This Explains a Lot

7 March, 2008

From Yahoo News:

JERUSALEM (AFP) – High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

“As far as 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 told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the “burning bush,” suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a clasic phenomenon,” he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to “see music.”

He mentioned his own experience when he used ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, during a religious ceremony in Brazil‘s Amazon forest in 1991. “I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations,” Shanon said.

He said the psychedelic effects of ayahuasca were comparable to those produced by concoctions based on bark of the acacia tree, that is frequently mentioned in the Bible.

Well, that would certainly explain why “Thou Shalt Not Do Drugs” is not a commandment. 

Maybe the religious right will now come out in favour of psychotropic drugs (that “Old Time Religion,” dontcha know).  Christianity stopped macro-evolving about 500 AD (the differences in doctrine introduced during the Reformation are mild compared to the different Christianities of the first 500 years), though micro-evolution continues within almost all sects.  Perhaps they stopped with the mind altering drugs about that time.

The other way to look at it, though, is that strong psychadelic drugs could certainly help explain some of the drivel coming from the mouths of Dobson, Robertson, et al (those aren’t pearls of wisdom dropping from their lips, those are marbles being lost).  A mind on drugs could certainly come up with such innanities as ‘liberals caused 9/11’ and ‘give me money or god will take me away.’



  1. The Moses-Did-Drugs explanation doesn’t work satisfactorily for me when I apply Ockham’s Razor.

    So, starting with: Moses did crazy things because he took drugs. When we cut away the extraneous hypotheses, we get: Moses did crazy things because he was crazy.

    On the other hand, the silly Moses-Did-Drugs hypothesis also accepts certain facts as given. I don’t accept any of those facts. So, discarding the unsubstantiated details, we’re left with this hypothesis: Someone who may or may not have been the legendary character known as Moses, who may or may not have really existed, and who may or may not have been clinically crazy, may or may not have had actual visions, which may or may not have been based on cultic drug use, in which he — or she — may or may not have seen a supernatural being. These visions, whether real, imaginary, or just a literary device, were used approximately three thousand years ago to establish the “authenticity” of one of the many versions of what we today know as the ten commandments.

  2. The “Moses on Drugs” idea is pretty funny, but I doubt that there’s any substance, controlled or otherwise, to it.

  3. I found it rather funnny, the hypothesis that Moses did drugs. But otherwise it doesn’t hold with the concept of the “New Sins”. The pope actually said said using drugs is one of the “New Sins” mentioned.

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