the brain that are dormant in most people. He went from being a guy who could care less about math, to a mathematical savant due to his ability to see fractals in every direction.

I've never read any theory as to why "fractals" are such a common motif within these experiences, but it's interesting to note that the looms of the brain itself are fractal, and perhaps this is a factor in this phenomenon. I apologize for this long-winded response to your question, James, but here's my summation:

After reading through Strassman's book, I was surprised to never find an instance of the word "fractal" even mentioned! Now, the conclusion I came to is that perhaps just as most people aren't aware or truly understand the concepts behind "M-theory," a lot of people are unfamiliar with the term "fractal," and perhaps have not even heard the word before. So, obviously, the next best word or phrase to describe a "fractal" is something like a "geometric pattern," or "kaleidoscopic imagery," or "mandalic imagery," phrases of which are mentioned throughout the book by the volunteers when describing their hallucinations. It even took Jason Padgett a while to realize that what he was witnessing was, in fact, fractals, but prior to his concussion, he had no clue what a fractal was. So, I agree with what you implied, James, a person well-versed in M-theory or just a person who is exceptionally articulate will be able to get more out of the experience or perhaps just be able to express it better. This is precisely why Humphry Osmond gave Aldous Huxley mescaline, because he knew that Huxley was an extremely articulate writer and perhaps could he could express what may be going on. If you clicked the link to that interview, Joe Rogan talks about how he asked if Michio Kaku would ever consider taking psilocybin mushrooms, but unfortunately Kaku declined. 

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