Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Religion, God, transcendence, spirituality: do these things exist independently of the human mind or are they products of neurochemical firings of the brain? When Saul had his revelatory experience on the road to Damascus, had he fallen under the spell of a seizure, as some have claimed, or was it a flash of the divine that caused his conversion to Christianity? When Fyodor Dostoevsky experienced the self-transcendent moment he describes below, was he momentarily elevated into a mysterious mystical realm or was he having a fit of temporal lobe epilepsy?
The air was filled with a big noise and I tried to move. I felt the heaven was going down upon the earth and that it engulfed me. I have really touched God. He came into me myself, yes God exists, I cried, and I don’t remember anything else. You all, healthy people . . . can’t imagine the happiness which we epileptics feel during the second before our fit . . . I don’t know if this felicity lasts for seconds, hours or months, but believe me, for all the joys that life may bring, I would not exchange this one.
Over at the Atlantic, two scientists and doctors–the renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks and radiologist Richard Gunderman–are debating these fascinating questions.
In his new book Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks writes, “One must wonder to what extent hallucinatory experiences have given rise to our art, folklore, and even religion.” In his recent piece for the Atlantic titled “Seeing God in the Third Millenium,” he went on to argue:
Hallucinations, whether revelatory or banal, are not of supernatural origin; they are part of the normal range of human consciousness and experience. This is not to say that they cannot play a part in the spiritual life, or have great meaning for an individual. Yet while it is understandable that one might attribute value, ground beliefs, or construct narratives from them, hallucinations cannot provide evidence for the existence of any metaphysical beings or places. They provide evidence only of the brain’s power to create them.
When I interviewed Sacks for a profile, his words were slightly softer: “There is always a brain basis for these various religious states, although this says nothing of the meaning or value of hallucinations. I don’t think it’s at all reductive.”
Continue reading at Acculturated.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Traditionalist conservatives who feared the Drug War would take a lax, hopey change turn under Obama have instead found a tougher clone of the previous administrations. In an aeon in which their president mostly fills them with dread, they should celebrate the day’s Boardwalk Empire-style prohibitionist surge.
This morning’s announcement by four California officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that hundreds of pot shops have been ordered to close down marks the most serious attempt, to date, to eradicate the state’s medical-marijuana industry.
They told press and angry advocates that the new crackdown will initially go after ”pot shops located close to schools, parks, sports fields and other places where there are a lot of children and … ‘significant commercial operations’ … [including] includes farmland where marijuana is being grown.” But from there on out, it’s free game.
The Drug Policy Alliance is furious: They just blasted a press release titled “Obama Administration’s Medical Marijuana Policies Now Worse Than Bush and Clinton Policies” — and they’re pretty spot on.
Dear Professor Mary Grabar,
I hope you’re doing well and I do ever so look forward to collaborating with you in the future here at PJM.
I would like to revisit an old debate that you and I had back in December of 2009 regarding marijuana legalization and the difference between the political Left and the Counterculture.
Almost two years after our first discussion on the subject I believe the evidence is more abundant than ever that I am correct in my revised theses that:
A) Tea Party conservatives should not support the federal government spending billions of taxpayer dollars to try and prevent people from becoming drug addicts.
B) Barack Obama and the movement he represents are most accurately understood as Marxist, not Countercultural.
Let’s work our way backwards on these two points — from the nature of our enemies on to the values that you and I share in spite of our very different cultural backgrounds. On the next pages I’m going to state my case on these matters and welcome your rebuttal to help refine the bold propositions. I’m also certain that PJM’s commenting community will no doubt have some perceptive analyses of these issues.