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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

The Religious Experience: A Social-Psychological Perspective.

Batson, C. Daniel, and Ventis, W. Larry. (1982).
New York: Oxford University Press.

ISBN: 0-19-503030-2 hardcover

0-19-503031-1 paperback

Description: Hardcover, x + 356 pages.

Contents: Preface, 9 chapters divided into 2 parts: 1. Nature of the Religious Experience, 2. Consequences of the Religious Experience, appendix: The Scientific Method and Social Psychology of Religion, references, subject index.

Excerpt(s): What, then, does our review of the available research suggest about the effect of psychedelic drugs on religious experience? Although the research is not conclusive, we believe it suggests that psychedelic drugs can and do facilitate religious experience. Moveover, it suggests that they facilitate religious experience in the way we proposed, by disrupting the individual's current way of thinking about one or more existential concerns (the self-surrender stage of creative religious experience) and by stimulating the imaginal process, making cognitive reorganization more likely (the new vision stage). (page 114)

If this analysis is correct, two implications follow. First, drugs can facilitate but cannot produce creative religious experience. They can facilitate it if they are used in the context of an ongoing intrapsychic process that includes not only self-surrender (incubation) and new vision (illumination) but also a preceding struggle with one or more existential questions (preparation) and a subsequent new life (verification). If the individual is not already wrestling with existential concerns, psychedelics are not likely to evoke a creative transformation. This point is underscored by the findings of Masters and Houston, of the Spring Grove project, and of Pahnke; in each study religious insight seemed limited to those actively addressing existential questions (preparation). At the same time, if the experience is to be more than psychic "fireworks," there must be positive consequences for one's everyday life (verification). (page 115)

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