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The ravings of a maniac

Thomas Jefferson wrote as follows:

It is between fifty and sixty years that I read [the Book of Revelation], and I then considered it as the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherencies of our own nightly dreams.

I thought of this last night when I was seeing a programme on the subject on Channel 4. Tony Robertson, the presenter, seemed to come to much the same conclusion, when he speculated that the visions in the book might have been inspired by the consumption of magic mushrooms (Amanita muscaria).

Whether or not that was the case, it seems very unfortunate that this text was included in the canonical Scriptures - it nearly wasn't. As it is, there are hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts (in the literal sense of god-inspired), predominantly in the USA, who not only believe that we are living in the End Times but are actively seeking to bring the End about - to give God a helping hand, as it were.

In the past, secularists could dismiss beliefs of this kind as manifest delusions, but now we have the means at our disposal to destroy civilization and most of human life along with it. Martin Rees gives only a 50:50 chance of surviving this century and James Lovelock thinks that global warming is already irreversible and will reduce humanity to a few scattered survivors at the poles.

So secularists and believers in the End Time seem to be coming to similar conclusions about our prospects, the difference being that we secularists cannot hope that, if the worst happens, we will be magically transported into a blissful existence.


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kelston chorley on :

I visited the so called cave of revelations. You don't have to have much of an imagination to see that spending a long time there with little food or water, contemplaing and dreaming could cause disorientation of self and life. Aided by mushrooms and a weakening physiological state there is no limit to the travels and perversities of the mind.

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