What happens when psychedelics make you see God

What happens when psychedelics make you see God

This article in MSN.com which appeared in the Fall 2020, Mysteries issue of Popular Science, reviews how:

Scientists in the psychiatry department of Johns Hopkins University—are part of the burgeoning field of psychedelic studies. Recently invigorated by a more permissive regulatory environment, the sector investigates if, how, and why reality-bending substances might help human brains. So far, research from all over the world suggests the drugs can break old mental patterns and help fight addiction, alleviate depression, shrink existential fears, and improve relationships.

The article, in part, chronicles the experience of Clark Martin, whom doctors gave a year to live after they found he had stage 4 kidney cancer in 1990.  In 2010, after a 20 year battle with the cancer, Martin, a retired clinical psychologist, heard about the John Hopkins study, and wanted to try it. His experience was consistent with research from all over the world that suggests the drugs can break old mental patterns and help fight addiction, alleviate depression, shrink existential fears, and improve relationships.  Additionally, the article says:

…investigators have been surprised by another consistent finding: When people have spiritual experiences while tripping, they’re even more likely to kick bad habits and be happier or more satisfied with their lives in the long term. The mysterious encounters take many forms. Sometimes people feel they’re in the presence of God, or of a more nebulous entity like Ultimate Reality—a higher power that reveals the truth of the universe—or they just feel a novel connectedness to everything from now back to the big bang and beyond. Because of the link between the mystical and the medical, scientists like those at Johns Hopkins are probing why people have transcendent tendencies at all, how that might help our brains, and what it means for how we perceive the world.

After some initial trepidation and anxiety during the “trip”, Martin had some mystical experiences, and found that after the session ended, so did his depression.  Alan Davis, another John Hopkins researcher, and his colleagues, created an internet-based survey to find out about people’s “God encounter experiences.” The survey asked individuals about their most memorable rendezvous with a supreme figure, either when sober or when they had taken a psychedelic. More than 4,000 responded. They published the results in 2019.  The article says the results were:

The sober group was more likely than the other one to label the being God. The psychedelic users instead tended to call it Ultimate Reality. But both sets generally agreed that whatever they’d encountered was “conscious, benevolent, intelligent, sacred, eternal, and all-knowing.” And the majority said the experience left them with more purpose and meaning, greater satisfaction with their lives, and a decreased fear of death.

Perhaps the most striking result, though, involved people from both groups who hadn’t subscribed to the idea of a higher power to start with. After their hangout with an omniscient entity, more than two-thirds became believers. (If you’ve ever tried to change an atheist’s mind, you know how big a feat that is.)

The shift means, essentially, that they thought the experience revealed something true about the world. As the paper put it, “The majority of both groups endorsed that that which was encountered existed, at least in part, in some other reality and that it continued to exist after the encounter.”

Because no one really knows for sure yet why these drugs make people mystical, what that mysticality really means, or exactly why any of it changes people’s personalities for the better, boosts them out of mood disorders, or rids them of addictions. Those questions merit answers.  The article goes on to conclude:

Whatever you make of them, psychedelic treatments hold promise that keeps pushing the research forward. Davis thinks often of a young woman in a Johns Hopkins study who had struggled for a decade with severe depression and social anxiety. She thought about suicide often. But after her treatment with psilocybin, things changed. For example, Davis says, “The look in her eye that she had gone a whole week without thinking of ending her life. It doesn’t get better than seeing hope in somebody.”

Davis believes psychedelics do something deeper than traditional pharmaceuticals or therapies. “Whether that’s because of the mystical experiences or the insight, something is happening at a level that is not just about reducing symptoms,” he says.

