Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crazier even than Evolution? Maybe not.

Check this out:

"Raëlism... is a UFO religion which teaches that all life on Earth was created by humanoid extraterrestrials called Elohim." (Thank Wikipedia for making me put that in quotes.)

The Raëlian leader is named Raël (of course), a former French sports-car journalist whose pre-enlightened name was Claude Vorihon. The International Raëlian Movement has been called (by Claude, at least) "the largest UFO religion in the world." And they don't laugh when they say it, either - just like Evolutionists don't giggle with the absurdity of man coming from a zebra or such.

You get to be one by undergoing a "transmission ceremony" and paying dues. Don't forget the dues. None of your volunteer tithing here, by god. There are seven levels in this religion and Claude the sports-writer is right there in numero siete. At the very top. What a surprise. I'm sure Claude (Raël) handles all the dues, too.

Well, why not? If you can bring yourself to believe that an ameba became a worm became a bird became a monkey became man, and can teach that with a straight face without proof in a classroom, then why not Outer Space?

Hell, I can SEE the stars.

Disclaimer: I don't have a CLUE where we came from. Worse, like a loyal reader of this blog, I DON'T CARE.


  1. I used to be an amoeba.
    Good times, good times.
    Some of the evolutionary phases were tough. Oh yes. Fighting stegosaurs for a few ferns to lunch on, then those triceratops muscling in, then the bellow that warned of the coming of the meat-eaters....
    Oh yes, try get those greenpeacer sea shepherd greenie to stand between you and a velociraptor. Don't make me laugh....
    Feathers? I sneezed, constantly for several million years. then the fur. Stinking matted fur. I was quite glad when I was able to drop from a tree and take up my new stance as a hominid. And we got to use fire. And sticks and all sorts of other cool stuff, like, er, er. well hollowed out log canoes. And flints. And in later years, telephones and stuff.
    Who'd ha thought it, back in amoeba days?
    Hey. You look familiar... I remember a pseudopod anywhere!

  2. *Sigh* "Evolutionists"? You mean, scientists? Rational human beings?

    I've never met an "evolutionist", though I have met people who feel the theory of evolution best fits a wealth of data, including adaptation actually seen, gene-mapping and the fossil records. Probably more data than that, but, since there's no other data available, that's enough for most of us "looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, is a duck folks" to feel confident.

    The problem isn't that it couldn't be wrong (though, with the preponderance of the data, it is unlikely to be "wrong" so much as different than we currently envision, tweaking the final whole). The problem is that there isn't another viable idea that fits even a relatively tiny portion of the data. So, as scientists, we're stuck with what fits the reality (in other words, the actual hard data) we have.

    We get new data that disproves it, scientists will find a new theory. (Only one reliable piece of data is required to disprove a theory, by the way).

    By definition, by the way, a theory can't be proven, just bolstered and demonstrated with data, repeatable and consistent data. Science theory is taught all the time in classrooms because, if we removed everything that was theory and left only facts, there wouldn't be any science.

    On the other hand, these theories have enabled us to build heavier than air spacecraft and nuclear reactors and bombs, predict volcano eruptions and earthquakes, track hurricanes and other tropical cyclones, make lasers, and, yes, make huge advances in husbandry, farming and medicine. Which, I think, is a good argument for letting us continue to teach data backed science.

  3. Really? You're going to call evolution crazy? I thought you had better sense than that. Right on, Stephanie.

  4. @Soubriquet - I liked your comment. But nobody commented on the subject of the post. Does nobody but me think these people are crazy in an interesting way? I like religions that advance plausible theories, even if I think their leader has ulterior motives. ALL religious leaders have ulterior motives, if only to advance their particular brand. This one was simply more interesting to me and required less faith to believe in it.

  5. @Stephanie B - You know by now I only do this to get under your skin. Why do you always leap at the bait? I will tell you the same thing I always tell you:

    1. I believe in natural selection and don't think it is simply a theory, because I can see it with my own eyes. Evolution is a different story.

    2. I don't know where life on earth came from. Neither do you.

    An "evolutionist" (so my dictionary says) is a person who believes in the theory of evolution IN ADDITION TO believing in Natural Selection. And no, I don't ever confuse evolutionists with scientists or rational thinkers. :)

    @Redbeard - I didn't think YOU had more sense. :)

    Thank you for coming by - it has been too long again.

