In an excerpt from his book Drugs: The Science and Culture of Psychotropic Drugs at The Atlantic, Richard J. Miller examines the claim that intense religious experience, and religion itself, can be traced back to the consumption of hallucinogenic drugs, or, “entheogenic” drugs.
It’s hard to deny that there is a strong connection between religion and these substances, with, as Miller notes, countless references to particular drugs in various religious texts (from “soma” in Hindu scripture to “the drug of forgetfulness” in The Odyssey), and considering the “spiritual” impact psychotropics have been shown to have. Take this bit of research by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert cited by Miller:
On Good Friday 1962, two groups of students received either psilocybin or niacin (a nonhallucinogenic “control” substance) on a double-blind basis prior to the service in Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. [Read more...]