I have a couple of thoughts, and then I would like to hear yours:

  1. I’m strongly inclined to be skeptical of beneficial use of hallucigens. Some of that skepticism follows from my, and other friends, experience with them back in the 60s and 70s, when I was in high school and college.  I don’t remember a lot of good coming from tripping and I certainly remember some friends who abused them and suffered consequently.
  2. Nevertheless, it is hard to discount the clinical evidence the John Hopkins researchers have produced. It would seem trials guided by experienced clinical psychologists are to be preferred over random recreational use by stupid kids.
  3. It raises questions about the “it’s-all-only-in-your-head” critique of people’s mystical experiences, including Christians. If God-experiences can be induced by psychedelic drugs, then are they only a phenomena of the brain, and not real?
  4. On the other hand, is not depression “only-in-your-head”? Does that mean it’s not real?  Those suffering from depression would beg to differ.

 

 

99 thoughts on “What happens when psychedelics make you see God

  1. As some of the critics called it, “Heaven Tourism.” I wonder if they got a re-entry stamp like they give you at WDW.

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  2. Late to the discussion, but if I am correctly informed, it is not the psychedelic, but the trip that makes the life-changing difference: that is, people who take the drug but don’t have the ‘mind-expanding’ experience don’t see any change.

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  3. Wireheading. Classic SF reference.

    Those praise bands with lights and repeating lyrics are just another way to reach Altered States of Consciousness. The Pentecostal and Charismatic nut jobs do that in spades.

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  4. Your buddy Wade just posted another article full of excrement. Since he does not know physics, it is not surprising he doesn’t know math or statistics either. Apparently the simple concept of a higher Covid rate per 100000 means the infection rate is worse. Yet somehow he thinks Tulsa county with a rate of 60.0 per 100k is worse than his county with a rate of 72.5 per 100k.

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  5. I see all of Southeast Asia
    I can see El Salvador
    I hear the cries of children
    And the other songs of war
    It’s like a mighty melody
    That rings down from the sky
    Standing here upon the moon
    I watch it all roll by – all roll by

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  6. “We weren’t lost because we sinned; we were lost because we forgot where we came from and where we’re going (that’s why it’s called “lost”).”

    Ken Kirby, 2/14

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  7. “Their turn into funky Americana was a good move.”

    *Working Man’s Dead* and *American Beauty* are exemplars of that which Mule speaks.

    Descriptors of Dead’s style;

    -Country and Western for people who like to drop acid.
    -Cosmic cowboy music.
    -Minstrel show. (As spoken of by Jerry.)
    -The sound track of my life, not just my teenage years. (DeadHeads)

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  8. As we speak, and beyond a reasonable doubt, Donald Trump and his helpers are trying to overthrow the election — and they may succeed in their attempt. That is not a matter of politics, but of a vast injustice on the threshold of being realized.

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  9. Maybe small doses of medically supervised psychedelics actually do what electroshock therapy was supposed to do…

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  10. I think it is part of our DNA, literally, to know God. We are so removed from our nature through societal structures that we are not in touch with these promptings. When people experience these drugs their defenses are dropped and they become open to the mystical. That’s no guarantee of any thing in particular. They could be lost in a mystical world of grandiose delusion or some other unfruitful path. Just stepping into the world of spirit is a dangerous thing. I wrote a song which can be found on YouTube called Eight Days in May. (CJ Fitz). It was essentially about that very thing. It can be a very dangerous business but it can also be a great awakening. That’s been my experience anyway.

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  11. This kind nonsense is even circulating in mainline churches. I just heard it spouted at a meeting called to determine if the church should or should not remain open for in-person services. Fortunately, the majority voted for closing, and only having online services; but this kind of disinformation is not only foolish, it is deadly.

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  12. I am not convinced of the notion they re-wire the brain.

    It seems as apt to describe them as DE-wiring the brain to some small extent – and the brain is extremely good at RE-wiring itself when that need arises.

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  13. “It discusses the research into using psychedelics for mental health treatment among other things and shows much promise in resetting brains prone to depression & anxiety among other issues.”

    ECT [electro convulsive therapy ] does the same thing.

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  14. Sorta disappeared from the radio.

    Jeff Airplane sounds kind of dated now, whereas the Dead sound more timeless than ever. Their turn into funky Americana was a good move.