  6. Scientists don't (or shouldn't) believe in a theory - they should formulate a theory based on data and look for more data to support it, then, once a reasonable amount of data has substantiated the theory, the theory has been demonstrated and agreed upon by other experts using that data and data independently gathered by other experts, they can use that theory as a launching point for more research which might involve acting on that theory to see what happens next or looking for more data to support the theory - or both. Scientists (and other people who give credence to facts and hard data) might believe a theory to represent reality but believing "in" something argues, at least to me, a belief that defies facts if necessary.

    I know no credible scientists who do the latter. If hard evidence came out that proved evolution, as currently theorized, was wrong, I don't know a single scientist who would balk at formulating a new theory (once, the data had been credibly validated).

    That is one way one can differentiate science from "faith". Scientists don't have to explain this to each other. It's part and parcel with the pursuit of science. It is incredibly frustrating to have to keep repeating this explanation to those who can't or won't understand the distinction.

    Not that I'm saying that would apply to you, Max. Of course, YOU understand the difference, don't you?

    I guess the question is, why is evolution a different story than natural selection (which isn't a theory at all and therefore requires no belief)? Surely you have data that would argue otherwise...

  7. My favorite books are The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever-in which the gods happen to be called the Elohm.

    Of course the writer stole it from Judaism and I'm guessing so did your cult leader.

    Hey, creating your own religion worked for L.Ron Hubbard.

    And I'm not sure I would describe myself as a "loyal" reader, maybe frequent would be better. Not that I care.

  8. @Stephanie B - I must tell you first off that I find some portions of your comment both condescending and insulting to my intelligence, but I realize you may not have intended such, and I am grateful that you take the time to come here. This blog is better for your participation. I mean that.

    I said I believe in Natural Selection. I used the word believe. I said I didn't think Natural Selection was a theory. I don't think I have ever said I believe in theories. However, I don't think it is forbidden to believe in theories (when the evidence is preponderant, even if not empirical.)

    The word belief only means an ACCEPTANCE that something is true or that something exists.

    FAITH, on the other hand, is belief without evidence. I am not personally known for that, just so you might know me a little better.

    Yes, I DO comprehend the system of investigation we commonly call Scientific Method.

    Yes I AM familiar with the elements and precepts that need to be present in a valid scientific investigation.

    Yes, I DO understand the difference between the gathering and analysis of evidence versus witchcraft.

    You start with some statements I find misleading, even unscientific.

    For example, you begin your comment by saying, "Scientists don't (or shouldn't) believe in a theory..."

    Are you serious?

    Let's apply Scientific Method to that sentence:

    1. Scientists shouldn't believe in theories.

    2. Evolution is a theory.

    3. Scientists shouldn't believe in Evolution.

    Perhaps you are only confusing the word "believe" with the word "intransigent", but I'm here to tell you that there are a TON of good scientists out there who BELIEVE in the Theory of Evolution. That is, they have come to an acceptance that the theory is valid.

    I'm also here to tell you that there are one or two GOOD scientists in this word who don't think the evidence is truly all that preponderant.

    I don't get paid to be a scientist in the way you style yourself. That doesn't mean I don't have education or analytical ability - nor does it mean I am obligated to draw the same conclusions from the available evidence as "your side" does. I respect your right to your, and many other scientists', opinion. I respect your right to be vocal about it. I do NOT concede your (or anyone else's) right to ridicule or marginaIize differing opinions which may also arise from reasonable analytical thought. I do NOT believe followers or devotees of any particular theory, however scientific in the present day, carries with it some monopoly on "correct thought". That I reserve for that which has been proven and no longer theory.

    If you like, I would be happy to point out the drawback in the Theory of Evolution that keeps me from jumping on board with full zealot vigor. Hint: it is the same drawback that troubled Charles Darwin.

    Thank you for allowing my opinion, Stephanie. I mean no disrespect to your knowledge or your science. To clarify, I am not arguing against the Theory of Evolution, or trying to disprove it: I am simply asserting, over and over, that I find some uncomfortable gaps in the evidence that need to be cleared up.

  9. @Descartes - I am hesitant to be a party to insinuating some folks might possibly profit from religion. I believe religion to be helpful to us throughout our history, especially in preventing wars, and a more pure and selfless group of people, you'll never find. If I am not being sincere and truthful in these things I say, may god strike you down.

    I would never refer to you as loyal. That was a reference to another person who is regular. I mean who comes here regularly, and doesn't care about important things like Tiger Woods. I do admit you don't care about these things either, though.

    I like that you have favorite books.

  10. You didn't think I had more sense?What's that supposed to mean? o_O If you're looking to pick a fight or bait me into something or insult my intelligence, consider your readership lost by one. The last thing I need to read is a condescending elitist self-important author.

  11. What??? I'm not being condescending to you Red! I was agreeing you had more sense. At least I thought I was.

  12. They may be crazy but they raised money to build the Pleasure Hospital (more usually known as Kamkaso Hospital) for FGM reversal, also performed in the US and funded by Raelians. I am very much in two minds as to whether to applaud their efforts or worry that these are the same people who claim to have cloned a woman.

    For an alternative view of where we've come from, you can do no better than consulting our very own David Icke. Apparently we are the result of a breeding program carried out by reptilians from another planet. I expect to be exterminated any minute for telling you this because the internet is controlled by them.

  13. I love you (in a friendly sort of way), Relax Max, but I took the time to explain how I view a difference in what I meant by "believe in" and "believing a theory might represent reality". If you're going to ignore my very explicit description and put your own interpretation in, I can't help it, but I won't defend something I never said. We all use the language; we don't all necessarily use it the same way.

    I have never said that Evolution is fact or implied it is. Nor do I have an issue with gaps in knowledge or data. It is, in my understanding, the best available explanation to fit the available data.

    If there is data that disprove the theory (which is not the same as knowledge gaps we don't have the data to fill), please, I urge you to bring it forward. I have no interest in espousing any theory that can be readily disproved. I am interested in the truth, nothing more.

    If you have a theory that better fits the available data or know of one, I urge you to bring it forward as well.

    My issue (and the reason why many zoologists and paleontologists become rabid on this subject) is that people want to put "theories" that can be readily disproved or that have little or no basis in fact on a level playing field with theories that fit the available data, that have been subject to the scientific method and scrutiny. I am not a zoologist or a paleontologist, but I respect the work they do.

    You told me I was condescending and insulting. What do you think it is to compare the UFO religion to evolution as if they had equal basis? Hell, Raëlism isn't even the worst thing science is compared to.

    You can believe (or believe in) whatever you want. However, if you ridicule science that has been subject to the scientific method, and imply acceptance of that theory is on par with a self-serving UFO-based religion, I maintain that I'm not the one being condescending or insulting.

  14. Max, Raelians "crazy in an interesting way"? nope.I think they're crazy, and stupid, to boot.

    You or I could come up with our own, off the shelf, pointless religion theory. Rael. Ha! Erik Von Daniken all over again. Lyall Watson.

    Oh yes, I remember "Supernature", the man was quite convincing-sounding. Razor blades resharpening themselves overnight if you keep them in a cardboard replica of the great pyramid.
    Yet somehow Gillette didn't go bust overnight, and nobody made millions out of cardboard pyramids.
    I'll bet Rael wishes he'd thought of that.

    So no, the subject of the post, I dismiss as just another charismatic fraudster in a star-trek suit.

  15. @A. - I didn't know anything about that. I wouldn't have poked fun at him if I had. I am happy they are doing that, but I can't help but believe there is something else involved.

    @Stephanie B - I just think they both have some missing links.

    @Soubriquet - I stand corrected. I thought they were funny. Thank you for introducing me to Lyall Watson. He seems quite fascinating. I still haven't figured out the 100th monkey. I am impressed he studied under Desmond Morris (The Naked Ape) though, or is he a wacko too?

  16. Desmond Morris is definitely not a wacko, but that doesn't mean all of his students are sane.
    Lyall, I think, was fascinating. It's clear beyond a doubt that he was a very clever man, which brings us to another interesting and problematic point. Many great figures of history appear to have had a few loose screws, yet have done remarkable things. I'm not sure there's a definition of absolute sanity.
    Lyall came up with some pretty wild and hard to justify statements in supernature, but I'd definitely recommend reading it.
    In later years he confessed that he made a few wild leaps in the book, and invented a certain amount of data, but only because he was convinced that that's what SHOULD be there.
    The hundredth monkey was one of them. that monkey was the monkey equivalent of the last straw that broke the camel's back. He'd kinda decided that there was some number, a tipping point, where the collective consciousness of the monkeys in the experiment would link with that of all the monkeys on the island. However, they failed to prove that, and lyle, convinced it must be so, invented the "hundredth monkey" to explain what he thought was happening.

