Sunday, January 28, 2018

Evolution of Raelism's Scientific Denialism

Rael "selecting" RT's article with no comments
An article by RT titled "Scientists go ape after Indian minister dubs Darwin theory ‘wrong’" published on January 23rd mentions Satyapal Singh causing quite a stir last week after challenging Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution as “scientifically wrong.” “Since man is seen on Earth, he has always been a man,” claimed the minister, who has a PhD in chemistry. Given that “nobody saw a man turning into an ape,” Singh suggested a change in the curriculum.

Of course, a joint statement by three science academies of India condemned Singh's statements as being "a retrograde step to remove the teaching of the theory of evolution from school and college curricula or to dilute this by offering non-scientific explanations or myths."

Rael shared this news on his FaceBook page and swiftly published it on his Rael-Science page on January 24th. Then the International Raelian Movement (IRM) issued a press release on January 25th about Rael offering his support to Singh. Rael usually makes his public statements under the the banner "COMMENT:"; however I was unable to find any.

According to Raelism, biological evolution is a myth. Under the title "Evolution: A Myth", Rael writes about his exchanges with Yahweh, his supposed ET father:
"you must dispel from your minds all uncertainty about evolution. Your scientists who have elaborated theories of evolution are not completely wrong in saying that humanity is descended from the monkey, and the monkey from the fish, and so on. In reality, the first living organism created on Earth was unicellular, which then gave rise to more complex life forms.

But this did not happen by chance! When we came to Earth to create life, we started by making very simple creations and then improved our techniques of environmental adaptation. This enabled us to make in turn fish, amphibians, mammals, birds, primates and finally man himself, who is just an improved model of the monkey to which we added what makes us essentially human.

In this way, we made human beings in our image, as it is written in the Bible in Genesis. You could have realized for yourselves that there is little chance of a series of accidents producing such a large variety of life forms - the colors of birds and their elaborate mating rituals, or the shape of certain antelope horns.

What natural need could lead antelopes or wild goats to develop curled horns? Or birds to have blue or red feathers? And what about exotic fish?

All that is the work of our artists.
" (Intelligent Design, p. 92)
To explain away how natural selection and genetic mutations drive the evolutionary process, Yahweh adds:
"Evolution of the various forms of life on Earth is really the evolution of techniques of creation and the increased sophistication of the creators’ work. This eventually led them to create people similar to themselves. You can find the skulls of prehistoric men who were the first human prototypes.

These were replaced each time by others more evolved. This continued right up to your present form, which is the exact replica 
[1] of your creators who were afraid to create anything highly superior to themselves, although some were tempted to do so." (p. 93)
IRM's press release supporting Singh
Raelism's stance on biological evolution falls clearly under scientific denialism akin to Christian Creationism. However, faced with the reality of scientific evidence backing the Theory of Evolution, even the Catholic Church has eventually adopted the idea of Theistic Evolution that claims that God has intentionally created mechanisms for his creation to evolve.

To my surprise, in IRM's press release, Raelian spokesperson Brigitte Boisselier (the perpetrator of the human cloning hoax of 2003) apparently attempts to change the rigid Raelian mythos concerning evolution and creation by stating:
Scientists are able to genetically modify species. In doing so, they show that random mutations are not the only path to explain how new species arose, but directed mutations by advanced scientists could be another way. It’s possible to imagine a large scale and deliberate genetic engineering undertaking responsible for simple protozoans, colorful birds, graceful mammals, and even Homo sapiens.”
Looks like Raelism itself is slowly evolving to become more compatible with real science by injecting "directed mutations" in its discourse to show an acceptance of biological evolution, but at the same time alluding that it was indeed ETs who deliberately created such mechanisms for life to evolve with the changing environment. LOL

Advocatus Diaboli

[1] The following is the description Rael gives of Yahweh: "I could see then this was certainly no child even though the figure was only about four feet (1.2 meters) tall. His eyes were slightly almond shaped, his hair was black and long, and he had a small black beard. I still had not moved, and he stopped about ten meters away from me.

He wore some sort of green one-piece suit, which covered his entire body, and although his head seemed to be exposed, I could see around it a strange sort of halo. It was not really a halo but the air about his face shone slightly and shimmered. It looked like an invisible shield, like a bubble, so fine that you could barely see it. His skin was white with a slightly greenish tinge, a bit like someone with liver trouble.
" (p. 5)

Copyright: Raelian Foundation
Being about 4 feet tall and having greenish skin aren't an "exact replica" imposed on us by our supposed creators.

