Air date: 5/9/2008
Written by Seamus Kevin Fahey
Directed by Michael Nankin
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Faith" tells a story combining religion and science fiction about as successfully as I've personally seen it done. In that way, it's a legitimate rival for my longtime benchmark, 1997's Contact (although they're admittedly apples and oranges). The result is an hour full of probing questions that will likely strike different people in different ways. This is a sophisticated and emotionally resonant meditation on life and death, struggle and pain, coping and humanity, and, yes, faith.
The key reason Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's issues of faith never truly worked as an allegory for the real world was because Bajor's prophets were tangible beings that could be physically observed and performed physically tangible miracles. The existence of the Bajoran "gods" was a simple fact; the only question was whether or not one believed the wormhole beings actually were gods. As a result, the religion issue on DS9 lost a lot of its real-world resemblance and relevance. BSG, however, resembles our world precisely because the existence of God (or the Gods) cannot be proven with evidence. It must be taken on faith.
Before I get into all that, let me first pick up where last week's "Road Less Traveled" left off, with the situation on the Demetrius about to go sideways (as they're always saying on The Shield). Sideways it quickly does go, with Kara getting relieved of duty, Kara refusing to stand down, Sharon subduing Kara, Helo ordering the ship to jump back to the fleet, Anders taking Kara's side and pointing a gun at Gaeta and ordering him to halt the jump, and eventually Anders shooting Gaeta in the leg to take the situation over by force. Poor Gaeta. What did he ever do to deserve all he's gotten? (As Clint Eastwood once said, deserve's got nothin' to do with it. Later when Gaeta says, "Don't let Cottle take my leg," we know his fate is sealed; he's gonna lose it.)
Kara, realizing things are quickly spinning out of control, agrees to step down but instead says that she will go herself in a Raptor with Leoben to find the damaged basestar. The rest of the Demetrius can wait here and jump back to the fleet if they don't return. Anders goes with her, along with, interestingly, Sharon, who just seconds earlier was holding Kara in a headlock. Kara needs a Cylon who can provide interfacing help. Plus, the story needs an additional reason to make Helo squirm as the deadline of 15 hours until the rendezvous counts down. Also volunteering for the mission is someone who believes in Starbuck — a crewman named Barolay, who should probably be wearing a red shirt.
"Road" and "Faith" are two separate stories, which merely use the cliffhanger as a jumping-off point for the real story about Kara's bizarre and eye-opening dealings with the Cylon renegades (if indeed it is they, and the not the Cavil camp, who are the "renegades"). Finding the basestar is its own challenge; fortunately, Kara can sense which way to go, and to her own surprise realizes the comet she saw orbiting a planet in her visions was actually the basestar. Nifty, but it again begs the question: Who and what is Resurrected Starbuck? It's worth noting that we are now six episodes into Starbuck's return and essentially know no more about where she went than we did in the first episode. The writers have done a good job putting off all answers to the mystery while distracting us with character analysis like her realization in "Road" that she has lost the person she was and may never get it back. Ultimately, that's the right choice, because this is about characters more than it's about a plot answer that ultimately will have to be somewhat arbitrary.
Once aboard the basestar, we see the formation of a precarious alliance. Renegade Six has no better options with her basestar crippled, but she is not especially happy about giving Kara access to the Hybrid, nor pleased in general about the Leobens' obsession with her. Meanwhile, in what is as amusing an idea as it is interesting, Athena is instantly accosted by a horde of Eights that timidly ask her to lead a mutiny against the Sixes that mutinied against the other Cylons. "You guys make me sick," Athena replies. "You pick a side and you stick. You don't cut and run." The Eights were once called a weak model; perhaps this is further evidence. Bunch of flip-floppers. They should heed Stephen Colbert on the virtue of having balls.
There are a couple of terrific key scenes in this storyline. The most psychologically compelling is when Crewman Barolay has a run-in with a copy of a Six in the docking bay. They get into a brief verbal exchange, and the Six kills her. Just like that. Turns out that Barolay had killed this copy of Six on New Caprica, and now she takes her revenge. Evident here is the ugly cycle of violence that begets violence. Like the best aspects of BSG, there's a real-world message to be found here, but it's elevated into the what-if realm by the ever-so-slight sci-fi tweak: Because this Six had resurrected, she was able to later face the woman who killed her. And she just couldn't let it go.
The point of the scene is how the Cylons are indeed very much psychologically affected by the violence inflicted upon them: Despite all this Six's counseling and her struggles to put being killed behind her, she couldn't do it: "I still see her face when I try to sleep." So now this Six faces her end at the hand of Renegade Six. In an act of "justice" to make a point and provide an answer for Barolay's death in the interests of the fragile alliance, Renegade Six shocks everyone by pulling the trigger and putting down one of her own sister models. There is no resurrection ship; "She's as dead as your friend." Fascinating and powerful — it's a statement of what she sees the stakes are.
