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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“not one (if I may suggest) finds anything solid, by way of a 'theory' or explanation.”

The theory is very simple and clear – it states that the origin, essence and ongoing wellspring of religion is the experience of temporarily loosened cognitive associations (a 'trip') that is triggered by ingesting entheogenic plants and chemicals

“The whole narrative rests on countless exaggerations, distortions and oversights “

This theory rests on the fact that psychedelic drugs routinely trigger intense and psychologically transformative) mystical states of consciousness, as the scientific evidence demonstrates. That is not an exaggeration, distortion or oversight.

“1) Critical work-up of 'entheogen theory of religion' finds - that's a piece of talk, Trying to sound itself impressive. As such it exemplifies, true to form, a particular variety of - not qualified research in some discipline - of pop psychedelic narrative. For example, its going to focus on a phrase like 'ego death' - which (if you check into it) turns out to be ... right, another piece of talk from pop psychedelia. Leary and company like to put a whole lot of air into that one ... but can you find such a phrase in that Johns Hopkins (Griffith et alia) research you're trying to use in support?”

The entheogen theory of religion does not focus on the term 'ego death' so this ^ entire paragraph is mistaken.

The core claim is that religion is all about tripping on psychedelic drugs, because the psychedelic drugs cause people to have mystical/religious experiences. Although it is true that the predominant aspect of tripping that religion focuses on is the 'ego death' experience (ie mystical death and rebirth in the psychedelic state of consciousness) this is not the only phenomenon of interest. Another related but distinct phenomenon that is observed in the psychedelic state for example is that of psychological transformation, the experience can have a permanent effect on the way the subject thinks about life.

The entheogen theory suggests that the religious stories, such as Mohammed's revelation, Buddha's enlightenment, Jesus crucifixion etc. are all descriptions of psychedelic/mystical experiencing.

Dont get hung up on the term 'ego death' it is just a phrase. The important point is that regardless of what phrase you use to describe it, death and rebirth is a very common experience under the influence of psychedelic drugs.


“Like FOOD OF THE GODS - such phraseologies try to sound real 'theoretical.' But that type talk is neither from peer-reviewed research, published in some research society's journal or other academic/scientific sources. Nor is it part of specialized studies with established foundations in scholarly or scientific methods or theory. Its of, by and for the subculture. There's an entire fringe psychedelia communitarian tradition here, reverently doing its own versions of a Timothy Leary act, soliciting attention and trying to impress anyone it can - get them to go 'wow, that's brilliant.' Claiming some sort of authoritative critically-based interest, just part of the show.”

This ^ paragraph is also entirely irrelevant to the entheogen theory of religion.


“2) "This theory" (as you call it) "fits with the scientific evidence that entheogenic drugs trigger mystical/religious type experiences when administered in ... (the recent Johns Hopkins psilocyin study concluded this)"
That seems inaccurate, not reasonably correct - an exaggeration or distortion, that loses the clarity and balance of informed perspective. Indeed, expels it forcibly in order to claim "See, scientific evidence says so."

In fact there's no such quote from Griffiths et al in that work, purporting along such lines. Indeed one thing they found: about 1/3 subjects don't have any mystical effects even when psilocybin is 'administered in ...' the most conducive setting, and working with the most select subjects, exclusively. Griffiths' subjects were individually chose, carefully - for personal spiritual aptitude and interest. In fact, approx 1/3 had experiences dominated by unpleasant or stressful content and stimuli. Such were shown to be 'triggered' (as you put it) with every bit as much reliability, as mystical effects that resulted in other subjects.”

It is a baseless fallacy to equate 'unpleasant' with 'unmystical', which completely ignores the evidence that the religions themselves clearly provide – that mystical experiences are very often unpleasant, stressful, painful or traumatic. Mohammed very nearly commited suicide because of the acute anguish that his first angelic revelation caused in him. Similarly Buddha was confronted by an army of demons after he ate the magical rice-milk.

Unfortunately this same fallacy that you employ (by tacitly asserting that unpleasant = unmystical) is deeply rooted in modern understanding of mystical/religious experiencing, such that even the criteria that the johns hopkins study used to identify mystical experiences put an undue emphasis on the whole blissful/heavenly aspect to the exclusion of the harrowing/hellish aspect. As Huxley indicates in the title of his book, psychedelics can bring you to heaven or hell.

On the contrary, painful and hellish experiences in the psychedelic state of consciousness are just as crucial to an understanding of the entheogen theory of religion as are the joyous ecstatic type experiences, it isnt that one is “less mystical” than the other.

Per the entheogen theory, psychedelic tripping *just is* mystical/religious experience.


“What the research shows is that there is indeed, in some not all subjects - psilocybin can 'occasion' a psychologically definable mystical experience (Wm James, VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE laid first foundation of this type research more than a century ago). Exactly as described by Huxley, in 1954, from his experience with another hallucinogen (mescaline) - and questioned by many in that era, who thought Huxley may have been exaggerating, mistaken, or even just hallucinating.”

This ^ paragraph is entirely in line with the entheogen theory as far as I can tell



“But no, (and - please?) - the research does not support some fanciful 'entheogen theory'”

Yes it does, it provides direct support for the theory. Per W.James, religion originates from religious experience, and of particular relevance to the entheogen theory is the fact that all the religious stories depict people undergoing such experiences. The johns hopkins study demonstrates that entheogens are the 'missing link' between religion and religious experience.

“that according to its storyline (as cast) - explains, or is going to explain religion. These promotional 'theories' are too much like sermons, considering the intellectual theater they state. They're in search of believers they can impress; who will become further new 'fishers of men' - fellow casters of the line the gullibles bit on themselves, and got reeled in.For a 'theory' as purported to be (no, really ...) jawin' about 'ego death' and 'entheogen theory' - such jabberwocky is nonsensical, first. Second, its too much like a Village People lyric: We Want You, We Want You, We Want You As A New Recruit! Obviously folks can all individually make up their own minds what to think or believe etc. But please, is exaggeration and distortion of research, for such promotional 'theory' proselytizing, talking it up - really necessary? Can it be brought down to maybe a 7 or 8?

Don't we get enough of 'inspirational pseudotheorizing' with our good friends in 'Scientific' Creationism? And a bunch of other such 'theorizing' ops out their in the cultural wasteland?

Rocky J - my heart goes out to you. Looks like you tried your best to reason with this stuff. At least you gave it every fair shake. No harm finding out for yourself, using your own tests, by your own effort - what and how it has to say for itself, in reply.”

This ^ nonsense has no connection to the entheogen theory that we are discussing here. I wish you would get off your holier-than-thou Mckenna-hating high horse Brian, you could really contribute something relevant and important if you would put your intellect towards sensibly addressing the psychedelic issue. Forget about Mckenna, focus on the important issues, please.

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