Sunday, April 28, 2013

Googling "sorcery drugs" and the weird fundie Christian BS I found

I recently had opportunity to google the term “sorcery drugs” because I am running a role-playing game which will feature a magical drug.  (FYI, if you google "magic drug", you basically get a ton of stuff about mushrooms.) It was pretty interesting. For a number of years, I have broadly theorized that the hostility that our society has towards psychedelic drugs is because they give a feeling of spirituality that religion doesn't; therefore, religion is threatened by psychedelic drugs because if you can get a more legitimately spiritual feeling LSD or psylocybin than religion, well, why the hell do we need popes and reverends and priests?

The first post is titled “Let Us Reason”. It does nothing of the sort. It creates a specious argument that the Greek word pharmakia is identical to “sorcery”. This sorta ignores that the Greek word for sorcery is “μαγεία”, or “mageia” from which we get the word magic, duh, going way back to the Persian priestly caste, the magi. Pretty much all the Greek words for magic have this root. The word for drugs (φάρμακα), is etymologically unrelated to the word that Greeks, ancient or modern, used for magic.

However, crazy fundie Christian websites rarely use something as irrelevant as facts deter from their screeds.

If it was just one website, I wouldn't give a damn. But the second page is “does sorcery refer to drug use – Bibleforums Christian Message Board” and then “Drugs and Sorcery in the Last Days”. Then, “Drugs and the Bible” then “Psychotropic Drugs = Pharmakia = Sorcery – Talk Jesus”. Then, a little hidden, is “Pharmakeia: the Abuse of Drugs” but the Google highlight reads “Pharmakeia (sorcery) . . .”, and then “Drugs & the Christian – The Victorious Network” . . .

I think I've made my point. When you google “sorcery drugs”, the first page is almost entirely discussion about how taking psychedelic drugs, in particular, is the same as Biblical sorcery.

As I said, this is linguistically ridiculous. While medicine and magic, in primitive societies, has considerable overlap, the Greek word for sorcery has no particular magical connotation. It's a bunch of bullshit. The ancient Greeks knew medicinal drugs had no particular connection to sorcery. Not to go too much into ancient Greek magical beliefs, but they heavily involved invoking gods in distinction to medical drugs which worked regardless of beliefs, prayers or invocations.

It also demonstrates the theological preposterousness of any Biblical interpretation. What they're grappling with is intoxication. The Bible is pretty much against intoxication but all the Biblical references are pretty wine-based. You read the Bible in a fairly literal sense, the only mind-altering drug they mention is wine. It's like the Iron Age Hebrews were ignorant of any other mind-altering substance. So, a fairly “normal” reading of the Bible could easily lead one to think that the only drug that the Bible talks about is wine while it is equally clear that one can be intoxicated through numerous channels.

So what is a crazy Bible person to do? The less crazy of them would go, “Well, the Bible was written by Iron Age people ignorant of drugs other than wine, but the reasoning for forbidding intoxication should logically extend to all intoxicants”. But this creates a problem for people who think the Bible is a divine work (not to mention the bit in Genesis when God says that we own all the plants and stuff). While it's true that Iron Age Hebrews were ignorant of the numerous ways to get intoxicated, GOD would be in on all the ways one can can get fucked up. Yet, the Bible is written as if no one involved had any idea that there were other intoxicants. To admit that one must extend the reasoning of the Bible towards things about which the Bible does not say sorta says that God wrote a shitty book that didn't take into account future discoveries of intoxicants, that the Bible is not perfect because God knew that you could get fucked up on cannabis, mushrooms and eventually stuff like LSD and MDMA. If you believe that the Bible is perfect, this is a problem.

Not to mention that it's just a little stupid because none of us speak classical Greek. Even if the words for drugs and sorcery, in the Greek language, were the same two thousand years ago, it's just idiotic to try to say that ancient Greek drugs/sorcery have more than a trivial similarity to modern drug culture, pharmacological or black market. So what if a dead language used as one word something that we not have two words to describe? As Nietzsche said, it is interesting that when God wished to speak, He learned Greek and did not learn it better. To wit, the problem of interpretation inevitably remains. Presumably God would know that two thousand years later that classical Greek would be as dead as Elvis and He would see to it his sacred, perfect book did not degrade in meaning as time passed. Yet, it has. It isn't like it would have been a real problem for the Bible to say “sorcery, including the consumption of any intoxicants . . . .” The Bible is not that clear, though. It is written as if the writers honestly do not know there are other intoxicants than wine.

It's much easier, then, to say that the Bible is TOTALLY RIGHT by equating a Greek word for drugs to also mean sorcery. That way, the Biblical injunction against magic applies to drugs THEREFORE the Bible is still perfect.

This is clearly tortured reasoning, but if you're a believer in the inerrant truth of the Bible, you've got to do a lot of weird things to justify your beliefs that run contrary to reason and fact. The truth is there are dozens of drugs that can give a person a spiritual experience vastly more significant than any amount of religion. Most people can pray for a thousand years and never get the same feeling as a few hundred micrograms of LSD. This is profoundly subversive to an organization that is ideologically so delicate that they try to argue that the Greek word for drugs is the same as sorcery.

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