I didn’t fully appreciate the implication of The Stoned Ape theory until listening to Lex Fridman’s interview with Brian Muraresku.
Muraresku recently published The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name, which claims psychedelics, in particular psilocybin, has made huge, possibly catalytic, contributions to religious experience for thousands of years.
I’d been following the discussion for over a year. It is a favorite topic on The Joe Rogan Experience, among other venues.
But it wasn’t until the Fridman interview did I appreciate one incredible claim by the psychedelic crowd: it was psilocybin that took man from apehood to personhood. Go to minute 31:00 to hear the discussion.
I’ve long envisioned the moment God created humans in his image. I imagine a group of Neanderthals sitting around a killed carcass, eating, and grunting. And then they suddenly start laughing.
That’s when the immortal soul entered the body.
It’s the whole question that drives the Missing Link problem. Our (oh-so artistically accurate charts) show the apes evolve closer and closer to manhood, but then there’s suddenly a man, not an ape.
But there’s a crucial step missing: the ensoulment.
The soul, being immortal and spiritual, can’t have a mundane origin. The origin must be divine. Therefore, there must be a God.
Unless it was a mushroom.
The ape goes from being sober to being stoned, and it’s the act of being stoned that is the real ensoulment, so the soul does have a mundane origin and, voila!, God doesn’t exist.
Jordan Peterson says this whole line of thought was thoroughly discredited after it peaked in the 1970s.
It’s now rearing its head again due to university studies that observe people on psychedelics and document their religious-like experiences. The new field of “bioarchaeology” is also providing evidence that ancient and classical people used psychedelics in their beer and wine.
Such a theory, even if true, wouldn’t discredit Catholicism. That, of course, is the spin Joe Rogan mildly puts on it (Rogan has articulated dislike for Catholicism and libertarianism), but it’s not accurate.
Muraresku himself identifies as Catholic. During his interview with Jordan Peterson, he mentions at least twice that he was educated in high school by the Jesuits order (which is Catholic in its own way) and at one point refers to “my Catholicism.” He’s also Romanian, and Romanians are fiercely proud of their (albeit spotty) ancestry with Rome, and with that, I suppose, comes a flair for the Roman Church.
So, I get the impression he doesn’t think the Eucharist is just a pale remnant of a classical rave party.
Like every new theory, it won’t discredit Catholicism or the Eucharist. At most, if the theory, in general, holds up (and it probably won’t), we’ll have to modify our understanding of historical development. “Yes, early adherents near Eleusis showed up to Mass while tripping.” Or maybe psilocybin nourished the early mystical experience for some worshippers.
And the idea that the mushroom replaces God?
I love it.
I’m just waiting for the debates about Traducianism: How did the psilocybin spark get transmitted through the generations?
I’m a descendant of Russian peasants. I’m reasonably certain there was no psilocybin in my family genes for at least 20 generations, if not 200. Is the psilocybin in my genes less than it was in my great grandfather’s?
Is that why religion is on the decline these days: the psilocybin in our genes is down to its last drops? Is that why art today sucks and we’re increasingly uncivil and don’t know the first thing about faith, hope, and charity?
You’d have to be a stoned ape to believe such a thing. For everyone else, such a proposition is absurd. It won’t take long for such a theory to be relegated to the dustbin of stupid theories that would supposedly eliminate God or the Church.
But it should stand for centuries for this proposition:
There must be a God. There must be a soul.
Even those who disagree know it. They’re so aware of it, they’ll strain for a theory, any theory, to explain how mankind came to exist without acknowledging that it must be God.
They’ll even speculate that a mushroom brought about our art, language, humor, philosophy, and religion.
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash