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A Raëlian is a follower of Raël, a Frenchman and former motor sport journalist and race-car driver whose parents, the Vorilhons, called him Claude when he was born in 1946. He claims that on December 13, 1973, he was in a volcano near Clermont-Ferrand, France, when he saw a UFO "7 meters in diameter made of a very shiny silver metal and moving in a total silence." He says a radiant being emerged and entrusted him with a message revealing the true origin of mankind. They told him that henceforth he would be known as Raël, which means "messenger."
His followers consider him to be "the prophet of the third millennium." Like all good religious leaders, Raël expects his followers to support him. A 10% tithe is the norm.
he was taken to the planet of the Elohim in a flying saucer in 1975, where he was introduced to noted earthlings such as Jesus, Buddha, Joseph Smith and Confucius. The Elohim, small human-shaped beings with pale green skin and almond eyes, were apparently the original inspiration for the Judeo-Christian god. They informed Vorilhon that he was the final prophet -- sent to relay a message of peace and sensual meditation to humankind under his new name of Raël -- before the Elohim would return to Jerusalem in 2025.
Raël claims that the Elohim have taught him that the human race was created from the DNA of aliens some 25,000 years ago. (In fact, all life on earth was created in alien laboratories.) Among other things, Raël has also learned that cloning is the way to immortality and there is no god or soul. According to Raël, our alien creators want us to be beautiful and sexy and enjoy a sensuous life, free from the restrictions of traditional Judeo-Christian morality.
According to Grescoe, "Raël's success seems to derive from providing a structured environment for decadent behavior: He offers a no-guilt playground for hedonism and sexual experimentation." Fortunately, the Raëlians are big on using condoms. They won't spread as much disease that way. However, using condoms won't suffice to deplete their numbers, Raël believes, since he has formed a cloning company called Clonaid which promises to
provide assistance to would be parents willing to have a child cloned from one of them. This service offers a fantastic opportunity to parents with fertility problems or homosexual couples to have a child cloned from one of them.
Scientists say that there is no possibility of Clonaid actually working in the near future and dismiss its goals as pure fantasy (Cohen). However, Clonaid should be a reminder of what might happen in the distant future if controls on genetic engineering are not developed to prevent religious fanatics and lunatics from gaining more control of the planet than they already have.
The Raëlian headquarters are in Montreal but the cult is international and claims to have some 50,000 members in 85 countries. They have an "Evidence Page" on their Web site where they offer proof of their prophet's claims, thus relieving us of the burden of having to believe on pure faith. Unfortunately, the evidence provided is likely to satisfy only those eager for delusion and self-deception. For example, the historical evidence is of the type Velikovsky, von Däniken and other mytho-historians have provided: they take ancient legends, stories, and religious texts, and fit them into their preconceived theory. The Raëlians also consider UFO sightings as proof of their messenger's claims.
Their attempt at "scientific" evidence will have some appeal to the scientifically illiterate and the logically-challenged. The scientific evidence is nothing more than speculation and assumption in juxtaposition to facts. Their evidence consists of claiming that we are about to create life in our laboratories and our creations will probably think we are gods. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that we were created in laboratories and think of our creators as gods. The rest of the "scientific" evidence consists of a list of scientific accomplishments which, I suppose, are imagined to have to have occurred elsewhere before the living things on our planet could have been created in the lab. All of which begs the question as to whether this occurred elsewhere 25,000 years ago.
Apparently, the Raëlians are not bothered by the rather absurd image of a race of superior beings working for thousands of years in a laboratory to create all our insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc., not to mention all their lovelies that have gone extinct. Why would any beings do such a thing? And why would they wait 25,000 years to reveal their handiwork to a French race car driver who spots their UFO in a volcano? And then tell him that the message is to clone ourselves so we can be immortal. Then again, is this story any stranger than the ones in the Bible?
The kicker in their argument is their proof that evolution could not have occurred. They claim scientists have discovered that genes have a DNA repair mechanism (p53) which prevents mutation, an important process in evolution. Species couldn't have diversified if this mechanism were present. p53 was at first thought to be an oncogene but is now thought to be anti-oncogenic. It is of little interest to the Raëlians, I suppose, that p53 itself mutates. And it is pure speculation on their part that the entire genetic code of all species always consists of genes which prevent mutation from occurring. Even if they're right, however, it wouldn't follow that Vorilhon's preposterous UFO tale is true. Just ask the so-called creation scientists, the Scientologists, the Urantians, the followers of Barbara Marciniak or UFO Billy, the remaining members of Heaven's Gate, or the surviving members of other UFO religions.
Anyway, if the Raëlians are right, I am looking forward to asking the Elohim why they created the mosquito. In the meantime, I may take up Raël's offer of $2,000 to anyone who starts a new religion.
Raël love A gorgeous group of alien spawn hones a hedonistic hankering for sex by Taras Grescoe of Salon.com
Cult's bizarre vision rekindles cloning debate by Philip Cohen, San Francisco (New Scientist May 31, 1997)
The god game no more The feds crack down on a human cloning lab by Nell Boyce and David E. Kaplan U.S. News and World Report
It's the Rael thing (Australian Raelian)
Oddball Raelians take a wild swing at Catholic church By INGRID PERITZ , The Globe and Mail
Prophet sounds as if he came from another planet Dennis Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette