Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Tripping on Mount Sinai

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New research by an Israeli academic suggests Moses and the Israelites may have been high on a hallucinogenic plant when they received the Ten Commandments. Benny Shanon of Jerusalem's Hebrew University says two plants in the Sinai desert have similar properties to plants used by Amazonian tribes to create the hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca.

In the new issue of British philosophy journal Time and Mind, Shannon, who is a professor of cogntive psychology, writes "The thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet which the Book of Exodus says emanated from Mount Sinai could just have been the imaginings of a people in an altered state of awareness. In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation, the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings."

Explaining his findings on Israeli radio, Shannon sought to justify his findings: "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."

If it's all the same to you Professor Shannon, we think we'll stick with the myth explanation.