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  15. Little mustachioed men who, looking back now over a gulf of many decades, looked kind of like a miniature Wario. They speak an unintelligible accent, are not dangerous, but are not benevolent. They are very busy.

    Myself and two friends all saw them on different occasions, different locations. We were on atropine, carefully measured dosage.

    Once was enough.

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  16. I was just thinking about that song (and Airplane/Starship) the other day. That is such a frickin’ awesome song!!!

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  17. –> “There have been studies that show e.g. developing a new skill can change the very physical structure of the brain itself.”

    Oh, I don’t doubt that. But in that case the re-wiring occurs over time. With psychedelics, the re-wiring would appear to be instantaneous.

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  18. Is it either/ or? The dodgy assumption seems to me to be that the chemical balance of the brain is somehow independent of its operation. There have been studies that show e.g. developing a new skill can change the very physical structure of the brain itself. I don’t see that you can make any meaningful distinction between “in your head” and “chemical imbalance”: the distinction would be between whether the imbalance was caused by some external factor or was a product of the way the brain itself was functioning.

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  19. Even if it were the case, swapping out a DESTRUCTIVE addiction for a NON-DESTRUCTIVE one would be an improvement.

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  20. I would like to add my two cents that Anne’s book is a wonderful read.

    She is someone who escaped fundamentalist abuse and has sought answers in spirituality in a non-relgious settings.

    Like many of us here, she has had a wilderness journey. Although her destination is different from what many of us have arrived at, her book has great value in helping to understand what a non-religious journey can look like.

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  21. “Noomi men”?
    I’m no stranger to weirdness (who needs drugs?), but that’s a new one on me.

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  22. –> “The interruption of normal operation of the mind may be key here; perhaps akin to a service restart.

    c:/> iisreset /restart”

    Good analogy. But as I just mentioned in a comment above to Tom aka Volkmar, I find it odd that psychedelics seem to re-wire the brain.

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  23. got to hear the store manager loudly proclaim that doctors and coroners are counting even auto accident deaths as COVID deaths to inflate the numbers, so see? It’s not really that bad.

    WHERE WE GO ONE, WE GO ALL!

    And when their loved ones are dying of it, do not for a second think their minds will change.

    Not even when THEY’RE dying of it, according to this nurse’s Twitterstream that’s gone viral:

    “THE DWARFS ARE FOR THE DWARFS! WE WON’T BE TAKEN IN! MAGA!”

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  24. Current anti-depressants can have pretty bad side effects, yep. And dosages seem to be in constant need for tweaking. Oh, and never mind how those anti-depressants interact with any OTHER pills a person is taking.

    So, yes… A single dose of something that supplants every day anti-depressants ant their side effects is probably a good thing.

    I find it odd, though, that psychedelics seem to re-wire the brain, if it semi-cures depression and/or smoking.

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  25. What they can’t determine, of course, is whether that part of our brains is there because there’s actually a God to interact with or just because those experiences have some evolutionary benefit.

    Third alternative: It’s a natural phenomenon that’s neutral to “evolutionary benefit”. Reading Gould, it’s possible for random changes to have no “benefit” either way but still stay in the gene pool. And that evolutionary biologists often go out on a limb to claim “evolutionary benefit” from everything. Kind of like a True Believer Charismatic seeing miracles everywhere, even when it’s quite a stretch to do so.

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  26. Well well well, says the local atheist, rubbing his hands together… 🙂

    We have been using psychedelics since before we were Homo Sapiens it seems. A very large body of evidence, b archeological, historical and ethnographic points to the commonality of religious experience and stimulant use. A really good place to start is the following paper:

    https://akjournals.com/view/journals/2054/3/2/article-p43.xml

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  27. > just because those experiences have some evolutionary benefit

    Or they are a side-effect of mirror neuron networks and theory-of-mind; what happens when the normal operations of those things are interrupted? Perhaps they run wild, associating with stimuli they would normally be isolated from.

