On Faith And Hallucinogenic Substances.

I happened to read two articles this weekend that had an unintended relationship.  One in the New Yorker was by a doctor who experimented with drugs for a few years, then quit.  He wrote in detail about what appeared in front of him while under the influence.  Images and people appeared having detailed conversations.  It required considerable effort to admit the images were not real.

Then, I read a critique of the Bible’s “Paul” in an atheist magazine.  Saul of Tarus saw magical phantasms and spectacular lights shining from heaven.  Paul later was overwhelmed by a conversion from the group he was kicked out of to his only other option,  a new church.

Those who study such things say rains and climate conditions in that part of the world during the first century were good  for hallucinogenic fungi.  It was written about at the time.

Apollonius, a contemporary of both Jesus and Paul wrote that the men of Tarus, Paul’s hometown, were getting drunk from water of River Cydnus.  Paul, himself, preached abandonment of drinking water and drinking wine.  Later writers changed the original message to advise against drinking only water.

We would all agree when someone today claims to have had a vision like those of Paul, we write them off as either under the influence or not quite right.  But, when it is an ancient person in the Bible with no corroborating witness, many treat it as historical fact.

There are those of us who doubt the visions reported in the Bible.

32 Responses

  1. Henry

    Jon: “Those who study such things say rains and climate conditions in that part of the world during the first century were good for hallucinogenic fungi.”

    It is very difficult to imagine Jon would take this leap of faith in this theory when he can’t even grasp the veracity of the written word of the Bible that is well documented and founded. The atheist’s reasoning mind is not thinking consistently.

    1. Stan

      So Apollonius you believe in, but Christ and Paul’s conversion you don’t. I am beginning to think you are pro-anyone but Christ.

      1. Stan 1:01 Apparently, there is a little bit of coroberation about a wet climate in that area of the world at that time. That’s not much, but it’s something. When Paul was all by himself during the conversion, nothing. Plus, we have a motive for Paul, he couldn’t go home. And, the visions, are you telling me you believe all the various people who tell us Jesus appeared to them?

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Jon; your “When Paul was all by himself during the conversion, nothing.” Actually, If you had read Acts 9, vs. 7&8, you would have known; vs. 7, “And (THE MEN WHO TRAVELED WITH HIM) stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. Vs. 8; And saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing: and leading him by the hand, (THEY) brought him into Damascus”. It may not be much to you, but it is something.

          1. Wanna 2:51 re: Several were present when Paul had his conversion experience…

            Yes, and, “many saw the corpus'”, dead for a long time, who came up out of their graves at the time of the crusifixition. Your are correct it doesn’t mean much to me.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Pretty weak. Where did you get the info that Paul “was all by himself”? You evidently believe that Paul, had an experience. This proves you accept the Bible, but re-create the parts you don’t like. Based on what? Did you get your info from your comedy writers down at the little Freethinkers club house? (“Let’s try this, and see if it will stick”). This method has been tried before with horse manure; If you throw enough, some of it will stick to the wall, and then you can build on that. Leno and Letterman also have comedy writers. Sometimes they bomb out, as did this last attempt of yours. But when that happens to them, they sometimes admit it.

          3. Wanna 2:16 “Sometimes they bomb out..”

            Would you care to comment on the reality of the corspes that walked out of their graves and all those who saw them? You passed up one opportunity so I’ll give you another.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Jon; Another cute diversion from your claims that Paul was all alone on the way to Damascus. By the way, where did you come up with that? You didn’t ‘splain that. As for the risen dead, that would get my attention, as I’m sure it would you also. That would help to answer why so many went to “The Way” shortly after.There are many things neither you or I can explain. Scientifically or not. I’m not loosing any sleep over it. Are you?

        2. Stan

          And at the time of the conversion Paul WAS doing work commissioned by the Jewish Council. He was heading to Demascus to persecute the Christians. What do you mean he couldn’t go back. Jon, you can have your own opinions but you cannot make up your own Bible.

          A second consideration is that Apollinous while supposedly living for the entire first century only has one possible contemporary mention in historical documents before the second century and most we know about him comes from the fourth. Supposedly he spent 70 years doing greater miracles and magic then Christ during his life time but is almost unknown now.

          THAT is the person you believe over a Bible which was started soon after the death and Resurrection and basically complete by the end of the first century, just needing to be brought together into one collection.

        3. Stan

          Many visions but not all. Some claim visions for their own profit. Those I would not believe. We are called to study revelations to the faithful against the Gospel and the Scriptures and to reject that which is not faithful to the Word.

          1. Stan 12:09 “Many visions but not all. Some claim visions for their own profit. Those I would not believe. We are called to study revelations to the faithful againt the Gospel and the Scriptures and to reject that which is not faithful to the Word.”

