According to Christianity, God created man in His own image and likeness, and sacrificed His only son to save mankind. But what if we are not alone in the Universe? Who would save others?
Experts believe that the discovery of extraterrestrial life would be a major challenge for Christian doctrine. The discovery of mere bacteria on another planet would cause a revolution in Christianity similar to that provoked by the discovery made by Nicolaus Copernicus, which forced the Church to recognize that Earth was not the center of the universe but revolved around the Sun, Like the other planets, said Vesa Nissinen, an expert on religion at the University of Helsinki, quoted by Helsingin Sanomat.
For his part, Jussi Sohlberg, a researcher at the Finnish center for the study of the Church, does not believe that the possible existence of life on other planets could threaten the Evangelical Lutheran doctrine. The finding of intelligent life, however, would have completely different consequences, according to the expert. The existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life raises some interesting questions, but the main one of them, according to Nissinen, is if the representatives of the distant civilizations, as well as the human, are in the image and likeness of God.
The issue of Salvation is probably the most complex if it is about the existence of intelligent life on other planets. Is divine mercy applicable to extraterrestrials? And, if so, how?
According to Nissinen, there are two ways of approaching this issue. According to the first of them, humanity is the people chosen by God and its purpose is to take the divine word to other intelligent beings. This is the position defended by the Vatican, said the expert.
The other view of the question suggests that salvation is given to the civilizations of the Universe separately. Although the second theory sounds logical, it leads to rare theological conclusions. “The idea that Jesus travels from one planet to another sacrificing himself undermines the evangelical idea of the singularity of this event,” said Nissinen. The most complex situation would be, according to the expert, if a civilization more advanced than the humanity arrived at Earth.
Extraterrestrials, moreover, could bring their own beliefs with them or, then, present themselves to humans as gods. “There is a view that the emergence of extraterrestrials would lead to a religious crisis so great that the Church could not recover and would completely disappear or be replaced by something new,” said Nissinen.
However, he recalled that Christianity has shown great adaptability over the centuries. For the expert, spiritual issues will remain relevant even after a meeting with extraterrestrial civilizations. No matter how advanced these beings may be, it is hard to imagine that they will be able to give a satisfactory answer to questions about the meaning of life or to rid the world of injustice, Nissinen concluded.