Guest / Limited Access /

A major motive for being a Christian and participating in its rituals and disciplines is about to collapse. This is going to make a lot of Christians panic, but I believe the recent development will be all to the good.

The development is the discovery that hallucinogenic drugs can give people an experience seemingly identical to powerful religious experiences. A recent New York Times article by John Tierney describes the experience of retired clinical psychologist Clark Martin. Martin had been treated for depression for years, but counseling and antidepressants did nothing to help. At age 65, he enrolled in an experiment at Johns Hopkins medical school that gave people psilocybin, a psychoactive ingredient found in some mushrooms.

When Martin was administered the drug, he says, "All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating … . Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water's gone. And then you're gone."

Today, more than a year later, Martin says the six-hour experience helped him defeat depression and deeply transformed his relationships with his daughter and friends. "It was a whole personality shift for me," Martin said. "I wasn't any longer attached to my performance and trying to control things. … You have a feeling of attunement with other people."

His experience, writes Tierney, is not all that unusual, and he says, "Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate."

The same connection was made by Barbara Bradley Hagerty in her popular Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueWho Gets to Count That Convert?
Subscriber Access Only Who Gets to Count That Convert?
Partnerships between missions groups complicate the metrics.
RecommendedThe Seven Levels of Lying
Subscriber Access Only The Seven Levels of Lying
We lie more than we think. And that's part of the problem.
TrendingMy Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
My Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
A four-hour visit to the massive replica of Noah's boat left me with a flood of questions.
Editor's PickWhat the Magic Kingdom Reminds Us About the Eternal Kingdom
What the Magic Kingdom Reminds Us About the Eternal Kingdom
The happiest place isn't on earth...yet.
Christianity Today
The End of Christianity as We Know It
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

April 2010

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.