            You are saying then, if someone’s vision sees give the correct message, it is a legitimate vision. If the person’s visions is of something that does not reinforce the message, it is not something real. In all due respect, if ever there were a statement that better made the case for skepticism, I don’t know what it would be.

          2. Stan

            “If the person’s visions is of something that does not reinforce the message, it is not something real.” If the vision contradicts scripture we ARE to believe it? You do know why the Devil is called the Great Deceiver don’t you? He can provide “visions” also. If we cannot reconcile those “visions” with Scripture, of course it is false. Of course you welcome any explanation as long as it is non-Christian.

            We have been provided what we need Jon. anything else is just amplification.

          3. Stan

            And you still haven’t weaseled your way out of explaining how you feel that Paul HAD to convert because he was already thrown out of the Jewish faith, that he was alone when it happened, and you believe the claims of Apollonius.

            From the original post “Paul later was overwhelmed by a conversion from the group he was kicked out of to his only other option, a new church.” What have you been smoking. Paul was on his “A” game. He had just requested permission from the Jewish Council for permission to persecute Christians OUTSIDE of Judea and was given it. He was a highly regarded Pharisee having studied with some of the greats of his time. He had witnessed the stoning of St Stephen and held the coats of those participating. He was on his way to the TOP! Why should he convert! You are making things up again Jon.

            Any rebuttal on Appolinous? We are curious about the strength of your belief in his existence but not Christs.

          4. Stan 10:32 Appolinous?

            My impression is there remains much more agreement who wrote the writings attributed to Appolinus than there is as to who the authors of the gospels were.

  2. Skeptic Septic

    I have heard lots of arguments against faith but a wet climate and funny fungi have to be the most faith-filled one to date. One has to have an inordinate faith in the fractional (or is it fictional?) science of that argument. Perhaps there is hope for Jon since he is now a man of faith. Or a man of funny fungi himself.

  3. entech

    I have mentioned before my thoughts that as most seemed to disappear into caves and mountains for forty days at a time a diet of mushrooms would affect their visions and revelations. I heard a good one the other day revelation is code for we made it up.

    1. entech 2:08 “…most seemed to disappear into cave and mountains for forty days at a time a diet of mushrooms would affect their visions and revelations.”

      If the halucsinations reinforced what people already believed, they were real. If not, the person was just high on mushrooms.

    2. Wanna B Sure

      Entech; It does happen; “God spoke to me last night, and told me to——“. Works the same with you and Jon, only in your cases, it would be; “And so I said to myself; Self”, “So help me, Me”. (That being you).

      1. entech

        as I say speak to God all you like, when you start getting answers – be afraid.
        Actually I don’t talk to myself, except when answering you 🙂

        1. Wanna B Sure

          Hmmmm; Sounds like you’re starting to crack. “Except” is the camel’s nose. Familiar with “They’re coming to take me away”?

          1. entech

            just taking a leaf from your book ol friend. You frequently say things like – I have told you before, you choose not to hear, and so on: well I have told you lots of things but you refuse to hear so I must be talking to myself 🙂 It seems you can’t hear because your will is bound to your belief.

          2. entech

            Spin? you spin so far and so fast that you must be dizzy. I am surprised you can stand straight – time and again you demonstrate that you cannot think straight. Pity really you used to be so interesting.

  4. Wanna B Sure

    Jon; Re. Paul and wine. To timothy for health reasons. Also against drunkeness. (moderation). I’m also confident the plain water could have contained germs. The same in Europe, where water was a conduit for disease. Wine and beer were the only beverage that was discovered/considered to be safe. Would anyone drink contaminated water downstream from a sewage outlet knowingly? No. I remember years ago when we had a new well dug, they recomended it be far away from the barnyard due to the “juices” seep down into the well, (usually pit wells at the time), not deep wells. Surface ground water could easily be contaminated. Again, and again Jon you have problems with context, and the entirety of book and chapter. It appears that just about anything you say cannot be trusted, or be considered reliable. Your abuse of these issues around Paul, and continual dodging of the issues you brought up proves it. Your coyness prevents meaningfull discussion.

    1. Stan

      Water was always mixed with wine. The alcohol would make the water safe. There was no sewage treatment plants at that time. The sewers ran right into the rives and streams to be used at the next town for water needs. Jon and several others seem to forget there was a LOT less known about sanitation and the causes of disease at that time then now. I would say modern medicine didn’t really start until the work of Lister and how medicine worked until Pasteur and the other beginning microbiologists.

    2. Wanna 12:40 re: Water and wine

      That was my point, Paul advocated drinking wine because it was safer. The river in his home town, where he might have drank the water, had the halucinogenic molds. Maybe he saw others seeing wierd things and wondered about the authenticity of his own.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Jon; Molds a very remote possibility. Bacteria more likely, as in most of the world. Your original post did not have the point you now try to present. You said “drunk”, then tried to apply it to an implied change in doctrine/teaching, which it wasn’t.

      2. Stan



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