Why Would a Religion Want To Clone Humans?

Brigitte Boisselier, a chemist and member of a religious sect called the Raelians, reiterated Tuesday the group’s intention to clone a human being. Who are the Raelians, and what religious reason do they have for cloning humans?

Led by a former French race car driver and journalist who calls himself “Rael,” the Raelians number in the tens of thousands worldwide. They believe cloning is the path to immortality.

Cloning is the only way to attain eternal life for the Raelians because they believe humans do not have divine souls. The Raelians aspire to clone fully formed adults. Ultimately, they believe the technology will be available to transfer memories and personality into the adult clones.

The Raelians believe humanity was created in genetic experiments by extraterrestrial scientists known as the Elohim. Early humans falsely believed the Elohim were gods. Past prophets such as Moses, the Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed were human ambassadors for the Elohim. The Raelians believe Jesus was resurrected through an advanced cloning technique.

Most scientists believe the cloning of full-grown adults and the transfer of personalities are not feasible. Because the Raelians are so secretive, it is difficult for scientists to gauge how seriously to take their promise.

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Explainer thanks the Raelian Web site, the Clonaid Web site, this page from theUniversityofVirginia’s Religious Movements home page, and this Wired story.