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Type: Journal article
Title: Psychedelics, atheism, and naturalism: myth and reality
Author: Letheby, C.
Citation: Journal of Consciousness Studies: controversies in science and the humanities, 2022; 29(7-8):69-92
Publisher: Imprint Academic
Issue Date: 2022
ISSN: 1355-8250
Statement of
Chris Letheby
Abstract: An emerging body of research suggests that psychedelic experiences can change users’ religious or metaphysical beliefs. Here I explore issues concerning psychedelic-induced belief change via a critique of some recent arguments by Wayne Glausser. Two scientific studies seem to show that psychedelic experiences can convert atheists to belief in God, but Glausser holds that academic and popular discussions of these studies are misleading. I offer a different analysis of the relevant findings, attempting to preserve the insights of Glausser’s critique while setting the record straight on some important points. For one thing, the studies provide stronger evidence for atheist ‘deconversion’ than Glausser allows. For another, Glausser’s arguments against the ‘Metaphysical Belief Theory’ of psychedelic therapy involve scientifically dubious claims and inferences. Finally, in evaluating this theory, we ought to focus on its strongest version, which posits belief shifts from metaphysical naturalism to nonnaturalism, rather than from atheism to classical monotheism.
Rights: © 2022 Imprint Academic
DOI: 10.53765/20512201.29.7.069
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Appears in Collections:Philosophy publications

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