Nashville may not be fertile ground for belief in aliens.
Only five people showed up for yesterday’s public lecture by three representatives of the Raelian Movement, the atheistic group that believes life on Earth was cloned by a people from another solar system.
But before you sneer, the meeting yesterday was well-reasoned and sincere with a message of love, nonviolence and, above all, faith in science.
”We are not nuts. Anyone can be interested in our message,” said Francois, 58, who goes by that name alone.
A native of France, he’s a medical doctor in that country, he said, and he’s now working on a doctorate in biotechnology at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
His denial was in response to a column in The Tennessean yesterday that poked fun at their movement. But Francois shared the skepticism when he first heard the message of Rael, a Frenchman who claims that he was contacted by aliens in 1973.
”I thought, well, this guy is completely crazy, or he is very clever. He has found some new way to rob money from people,” Francois said. ”Or, maybe it’s true.”
After extensive research, he bought into the theory.
”Ten religions later, I was amazed,” he said. ”You have to open your mind. Something amazing is going to happen, and we are very lucky it is going to happen in our lifetime.”
That something is the return of the aliens — the ”parents” of the human race — just as soon as the Raelians build an embassy to welcome them to earth.
That’s the sort of thing that really raises eyebrows, along with the international Raelian claim that the movement has cloned a human being.
It’s not so implausible, said Damien Marsic, 39, also a Frenchman studying biotechnology in Huntsville. He travels regularly to other cities to hold the lectures, including one about six months ago in Nashville that he said had 30 attendees.
”Two hundred years ago, nobody knew there were other planets,” Marsic said. ”It’s not a far-fetched idea anymore. There is enough science that we do not have to believe in the supernatural. Our future can be very beautiful if we allow science to help us.”
It’s an easy leap for 12-year Raelian Willie Girald, a professor from Puerto Rico who’s studying biochemistry and genetics at Vanderbilt University.
”To me, it’s common sense,” he said.
Sorry, but Laura Rogers isn’t so sure. Rogers, 38, is seeking spiritual answers even though she currently attends a Methodist church.
”I’ve looked into all the religions, and I’m studying them still,” she said after the lecture. ”I don’t know if any of our religious structures are right.”
Concerning the message of Rael, ”I’m not convinced at all,” Rogers said. Still, she added, ”I’m going to explore it some more.”
That’s OK with Francois, who stressed that the point was not to believe but to understand.
”And I insist,” he said, ”we are not nuts.”