The entheogen theory of religion

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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    John Burrows

    @ Rocky John

    Rocky John said: “I am simply saying their is no reliability on just how they change your perceptions. “

    This is incorrect, psychedelic drugs alter perception in a very specific way, and this specific kind of alteration is guarateed whenever a person ingests a sufficient dose of any psychedelic drug. The alteration in perception caused by psychedelic drugs is the transition from ordinary perception to psychedelic perception. In Hoffman's terminology, psychedelic drugs cause the transition from tight cognitive association binding in the ordinary state of consciousness to loose cognitive association binding in the psychedelic state of consciousness. Psychedelic drugs are 100% reliable at triggering this particular kind of altered state experience, when you take psychedelics, you will have a psychedelic trip guaranteed.

    Compare this to meditation, where there is no precise specification of the kind of alteration in consciousness (if any) that a person will experience. Most people who meditate find the experience quite calming and relaxing but generally unremarkable (it is common in meditation classes for people to drop asleep during deep meditation), nothing like the intense alteration of consciousness that are caused by ingesting psychedelic drugs. You cannot fall asleep during an intense psychedelic trip, if you close your eyes and curl up the trip experience only becomes way more intense (internalised).

    Rocky John said:“There is absolutely no reliability nor control over just what altered state you will experience even when taking the exact same amount of the exact same drug.”

    On the contrary, taking the same dose of the same drug will guarantee an altered state experience of the same essential character, and the same degree of intensity. Psychedelic drugs are highly ergonomic tools for causing temporary psychedelic experiencing, far more ergonomic than any of the drug free supposed “alternatives” like meditating or chanting etc.

    The three essential variables in psychedelic experiencing were identified by Leary in the sixties, they are 1.Dosage 2.Mindset and 3.Setting/environment.

    Drug free practises like meditating or chanting are perfect tools for AVOIDING the psychedelic altered state experience.

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    John Burrows

    @ Gallup's mirror

    “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? ”

    There is no specific definable difference between mystical vs religious experiences (adding 'type' after affirms that it is a specific type/category of experience). Both terms mean essentially the same thing, and are equivalently applicable to the psychedelic experience. Psychedelic tripping IS mystical/religious experiencing, and this modality of experience is not ergonomically accessible by any other means than taking drugs. Meditating is an entirely different kind of experience from tripping out on psychedelics, there is no real basis of comparison between the two experiences.

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

    As I pointed out in my first post, the issue of God's existence is not relevant to the entheogen theory of religion, rather what is relevant to this issue is the subjective characteristics of psychedelic experiencing. It certainly isnt the case that when people trip out they start believing in God, mystical/religious experiencing is largely unconnected from what a person believes.

    That is why imo the entire atheist/theist debate (ie does God exist? Y/N) is fundamentally misguided because it does not accommodate the reality of mystical/religious experiences and the entheogen theory of religion. The atheist/theist debate is grounded in christian monotheistic theology and has very little connection to the issue of religious experience. The kind of religion that stems from intense mystical experiencing has nothing to do with whether or not God exists, rather it is about the transformative character of the altered state experience. All religious stories focus on this particular transformation (from clueless ----> psychedelic).

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