Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alien Contactees Can't Find Jesus

Remember the Raelians? For those who need a refresher, Raelism is a contactee religion founded in 1974 that claims extraterrestrials called the Elohim created life on earth. The Raelians were in the news back in 2002 when a company associated with the movement claimed to have achieved human cloning, which was never verified by scientists outside the group and regarded as dubious by most mainstream biologists.

The latest Raelist project is a lot less ambitious. Using DNA analysis, a group of Raelians have proved that consecrated communion wafers do not contain any of Jesus' DNA. They claim that this proves "Holy Communion is a fraud," even though all it does is put them in agreement with all Protestant and Anglican denominations - which, by the way, still practice Holy Communion.

The Raelian researchers collected consecrated hosts from five different Catholic churches in the United States and Canada, and then tested the samples for human DNA. “But DNA analysis performed on five different hosts collected after the Catholic ritual of consecration showed no DNA change whatsoever in them,” Boisselier explained. “The wheat DNA remained wheat DNA, with no human DNA present other than that resulting from contamination caused by human handling of the hosts. This study clearly falsifies the claim that a religious ritual performed by a priest can actually change the substance of a bread wafer into the substance of a human body.”

The only reason this is an issue at all is because of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, which is not shared by non-Catholics. And, in fact, as I recall tests were done in the 1970's that showed communion wafers did not physically transform. There was no DNA testing back then, but researchers did find that no experimental test could distinguish consecrated wafers from unconsecrated ones. So the Raelians already had a pretty good idea of what they would find, making this more a publicity stunt than a real test.

Had the Raelians actually found human DNA in the wafers, I expect that they would instead be announcing a new initiative to clone Jesus. That's just how they think. They can argue all they want about religious dogma misleading people, but then they start gushing about messages from space aliens. Is that any more believable than transubstantiation? I'll grant that intelligent aliens probably exist somewhere in the universe, but ufologists have never been able to come up with verifiable evidence that they've contacted us - and it's not for lack of trying.

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Rita said...

I would assume that anything, including DNA that can be detected by physical tests would be regarded as "accidents" in the philosophical sense. The RC Church has never claimed that the accidents of the wine and wafer are altered; it is the "essence", by its nature undetectable, that is believed to be transformed into the body and blood. This is about on a par with the Soviet Cosmonauts proving Soviet atheism by pointing out that they could not see clouds with angels, etc. from their space vehicles. Confusion of categories abounds.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yes, all this test really makes clear is that the Raelians do not understand anything about Christianity. Christian denominations that don't follow transubstantiation do not believe that "communion is a fraud" and still practice it. So even if you start out buying their framing, the conclusion is not self-evident.

How about they do a test that proves to an impartial observer that they're in contact with space aliens? I can't believe it would be that hard for them to do if any of it is real. To me, their failure to do so demonstrates that "Raelian alien contact is a fraud." You know, unless they want to provide some evidence to the contrary.