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God And Drugs, A Paradox - To Mario

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Posted by Aurino Souza on May 1, 2002 14:02:32 UTC

Mario,

You are an intelligent guy, and I'm looking for someone to help me with what seems like a paradox. See if you can make sense of this:

There's a drug out there which is known to cause people to believe in God. No matter how radical an atheist you are, you take this drug and after a few minutes you start believing in God. I'm not kidding, such drug really exists and I may tell you what it is later, but for now I'd like you to consider the problematic scenario I have in mind.

I have never taken the drug myself, but there have been some serious scientific studies about it. Basically, anyone who takes it goes unconscious for a few minutes, and on regaining consciousness report having meeting God in person. Now you and I know that such reports are preposterous, right? We can easily explain them as some sort of hallucination induced by the drug. So far no big deal.

Now for the paradox. It consists of the following: people who have taken the drug themselves do not accept that explanation. They say their experience was as real as any other experience they ever had, often more real than that. This poses a difficult problem; no matter how much you believe in the hallucination hypothesis, once you take the drug the explanation becomes useless to you. The paradox lies in the fact that your acceptance of the hallucination hypothesis rests on your ignorance of the contents of the drug experience.

Isn't that troublesome? I think it is. I have never taken the drug myself, because I know that if I do I will no longer be able to choose what to believe. Do you think it's rational to be in a position where you have the luxury to choose what to believe?

Think about that.

Aurino

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