As for the bubble, Yahweh later explains: "My face seems to be in the open air, but really it is protected by an invisible shield composed of repellent rays inside which I breathe different air from you. These rays let waves pass through, but not air molecules. It's a bit like the way you prevent fuel deposits escaping from certain ports in your technology by using emissions of bubbles." (p. 105)

But in Rael's alleged 2nd encounter with Yahweh, Rael relates: "I noticed one difference right away. He no longer had on the spacesuit that had seemed to make a halo around his face the first time." (p. 146)

Asked about this apparent contradiction, Rael brushed it off as "psychology" (p. 228). Read my take on this here. LOL

Thursday, January 18, 2018

[RAELIAN DISINFO] Rael used a Human Cloning HOAX from the '70s

Rael claimed the following in his book "Sensual meditation" published in 1980:
"An American millionaire has already had a child which was produced purely from one of his own cells without the female element modifying his genetic code." (p. 49, Sensual Meditation, e-book 2002)
He was referring to David Rorvik, who in his book "In His Image: The Cloning of a Man" (1978) made the startling claim that the world's first human clone had been born. Rorvik was not just a random eccentric whose claim could be dismissed. He was a respected writer who had worked as a medical reporter for both Time and the New York Times, and therefore he spoke with some credibility. His publisher, J.B. Lippincott Company, itself was a well-regarded publisher of medical books.

According to Rorvik, he had been approached in 1973 by a wealthy American millionaire who wanted to create a clone of himself. The millionaire, whom Rorvik referred to as 'Max' in order to conceal the man's identity, asked Rorvik to manage a research project with this aim. Rorvik accepted the challenge and used his connections as a well-placed science writer to recruit the necessary scientific talent. The scientific team was flown to a lab located on a secret island somewhere 'beyond Hawaii,' where after five years of experimentation they succeeded in creating a viable human egg containing Max's DNA. They implanted the egg into the uterus of a surrogate mother (an island resident code-named 'Sparrow'), and nine months later the first human clone was born.

Human Egg Cell
It's interesting to note that Rael emphasized how the alleged clone "was produced purely from one of his own cells without the female element modifying his genetic code" despite Rorvik stating "a viable human egg [i.e. an ovum] containing Max's DNA" was created. Even with our current cloning technology called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), a donor ovum is required. Ova contain tiny bits called Mitochondria that remain after the cell nucleus is switched using SCNT. This is true even with normal fertilization: the mitochondria of the ovum remains, while the sperm cell's mitochondria is discarded. While it's true the female mitochondria won't modify the genetic code in the cell nucleus, this female element nevertheless will remain. Moreover, mitochondria contain DNA of their own.

Nuclear transplantation in amphibians
using embryonic cells as nuclear donors
Going back to Rorvik's claims, scientists, were skeptical. They argued that Rorvik's claim could not be true because the state-of-the-art in cloning technology was nowhere near the level required to produced a human clone. The cloning technique he described was loosely based on a procedure that had been successfully used to clone a frog in the mid-1960s. However, it was well known that this technique would not work in mammals because of the differences between mammalian and amphibian biology. Moreover, it should be noted that the transferred cell nucleus was not from a somatic cell, but embryonic cells.

Rorvik's book sold extremely well and sparked national debate about the ethics of cloning. However, within months Lippincott and Rorvik found themselves in court when they were sued for defamation by J. Derek Bromhall, a British scientist whose research had been cited in the book. The court asked Rorvik to provide concrete evidence of the existence of the cloned boy. When he failed to do so, the court ruled that Rorvik's book was a "fraud and a hoax." A year later, in 1982, Lippincott agreed to pay an unspecified amount of damages to Bromhall.

Rorvik's motivations for perpetrating the hoax remain unclear. Money might have been a factor, although he lost a great deal of what he earned from the book to legal fees. Alternatively, he might have hoped to draw attention to the ethical issues raised by the startling advances being achieved in the biological sciences. During the 1980s these advances spawned the biotechnology industry and in 1997 allowed the (true) cloning of a mammal, a Scottish sheep named Dolly. In this sense, although Rorvik's story was not true, it was, at least, prescient.

Rael never updated his book to reflect the court's ruling in 1981. Perhaps he took inspiration from it to perpetrate his own human cloning hoax through Clonaid in 2003.

Advocatus Diaboli


Update: In late January, 2018, the first successful cloning of primates has been announced.