Religions in Battlestar Galactica: Which one is right?

I once mentioned on this blog that I’m a fan of Battlestar Galactica. The series is filled to the brim with religious overtones. The only atheist on the show is a brilliant but bumbling buffoon who spends the entire series narrowly escaping certain death by going full sociopath (not a very flattering portrayal of atheists, if you ask me). When I watch the show I’m often left intrigued by the religious positions of the two sides, Human vs. Cylon.

Humans are essentially 100% polytheist (with the exception of the token atheist). If we rewind to the short-lived prequel to BSGCaprica, we find an almost violent human response to the notion that there could be but one god. Cylons, on the other hand, are monotheist, and as the series comes to a close we discover that the Cylon “one true god” might be the foundation that would lead to the development of the Abrahamic religions. Unfortunately, Cylons are the bad guys, using scripture as an excuse to essentially completely exterminate the entire human race. And if that weren’t enough, the few who remained were subjected to rape, torture, and slavery.

bsg god

Before anyone criticizes this image, please read the rest of the post. I’ll discuss the weaknesses of this image.

I have to wonder, then, when I watch the show, which side do devout Christians root for when they watch the series? The one that believes in multiple gods and violently rejects the idea of “one true god”? Or the side that wants to completely annihilate the human race but worships the same god that Christians worship?

The image above has its weaknesses. Laura Roslin (human) is very superstitious, and this led to some very tragic political decisions. And Number Six (cylon) might have been the most devoutly religious character on the show, but her use of logic was often flawless. These flaws in my argument aside, the image is a fairly accurate representation of the choice at hand.

Another problem is the question itself. I’d imagine that most people (including devout Christians) can watch the show with suspended disbelief. While they might recognize the Christian overtones on the side of the cylons, they can probably ignore it as being part of a purely fictional universe as portrayed on a television series. Therefore, I might not even have to ask this question at all. But I will.

It’s a silly hypothetical question to consider just for fun. I don’t think I have to tell you no one will criticize you for picking a side in a discussion about a purely fictional universe. But have at it! I’m curious.

And if you haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica I would suggest doing so. It’s a very entertaining series.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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6 Responses to Religions in Battlestar Galactica: Which one is right?

  1. You do realize the BSG is an extended Mormon allegory, right? I mean it was a great show, but it is steeped in Mormon and other religious imagery.

  2. The trouble is that the issue is not dealt with evenhandedly. The only option other than belief is treated as buffoonery. So we are left to understand that non-belief is for buffoons and belief of any variety is dangerous.

    In truth the juxtaposition of robots believing the one true god lampoons such belief by humans. Robots are things. For things to believe in one true god means there is nothing special about humans believing in one true god and at the same time the show lampoons belief in many gods. The result is that there is no right answer and all the answers we have over belief are wrong, or at least not demonstrably right. I think that was the point being made.

  3. Atheists have a habit of hallucinating alternative realities with which to argue against reality.

    At least this time the atheist had the good grace to use a totally fictional Hollywood teleplay script instead of one of their hallucinations.

    Plagiarism anyone?

  4. Jay Mac says:

    Actually, Admiral Adama is an atheist, and his son, Apollo, isn’t very religious either. These are both great characters and NOT bumbling buffoons. Apollo’s beliefs are intentionally left ambiguous, but Admiral Adama is sceptical or uncaring about the religious issues from day one.

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