I just read an article on this, well, no, that’s a lie, I just saw the headline and dived right into the fray in the comments column with this poem:
When our primitive, primitive brains
find something they cannot explain
they don’t recoil, or refrain
instead they dive right in
mythology, theology, and lots of wild speculation
are all tools that we’ve employed in our investigations
We’ve had visions, insights, hunches,
and sudden inspirations
our thoughts will go wherever they may
and in their peregrinations
they’ve led us everywhere we’ve been
Our current situation
is one of great anxietyand self-examination
and some look back and think “Religion was an aberration,
perhaps we ate some mushrooms
and just had hallucinations”
I hear these things, it somehow seems to me
a weak attempt at a late apology
Sure, we were wrongand often we’ve been bad
but we did the best we could with what we had
because I’ve heard the theory before and have some thoughts about it but now that I’ve printed it out I realize that’s not a great poem, the tenses are off, the meter is a bit too variable for my tastes and sort of wonky, but whatever.
Of course, hallucinations played a role in the origins of our intelligence. So did those long periods of time with no hallucinogens because, while they appear on every continent except Antarctica, they’re still sort of rare, and seasonal, and back then we were kind of focused on finding food and avoiding predators, and the hallucinogens were probably a fairly rare treat. So did our five senses, our possession of thumbs, our ability to shape a wide variety of sounds with our superior vocal chords, and lots of other things.
“How much?” is a good question to ask. As to “whether” they were an influence, I see no doubt whatsoever. Of course they were.