    Possible upside: deleterious and pathological associations are interrupted, weakened.

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  28. > does that mean they aren’t addictive

    In the small doses in a controlled environment, overseen by medical professionals, the answer appears to be No. That answer is not necessarily translatable to a context lacking those provisions.

    > does that mean they aren’t addictive

    The interruption of normal operation of the mind may be key here; perhaps akin to a service restart.

    c:/> iisreset /restart

    Oh, look! It is working better now. 🙂

    > Is it possible that relief from addiction and the depression that comes with it is just being supplanted

    That does not appear to be the case.

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  29. “And anything “psych”… With a lot of Christians there is NO difference between Christianity and Scientology when it comes to Psychology.”
    ________________

    Right.

    The same people who eschew psychology will consider “worship” to be a quasi rock-lite performance with smoke machines, light show, dancing with hands lifted up, constant repetition of phrases, etc., fail to realize that the “high” that such engagement often produces is not so much The Spirit as it is a flood of oxytocin from the anterior pituitary.

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  30. Thanks, Tom,
    sorry you lost a friend too . . . . . soon, we all of us may know someone who knows someone who perished of the covid, sorry to say

    vaccine coming, I hope, troubles soon be over (?)

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  31. I applied for the Johns Hopkins study (I live in DC) but was disqualified because of my history of afib. Oh well. I tried to talk a minister friend of mine into it but his anti-drug hysteria indoctrination had been done too well.

    The results of these studies are astonishing but of course with the current bunch in Washington we’re only a senator’s daughter away from another stupid war on drugs.

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  32. Psychedelics do not produce CHEMICAL addiction as do opioids or meth.

    The studies indicated that with a single microdose of psilocybin 85% of subjects experienced significant relief from depression that lasted 18 months or longer. That sure beats taking pills every day that have significant side affects with diminishing effectiveness over time. About the same % of smokers effectively quite smoking.

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  33. –> “What is accessible and legal is to do as I did just now is to listen to ‘Welcome to the Machine’ by Pink Floyd.”

    Or how about “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)”???

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  34. Wow. Interesting read. I especially like your last question:

    –> “On the other hand, is not depression “only-in-your-head”? Does that mean it’s not real? Those suffering from depression would beg to differ.”

    Many (if not most) studies have suggested that depression is often caused by a chemical imbalance. The Hopkins study would suggest that either:
    1) The psychedelic drugs changed the chemical imbalance causing the depression; or
    2) There was no chemical imbalance to begin with.

    Also, I’m extremely curious… if psychedelics help break addictions, does that mean they aren’t addictive themselves? Are people who’ve used these drugs going back over and over to get their latest mystical “fix”? Is it possible that relief from addiction and the depression that comes with it is just being supplanted temporarily, and that they will just re-manifest around addiction to the psychedelics?

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  35. I stopped in a Dollar General this morning and while shopping, got to hear the store manager loudly proclaim that doctors and coroners are counting even auto accident deaths as COVID deaths to inflate the numbers, so see? It’s not really that bad. I hear this probably at least once a week. Or more.

    “the ‘unreality’ has no place when a quarter of a million Americans are dead of a virus that so many ‘good people’ see as a ‘hoax’ – dear God, help us find our way back out of this strange land to some form of responsible humane behavior in a troubled world.”
    And when their loved ones are dying of it, do not for a second think their minds will change.

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  36. The wonderfully perspicuous Grateful Dead – no interpretive chemicals needed.
    Greater than the sum of their parts. Amazing that they always managed to find just the right keyboard player

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  37. > brief glimpse of that reality might surface

    Or, like waking from a dream, what is experienced is the restored consciousness’ act of trying to sort through all the garbage it finds sitting in the input buffers following the suspension of normal operation.

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  38. Consciousness isn’t very well understood at any level, is it? Philosophical, theological, medical, chemical, sociological explanations of the ‘I-function’ seem to cross-fertilize, block-and impede, or unexpectedly open out onto vast, dazzling, and puzzling landscapes.

