If you’ve seen the new Netflix docuseries about a religious group called the Raëlians founded by Maitreya Raël (formerly Claude Vorilhon) in the 1970s, you may be wondering if Brigitte Boisselier’s claims about having created the first human clone, whom she calls “Baby Eve,” are true.
Warning: Spoilers follow for Raël: The Alien Prophet.
In 2002, Boisselier announced publicly that she had successfully produced the first human clone through she and Vorilhon’s company Clonaid. Calling her “Baby Eve” to protect the child’s identity, Boisselier said that Eve was cloned using the DNA of her mother, and that she was born in Israel on Dec. 26, 2002, according to CNN. She said used the same process, called somatic cell nuclear transfer, that was successfully used to clone a sheep named Dolly in 1996.
Is ‘First Human Clone’ Baby Eve Real?
No formal evidence that Eve was truly a genetic replica of her mother — or that she ever even existed — has ever been shown, and the validity of Boisselier’s claims remains unproven, according to StatNews, a health news website produced by Boston Globe Media.
In 2004, Clonaid said it had produced 14 total human clones, StatNews added — but these claims have also never been proven due to the company’s refusal to allow independent tests on the children, or even to provide proof of their identities.
Indeed, the idea of Eve’s existence — or that any human cloning was ever achieved by Clonaid — has been called an elaborate hoax, according to the docuseries.
Former Raëlian Says Baby Eve Doesn’t Exist
“Having been on the inside, I can tell you assuredly, it’s all fake,” former Raëlian Damien Marsic, who left the religion in 2016, says in Raël: The Alien Prophet.
Marsic says that he was the only scientist actually working in the Raëlians’ lab, and that they were nowhere near the scientific capability of bringing a human clone to term through surrogacy when Boisselier made the claim that Baby Eve had been born.
“This is by far the craziest and most bizarre story I have ever heard in my life, because it wasn’t true,” Miami Herald journalist Jay Weaver says in the docuseries. “And fortunately, it didn’t hurt anybody. I guess the only real victims here and I say this with tongue in cheek, are the Raëlians. They come across as complete fools.”
Boisselier still maintains that Baby Eve is real, but that she prefers to maintain her privacy rather than to come forward. She remains a devout member of the Raëlians religious sect and is interviewed extensively in Netflix’s Raël: The Alien Prophet.
Raël started the Raëlians in the 1970s based on the story that he had met an alien who told him that extraterrestrials were the creators of humanity. Referring to the aliens as the “Elohim,” Vorilhon grew the religious group with the goal of building a multi-million dollar embassy from which to welcome the Elohim’s arrival on earth in the year 2035.
In his own interview in the docuseries, Vorilhon — who remains the leader of the Raëlians to this day — denies having ever participated in cloning, saying that Clonaid was nothing more than a shell company.
“I have neither the will nor the skill set. I’m not a scientist,” Vorilhon says in Raël: The Alien Prophet. “To tell you the truth, I probably would have never even mentioned cloning if the Pope himself had not mentioned it. He was against cloning, and I thought, ‘Let’s create a cloning venture.’ Everything the Pope says, I try and counter it. To me, he is the epitome of guilt and the worst for humankind.
He continued: “So I created a shell company, Clonaid, a P.O. Box in the Bahamas, just so people could say ‘Raël is launching human cloning company.’ Then Brigitte Boisselier came along and told me, ‘I’d like to do it for real.’ I said ‘Go ahead.’ And suddenly, there was a massive outcry that led us to the American congress to testify with Brigitte. We thought it was hilarious.”
All four episodes of Raël: The Alien Prophet are now streaming on Netflix.
Main Image: (L-R) Claude “Raël” Vorilhon and Brigitte Boisselier pictured in Raël: The Alien Prophet courtesy of Netflix