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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Battlestar Galactica and Theology

I was pondering the other night, thinking about the mid-season/season finale of Caprica. (I cannot tell anymore if SyFy is going with a 13-episode season or a full 22-episode season broken up for winter and late summer.) It struck me that in the BSG story, every time the human civilization reaches the apex of "resurrection" belief the civilization comes crashing down. On Kobol, the Cylons had a belief in the resurrection, and some time after that a devastating war erupted between the lords of Kobol. It is unknown whether resurrection doctrine was intertwined in that. Then when the Cylons leave Kobol and form their own colony, as soon as the Five Cylons rediscover resurrection tech/doctrine, a civil war breaks out and their colony is destroyed. On ,,Caprica" a similar line is developing: resurrection doctrine is fast becoming a reality as two humans have transcended death. Caprica is on the verge of a two wars that will eventually destroy the 12 Colonies.

I am not sure what to make of this. In most religions, and especially in Christianity, the afterlife is seen as a good thing. The Christian concept of resurrection is understood as God's renewal of His fallen creation back to His original intent of purity and holiness. In the BSG world, it appears that the concept of the resurrection is a cause for mankind's destruction. Is BSG trying to put forward the ideal that belief in God, the gods, and a spiritual afterlife something that breeds war and strife? Is BSG focusing on the ideal that religion is the cause of all our problems? Is BSG trying to tackle the threat of terrorism and radical extremists by lumping all religious people into the same boat and saying, ,,Because you believe in God, you therefore are the cause of all suffering on this planet?" I am not sure. So far, there is no light at the end of the tunnel, just the foretelling of horrible destruction without any hope for something better. Perhaps we will see more as ,,Caprica" unfolds.

I miss the days of ,,Babylon 5" where JMS treated people of religious conviction fairly and without stereotypes.

6 comments:

adnohr said...

Don't you feel that the issue is that this was a DIY resurrection, rather than a divine one? I mean, if you can do it yourself, what do you need the promise of salvation for?

If you think of the episode in BSG where Kara repeatedly kills Leoben and he just keeps coming back to her side, it doesn't seem that there is anything divine in that.

I think in Caprica it is more like a JMS-style accident of tech that causes Zoe to come back, but imagine what it could mean from the STO's point of view, since they don't know how it happened.

As an agnostic myself, I love the idea of it not being so laid out in advance. And as I am rereading what I wrote, I wonder if from your point of view, being saved *is* a DIY way to resurrection? Interesting to think about!

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David said...

Maybe you knew this already, perhaps you didn't...BSG's creator was/is a meber of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The writer intertwined many doctorines of the church into the series.

Peter said...

adnohr, insightful comments. it does seem as if the issue is a DIY resurrection, and perhaps that is why every time someone in the BG universe does it the ending winds up bad. It will be enjoyable watching Caprica unfold as the accident of tech unravels the society and the relationship between the humans and the colons.

Peter said...

David, the Mormon influence is especially noticeable in his 1978 series. The reimaged series seems to draw on other cultures and philosophies in addition to Mormonism. As one who studied classical Greek philosophy and poets in university, I am happy to see a show delve into the classics.