    Some of the most infuriating and challenging books I’ve ever read have been like that.

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig
    Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid Douglas Hofstadter
    Tao Teh Ching
    Little, Big John Crowley
    Just about anything by Jose Luis Borges
    Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield

    My own assays down the rabbit hole were inconclusive. The geography of that continent is very confused and is not static, but there are landmarks of sorts. My friends and I had shared some hallucinations; the Golden Temple, the Noomi men. Whether they were the result of intersuggestibility or whether they had some hitherto unexplained kind of objectivity I don’t even have the tools to begin to answer. The odd thing is that while there, I was able to manipulate events in ‘Nixon World’ and bring things to pass or find lost items. Naked shamanism, really. I’m glad to have found my way out.

    Every week in the Liturgy we confess the Creed: ‘I believe in One God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and in all things visible and invisible. Why we have lost the Invisible component is still kind of a mystery to me.

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  39. What is accessible and legal is to do as I did just now is to listen to “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd. Have not overdosed on that one yet. Always it is good therapy. May try some Philip Glass or Arvo Part later on, especially his Tabula Rasa, for an extended trance. Music does a lot for me.

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  40. Great to see so much dialogue on the topic here. Michael Thomas Bell directed me to this discussion. I had my first psychedelic experience three years ago at age 56 when I experimented with psilocybin in a trip that was safe and supervised. I can honestly say it was the most enlightening and spiritual experience of my life. I devoted a chapter to it in my new book My Year of Living Spiritually: One Woman’s Secular Quest for a More Soulful life, in which I experimented with 24 spiritual practices, including magic mushrooms. https://www.amazon.ca/My-Year-Living-Spiritually-Wonderful-One/dp/1771622334

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  41. Unfortunately, anything about pscychedelics and therapy/studies flies right in the face of the War On Drugs, of which the DEA, Donald Trump, and Christians are the number-one fanboys.

    And anything “psych”… With a lot of Christians there is NO difference between Christianity and Scientology when it comes to Psychology. NO difference between Biblical Counseling(TM) and Dianetic Auditing(TM) And the Vast Conspiracy.

    When I was a kid, my grandmother subscribed to Prevention Magazine. From reading her Preventions, I found that the Vast Medical Conspiracy angle is a sure indicator of quackery. Once the vitriol spews about the Vast Conspiracy of The Medical Establishment/Big Pharma/Big Psych, start hearing the sound of ducks.

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  42. Well, if your Gospel’s a Hellfire-and-Damnation Gospel…

    Remember when “Beyond and Back” NDE travelogues first became a fad? Within a couple months Christians had jumped on the bandwagon with a twist — the Christian NDE travelogues all focused on “Hell Trip” NDEs.

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  43. It may be that the bad trip is indicative of the spiritual angst or religious perspectives of the tripper. It may also be individual sensitivity to the chemical. “state and setting” is important–which as a virgin I would not do without the assistance of a trained therapist.

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  44. One of the funniest bits in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ was when Pegg and Frost are stumbling through the main street of their town and encounter a stereotypical Establishment middle-management sort of Tory and it takes them a non-trivial amount of time to establish that he isn’t a zombie.

    I think that this was the point of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (both the original and the remake) as well.

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  45. > I suspect that’s what’s going on here

    Agree. Taking the signal out the noise is a large part of what a healthy brain does, and why we have all those “filters”.

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  46. Not at human command, or under human control, or subject to any human method or technique. That’s one reason why science lacks the means to prove or disprove God’s existence.

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  47. > i’d as soon associate with Jefress as with the Cheshire Cat <

    Naw, I'd take the Cheshire Cat any day over Jeffres and the delusional fundagelicals –who might be affected positively by ingesting some shrooms.

    I sympathise with you in the death of your friend. I also lost a friend to covid who worked at Lowe's and always wore his mask. As far as I'm concerned the 'Publicans are the Walking Dead. Alice at 10' is much more aware of reality.

