Newberg: Is Opium
The Religion Of The Masses?
I enjoy reading your website, keep up the good work.
I would like to express a view on "The Drug Problem" that I have not seen elsewhere, although someone else must surely have thought of this. I think a good turn on the expression "Religion is the Opiate of the Masses" would be "Opium is the Religion of the Masses." This country is never going to effectively deal with rampant drug abuse until it quits telling the Big Lie! Almost all attacks on Drug use and abuse try to portray the misery associated with drug use. If they truly want to be get at the problem then the first thing they have to admit is Drugs are Fantastic! Drugs are like Heaven! In fact, the junkies and the dope addicts are the true believers. After all, they have given up everything for their God unlike the hypocritical Religious nuts. The experience of the Drug High can be so exquisite, so divine, that the user will sacrifice his job, his home, his own family all for the High. How many Christians will do that for Jesus, even though that is exactly what the Bible tells them to do!
I say the Heroin addict, or the Opium dreamer touches a place in the mind, no matter what the external circumstances, that is so attractive they will give anything for it. The User will prostitute themselves, they will lie, cheat and steal just to get back to the one true place of ecstasy. Unfortunately, most of the responsible people in our government have never even came close to this place. They are completely unaware that the junkie sleeping in his own urine in the doorway has tasted a heaven they (the politician)can only dream about as some afterlife possibility. But without this realization that there is a Supreme High State of Consciousness available through the drug induced stimulation of the Brain's neurons, there is no hope of solving the Drug Problem.
But I could be wrong.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Schmitt, Landis"
Subject: Re: Opium religion of the masses
Date: Monday, June 11, 2001 10:12 PM
I tried to make this point in the discussion of Newberg's claims about the mystical experience. Most would concede that the mystical experience is not really a malfunction of the brain (though it is abnormal in the Lenny Bruce sense in that it is very rare). Newberg tried to posit that it's not only normal but could be seen as another sense, to detect what instruments and the five senses cannot detect: the spiritual realm. I said that if he wants to call this normal, he has to admit that the opioid experience is likewise normal because the narcotics molecules fit very snugly into certain neural receptors of the human nervous system. It is a natural substance, by the way; one of the many herbs of the field which some ancient scrolls tell us have been blessed by God for our use. So, to be self-consistent, Dr. Newberg does well to concede to this point.
Meanwhile, I'm off to that marvelous shrine to pay homage and tithe to the man who wears a white robe and deciphers the mystical koans written by the high priestess of the sect of my fathers: It's that day of the of week when I go out and pick up my prescription. This is not salvation by grace because they don't allow them to deliver in my state.
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Thanks for the quick response. While I have spent several hours surfing your site, I had not gone that far back in reading the letters to the editors. I revisited the letters concerning Newberg's findings and I will not bore you with any further discussion in that area, except to add a couple of personal comments. I sent in my personal deconversion story, which details my early spiritual experience (age 9) in a Southern Baptist Church, I guess the neurons were really firing that night, but even while it was happening I questioned whether it was the same thing that the weeping and wailers were experiencing, I felt great. When I discovered Psychedelics in college, it opened whole new vistas and I became aware of the religious similarities between the psychedelic experience and the spiritual experience but I thought the psychedelic experience was much more enlightening because, well because it was drug induced, not based on some particular religious teaching. The only drawback was that eventually you come down from the experience. So I then pursued meditation as a means of controlling the brain functions that led to the mystical experience. Eventually, I did manage to experience these heightened states of awareness without drugs, but I also realized that it was a futile pursuit. Of course there are benefits to a calm mind, but I can see no real reason to follow any religious teachings as a guide for my life. As a totally psychotic friend of mine once said "Everything that is, is, everything that isn't, isn't. Any questions?"
The only other aside, is that I actually work for Franklin Templeton, although the Company is not(to the best of my knowledge associated with the Templeton Foundation - apparently Sir John just used some of his vast wealth to set that up after Franklin bought him out) It is interesting that Franklin (based on Benjamin's principles - who I believe was a closet Atheist) gobbled up Templeton.
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