The other big moment here is when Starbuck finally gets to visit with the ever-cryptic Hybrid, who at first doesn't say anything remotely relevant or even react to Kara but instead seems to exist somewhere in her own world halfway between a Star Trek engineering deck and your office's IT department.
Eventually, when it seems the Hybrid isn't going to say anything useful, and they're about to pull the plug, a strange series of events occurs. A Centurion shoots the Eight that is about to unplug the Hybrid from the basestar's control, causing the Hybrid to let out an endless, disturbing shriek before finally seeing Kara and imparting some information that makes for some of BSG's most significant mythology material yet. I'll simply quote it: "The dying leader will know the truth of the Opera House. The missing Three will give you the Five who have come from the home of the Thirteenth. You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end." Wow. It's not just in what is said, but how it's said and how it's lit and shot and directed and scored and edited. Absorbing stuff. And what's said is surprisingly decipherable.
(By the way, I must do what I think I've somehow failed to do in every review up to this point and mention that the Hybrid is played by Tiffany Lyndall-Knight. Her performance is effective — creating a presence that is profoundly creepy and yet at the same time strangely comforting.)
Within the basestar storyline are some smaller touches that are also nice, both involving Anders. One comes when he moves his hand toward a basestar interface panel but ultimately doesn't follow through. What would happen if he, one of the mysterious Final Five, were to attempt to interact with Cylon technology?
The other comes later; when the Eight is shot and lies dying, she reaches out for a kindred hand, hoping to be comforted as she dies. Her sister Eight, Athena, reaches out but just barely balks, as if she can't bring herself to do it. When Athena demurs, Anders steps up and takes the dying Eight's hand. Good stuff worth pondering: Why can't Athena bring herself to go there? Is she so disgusted with her origins and sister Eight models? She seems so much now to identify herself as being human. Meanwhile, Anders tries to oblige this dying Eight, as if trying to step into the Cylon role he now knows he must fill.
So, yes, "Faith" is extraordinary stuff, and I haven't even delved into the storyline that's of probably more significance to "Faith's" real intentions — the stuff dealing with the faith. After last week featured no Roslin or Adama at all, we now get a story all about Roslin and her battle with cancer as it takes place in the Galactica ICU. Season four is proving that it can leave entire plot lines and characters off screen for whole episodes at a time and then bring them back with unhindered effectiveness. I have no structural qualms with that whatsoever.
Okay, maybe one. There's an early scene where we finally we see Tory and Roslin talking on Colonial One. I'm not positive, but I don't think we've scene such an occurrence yet this season, and only now in retrospect do I notice how much of an oversight it might've been. Roslin praises Tory's job performance for stepping up (after falling apart in "Crossroads"). I wish we'd seen more of this, because from what we in the audience have seen, it's less than apparent that Tory has been doing any job at all, let alone a good one. (But I suppose the point here is that they made the point.) Some meaty Roslin/Tory intrigue was something that seemed like an obvious wealth of material when we found out Tory was a Cylon. So far it hasn't materialized (but it's not like there hasn't been plenty else going on instead).
Anyway, Roslin lands for an extended stay in the ICU, where she shares times with another terminal cancer victim, Emily (Nana Visitor, of the aforementioned DS9-prophet-worshipping Bajoran persuasion). Roslin has lost all her hair from cancer treatments. But the more direly ill Emily (who is mere days from death's door) ominously warns her: "It's gonna get a lot worse. Be prepared for that."
The two bond over their shared experience of illness. Emily listens to Baltar on the radio, who preaches his One True God sermons that eschew the traditional Lords of Kobol that Roslin has always prayed to. Roslin wonders what Emily sees in Baltar's ramblings, but therein lies the key to the episode. Emily experienced firsthand what she surely believed to be God and the afterlife, and Baltar's sermons — not the traditional religion — mirror what she is certain she experienced.
The question here becomes: Could the truth of the afterlife actually be about the one true God that Baltar speaks of? Is that one true God the same as the Cylon God? And is faith in one true God a heresy against the Lords of Kobol? If so, what does it mean that this movement is now taking place among humans after having had such a foothold among the Cylons — and perhaps been their impetus for destroying humanity in the first place? Certainly in our real world religion lies in the eye of the beholder. Is the eventual overthrow of the establishment simply an question of numbers?
Sometimes it has nothing to do with the establishment. As the dying Emily says, "I don't need metaphors. I need answers." She's not the only one. A dramatic highlight in the episode is Laura's tale of her own mother's death, which to her revealed merely emptiness and nothing else. For Laura, at that young age, she saw only devastation. No comfort or reason to believe her mother was going to a better place. And it's a tough thing for her to talk about, all these years later. As Emily astutely points out, that experience was filtered through what Laura saw, not what the truth might actually have been for her mother. And that's the point here about faith. It's about the individual more than anything else.