    They hooked a plant up to sensitive electrical indicators, and showed that if you burned a leaf, there would be a trace on the graph, that Lyall interpreted as showing pain. However, where it gets tricky... is that he claimed you could, after training a plant to expect pain... get a "pain" response out of it by merely THINKING of burning it.
    Ergo, Lyle said, plants are capable of telepathy. Oh. And if you chuck a live prawn into boiling water, the trees scream a silent scream.
    Now all this could of course be true, or it could be a heap of erroneous assumptions about what was happening. And other scientists at the time failed to get the responses he claimed.
    But for me, it was the pyramid and razor blade that made me sceptical of anything he uttered.
    If we have any inkling of the difference between a blunt and a sharp razor blade, as viewed at microscopic level, then its very hard to imagine any mechanism by which that razor's edge will be restored other than by honing. Yet if we put it in a cardboard pyramid it will be repaired overnight?
    I envisage a vast gillette recycling facility, a gleaming glittering pyramid in the desert...

    I read Supernature many years ago, at about the same time as I read the bible. Both were mildly entertaining, neither managed to turn me into a believer.

  17. @Soubriquet - Thanks for the explanation.

    You seem to believe in something though. Not sure yet.

  18. Coincidently, here's some more expert understanding than mine to address your contentions.

  19. Thank you to Descartes for reminding me of the Thomas Covenant books which I read years ago. I knew Elohim was ringing a bell (besides the biblical one), and couldn't place it.
    I had a transmission ceremony about 20 years ago and it cost me 750 dollars. But I still couldn't fly.

  20. I'm not a creationist, Stephanie. Sorry you missed that. Evolution is a theory. I accept that. I disagree with the arrogance of "the skeptics" thinking they have it figured out, when, in actuality, they have come to be so invested in a theory that they now BELIEVE it and selectively add evidence to support their belief rather than simply continue to observe.

    I don't know. You don't know. They don't know. If provable "speciation events" really occur, then Evolution would not be a theory, would it? I don't believe in speciation events. I believe in natural selection and genetic mutation.

    I don't conclude that "transitional" fossils are transitional at all. They are only evidence of similar-but-discrete organisms. They MIGHT be "transitional", but that is a leap of faith that is unscientific.

    You "believe" everything points to Evolution, don't you? Tell me, is that because people you respect taught you that? Or does it arise from your own investigation?

    But I haven't investigated anything. Not like a research scientist does. All I have done is read about it, and my reading has left me without a conclusion or even a preference.

    I can point you to some sites that ridicule the concept of Evolution, "poke holes in it" and use real scientists to back up what they say. But I don't believe they know either, so I stay away from them too.

    I'm just a natural doubter, Stephanie. I can't see evolution happening around me right now, and if it takes 500 million years to produce a little change, I don't see the use of it even if it is true.

  21. @Janet - I wish you would tell me more about what you did back then. What was it like? What happened?

  22. My father was a plant physiologist (and, coincidently, a life-long Mormon). Plants, of course, and bugs can go through dozens of cycles/generations whereas many animals take longer.

    When I was young, he explained how he understood the processes working and what he'd observed in plants and insects, that supported the validity of those processes.

    (It should be noted that the Mormon Church is at the forefront of many of the "poking holes in evolution" movements. My father, having received a Masters at BYU was familiar with them and showed me what was wrong with those arguments on an individual basis).

    When I became older, I became fascinated with genetics and studied it myself.

    I could call him and challenge him on his assertions (he was a good enough scientist to welcome challenges), but he died of his own mutation (cancer) three years ago this upcoming March.

    I did respect him. I have done enough research to feel confident in the research of others without being an expert.

    I believe that all the hard data available today is compatible with an evolutionary explanation. I also believe that, if hard data comes along that conclusively shows evolution is wrong, science will change to fit the new reality, though it might take a while.

    I have no dog in the fight, Max. I couldn't care less if you agree or "believe" or accept evolution. Believe as you will. But comparing evolution to a religious cult is insulting, and I am not afraid to tell you so.

    Nor, do I think "theories" that can be disproved or that do not fit existing data be taught in school as "science."

    By all means, though, feel free to teach them in theology. Raëlism, too, if you want to. I'm not an expert in theology and am not qualified to determine what is true theology and what is just a self-serving scam. But then I don't think theologians should decide what's taught in science.



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