Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Theological Significance of Battlestar Galactica

Alright, I admit it. I'm a sci-fi geek--sort of. I really like science fiction TV shows, but I don't qualify as a fanboy. I can't tell you the names of specific Star Trek episodes; nor can I tell you the differences between the X-Men movies and the comic books; for that matter, I can't even tell you the name of any of the other monsters from the Godzilla movies (other than Baby Godzilla--who could forget him?). But I do like a good sci-fi TV show--complete with cheesy sets, bad costumes and technology that has little or no relationship to what we know of quantum physics.

One of my favorite shows is soon to end. It's the SciFi Channel's version of Battlestar Galactica--as opposed to the original series that aired around 1980 starring Lorne Greene, Dirk Benedict and others. I was a fan of the original--talk about cheesy!--but I really, really like the new version. So do many TV critics.

As with the original, there's a whole lot of theological gobbledy-gook involving gods with the same names as the Greek and Roman pantheons, but the new version has taken it to a new level. The battle between humans and the evil robotic race the Cylons also has religious elements. The monotheistic Cylons are convinced that their God has commanded them to wipe out the polytheistic humans. It's a lot of fun, although it remains to be seen whether or not the series can resolve its tangled plot lines (theological and otherwise) before it ends this year.

Even though I'm a minister, I haven't spent too much time obsessing over Battlestar's theology, but I did come across an article that does. It's on a great site called Religion Dispatches--put together by some good religion scholars and journalists of religion--that I like to check out regularly. So, if you, like me, find laser blasting space ships enjoyable, you might take a look at the article.

Grace and Peace,


1 comment:

Doctor Zee said...

And so, Battlestar Galactica is reduced to a simple fable - we run from our past, believing the future holds something better for our species, while praying we can rise above our dark “human nature” before we do ourselves in. This episode was a mirror, showing how despite hope for a bright technological future, we’re simultaneously on the knife’s edge of destruction.

In one episode, Battlestar Galactica moved beyond the addictive, nit-picky details like “who is the last Cylon?” and “how did Tigh get Six pregnant?” and reminded me of the big picture - our irrepressibly hopeful yet frustratingly misguided humanity.

Enter Doctor Zee - The Fifth Cylon

“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr