The Times asks, if aliens exist, what would Jesus do?

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Every now and again the concept of how religions might deal with the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life comes up. This week it's The Times science writer Hannah Devlin who asks, "Does Jesus Save aliens?"

According to her research, the question is a particularly difficult one for Christianity to tackle (although not so much for Eastern religions, which are "less Earth centric").

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.

Although various experts seem to agree that aliens would not, in the end, be incompatible with Catholic theology, the answer to Devlin's question brought up some intriguing debates. For instance, William Stroeger, an astrophysicist at the Vatican Observatory Research Group and a Jesuit priest, told her, "There are some difficult issues to resolve, such as whether Jesus as saviour is the one who saves everyone in the Universe or if there are other equivalent salvation events that take place elsewhere in the Universe."