Hannah Devlin writes in the Times:
Four hundred years after Renaissance philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake for his belief in the “plurality of worlds” (aliens), scientists and religious leaders gathered this week at a seemingly more open-minded Vatican for a conference on astrobiology (aliens).
The meeting focussed on current science, rather than the theological quandaries thrown up by the possibility of other life forms beyond this planet. But that hasn’t stopped debate spilling over outside the conference.
Yesterday I spoke to Paul Davies, a cosmologist from Arizona State University, just after he addressed the conference. In his view, the possibility of other civilisations — potentially more intelligent than our own — puts Christians “in a real bind”. Specifically, he says that nobody’s satisfactorily addressed the question of whether aliens get saved. “The Catholic church offers a very species specific brand of salvation. Noone says that Jesus came to save the dolphins and certainly not little green men,” he said.
The possibility of extraterrestrial life does not pose the same problems for Eastern religions, which tend to be less Earth-centric, or Islam, which speaks explicitly of life beyond Earth, he said.
More on the Times