Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Israeli Scientist Finally Explains How God Spoke To Moses On Mt. Sinai: He Was Popping Acid

I had literally thought that the Marianna-Trench-rivaling depths of desperate scientific straw-grasping had been reached. And I thought it ended with the pallid explanation of the parting of the Red Sea, in which historians and scientists alike say that God's syntax error misappropriates trillions of gallons of water, and that the Children of Israel actually crossed the "Reed Sea," in ankle-deep marsh water (although there is a certain logical chaudenfreude to be had from a theory that then has to explain how pharaoh's army was lung-bubbled in the kiddie-end of the pool. So far, no takers).

And today, thanks to alert reader and behind-the scenes news-feeder of yours truly, Steve, I see that I am wrong, wrong, and wrong again. It seems yet another alumnus of "Team Satan" has weighed in with his own research, and has apparently de-mystified for us the conversational roots of the Ten Commandments:

JERUSALEM (AFP) - High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

Wow. Maybe, it's just an "enhancement theory." Maybe the good Dr. Shanon's pharmacologically-based assertions are the needed "bridge" to get him over the theological hump here. Let's keep reading:

As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.
Nope. I held out hope for two paragraphs. The erstwhile teetotaler Shanon managed to get his digs in elsewhere, too, and most likely did not remove his shoes to do so, either:

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

"The Bible says people see sounds, and that is a classic phenomenon," he said citing the example of religious ceremonies in the Amazon in which drugs are used that induce people to "see music."

Now I at least understand the feverish and stupid mathematical contortions used to scare my kids into saving the rainforest. Cut it down and no more Ralph Waldo Emerson epiphanies:
He mentioned his own experience when he used ayahuasca, a powerful psychotropic plant, during a religious ceremony in Brazil's Amazon forest in 1991. "I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations," Shanon said.

And lastly:
He said the psychedelic effects of ayahuasca were comparable to those produced by concoctions based on bark of the acacia tree, that is frequently mentioned in the Bible.

Sure, sure. Coherent, six-thousand-year-old prophecies with ever-synergizing historical merit always emanate from Haight-Ashbury love-ins and the side effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. What if it were true? We'd be arguing the constitutional viability of Madeline Murray O’Hare’s throwing of Electric Light Orchestra retrospectives out of the public school classroom, and listening to the street preacher extol the scriptural mandate to imbibe Mickey Mouse stamps during communion.

Really, Dr. Shanon should answer the following question. Which came first, the drug, or the drug-induced scientific theory?



stu said...

Ron, I wrote that professor and wonder if he'll reply from his Ivory tower in Israel:

Professor Shanon,

Since when do people on mind-altering drugs produce moral documents of clarity such as the Ten Commandments? Surely you don't propose to undermine the entire tenants of Jewish and Christian faith by your pronouncement of "I don't believe?" I don't see how anyone can begin to explain away supernatural events in the scriptures with the notion that narcotics were involved.


aahrens said...

There's just not much to say about this - I can only set and shake my head. Is it just me, or are some of the strangest people academics? Makes me want to change my profession for fear of becoming like them.