Is there a role for faith in sci-fi? I say of course, but the battle simmers.
This recent post from a Netflix-sponsored blog brings up the issue of religion as discussed in the 2000s now-classic series Battlestar Galactica. The four-season-long reboot of the 1970s show was well written, well acted, and wasn’t afraid to take on the big issues of the day (the opening battles of the global war on terror). But by the time the show ended its run, there was simmering controversy among its fans: why end it with all the overt religious references?
I would say they weren’t truly paying attention.
Battlestar Galactica in its fun and campy 1970s incarnation was an allegory for Mormonism. And it was great television sci-fi, even to my 7-year-old mind. When it was relaunched it kept a strong element of religion. The cylons were inspired by the one true god, and they despised the humans not only as their creators, but for their polytheism. The cylons consistently talked of “a plan” and of their faith in god. Meanwhile, the humans always implored and paid tribute to their Greek-named gods. Take a look at this promo picture below. Can this get any more overtly religious?
So if the religion was in the DNA of Battlestar Galactica, why the controversy?
–There are many in the science community–and the sci-fi community–who see religion and science as antagonistic. They view science as the antithesis of religion. Therefore, having a sci-fi show that takes religion seriously (and not just as a metaphor or a plot device) is at its heart a betrayal of all that is sci-fi. I am not one of these people.
—Battlestar Galactica fully embraced religion. It took faith seriously. However, it failed in that it used the mystery of religion to paper over plot holes. The biggest: when Starbuck disappeared, seemingly died, and came back. Was she some sort of angel? Was she reanimated? The writers never even tried to explain. Faith was used in the wrong sense. The viewer was expected to have faith that things were happening for a reason.
What reason, though?
Unfortunately we were never given a satisfying answer. All we heard were things like “this has all happened before, and it will all happen again.” Uh, ok.
The cause for the Battlestar Galactica controversy are twofold – one inevitable and the other avoidable. All in all though, the series is brilliant television. Its strengths far outweigh its flaws.
While the Original Battlestar was obviously Mormon (Glen Larson said as much), modern Battlestar is completely different. The “Lords of Kobol,” which are the Greko/Roman gods, are ultimately humanist (glorified humans). Alternately, the “one god” of the Cylons, which we see the “Mind-6” of Baltar’s visions promote, is something completely different. Ignoring, for the moment, the general Cylon population’s understanding of this god, we need to focus on WHO and WHAT the “Mind-6” of Baltar IS by the show’s own statements, hints, and descriptions. By season 4, we have the clearest depiction that “Mind-6” is NOT a figment of Baltar’s imagination when she physically picks Baltar up and forces him to repeatedly confront the security force blockading his path to the “love cult” quarters. This leads some to speculate that she is an angel. This is innacurate. First, from the prior seasons, we see that she is incredibly sexual in nature. She also praises Baltar’s killing of Crashdown, telling him that “Now he is a man.” In the final episode of the series, “Mind-6” and “Mind-Baltar” admit that “god” is NOT the name their “superior being” prefers. “Mind-6” is clearly a succubus and the “god” of Baltar is Luciferian in concept. This fits very well with Baltar’s own narcissim and the “doctrine” he preaches of “We are perfect” and not in need of salvation through the removal of sin in the Judeo-Christian sense, which is also a Luciferian concept. If you rewatch the series with this understanding, it makes complete sense.
Starbuck, on the other hand, becomes another demonic apparition who returns following her death. Starbuck is one of the most tormented (and, in her own words, frakked-up) characters in the series. Her “destiny” is to bring about the end of humanity. Now, while we see a death and resurrection in the character of Starbuck, her destiny shows that she is ultimately NOT a “Christ-like parallel,” but more accurately an anti-Christ (also Luciferian). The end of humanity is signified in the final moments of Battlestar, where Hera (mitochondrial Eve) is identified as the mother of all who live on new earth as it reaches its end. What happened to the other humans? How is Hera the mother of all when she is not the only one to reach earth? One must infer that humanity met its end on new Earth. Starbuck, the Luciferian hero is the final anti-Christ that ushers the end of humanity by completing her destiny. The “Eye of Jupiter,” aka the “Eye of Horus,” is closely associated with the occult and the anti-Christ. Bob Dylan adopted the Eye of Horus surrounded by 3 hidden 6’s as his symbol and admitted that he sold his soul to the “invisible power” for fame. His song “All Along the Watchtower” (made even more famous by Jimi Hendrix) features in the 2-parter “Crossroads.” The Crossroads is the place the musician goes to sell his soul to the devil. Again, this is all showing that the one god of the Cylons is Lucifer and that the end of one form of man and the birth of the new “superman” is the cyclical end. All this has happened before, all this will happen again.
Before you think I’m crazy in these reviews, watch the episode where Hera colors pictures of the 6, shortly before Athena shoots the leader 6 of the rebel Cylons. The coloring book is full of sets of 3 “6’s,” aka 666, the number of the beast. If anyone thinks this is by accident, they don’t understand anything.
Yes it was too religious at times and there were times I wanted to hurl because of it. But despite that it was a really well acted show and at times the writers were brilliant. A bunch of the stuff is hard to accept because in some ways it seems that the Lords of Kobol are true and their words & works come true and in other ways it seems that the Cylon god is real. Maybe the writers meant it to be this way to showcase both sides – pagan & monotheistic. I don’t believe that this one true god was a real god or being but perhaps more like an AI, as it was the god of the Cylons, that became really powerful.
Faith is an unreliable means for arriving at the truth. It serves no purpose. Science IS the antithesis to religion. Religion should stay out of sci-fi because it’s incredibly illogical… Sci-fi lovers also tend to love science. Having illogical statements of faith every episode, as if it’s a legitimate rational perspective thata supposed to hold some power, is insulting to the intellect of the viewers
Science is not the only antithesis of religion. Education too. The more people are educated, the less they are superstitious (as I speak atheism is on the rise around the world).
So you could think a very advanced civilisation like in BSG would be highly-educated and so atheist. Religion became is an anachronism in this show.
I had the exact same problem with ‘Raised by wolves’ (great show otherwise).