Call me crazy, but I kind of get where them Raelians are coming from ...

So are the Raelians a "movement" ... a "religion" ... a "sect" ... or just plain a "cult"?

Raelians, as you might know, are the .. er, um ... "group" who, on December 27th, claimed to have produced a healthy baby girl using DNA taken from the skin cells of her 31-year-old American mother. A clone.

Dolly, the first cloned sheep, came out in 1997. Since then the cloning of animals has become almost routine. Companies have been able to churn out cloned cows, goats, and other critters, some of them genetically engineered to make valuable pharmaceutical products. Still, many of the clones are born defective or not born at all. That's why virtually every scientist strongly believes that it's too early to begin cloning people -- the risks of creating defective fetuses and children are still way too high.

Now, I don't really think we should be throwing around clones everywhere. And the Raelians' plan to be able to clone full human beings and transfer memories overnight sounds ghastly to me. Hey, I was the guy who was against freezing Ted Williams! I mean, I still find Futurama a bit disturbing, and that's a damn cartoon!

So of course I think the Raelians are off their rockers.

Yet, I actually believe in some of the things they believe in.

See, one of my ex-girlfriends out here in California worked in a lab genetically engineering plants. (I'm even against THAT, too!) And one of her co-workers was a Raelian.

The Raelians seem to be mostly scientific folks who believe that life on Earth is not the result of random evolution, nor the work of a supernatural 'God'. It is a deliberate creation, using DNA, by a scientifically advanced people. Extraterrestrial. Aliens.

These aliens created man, and then told him they did so. And man wrote it down. But some putz screwed up in the translation of the Bible. In Genesis, they feel that the word "Elohim" has been mistranslated as "God" in the singular. In the original Genesis texts written in Hebrew, one can read in the first three words of Genesis

In the fourth century this was translated as

"Elohim", a plural masculine Hebrew noun, was translated into the Latin word "Deus" - "God" in the singular. In the Hebrew language, the singular word for ELOHIM is ELOHA, the suffix -im is ALWAYS the mark for the plural. There is no exception to this rule in the entire Hebrew language.

So by mistake in translation they singularized it. But that's really besides the point, because the literal translation of the word "Elohim" does not signify God but

And aliens WOULD come from the sky ...

So anyway, these aliens then left, leaving humanity to progress by itself. However, they did send some contacts our way ... some guys named Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. Perhaps you've heard of them ...?

But seriously, this sounds kind of feasible to me. For real! I generally hate talking about religion, but I also hate when the media makes a person or group of persons out to be complete nutjobs. Listen. Some people think that man and woman were placed on earth by a magical unknown being, named God. Others think that humans formed after millions of years of evolution from little bits of RNA scattered in some tide pool. Then others think that unknown beings came to earth and helped evolution along.

They all sound as equally out there to me. And who am I to tell you what you believe is wrong?

I, personally, think that the latter is possible.

In fact, just last year I read an interesting article. A "molecular evolutionist" at the University of Georgia believes that a virus might have caused chimpanzees and humans to diverge from a common ancestor about six million years ago. The human genome is littered with scraps of DNA that serve no clearly defined function. Scientists believe these transposons - so called because they can jump around the chromosomes - were acquired millions or billions of years ago, when viruses inserted their own DNA into that of the host. Out of a family of 147 related transposons, called HERV-K elements, a single element is present in humans but not in chimps. Judging from other measures of genetic change, this transposon appeared 6 million years ago, exactly when humans and chimps went their separate ways. The scientists hypothesize that bits of viral DNA might have inserted themselves and altered functional genes, modifying the proteins they make, or the viral bits might have incited a reshuffling of the primate genome.

Now I know I have a very sci-fi oriented look at things, and sometimes my imagination runs wild - but - HOLY SHIT! I mean, we can make viruses now - what's to say that a race of spaceage beings couldn't do this? And if their planet was on a different timeline than ours, they might have been able to do this SIX MILLION YEARS AGO!

Sure, the Raelians get a little freaky, what with their theme park in Quebec and their wanting to build a giant space embassy so the aliens can come on a sanctioned visit. Oh, and the Raelians also like to meditate in the nude and have big ol' orgies. That's not my speed. I just hate that they're called UFO wackos for not playing along with everyone else.

That and they're trying to clone dead babies ... oh, wait.

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