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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It would be naive or obtusely narrow-minded to think that any single factor gave rise to religion in the Human animal. It seems there are almost more theories than there are anthropologists and many of them can call on some aspect of mans use of alkaloids to posit causality or method. However the one thing that religion requires is not an hallucinogenic it is language itself. This combined with the human brains evolved propensity to constantly look for patterns is all you need. Entheogens came to be used and abused by those wielding religion as a social device, but it is over-egging the pudding to see it as any more than a bit part in the story of the evolution of religion itself. 

I expect that as our hunter-gather ancesters tried out all the local native foods of the planet, they discovered all/most of the poisenous, drug, and hallucinogenic plants/fungi. This would then become a part of the cultural wisdom.

I can just about see that first moment when our dear Grog discovered pot or funny mushrooms during a hunting party or after his woman gathered some nice greens/mushrooms to be shared! Imagine Grog's family sitting in their nice dry cave, finishing up that evenings meal, then a cave bear shows up, a battle is joined, but after he recovers there is no bear! 'Grut-no bear, what the?' So begins then new adventure of 'what the?'  


@James Cox

I love your story about Grog and his family.

and imagine that Grog and his family all belonged to a larger community of other Grogs and their families and that these funny foods were grown in abundence and eaten by the whole community regularly over a long period of time. Thats a long time of different "what the's" going on.

Well, if the concept of god didn't already exist in the mind of the tripper, hallucinogens wouldn't put it there. 

I expect 'what the', could easily become 'what if....'


I expect 'what the', could easily become 'what if....'

and then 'what if'  became 'why not?"

Yes, and at no time should scientific reasoning need to be engaged. This web of supposition need not be disturbed by a growing body of important 'details'.

I little like young boys building a shared fantasy world, which can mature into a rationalized world of 'power over', 'royalty', 'crualty', and paranoia. I guess we should not forget that a similar process could be used to build a wonderland of explorations...  


There was a thread going on in here not so long ago discussing this theory in regards to Terrence McKenna and his philosophies about this. There was lots of very passionate debate going on and lot of different opinions about it.

I dont know as much as others do on this subject but - in it's simplist form, the idea makes sense. That if there was enough of an hallucinogenic drug around and if it was widespread and if it became a common food source over a long period of time - because its that 'long period of time' component thats important isnt it?. Then it does make sense that it would have an effect in shifting consciousness from one mindset to another.




Yes i was lurking on the Mckenna thread for ages that's what eventually persuaded me to join this forum and post about this....

I think that although Mckenna was one of the most important psychedelic prophets, he nevertheless completely failed to spot the glaring connection between christianity and entheogens. At the very centre of christianity, there is a story about a man (who is also God incarnate) consuming holy food at the last supper then subsequently undergoing trial, agonising execution and eventual transcendent ressurection. To an entheogenic insider, that story looks like a thinly disguised metaphor for eating entheogens then experiencing ego mystic death and rebirth. Mckenna entirely failed to recognise this, and he instead chose to paint christianity as some big barbaric evil force that was strictly opposed to drug use and ruled the western world for two thousand years. The entheogen theory of religion completely inverts Mckenna's view of christianity, by suggesting that entheogens and drug-induced mystical/religious experiencing is the essence and origin (the true meaning) of christianity, as well as every other religion. Mckenna only recognised the entheogenic essence of shamanic religion, he didnt spot the entheogenic essence of religion in general.


Fascinating -

  Im glad this topic has come up again because the other one left a bit of an impression on me. I didnt get to involved in the last one because they were all using too many long

I'm interested to see the comments though.


I won't engage in bukkake, but I will leave one message that goes over this stuff so that I won'd have to type another.

@John I disagree with what you said about McKenna, I believe Terence McKenna was quite aware of entheogens playing a role in all of religion, including Christianity. He would often mention the work of John Allegro in some of his talks, and I'll leave a link below where he speaks about it. 

McKenna on "Jesus."

He'd also mention the Elusinian mysteries where it's believed by some historians and scholars that some type of ergotized beer was drank during this era by the great philosophers of the time. Likewise, soma in Hinduism, McKenna thought that "soma" may be a reference to some type of entheogen that was used.

The only place that I've heard of this concept being discussed in terms of the "entheogen theory of religion" is at Michael Hoffman's website "," perhaps you're familiar with that website. Because this concept has been mentioned not by that title, but in other forms as in Aldous Huxley's "Perennial Philosophy," there's also Richard M. Bucke's book "Cosmic Consciousness" where he proposes precisely the idea of these colossal altered states being the root of religion, but doesn't necessarily target the imbibing of psychedelics being cause for it. 

Michael Talbot in his book "The Holographic Universe," discusses these mystic states and their parallels to quantum mechanics and string theory. The idea in the book is that consciousness can become sensitive to the "11-dimensional hyperspace" as described in M-Theory, and that is what results in these so-called "Mystical Experiences." So, he adopted the term "quantum mysticism." That what Hindus call "Brahman" is one and the same with what an M-Theorist calls "11-dimensional Hyperspace," and this is what becomes intuit within this colossal altered state.

Alan Watts spoke of these mystical states being the root of religion, too, using Bucke's term "cosmic consciousness" to describe this. But just as Bucke didn't necessarily involve psychedelics, Watts knew that there is more than one path to this experience, whether it be natural, through meditation, through psychedelics, etc.

Alan Watts discussing "Cosmic Consciousness" as the root of religion

Then, there's Dr. Rick Strassman, the author of "DMT: The Spirit Molecule," who has speculated that even in the case of the natural experiences of this so-called "cosmic consciousness," it may be that endogenous DMT is what elicits this experience. So, it could all come back to "entheogens," even if this experience were to happen naturally. I've noticed a lot of people seem to want to make a distinction between a "natural experience" and a "entheogen-induced experience," when it may be pointless to do so, since they may be one and the same thing.

And last, I just want to leave you with a the message that it's quite pointless to ask for opinions or thoughts on a theory like this of those who've never had these type of experiences. I mean, just look at the backlog of some of the posts I've left here, and you'll see why that is so! So, instead I think it's better to articulate the experience to the point that people can realize that entheogens do invoke or elicit these type of experiences that up to this point have only really been discussed in a religious context. But it's better understood if you imagine that religion only hijacked this phenomenon or it's probably better to say that the major religions that arose so many years ago were the result of attempting to describe this phenomenon in consciousness. So, then if you can manage to express the God-like proportions of this experience, then maybe you could pique people's curiosity and interest to the point where they can challenge themselves to it, because I think you'll find no amount of words can convince someone of the sheer profundity of this experience, and therefore ever convince someone of any theories that follow it or expect much opinion on it, for that matter.

Graham Hancock challenges Richard Dawkins to try ayahuasca

The colossal collection of meaningless woo-woo invariably rests on the same thing:

And last, I just want to leave you with a the message that it's quite pointless to ask for opinions or thoughts on a theory like this of those who've never had these type of experiences.

It only "makes sense" if you blow your brains out on psychedelic drugs. For anyone who does exactly that and still knows it's woo-woo: it means you haven't done enough drugs.

It's the ultimate woo: impervious to explanation, testing, and falsification.


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