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Raelism

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Raelism is the belief system promoted by the Raelian Movement, a religious organization which believes that life on Earth was created by scientifically advanced extraterrestrials known as the Elohim (derived from a Hebrew word appearing in the Torah) through genetic engineering, and that a combination of human cloning and "mind transfer" can ultimately provide for immortality.

The Raelian Movement was founded by Claude Vorilhon (born 1946), also known as Rael, and claims to have about 55,000 members from 84 different countries. Membership may be particularly high in France, Japan, Canada (especially Quebec), and the United States (especially Florida). The Movement spreads its message via Rael's books, Raelian gatherings, and its web site.

The Raelians promote the social ideas of sexual self-determination and a spirit of sharing and responsibility, which, they claim, will bring a new age of wealth and peace. The philosophy is based on humanitarian values including human rights and freedoms.

Table of contents

The Elohim

According to Vorilhon a message of the human origin was dictated to him in December 1973 in personal meetings with a 25,000 year old extraterrestrial who came in a UFO. The story goes that after terraforming of Earth, aliens (the "Elohim") created humans via DNA manipulation.

The Raelians believe, furthermore, that when enough people on Earth become peaceful and come to know the message of the Elohim, the Elohim will come and share their advanced scientific knowledge with us, their creation. Thus one of their major goals is to inform as many people as possible about this alien race.

Immortality through science?

The Raelians claim to have learned from the Elohim the outlines of a technological process for achieving human immortality. The process involves three steps:

  1. creating a genetically identical copy of someone by human cloning
  2. causing the clone to mature much, much faster than normal (maturing from infant to adult in a number of hours or days, rather than years)
  3. transferring the memory and personality the original person to the mature clone by some yet undiscovered or undisclosed process.

The first half of the first step, human cloning, while certainly not trivial, is widely recognized as a goal science is capable of pursuing, if it were desirable to do so. Some scientists and many non-scientists, however, find both ideas ethically troublesome. Raelians do not, and followers of Rael, including trained scientists, are actively researching this first step. They have founded a controversial cloning research company which claims to have cloned at least one human being; see Clonaid.

It is unclear to non-Raelians how the second or third step could be accomplished, as they are not considerd possible with current technology.

It is unclear, at least to those outside the Raelian movement, whether and how this mind/brain transfer could be transformed into a viable science. Nonetheless, if it were possible, it would, when combined with cloning, seem to provide for immortality.

Both options have been explored in science fiction and philosophy of mind.

Confusion about "cloning"

It is important not to be confused by different people's different meanings of the word "cloning". In the scientific community, cloning refers only to the creation of a genetically identical individual. Note that "genetically identical" does not mean altogether identical; this kind of cloning does not copy any of a person's memories or experience, for example.

In discussions of Raelism, cloning sometimes seems to refer not only to biological cloning, but to biological human cloning plus mind and/or brain transfer, or to a hypthosized process where adult clones can be directly made.

Reincarnation

The Raelians are interested not only in immortality but also reincarnation. Apparently, they are interested in bringing back famous individuals such as Jesus or Hitler, either for inspiration or to allow for retroactive punishment.

Few specifics are availible as to how the Raelians think reincarnation might be feasible. In particular, it is unclear whether DNA alone would be enough to bring someone back, or whether reincarnation would also require finding a "recording" of the individual's mind, for use in "mind transfer".

Geniocracy

The Raelians promote a new form of government that they refer to as geniocracy, or rule by the geniuses. It advocates a requirement of having at least 50% more than the average intelligent potential (though not IQ) as based on a test in order to run for office and in order to vote to require at least 10% above average. Thus even though it electorally structured as a democracy such a regime would be a representitive oligarchy.

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