A story released by Reuters on March 4 presents a hypothesis set forth by Benny Shanon, a professor of psychology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem that the spectacular display at Mt. Sinai was a result of “an altered state of awareness” caused by the effects a hallucinogenic plant called ayahuasca.
According the article published in the British journal, Time and Mind, Shanon posits that “in advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation . . . one often feels that in seeing light, one is encountering the ground of all Being . . . many identify this power as God.”
Where does one begin with such a claim from a well-educated professor at a prominent University in the middle east? Well, for one this is really more of the same when it comes to discounting Biblical accounts. There always seems to be a reason why it [whatever Biblical account] didn’t actually happen as the text said it happened. In this case, the explanation is that the Israelites were high on drugs – all of them (millions, hundred of thousands?), at the exact same time, with the exact same hallucination. Fascinating! Why not just believe the text? It so much easier. How about Mr. Shanon’s credibility on the subject? In all fairness, we should consider him a credible source regarding the effects of the ayahuasca plant. He has written a work on the subject published by Oxford University Press. But more compelling is that he claims that he himself has “partaken of the . . . brew about 160 times in various locales and contexts.” Credible source indeed.