What would the discovery of an alien civilization mean for the most basic tenets of Christianity? This question was explored last Saturday at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Orlando, Florida.
At this DARPA-sponsored event, theologian Christian Weidemann of Ruhr-University Bochum attempted to square the messianic salvation of mankind with an endless galaxy rife with (if I had my druthers) laser-griffins and sentient mop empires.
In a panel titled "Did Jesus die for Klingons too?", Weidemann recognized the conundrums of trying to balance Jesus Christ's salvation of mankind with a massive universe of billions of galaxies.
Weidemann mentioned that either A.) Jesus sacrificed himself for each alien civilization; or that B.) humans are simply in a privileged position. From The Daily Mail.
The alternative, posits Weidemann, is that Jesus chose earthlings as the single race to save and abandoned every other life form in the galaxy.
Or, it could have been because humans were the only race who had sinned and required 'saving', said Weidemann, who added: 'You can grasp the conflict.'
'If there are extra-terrestrial intelligent beings at all, it is safe to assume that most of them are sinners too [...] If so, did Jesus save them too? My position is no. If so, our position among intelligent beings in the universe would be very exceptional.'
Among Weidemann's suggestions as to how Jesus and God may have tackled the issue of visiting other alien planets, he argues it is possible God could have sent multiple incarnations of Himself into space, with one attending each inhabited planet.
Given scientists' best guesses as to how many civilisations there may be in space, that would require around 250 incarnations of God to exist at any one time.
The panel did acknowledge that religion tends to be conservative, and that Christianity in the long run wouldn't be tremendously rattled by an alien discovery. However, we can tacitly assume that this species is definitely going to Hell.
The panelists dubbed the notion of a "Klingon Jesus" as a distinctly Christian problem — for example, the multiple deities of Hinduism could be divvied up amongst these 250 civilizations or that each alien planet could have its own separate Islamic prophet. Of course, we could eschew the theological gymnastics, put on some groovy lamé frocks, and hang with the Unarians.