Essays, Analyses and Meditations


Back to my essays | Back to the Philosophy pages | Author

Religion, Science, Drugs

  • Religion is about absolute certainty. Science is about relative uncertainty. Religious people feel that they are right. Scientists know that they are probably wrong (that future generations of scientists will formulate more accurate scientific theories). Religion is about certainty. Science is about doubt.
  • Of course, spirituality draws most of its power from the fact that it cannot be proven false. Nobody can prove that a supernatural being does not exist, just like nobody can prove that elephants with wings do not exist.
  • Ethics is largely founded on religion (whether your state is a theocracy or not). It would be interesting to build an ethics founded on knowledge instead of religion, so that people engage in endless studying instead of endless persecution.
  • Spirituality and drugs were strictly related in many ancient civilizations. I have a simple theory of why. The mystical experience corresponds (roughly) to a paralysis of the neocortex. Both hallucinogenic drugs and collective hysteria cause a paralysis of the neocortex.
  • The neocortex is the evolutionarily newer part of the brain, that is (mostly) unique to humans. The older part of the human brain is very similar to the brains of the other mammals, and the very old part of the human brain is still basically the same brain of reptiles. Thus a human brain whose neocortex is disabled behaves largely like the brain of a mammal. If that "is" the mystical experience, then the mystical experience must be widespread among animals, and, since there is no neocortex to balance it with a rational experience, it might fundamentally be the "only" state of their mind.
  • Basically, not only do cats "experience god", but they do it all the time. They constantly live in an hallucinated present.
  • The effect of the neocortex is to make sense of the mystical experience like it makes sense of everything else that happens. Thus humans create very complex rituals and religions, which other animals don't.