I seriously doubt Moses was high

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Benny Shanon from Hebrew University argues that Moses was taking psychedelics when he saw the burning bush, etc.:
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.

"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.

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


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.

I'm pretty ignorant of the religious practices of the pre-covenant Israelites, and it's certainly undeniable that intoxicant/psychedelic use is a common feature of a number of religions. That said, I don't really see the point of looking for natural explanations for events in the Bible (for instance, this article arguing that the 10 plagues in Exodus were caused by a volcanic eruption.

What's weird about efforts like this is that they're simultaneously religious and anti-religious. Trying to provide a natural explanation for religious history fundamentally undercuts the religious claims, which rely on supernatural explanations. The Bible pretty clearly says that God spoke to Moses (Ex 3:4). If you believe Moses was just hallucinating, what does that say about God? On the other hand, once you deny the special status of the Bible, then why bother trying to explain the stories at all. It's not like the Bible is this uniquely consistent book of history with just a few mythological pieces. On the contrary, even even the history is to a large degree unverifiable stuff that people only believe because of their preexisting religious (or ethnopolitical) commitments. If you've abandoned those commitments, there's no more need to try to provide scientific explanations for biblical events than there is to provide a scientific explanation of how Sauron crafted the One Ring.


As long as you have people figuring out the tensile strength of scrith, you'll have people trying to explain things like this.

And so it came to pass that Moses came to the Israelites saying 'thou shalt not bogart the smoke, nor shall thou pass a pipe that is cashed without refilling thereof while there is weed amongst you, for as it is written, the smoke shall be passed from left unto right until the last generation until cashed.'

It's not like the Bible is this uniquely consistent book of history with just a few mythological pieces. On the contrary, even even the history is to a large degree unverifiable stuff

That issue is where the problem is.

Technically you are correct in claiming that most of the biblical stories are unverifiable, and so in any "God did X" case there's not much point taking the "X" part more seriously than the "God" part.

But the general attitude is that the bible IS an historical book, and that most events described are history.
Here in Israel, that point is repeated many times even in the non-religious school, and parts of the bible are often taught not as "bible/religious studies" but as (paraphrasing) "historical legacy of the people of Israel" or somesuch.

In most cases the issue, of whether the non-fantastical events described in the bible really happened, doesn't even come up; Even most secular people tend to take it as a given.

Tell someone "Moses didn't meet with God on mount Sinai" and they'll say you're not a believer.
Tell someone "There was no Moses, and nobody walked for 40 years in a tiny desert, and while at it they then didn't camp next to mount Sinai" and they'll say you're crazy in deep denial of documented ancient history.

BTW (and off-topic), there's something wrong with your MoveableType installation. Trying to preview my comment (with the supplied Preview button) fails with an error:

Publish error in template 'Comment Preview Template': Error in tag: Error in tag: The MTCommentFields tag is no longer available; please include the Comment Form template module instead.

Not so fast to discard the possibility. Read Huston Smith on World Religions and his book 'Cleansing the Doors to Perception" Read the classic "Varieties of Religios Exp." by the great Dr. Wm James. The Zoroastrians used Haoma, the Vedas praise Soma, the use of consciousness altering plANTS IN SHAMANISM, ETC IS UNIVERSAL. tHE ANCIENTS, KNEW ABOUT HASHISH, OPIUM, MANDRAKE, HENBANE, DATURAS, sYRIAN rUE, wORMWOOD AND MUCH MORE. READ UP ON 'kYKEON" IN THE eLYSINIAN mYSTERIES. eVEN TODAY, OCCASDINALY A HIKER IN iSRAEL IS BROUGHT TO THE HOSPITAL BECAUSE A BEDOIN TOLD HIM ABOUT A PLANT IN THE DESERT'SHIKRON hamidbar'. .. 'Cannabis" is a cognate of Arabic "Kanbas" (canvas/hemp) and the Hebrew 'Kene Besom', an ingredient of the Holy annointing oil.(fragrant cane) Fascinating subject, do not apply your own biases. The www.CSP.org site worth perusing.Read "Breaking Open the Head"

Not so fast in denying the possibility. Read the classic "Varieties of Religious Exp." by the great Dr. William, James. Read Huston Smith 'Cleansing the Doors to Perception" The Ancients knew about Hashish, opium, henbane, wormwood, daturas, even today some hikers in Israel occasinaly overdose on a plant the bedoin tell them about, 'Shikiron hamidbar' Kene beson' was an ingredient of the Annointing Oil. -a cognate of Arabic 'Kanbas'- (canvas/hemp) and 'Kannabis'. Soma. Haoma. Kykeon. used in Zoroastrian, Vedic, 'God's Flesh' or 'Food of the Gods".

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