It may look like a Nazi swastika superimposed on a Jewish Star of David, but it isn't.
Or is it?
The Raelian Movement is a religion that does not believe in God. They do believe in aliens, they believe in sexual freedom between consenting adults, and they believe in cloning humans.
All pretty contentious stuff.
The movement has a relatively small membership. It thrives on controversy, since that guarantees media interest that other groups of similar size could not achieve. No surprise, therefore, that their logo is also controversial.
The Star of David is well known as the symbol of Judaism. The swastika has been equally well known as a symbol of the Nazis, who tried to exterminate the Jews. Could any coalesced symbol be more controversial than this?
The Raelians play down the Nazi/Jewish association and state: "The star of David represents infinity in space whereas the swastika represents infinity in time; i.e., there being no beginning, no end in time and everything being cyclical."1
Star of David
One point about symbols is that they can mean whatever we want them to mean. The common interpretation is that the Star of David comprises two triangles, representing the Greek letter for 'D' inverted over the other, which happens to have been King David's royal cipher (since his name began and ended with a 'D'). It has been adopted by Jews and is commonly recognised as a symbol of the Jewish faith.
There is nothing to stop anyone claiming the symbol means something else. But as a representation of "infinity in space" is a curious choice.
The nub is that for something to be infinite, it must be an extension of something. And since the definition of space is 'emptiness', an empty quantity is a contradiction in terms. Aristotle probably had a bit of a headache over this point, and countless philosophers still wonder. Yes, space, whether abstract or real, is infinite. And it is infinite whether or not we can grasp the understanding of it. But so what? What is so important about the infinity of space?
The second point is that, whether thinking of mathematical infinity of space or philosophical infinity of space, it doesn't seem a very appropriate symbol. Its thick border doesn't match the idea that space has no borders.
For the swastika to represent the "infinity in time" is even more curious. Yes, the swastika has been used since ancient times to represent a rotating, cyclic motion; but the immediate reaction to most people must surely be of Nazism.
Rather than the swastika, the lemniscate symbol is more commonly associated with never-ending motion , or Rael could have simply chosen a circle.
Therapeutic human cloning is for regenerative medicine; building tissues and organs for transplanting into the patient. The next inevitable step is reproductive cloning, which would improve human hereditary traits by promoting higher reproduction of certain people and traits, and reducing reproduction of other people and traits. The result would be more people who are fitter, stronger, more intelligent, more beautiful, which means there would be fewer people who don't meet the standard.
This leads to Hitler's super race through eugenics, and the swastika is a disturbing reminder of this.
Science is useful but cannot answer questions of morality. Fortunately, reproductive cloning is still science fiction. Yes, we might want to reproduce ourselves but the Raelian idea of immortality just doesn't make sense.
If Michael Jackson, for example, were to be re-born from his own DNA, it is a certainty that he would not grow to be the same person, an "exact replica"2, because he would be in a completely different environment. The world has changed so much since his first years in the 1960's.
What is so bad about believing in aliens and free sex?
The real harm to Raelians (like Scientologists, Moonies, and a whole batch of others in fringe religions) is that their attention is diverted from the really important matters of life. The founder of the Raelian Movement, Mr Claude Vorilhon, may offer immortality "in a computer without the need for a biological body"2 but for what purpose?
Eternal life in heaven sounds much better.3