Everyone Knows God Comes in a Suppository

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OK, so maybe psilocybin can "occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance," but is that the same as seeing God? No, the CBC reports, in a story headlined "Mystical Magic Mushroom Experience Not God in a Pill." Quoting a theologian (presumably because God did not respond to requests for an interview), the CBC explains that "magic mushrooms taken by hippies do produce mystical experiences, but they should not be confused with faith." University of Toronto theologian Dave Reed has this to say regarding the Johns Hopkins study that prompted the news media's sudden interest in psychoactive fungi: "All this did was stimulate that part of the human personality that produced certain feeling states and altered states of consciousness. Those are no criteria for an authentic encounter with God."

The CBC failed to ask the obvious follow-up question: What are the criteria for an authentic encounter with God? According to Deuteronomy (13:1-4 and 18:22), they are as follows:

1) Any predictions based on the encounter have to come true.

2) Any messages derived from the encounter must be compatible with God's earlier commandments.

In addition to casting doubt on the authenticity of mushroom-eating hippies' encounters with God, these criteria seem to render Christianity (and Islam) invalid.

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  1. this isn’t god, this isn’t god
    this isn’t god, this isn’t god
    god is just a statistic
    god is just a statistic

    god is a number you cannot count to
    you are posthuman and hardwired

  2. What about when a woman calls out for God during sex? Is she seeing him, or simple comparing the experience?

  3. According to Oberlin Philosopher Paul F Schmidt (_Religious Knowledge_), God experiences can be distinguished from drug experiences by a subsequent hangover.

  4. TPG:

    No, she’s simply addressing her partner. That is if I’m nailing her.

  5. Since you mentioned “suppository” in the title, I can just barely wedge this anecdote in on the thread. God has seen fit to save me from gray hair and decaying eyesight as I age, only to inflict hemorroids, which must be treated with Preparation H suppositories. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has three warnings on the package reminding users to remove the foil wrapper before applying: two on the box and one on the foil itself. Think about a world in which that particular warning is necessary the next time you wonder why everything is in the mess it is.

  6. Blind men in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there, arguing over the illuminating qualities of a particular flashlight.

  7. Anyone interested in this kind of thing should check out “Zen and the Brain”, by James Austin (MIT Press). Austin is an emeritus professor of neurology someplace, and a Zen practitioner since the 60s. He’s pretty old now.

    He looks at phenomena experienced by meditators, and similar phenomena experienced under other conditions (drug use, induced brain lesions, etc) and tries to come up with some testable hypotheses about what meditation does to the brain.

  8. “All this did was stimulate that part of the human personality that produced certain feeling states and altered states of consciousness. Those are no criteria for an authentic encounter with God.”

    Or alternatively an “authentic encounter” with God is another way of stimulating that same part of the human personality, perhaps because that individual is prone to hallucinations.

  9. What I find perplexing about the warnings on Preparation H is the warning not to use it if you’re on antidepressants.

    Preparation H is psychoactive?

  10. I thought William James laid out the criteria for religious experiences way back in 1902. Someone’s a little behind the times.

  11. Karen,
    You should get in touch with Wonko the Sane

  12. Preparation H is psychoactive?

    That sounds like a question for Preparation H Raymond.

  13. Taking drugs to achieve a communion with ghod? Nonsense. Everyone knows that the only way to do this is to deprive yourself of food and sleep. Then the chemical changes in your brain occur naturally.

    Kevin

  14. Remember kids: If you’re talking to God, you’re praying. If God’s talking to you, you’re schizophrenic.

  15. magic mushrooms taken by hippies do produce mystical experiences, but they should not be confused with faith.

    Because faith is what you have in the absence of ever having had a mystical experience.

    Faith means you believe in something you have never had any direct experience of.

    A full-on mystical experience means your religious belief isn’t mere faith, but is based on personal experience.

  16. Funny isn’t that they restricted the studies to people that are religious and then those people had “religious experiences”.

    The researchers chose subjects who were religious, believing they would be less troubled by mystic side-effects. They don’t yet know what would happen to subjects without spiritual beliefs.

  17. Everyone knows the only thing that produces a legitimate religious experience is red wine. Oh, and peyote, but only on Indian Rervations.

    Unless you’re in South America, in which case Ayahuasca is the way to go. And of course there’s Ibogaine in Africa…

  18. ” They don’t yet know what would happen to subjects without spiritual beliefs.”

    well, if you’re doing it right, you can have rival religious experiences. “hey, you got your BVM in my bodhisattva!”

