Secret Cousins: Analogies in the Construction of Religious Authority through "Science" in Maurice Bucaille and Claude Vorilhon (Raël)

Research paper by Bigliardi, S.

Indexed on: 09 Nov '16Published on: 28 Oct '16Published in: Nova Religio


In this paper I discuss the work of two French authors who advocate a "scientific" exegesis of sacred scriptures: physician Maurice Bucaille (1922–1998) and religious leader Claude Vorilhon (alias Raël, b. 1946). Bucaille argues that the Qur’an’s divine origin is demonstrated by its accuracy about natural phenomena and "scientific facts," whereas the Bible does not stand up to "scientific" examination. Vorilhon supposedly received a revelation regarding the creation of humanity by an alien race, the Elohim. Part and parcel of such revelation is a biblical exegesis that identifies, in numerous passages of the Old and New Testaments, allusions to the Elohim’s technological interventions in the history of humanity. I argue here that despite apparent differences, these textual strategies—blending "science" and scriptures—display substantial similarities, and that they are influenced by narrative and philosophical patterns deeply rooted in French culture.