The possibility of alien life on planets other than Earth is a source of endless discussion, perhaps even more so now that the Mars lander has found that Martian soil has the requisites for organic life. I've always been fascinated by Christian perspectives on the idea.
I've talked to Christians who simplified the whole conversation by saying that of course aliens do not exist because the Bible never mentions them.
However, last month, according to the Times Online, Father Jose Gabriel Funes, who is the Vatican's chief astronomer, said that it is not against Christianity to believe in aliens; that it is perfectly possible
to "admit the existence of other worlds and other forms of life, even those more evolved than ours, without necessarily questioning faith in the Creation, the incarnation and the redemption of mankind".
At first, that sounds cool; the Vatican is open to such ideas. However, the chill crept into me a moment later when Fr. Funes continued by saying that like Christians, aliens would be able to benefit from hearing about Jesus and being redeemed by "the mercy of God".
So great. While it is ok for Catholics to believe in aliens, the aliens must also be able to be converted to Christianity. I just keep thinking about the masterful movie The Mission.
What's even more interesting is that in the comments at the end of the article, someone from the US has another common response that I've heard before:
This is why I am an Orthodox Christian, because we are still the same
and never changing like the Catholic church. Orthodox believe aliens
are demonic. Why would they work under the cover of darkness and be
able to manipulate time ans space and move through dimensions just like
the bad/good angels!
So it looks like the options for Christians regarding aliens are to
1) deny their existence
2) convert them to Christianity
3) fear them as agents of Satan, and, I'm guessing, go to war with them in an attempt to destroy them.