On December 13, 1973, Claude Vorilhon (1946– ), a French sports journalist and former race car driver, claimed to have been contacted by an extraterrestrial being while climbing the Puy de Lassolas volcanic crater near Clermond-Ferrand, France. Vorilhon was astonished when he spotted a metallic-looking object in the shape of a flattened bell about 30 feet in diameter descend from the sky. A door opened in the side of the craft, and what appeared to be a humanlike being about four feet in height approached in a peaceful manner. Vorilhon soon believed that the being was a member of the Elohim—the "gods" who made humans in their own image. The primitive ancestors of modern humankind had interpreted the extraterrestrial visitors from the stars as gods, because to them any beings arriving from the heavens could only be divine. It was the extraterrestrials, the Elohim, who created Homo sapiens in their image in their laboratories, utilizing deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), just as contemporary Earth scientists are at the point of creating "synthetic" humans in the same manner.
Then, Vorilhon said, the extraterrestrial being explained that in a manner similar to the Greek legend of Pygmalion who created a statue so beautiful that he fell in love with it, so did certain of the Elohim find the products of their laboratory artistry compellingly irresistible. The results, Vorilhon said, were recorded in Genesis 6:4: "…When the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men…they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
The extraterrestrial told Vorilhon that the Elohim had sent great prophets, such as Moses (c. 14th–13th century B.C.E.), Ezekial (sixth century B.C.E.), the Buddha (c. 563–c. 483 B.C.E.), and Muhammad (c. 570–632 C.E) to guide humankind. Jesus (c. 6 B.C.E.–c. 30 C.E.), the fruit of a union between the Elohim and Mary, a daughter of man, was given the mission of making the Elohim's messages of guidance known throughout the world in anticipation of the Age of Apocalypse—which in the original Greek meant the "age of revelation," not the "end of the world." It is in this epoch, which the people of Earth entered in 1945, that humankind will at last be able to understand scientifically that which the Elohim accomplished aeons ago in the Genesis story.
Claude Vorilhon said that the Elohim renamed him "Rael," which means "the man who brings light." Shortly after his encounter with the extraterrestrial, he created the Raelian Movement, which soon acquired more than a thousand members in France. In 2001, according to figures produced by the Raelians, their membership included 55,000 individuals in 85 different countries.
Rael claimed that on October 7, 1975, the Elohim physically contacted him again, and this time he was invited aboard a spacecraft and taken to their home planet. During this extraterrestrial contact experience, Rael learned that after the nuclear explosions in 1945, the Elohim believed that humans had entered the Age of Apocalypse. However, they cannot return in large numbers until the inhabitants of Earth begin to display a greater ability to live together in peace, love, and brother/sisterhood. And the Elohim are awaiting some evidence that the planet can be governed with intelligence and spirit before they fully reveal themselves to Earth at large.
Because the Elohim feel that many members of humankind are now able to understand their extraterrestrial creators without mystifying or worshipping them, they asked Rael to establish an embassy wherein they will be able to meet with Earth's leaders. Although the Elohim feel strongly that a mass landing would bring about disastrous political, religious, social, and economic consequences throughout the world, the neutrality provided by such an embassy would enable them to demonstrate the love and respect that they hold for humankind.
Rael maintains that he has established the Raelian Movement according to the instructions given to him by the Elohim. Its aims are to inform humankind of the reality of the Elohim "without convincing," to establish the embassy where the Elohim would be welcome, and to help prepare a human society adapted to the future. In the years since his first contact experience, he has written a number of books that may be obtained directly from the Raelians. The titles include The Message Given by Extraterrestrials, (detailing his first messages from the Elohim, said to have sold one million copies and to be printed in 22 languages), and Let's Welcome Our Fathers from Space.
In July 2001, the Raelian Movement made headlines around the world when one of its members, Brigitte Boisselier, a 44-year-old scientist with doctorates from universities in Dijon and Houston, announced that Clonaid, her team of four doctors and a technician, would soon produce the first human clone. Defying opposition from President George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress, Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson, and the Food and Drug Administration, Boisselier refused to disclose the location of Clonaid's two laboratories, other than to state that one was in the United States and the other abroad. Clonaid, established by Rael in 1997, is funded in part by $500,000 from an anonymous couple who want a child cloned from the DNA of their deceased 10-month-old son.
In Rael's opinion, such cloning will demonstrate the methods employed by the Elohim in their creation of the human species. As it was told to him, many centuries ago on a distant planet, scientific teams set out to create life on more primitive worlds. On one such planet, Earth, their laboratories created the life forms that became human beings.