Plan Nine from Outer Space
by Joseph Addison (e-mail: JAddison@liberator.net) [April 16th, 2003]
A religious cult known as the Raelians recently announced that, because of their efforts, the first human clone had been born. Then they announced that another human clone had been born. Then they promised to prove that the clones were legitimate. And then they reconsidered.
The general consensus of the media was initially disbelief. Then shock. Then moral outrage. And now, once again, disbelief.
“When I refer to early Christianity as a cult, I mean no offense to Christians; I am merely being accurate. The term 'cult' refers to any fringe religious group. Thus, every religion began as a cult. The Raelians are a cult right now. Christianity was a cult but, after becoming mainstream and achieving social acceptability, ceased to be.”
Perhaps skepticism of this claim is the intelligent position – especially since the Raelians have a history of publicity stunts. And maybe moral outrage at the thought of human cloning is appropriate as well, considering that the first human clones are likely to be riddled with birth defects and genetic ailments.
But it seemed to me that the media was focused on the group’s odd religious beliefs. I find this deeply troubling.
To begin with, the fact that Raelians believe crazy things in no way discredits their claim. The media seemed to imply that it did. This is a big problem and should be of special concern to anyone who believes in god.
The fact of this matter is that there is just as much evidence for what the Raelians consider to be spiritual truth as there is for, say, the Christian version. In fact there may actually be more evidence for the Raelian claims because their leader, Rael, is still alive and has supposedly met the “higher life forms.”
Granted, Rael might be lying, but at least his account is firsthand and therefore, much more convincing than anything that is written in the Bible. Well, if you consider the history of the Bible, anyway.
The Old Testament was written thousands of years ago, in fragments, by any number of unidentified authors. Most of the information contained within it was probably passed along, for hundreds of years, through oral tradition before being recorded.
The New Testament is just as bad. The first Gospel was written at least thirty years after Jesus died. Later Gospels were written as late as a century after the fact. Plus, at the time that they were written, Christianity was nothing more than a cult. Christians were mocked by most people and Christian beliefs were thought to be crazy and, perhaps, dangerous. Sound familiar?
When I refer to early Christianity as a cult, I mean no offense to Christians; I am merely being accurate. The term “cult” refers to any fringe religious group. Thus, every religion began as a cult. The Raelians are a cult right now. Christianity was a cult but, after becoming mainstream and achieving social acceptability, ceased to be.
Another problem with the Bible is that the people who wrote it and the people who supposedly witnessed the events recorded within it had no concept of science. Many of the “miraculous” events described within the passages were merely recorded observations of unusual phenomena. The authors were attempting to give these occurrences the best explanations that they could.
They didn’t understand global weather patterns or know about El Nino. They had yet to discover that constellations are merely other suns, that shooting stars are pieces of debris entering our atmosphere or that comets are just big balls of dirty ice. To them, everything was both a miracle and a further proof of the existence of the supernatural.
By contrast, the Raelians have very modern beliefs. Take, for example, their belief that the human race was created by “little green men” and that our planet has been visited by these aliens on many other occasions in the past.
Guess what? Most scientists believe that life, surprise, is not unique to earth. Also, a growing number of scientists believe that INTELLIGENT LIFE is probably not unique to our planet. Granted, whether or not any space aliens have visited Earth is another matter entirely, but if these scientists are right, then one must concede that the possibility exists that the Raelian beliefs are correct.
Does any of this information lend credibility to the Raelians’ claim? No. But the fact that their headquarters is a UFO theme park in Quebec, that their group believes in free love and social tolerance and that they’re trying to build an intergalactic embassy in Israel doesn't discredit them.
The media’s treatment of the Raelians exposes a vicious double standard in our spiritual beliefs – mainstream religions are always assumed to have reasonable beliefs and credible followers, but fringe groups are always thought to be nuts. If the media had any integrity at all they would not practice such hypocrisy.
Resource and Avenues for Further Study
Raelian's Site: Official Website
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