Monday, January 23, 2006

Battlestar Galactica - Points to Ponder


What follows are some thoughts I've had late at night, unable to sleep, or upon awakening (apparently I even dream about BSG) about the Galactica universe, specifically the religious aspects.

I) The humans believe in what we call the Greek Olympian Gods. We know that some worship Apollo, Artemis and Athena. At one point Zarek describes Commander Adama as "Zeus returning to Olympus", so they are literally the Olympian gods. We also know that the Greek astrological zodiac is important to their culture, because their twelve colonies are named after them. We don't know how closely their theology mirrors that of Greek mythology. We know there are some differences. These differences appear to incoporate aspects of Mormon theology and a concept of a wheel of time.

II) The Cylons (the humanoid ones at least - we have yet to see evidence of individual personalities in any form of mechanical Cylon) are monotheistic. Their god seems to be an analog to the God of Earth's Old Testament, in the following ways:
1) He desires to be acknowledged and worshipped.
2) He is seen to be omnipotent and omniscient.
3) There is a concept of redemption.
4) There is a plan.
5) He punishes transgressors.
6) He is seen as a father as well as a creator of man.
7) He commands them to "be fruitful"

III) The humanoid Cylons know that their "soul" exists, and believe in an afterlife, as well as a form of reincarnation.
1) Human Cylons claim to have the ability to reincarnate when their body is destroyed, retaining both their Personality and memories. (We have yet to see any evidence of the truthfulness of this in the BSG universe...No instance has yet occurred of a destroyed Cylon Personality reappearing.)
2) No evidence exists that this ability is shared by mechanical Cylons. Their has been no sign of individual Personalities in the mechanical Cylons, and they are not treated as equals to the humanoid Cylons. (on at least one occasion they are referred to as "pets".)
3) There has been no explanation of the nature of the humanoid Cylon "soul", nor its origin. (is it mechanical? Biological? Are new "souls" being created? If so how?)
4) Humanoid Cylons believe in an afterlife beyond corporal existence, where they will dwell in the presence of their god. (is there a Cylon concept of Hell?, are their corporal actions judged? )

IV) The Cylon religion sees man as flawed and evil. They see themselves as god's redemption and punishment of humanity.
1) Part of this redemption (for both Cylon and human) seems to be a synthesis of Human and Cylon. The most religious of the Cylons (Caprica Six) places an immense importance on the offspring of Helo and the Caprica Boomer, in order to fulfill god's commandment to be fruitful. (by the way, Six is the only Humanoid Cylon referred to by her model number, all the others are referred to by a form of their "names")
2) This redeemer is a currently an unborn child. Its gender is as yet unknown, yet has already "miraculously" saved a life.

V) Roslin is important to the human religion. She seems to be fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Starbuck has some importance in the Cylon religion. She is told this by the Conoy Cylon she tortures in the fleet, and the Caprica Boomer after she is rescued from the Cylon hospital. But Starbuck is also important to the human religion, she is the one who retrieves the aArrow of Athena. Baltar also seems to be important, at least to the Caprica Six.

Update 1/27/06: In Home pt 2, at the end, the Caprica Six announces that she is an Angel of God, and that her purpose is to guide Baltar to the end of the human race. So the Cylon religion does have the concept of Angels. I wonder if they believe in Angels that were created before humanity also, or if in their theology, the Human/Angel genesis is reversed?

1 comment:

Brian said...

I lose a lot of sleep over this show as well. I think the only glitch in your analysis is that the Cylons know that they DON'T have a soul. Although, I can't recall the specific reference for that... Anyway, my big hang up has been the Plan. I suspect it has to do with the Cylon craving for a soul.

These are just some of the topics we've been discussing over at our blog:
theyhaveaplan.blogspot.com