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  48. On the idea that the fact that psychedelics can make you “see God”, I think this is incoherent. If there were developed a medicine that enabled colourblind people to see in colour, the fact that seeing colours was medically induced would be irrelevant to whether the colours seen genuinely existed. What would determine that would be if what the person saw was consistent with what people who could see colours naturally saw when looking at the same thing.
    If the “God experience” is to an extent consistent across cultures and belief systems, this suggests some objective reality to it, but of course it may be a real psychological state innate to being human.
    It is a standard of religious mysticism of all faiths that our perception of reality is distorted – bad habits of thought and misconceptions etc blind us to reality. If psychedelics essentially temporarily confuse shut down the thoughts and mental habits that block our perception of underlying reality then it would not be surprising if, amongst the confused mess they also cause, a brief glimpse of that reality might surface. The problem, though, is that in general the glimpse will fade but the confused mess also caused remains.

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  49. In the case of the psilocybin studies the dose is “micro” and not all subjects “trip.” My understanding is that the studies indicate that of those who “trip” (either psilocybin or acid) about 1 in 10 don’t have a nice trip.

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  50. What these studies (and others) seem to show is that there are parts of our brains responsible for religious experiences. What they can’t determine, of course, is whether that part of our brains is there because there’s actually a God to interact with or just because those experiences have some evolutionary benefit.

    There are other circumstances when a part of our brain can “light up” with intense but content-less activity – e.g. I’ve had a few experiences of a high fever causing me to see algebraic equations in my head that turned out not to make any sense once the fever was gone. I suspect that’s what’s going on here – it’s like the drug has cranked up the volume on the “receiver” in someone’s head for experiencing God, but what’s coming out of the receiver may well be nothing but static.

    On the other hand, human beings are incredibly good at putting up defenses between ourselves and God to keep from experiencing God or hearing God’s voice. So maybe the drugs are dropping people’s defenses and God is saying, “Well, while I have you here there *are* a few things I’d like to talk about…” 🙂

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  51. Some people will say that in their experience they have seen God. Others will say they have seen and interacted with “teachers.” Others will say they have seen Reality. And, some will say they have seen Hell.

    Psychedelics seem to effect “gate keeper” pathways in our neurology which “filter” information allowing/mediating that which is deemed important to rise to consciousness. So, the psychedelic effect is to inhibit the “gate keepers” thus allowing the background to rise to the foreground.

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  52. >> I don’t see that the effectiveness of psychedelics would make any difference to answering the philosophical question regarding the existence or nonexistence of God and/or transcendent reality; <<

    I don't think psychedelics have anything to do with answering that question at either a philosophical or scientific level. No one has yet to either prove or disprove God and/or transcendent reality. When it's all said and done the only answer is on the subjective level.

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  53. I also am moderated, but likely for good reason – my comment was a bit of a rant (a friend’s father is dead of covid
    and I’m upset)

    I hope they let you out, Robert

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  54. I use “literacy” as the opposite of “illiterate”, that is, inability to read the printed words.

    Language/narrative has been foundational to all cultures. Readin’ and writin’ have not been.

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  55. any shroom and any rabbit-hole in a pandemic?

    . . . go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall . . . ?

    i’d as soon associate with Jefress as with the Cheshire Cat;
    and the fundagelical queen’s crowd screaming ‘Off with their heads’ or is it ‘Lock ’em up’

    we are already down the rabbit hole people, how the heck to we get out of here and back to Normal, USA,

    or as Senator Cornyn (R-TX) speaks of ‘normal’, this:
    “The reactions from GOP senators, who generally are careful to stick closely to Trump, range from those offering support for Krebs to those openly breaking with Trump’s decision to fire him.

    “It’s the president’s prerogative but I think it just adds to the confusion and chaos, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like some return to a little bit more of a — I don’t even know what’s normal anymore. We’ll call it the next normal,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).f”

    where is the ‘standard’ now among evangelical people on the importance of the life of even a single person????

