Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

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DoubtingThomas
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Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#1

Post by DoubtingThomas » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:40 am

Hello everyone,

I am new here. I should probably state up front that I'm a Christian. Last night I was watching the Joe Rogan podcast and he was talking to a guest about the idea of Moses taking DMT (a powerful psychedelic drug) and I found it... disturbing (here's the relevant discussion). I haven't researched into this very much at all, but from what I found, DMT causes an intense experience in the user which resembles a "religious experience". Some people have stopped ceased being atheists after taking DMT, but... the funny thing is is that I find that more disturbing than if they clearly thought it was a silly hallucination. I've never taken DMT, but to my mind the experience caused by DMT is clearly internal, caused by the chemicals in the brain going crazy. If that chemical experience is so powerful that it convinces an atheist that there is a God then, again assuming the DMT experience isn't genuine contact with God, what's to say any or all other "religious experiences" aren't also caused by similar chemical activity in the brain e.g. Paul's vision on the road to Damascus. I also know that some shamans used to use drugs to "enter the spirit world". I have also read that DMT, which naturally occurs in our bodies, is released in our brains as we are dying - which could explain Near Death Experiences.

My own religion is not built on my own "religious experience" because I've never had any, but it is in a large part based on others' experiences (mainly from experiences recorded in the Bible, but reinforced by other people that I have read about and talked to). Now the validity of those experience seems highly suspect and that could potentially knock one of the pillars of my belief out from under me. I can recall feeling very disturbed when I heard about the theory that Paul's revelation on the road to Damascus could be explained by epilepsy, but for a reason I can no longer recall, I conveniently packed that thought away and moved on, but now it's back in full force. I find the idea of being able to induce "religious experience" very troubling. Shouldn't revelation be something that God imparts on us, not something we can do to ourselves?

I assume most posters here are Christians and this post is directed towards my fellow Christians. I know that I can't prove that Christianity is true and I accept that I might be wrong about my most cherished beliefs, but before I head down the dizzying rabbit trail of confronting the implications of my religious beliefs being potentially wrong (or - at the very least - the implications of me having to radically rethink things), I want to hear from fellow Christians. This is a philosophical question, but it also has very personal and emotional implications that can negatively impact my life, so please keep that in mind. For example, I should be doing my math homework right now, but I feel so awful about this that I just can't focus right now.

Has anyone here come to any conclusions about the relationship between DMT - or more generally - brain chemistry and religious experiences? Has anyone been able to reconcile or differentiate the concept of religious revelation from God and these powerful DMT-induced experiences? And, perhaps most importantly, has any respected Christian thinker written about this topic? I was hoping Francis Collins would have something to say, but I haven't been able to find anything. Any help is much appreciated.

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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#2

Post by Philip » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:16 pm

Hello, Doubting Thomas - welcome to GodandScience's forum! You'll find a lot of smart people here who you'll learn a lot from, and who will help you grow your faith.

First off, how did you find this forum?

As for your topic - go to this page to post new discussion topics: https://discussions.godandscience.org/ - just click the "New Topic" button on an appropriate category and post your topic. And on that same page, you'll find a good place to post about your introductory topic - in the "Questions for Christians" category: viewforum.php?f=3

Welcome!

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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#3

Post by DoubtingThomas » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:03 pm

Hello Philip and thank you for the welcome. I stumbled across this site during a Google search, looking for a place to discuss what's been on my mind.

I'm a little confused. Have I posted this topic in the wrong category? Should I re-post my opening post in the "Questions for Christians" category?

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1over137
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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#4

Post by 1over137 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:31 pm

Hello Thomas,

Welcome here. Hope you will enjoy.

Google search - that is how I ended here :)
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

#foreverinmyheart

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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#5

Post by 1over137 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:06 am

Dear Thomas,

It is not a new idea to me that people try to explain away religious experiences by drugs.
(I feel God's presence sometime and do not take any drugs :) )
I believe there are people who took something, and well, .... not a real faith. It is sad.

On the road to Damascus, Apostle Paul was tired and what not.
But notice also, that God appeared to Ananias and told him to go to Saul.
Why would he go? He knew who Saul was and was afraid he would be killed.
But he went.
What force has such power that someone go somewhere even if is afraid of being killed?

Moreover, Jesus' resurrection - was every witness running on something?
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Nicki (Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:36 am)
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
-- 1 Thessalonians 5:21

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
-- Philippians 1:6

#foreverinmyheart

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Stu
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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#6

Post by Stu » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:17 am

From the little I understand on the topic, it is pure speculation that DMT is released in the brain at death. There is no proof.

Maybe find some concrete proof or scientific study that demonstrates this (maybe you have in which case do share with the forum) rather then relying on speculation before making drastic changes to your religious views.

Atheists are always looking for ways to dismiss the supernatural, this is no different IMO.
Only when the blood runs and the shackles restrain, will the sheep then awake. When all is lost.

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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#7

Post by Nicki » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:48 am

Philip wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:16 pm
Hello, Doubting Thomas - welcome to GodandScience's forum! You'll find a lot of smart people here who you'll learn a lot from, and who will help you grow your faith.

First off, how did you find this forum?