  19. “In addition to casting doubt on the authenticity of mushroom-eating hippies’ encounters with God, these criteria seem to render Christianity (and Islam) invalid.”

    From an Jewish viewpoint, where that criteria comes from. They are invalid.

  20. R.C. Dean,

    Faith means you believe in something you have never had any direct experience of.

    That depends on the religious believer in question and the philosophical system you’re talking about.

  21. PL – I think our friend the theologian is falling into a category error. Experience is one thing, faith is something else altogether. Religious belief can be based on faith alone (if you’re an uptight theologian) or on mystical experiences (if you are fond of entheogens).

    Faith is belief in the absence of, or in the face of, evidence. Mystical experiences are evidence of something. Maybe a larger reality, maybe how our brains function. But faith and mystical experiences are categorically separate in almost every way.

    The theologian, likely out of an abundance of ignorance, seemed totally unaware of the fact that much religious belief isn’t based on preaching and thick black books full of tiny type.

  22. “In addition to casting doubt on the authenticity of mushroom-eating hippies’ encounters with God, these criteria seem to render Christianity (and Islam) invalid.”

    There’s no question that Christianity was a revision of Judaism; however, most believers, I think, distinguish between people’s understanding of God and God himself. Yes, there are many, even among the fundamentalists, who recognize that we’re all subject to perspective.

    Maybe I’m reacting to nothing. “Seem to render”–perhaps–until I consider the Book of Hebrews. …among other things.

    Because faith is what you have in the absence of ever having had a mystical experience.

    “Faith” has a lot of meanings–I think there’s more to it than that. Take a look at Hebrews 11.

  23. Dr. Farnsworth: “Have you all taken your suppositories?”

    Amy: “Yes. Stop asking!”

  24. OK, I understand rule #1, but rule #2 doesn’t make any sense. God can’t change Her mind? Of course She can, that’s how we know She’s a she!

  25. Think about a world in which that particular warning is necessary

    I am so quoting you.

  26. They don’t yet know what would happen to subjects without spiritual beliefs.

    In my experience, a lot of giggling and existential rambling.

  27. >They don’t yet know what would happen to subjects without spiritual beliefs.

    >>In my experience, a lot of giggling and existential rambling.

    In mine, the knowledge that I’m really just a locus of consciousness hovering about 5 feet above the ground.

  28. I’ve never had a religious experience on hallucenagens, just random wierdness in front of my eyes (or eyelids) and incoherant racing thoughts and pondering circular logic (this sentance is a lie) for some reason it makes sense when high but gives me a headache while sober.

  29. I’ve never had a religious experience on hallucenagens, just random wierdness in front of my eyes (or eyelids) and incoherant racing thoughts and pondering circular logic (this sentance is a lie) for some reason it makes sense when high but gives me a headache while sober.

  30. Timothy, I thought that, if God is talking to you, you are President of the United States.

  31. Everyone Knows God Comes in a Suppository

    I thought that God came inside the Virgin Mary.

  32. Faith is belief in the absence of, or in the face of, evidence.

    Consider this example of a classical ad hominem argument (which appeals to the opponent’s interests, rather than attacking him ; attacking would be contra hominem) :

    “I came back at this professor with an argumentum ad hominem, “Is it true,” said I, “that the more knowledge your wife has of you, the less faith she has in you? And is it true that the more you know of her, the less faith you have in her? In your home are faith and knowledge in inverse ratio? If so, I pity you both.” It is not true that knowledge excludes faith. The more you know of your family physician, the more faith you have in him. The more soldiers know of their general, the greater their faith in him; else the army is in a bad way. The more we know of our friends the more faith we have in them. The greater a man’s knowledge of nature, the greater his faith in nature. Intelligent faith is not weaker than ignorant faith.’

  33. Faith is belief in the absence of, or in the face of, evidence.

    Consider also Wittgenstein’s analysis, that what holds fast to belief is not faith, but love.

    http://home.att.net/~rhhardinj/wittgenstein.faith.txt

  34. Does this mean god’s not a libertarian? I mean if no subsequent revelation must respect prior revelation, there’s no chance of a repeal, so god’s laws (like ours) will accumulate over time, crowding out our freedoms?

  35. “Because faith is what you have in the absence of ever having had a mystical experience.”

    Hows that different from, say, believing any old shit for no good reason at all?

    Judiac Scripture and tradition very clearly outline a whole host of reasons why Jesus could not have been the messiah or even a prophet. Claims about a virgin birth or riding on two asses at once don’t have anything more to do with it than some watery tart throwing a sword at you.

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