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.