As for your topic - go to this page to post new discussion topics: https://discussions.godandscience.org/ - just click the "New Topic" button on an appropriate category and post your topic. And on that same page, you'll find a good place to post about your introductory topic - in the "Questions for Christians" category: viewforum.php?f=3

Welcome!
Did someone move the thread already? y:-/

To help answer the question... what is a religious experience anyway? Something intense that you think must be from God? I don't think I've had any really intense ones myself - no visions or anything at least. However, Christianity is not supposed to be based on feelings but on what actually happened in the past - Jesus' life, death and resurrection, which are historically supported. Nothing can take away from that even if a drug or people's own brains have given them strange feelings sometimes. So don't get too worried yet :D
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1over137 (Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:18 pm)

Philip
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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#8

Post by Philip » Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:17 pm

What about all of the people who are intelligent, perfectly sober, don't do any kinds of drugs, who can articulately explain why they came to faith in Christ - did they hallucinate such? Really, people on mind-altering substances can experience just about anything - or say they did even if not true. And unbelievers will always try to explain away faith in God - are you going to be blown away by what people often say about God and Christianity. Note those disciples immediately post Jesus' Resurrection - they are terrified, sad, freaked out - they thought Jesus was the real deal only to find He's been killed on a Roman cross. And they're were great fear because they understandably figured they were likely next up on crosses, as the Jews knew who they were and were on a mission to stamp out this supposed "Jesus cult."

So, what is the only thing that could have immediately turned these scared, whimpering, defeated men into boldly preaching a risen Jesus, fully knowing they were risking His exact, same fate? There is only one realistic possibility, as these were not suicidal madmen - as we read their letters filled with a sober, serious, matter-of-fact, joyful preaching of a risen Christ that changed the world forever. Clearly, they saw the risen Christ for themselves - they didn't have to GUESS at whether Christ was still in a hidden grave somewhere - as they KNEW whether or not they'd actually seen Him alive and well! And that is why these men were immediately transformed into bold giants of history who changed the world for Christ! And all but the Apostle John went to their deaths as martyrs for Christ! Nutjobs might die for a lie they've bought into - but sober, intelligent men don't risk dying an unthinkably brutal death for a lie they KNOW isn't true!!! And Jesus disciples knew the truth of the matter.
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bippy123 (Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:38 pm)

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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#9

Post by bippy123 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:47 pm

Stu wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:17 am
From the little I understand on the topic, it is pure speculation that DMT is released in the brain at death. There is no proof.

Maybe find some concrete proof or scientific study that demonstrates this (maybe you have in which case do share with the forum) rather then relying on speculation before making drastic changes to your religious views.

Atheists are always looking for ways to dismiss the supernatural, this is no different IMO.
My research into dmt and their connection to ndes caused me to study them and as far as ndes are concerned dmt never has been shown to replicate the veridical aspects of veridical ndes .

As far as your Christian faith is concerned the Bible specifically warns us not to trust our feelings when it comes to our faith cause our feelIngs are fickle and can change at any moment .

If you want something more concrete just study the historical evidence for the resurrection , this was probably the main evidence that brought me back from my doubts .

In all the gospels it was the women that found the tomb of Christ empty and saw the resurrected Christ first . This is powerful because of the apostles were lying or even hallucinating and wanted to convince s first century Jewish audience that Jesus resurrected they never would have said the women saw Christ first as the testimony of women back then was worthless .

Also the Bible states Jesus appeared before 500 witnesses . Were they all on a dmt high ??
And all the apostles as well ????
Group hallucinations were also ruled out by modern psychologists

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Re: Experiences of God and Brain Chemistry

#10

Post by bippy123 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:42 pm

Philip wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 4:17 pm
What about all of the people who are intelligent, perfectly sober, don't do any kinds of drugs, who can articulately explain why they came to faith in Christ - did they hallucinate such? Really, people on mind-altering substances can experience just about anything - or say they did even if not true. And unbelievers will always try to explain away faith in God - are you going to be blown away by what people often say about God and Christianity. Note those disciples immediately post Jesus' Resurrection - they are terrified, sad, freaked out - they thought Jesus was the real deal only to find He's been killed on a Roman cross. And they're were great fear because they understandably figured they were likely next up on crosses, as the Jews knew who they were and were on a mission to stamp out this supposed "Jesus cult."

So, what is the only thing that could have immediately turned these scared, whimpering, defeated men into boldly preaching a risen Jesus, fully knowing they were risking His exact, same fate? There is only one realistic possibility, as these were not suicidal madmen - as we read their letters filled with a sober, serious, matter-of-fact, joyful preaching of a risen Christ that changed the world forever. Clearly, they saw the risen Christ for themselves - they didn't have to GUESS at whether Christ was still in a hidden grave somewhere - as they KNEW whether or not they'd actually seen Him alive and well! And that is why these men were immediately transformed into bold giants of history who changed the world for Christ! And all but the Apostle John went to their deaths as martyrs for Christ! Nutjobs might die for a lie they've bought into - but sober, intelligent men don't risk dying an unthinkably brutal death for a lie they KNOW isn't true!!! And Jesus disciples knew the truth of the matter.
Great post Philip , this is one of the strongest nders arguments for the resurrection . That and the criterion of historical embarrassment. Joe rogan also isn’t unbiased . He will invite anti Christian guests but he would never invite someone like William Lane Craig who would rip him on the resurrection .

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