March 5, 2008

Sorry Sherlock, Moses Wasn't High On Drugs

'According to Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, psychedelic drugs formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times.......the acacia tree, frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, contain the same molecules as those found in plants from which the powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca is prepared....."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."

I'm not going to defend Moses on this one or ancient Jews in Israel. I'm sure there have always been plants and concoctions throughout time that have had mind altering affects.

There is evidence that the acacia tree was around in Israel 3300 hundred years ago. But there is no evidence Moses existed, and even "negative evidence" that the Exodus occurred.

The story of Moses and the Exodus was most certainly a work of fiction that most likely got orally transmitted around 650-800 AD, until it was finally written down by Ezra and company around 450 BC.

Again I will link this fascinating video "The Bible Unearthed." Seriously, watch the series if you are at all interested in this topic (the history of Judaism) whatsoever. It is a real eye opener.

I look at history this way. If something deemed historical "factually" describes a supernatural event, then it is not historical non fiction; it is historical fiction.
I've lived on this planet for 47 years, and I've yet to witness a supernatural event. Even in an age with all sorts of cameras, I've seen nothing recorded that is supernatural. I've yet to see anyone fly, or an amputee magically grow back a limb.
I've never heard God's voice or has anyone ever recorded God's voice. Invisible people don't go to my house and move furniture. When I see a tooth brush in the kitchen, I know my cat brought it down the stairs.

My point is, that in order for history to be put together, all sources that claim the supernatural need to be ignored as fantasy. Dated real letters, archaeological artifacts, secular historian writings, etc. is what needs to be looked at to figure out what really happened.

There should be lots of evidence that Jesus existed found dated between 1-40 AD for example. None is found. Doesn't mean he didn't exist, but it does mean that it is highly unlikely. We do know someone started Christianity, and it was probably Paul or someone exactly like Paul. But as Rook Hawkins from Rational Response Squad points out, Paul never talked about Jesus as a historical person.
So it is possible that Paul was smoking or snorting too much acacia.

The same is true with the Exodus, but if you watch the video, the case for the Exodus is even less probable than a historical Jesus. Canaan was already full of Egyptians at the time the Exodus was to have occurred, and monotheism didn't appear until between 650-450 BC. If oral history had any legs, there should be immediate evidence that Jews worshiped one God from the Exodus on. The evidence points that Jews were most likely an ethnicity first, and then the ethnicity started a religion followed by the masses in a localized area by 450 BC.

No doubt, the original writers of these stories had very good imaginations, and it is highly possible they were doing mind altering substances when they made the stuff up.

Sherlock Holmes' author Sir Conan Doyle had a heroin/coke habit. Great imagination. He even gave Holmes a heroin/morphine habit which apparently helped give Sherlock that extra edge to be the greatest detective ever.

The "Burning Bush" could easily of been an acacia tree on fire. And the affects on anyone breathing in the fumes would have made them awfully creative.

The original dude who made up the Exodus/Moses story probably sounded a lot like Cheech and Chong with a middle eastern accent. No doubt he thought he was talking to that bush and the bush was talking back, giving him "the history" of Jewish people.


  1. Actually, there is historical, scientific evidence that sometime between 1650 and 1550 BC, there was a massive eruption on Thera that is a likely explanation for Jewish mythology and the "miracles" of the Exodus. It makes more sense to me that ancient people would see things like a poisonous red tide in the Nile (the river of blood), or a volcanic winter (the darkness), and decide that they were miracles from God than that they came up with the ideas all on their own without any natural phenomenon (though they were obviously then embellished). It also would have allowed a leader (Moses or otherwise) to easily seize control over a scared and confused populace.

    We know there was an massive Mediterranean eruption that would have caused a red tide in the Nile, displacement of frogs and other aquatic species, plagues of insects attracted to the dead frogs, a volcanic winter, and chunks of rock and ash falling from the sky. Most likely explanation for me is that the estimates of Exodus are off about 150 years and were embellished a lot, after the people witnessed something they really had no other way of interpreting.

  2. I don't know about Moses but Heston definitely looked stoned.

    The most likely explanation IMHO of myths like Exodus, historical Jesus or Atlantis is that there may be a kernel of truth upon which a massive mythology has then been embroidered, much like the story of the angler and his ever growing fish.

    The fact that a story contains supernatural elements clearly indicates that parts of it are nonsense, but doesn't provide conclusive proof that the whole thing is 100 % fabrication. But it does make it suspect and clearly shows it can't be taken literally or at face value.

    As regards, "The Bible Unearthed", it's a great documentary that conclusively shows that Exodus has massive holes in it and cannot be historically true. But Exodus may still contain some kernels of truth, which were later turned into an early nationalistic Israelite narrative, analogous with so many other nationalistic narratives (see e.g. Britain's official air-brushed and streamlined version of the Battle of Britain, which in reality we very nearly actually lost).

  3. You wrote an excellent post!
    I thouroughly enjoyed it!

  4. Deane, yep, it is hard not to agree.

    Basiorana, I realize people left Egypt (the Hyksos) around 1550 BC, but it is no explanation for the Exodus. It is off 300 btw.
    And there is no evidence that there was a mass exodus either.
    I can't remember if you watched the video series The Bible Unearthed when I posted it a year ago, but watch it if you haven't.
    Sure, there were local floods and famines...this is what makes larger myths believable, but the OT doesn't talk about the Hyksos.

    The biggest hole in the story is the fact that the people of the region of Israel did not appear to be monotheistic until around 600 BC. In other words, it appears that the story of the Exodus was completely invented around that time to give the people a sense of destiny and to control those people as well.

    Gert, see above.

    Ben, I'm glad you liked it.