Professor Benny Shanon, professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, experienced a hallucinatory trip a few years ago when he participated in a tribal ceremony in the Amazon and drank a cocktail made from a plant called “ayahuasca.”
This experience led him to believe that the miracles and visions Moses experienced in the Sinai desert, and presumably when Pharoah in Egypt witnessed miracles, were nothing more than delusions induced by acid trips.
“I have no direct proof of this interpretation,” he says. “It seems logical that something was altered in people’s consciousness. There are other stories in the Bible that mention the use of plants: for example, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.”
Of his own drug use, Shanon says, “I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations. Hypotheses have been around for 20 years connecting the beginning of religions with psychoactive materials.”
The acacia tree also has psychedelic properties, according to Shanon. Acacia is mentioned frequently in the Bible. It was the type of wood from which the Ark of the Covenant was made.
Metaphysical naturalism is a worldview in which nature is all there is, and all things supernatural, such as spirits and souls, supernatural beings, miracles, and transcendent truth as taught by the Bible, do not exist.
This view is distinguished from methodological naturalism, which is a worldview that claims that the scientific method is limited to the study of the natural world, but unlike metaphysical naturalism does not deny the possibility of supernatural or paranormal phenomena.
In other words, a methodological naturalist who believes the Bible is God’s inerrant Word may do so without violating the principles of science, because the scientific method cannot use natural means to study the supernatural. It is simply not the purpose of science to prove or disprove the supernatural. It’s not a proper measuring tool any more than a yard stick can be used to measure barometric pressure. For instance, science can be used to tell us something about the world’s geological history and it’s possible origin, but it cannot ever negate the possibility of a Creation in six days.
Much of the western world has absorbed the philosophy of Enlightenment thinkers such as Hume, Kant and Hegel, who moved from a belief that the proper role of philosophy and science was to study only natural phenomena, to a presupposition that the supernatural simply does not exist.
The metaphysical naturalist rejects the supernatural from the outset and automatically discounts any belief system that includes God or a supernatural world as primitive superstition.
The common method of metaphysical naturalists when interpreting the Bible is to reject the miracles and doubt both the history and authenticity of the literature that would give any credence to eyewitness records of supernatural events. However, much of the Bible is supported by corroborating history and archaeology. It gives historical context and purports eyewitness testimony.
The metaphyscial naturalist, if he is to be consistent with a scientific trust in empirical records, has to accept that at least some of these phenomena have a basis in fact. He is left with the only option of reinterpreting the data in terms of a “scientific explanation.” The Apostle John on Patmos saw visions because he ate wild mushrooms. The Ark of the Covenant shot bolts of lightning because it was a giant primitive battery. Visions and revelations are the result of psychological stress and trauma. And so on.
Hence Shanon’s hypothesis. He guesses that Ten Commandments, with the voice of God heard in the “thunder,” had its origin in a psychedelic experience.
Was Moses tripping when he heard the Law of God?
“But not everyone who uses a plant like this brings the Torah,” Shanon concedes. “For that, you have to be Moses.”
Shanon should know. He reports that since his Amazon trip, he has used the plant hundreds of times.
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