    What homage is so intense that people cannot realize that wearing a mask PROTECTS the wearer and the ones near him/her? Or is devotion to DT so overriding that even that ‘bit of science’ doesn’t compute?

    and ‘lugenpresse’ (sp?) or ‘fake news’ is now the excuse not to face growing concerns about how trumpism has hurt the Christian witness of the WHOLE CHURCH?

    how do we get from Wonderland is my question,
    not ‘where can I find ‘shrooms’ and see God’

    the ‘unreality’ has no place when a quarter of a million Americans are dead of a virus that so many ‘good people’ see as a ‘hoax’ – dear God, help us find our way back out of this strange land to some form of responsible humane behavior in a troubled world

    sorry for rant(s), but good grief, enough of paranoid extremist delusions and alt-right-wrongs against ‘the others’ – enough already –

    time for some ‘humility’, Alice can have her ten-feet height,
    I’m going out to the garden and sit for a while in peace and hope for better to come

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  56. Yes!

    I’ve never used LSD or psilocybin because the street varieties don’t seem safe in my thinking. Also, when young I heard so much anti-drug hysteria I developed a fear of such. However, the studies indicate that the beneficial effects are stupendous.

    Note; about 1/10 in the studies that do “trip” will have more a vision of hell than heaven.

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  57. > If it works, it works.

    Agree.

    > I don’t see that the effectiveness of psychedelics would make any difference to
    > answering the philosophical question

    Agree. I’ve listened and I’ve read… and I don’t get it. All the brains are human, introducing a foreign substance causes them to glitch in very similar ways. That’s the entire basis of using pharmaceuticals for all kinds of purposes; they don’t prove anything other than the vulnerability of our biology to manipulation.

    > It’s good that this avenue of research is reopening after decades

    Yes. And it is a good if some people’s quality-of-life has improved.

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  58. You use the word literacy, but if you are referring to language in general, I disagree, Tom. All experience is narrated. Sacred story and sacred mushrooms go hand-in-hand in the ancient wisdom ways. The purpose of undertaking a vision quest facilitated by psychedelics or other means among tribal cultures was to come back with a story that transformed one’s life and provided lasting direction in the personal and communal spiritual journeys. Language was intrinsic to making sense and meaning of hallucinogen induced religious visions.

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  59. If it works, it works. But I don’t see that the effectiveness of psychedelics would make any difference to answering the philosophical question regarding the existence or nonexistence of God and/or transcendent reality; that psychedelics work — if they do — does not answer that question. Much more research is needed regarding whether or not psychedelics have a net positive affect on human psychology. It’s good that this avenue of research is reopening after decades of prohibitive restrictions; but let’s hope the researchers keep a keen eye open for the dark side of the psychedelic experience as they conduct their studies. However the research goes, I will remain unconvinced that psychedelics, or anything else, can “make you see God”; as Karl Barth indicated, God is not subject to command performances.

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  60. I would assert that literacy is often a block to our experience of the Divine. Literacy creates a block or filter between myself and the Other…literally, it causes an objectification. In contrast, psychedelics can produce the opposite; instead of I/object a perspective of I/thou/we results.

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  61. “If God-experiences can be induced by psychedelic drugs, then are they only a phenomena of the brain, and not real?”
    __________________

    Why the assertion that phenomena of the brain is NOT “real?” Don’t Eastern philosophies view the brain as an organ, one that can be trained to, as it were, receive and process input that is not “normally” perceived? However we define “reality” the reality is that it is our brain that organizes and processes the inputs from our body interface and gives meaning to those nerve signals. Not to mention the various hormones and chemicals produced by organs in the brain; hypothalamus, pineal gland, and the pituitary. I know because of a life-time of experience that certain pharmaceutical compounds taken orally produce a notable effect within my brain that makes me a better person and more capable of enjoying life. I think that is “real.”

    Anyway, I understand Mike to be axing that question as a discussion starter.

    Like

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