Later, Roslin has an experience where she apparently witnesses Emily crossing over into the afterlife. It's not a dream. It's ... something more. Faith. These are powerful images, despite their utter simplicity. "Faith" has things to ponder about big human questions. When Roslin wakes up and Emily is gone, in her bed is only Baltar's voice, on the radio. It really gets inside her head. Maybe there's actually something to what he's peddling.
That this episode can raise so many recognizable real-world questions even though it exists in its own sci-fi universe is a testament to how truly it embodies the mission of science fiction. It is really about its characters, about us, about society, about issues in the real world.
And I absolutely love that the ending of this episode is about emotions and characters and not about the plot. Yes, there is, previous to the final scene, a lot of plot-based buildup and a ticking clock that counts all the way down to zero. But, ultimately, the episode's send-off has nothing to do with any of it. The writers know that we know that the deadline crisis has been averted, and so they turn the ending inward to the characters.
This attribute is a virtue of "Faith" that does not call any attention to itself whatsoever. But I must herald it, because it instead simply believes in its characters to connect with the audience and drive home the emotional points. It does so superbly. The final scene between Adama and Roslin — which reveals Adama's emotional abandonment and how Roslin may be the very essence of his remaining soul — is so straightforward and yet so moving. Here's an episode that knows it has enough plot to be a game-changer, and yet puts all its final efforts into finding just the right understated words, tone, and feelings between the admiral and the president. Bravo.
That's how it should be. This is an example of why the first 10 episodes of BSG's fourth season are among the series' very strongest batch of shows.
Previous episode: The Road Less Traveled
Next episode: Guess What's Coming to Dinner?
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62 comments on this post
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 31, 2008, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
Now, obviously I had seen all 10 before I got back to reviewing most of the shows, so that might factor into my thinking a little bit, but for the most part it really has no significant bearing on each individual review.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 3:38am (UTC -5)
Your reviews as usual are spot on and I'm glad "you agree with me" (hehe) so far in this season. Keep up the great writing and btw Happy New Year! :D
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 11:12am (UTC -5)
In Christianity you have a figure that in the presentation of the story fits exactly the criteria by which you are dismissing the real-world resemblance and relevance of DS9 as it relates to religion as we know it. Many people accept the existence of Jesus as fact. The key question is whether or not they believe he is God-incarnate or whether he in the flesh embodies the essence of the Divine. And it requires faith to say he is God as opposed to a great prophet!
Added to that, DS9 actually strengthens the allegory to Judeo-Christian religion by naming Bajoran gods, the Prophets. Sisko is clearly the Christ-figure in the narrative, but the Bajorans accept him as the Emissary while Starfleet and other outsiders don't. The difference between the groups is their faith.
To be fair to your argument though, you are saying that in BSG, the existence of God cannot be proven. I am pointing out that there is no way to "prove" that God is incarnate. So although the domain is different, faith is still required. And I would argue that there is no real difference in domain because the question still involves the existence of God: whether God exist on the macro level vs. whether God exists in flesh or is incarnate on the micro level.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
In DS9, the prophets/aliens were right there for them to see in real time. Even if we are to accept Jesus' historical existence as fact, there is no such proof he is "out there" somewhere right now.
And where BSG comes into all of this is similar. Their scriptures are based on ancient tales that no doubt were based in some sort of real history. And the one true/cylon god is looking like it's related to this more and more all the time. We are no doubt going to find out by the end of the series a tangible tie in to concrete reality between these religious beliefs and the truth about humanity and cylons. I predict however that this connection will be able to be seen as purely scientific ala the DS9's worm hole aliens, or as religious ala "the Prophets".
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
To me, these episodes just are more.. boring.. than previous seasons. I guess this whole 4th season just doesn't have as interesting a story for my personal tastes.
That, and I have a real beef with the advertising of this show. "All will be revealed"... I am SOOOOOO sick of hearing that line. Just give me a good story and reveal things when you want. Also, I really don't give a shit who the final cylon is. That "pitch" just reeks of desperation to me, like is that all viewers are tuning in to find out???
Also, Jammer.. have you checked out the webisodes on [email protected]? I'm finding the storyline pretty interesting and the quality seems far superior to the webisodes done before season 3. Any chance you'll also do a review on the webisodes as a whole?
(have to say I've been getting some good laughs about the character named GAY-TA being GAY. well bi, but still. Gay Gaeta, too funny to me.)
Thu, Jan 1, 2009, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Also, one thing that I like about BSG is how well it crafts its universe and characters and really manages to bring the whole thing to life. Without even being on screen, Baltar's voice carries weight and affects characters (Tyrol, Emily, etc) without making a scene of it.
In my reply to the 'Road Less Traveled' review I said that the Demetrius storyline didn't do a whole lot for me, and in 'Faith' it still doesn't. There's nothing WRONG with it, per se, because I do think it's actually handled very well. (I particularly liked the scene when the team first finds the basestar aftermath around the gas giant.) I just personally seem to find Starbuck's story to be the least compelling in the series as of late.
Barolay's death didn't do a lot for me, although the dialogue exchange between her and the Six was VERY good. Like Jammer said, she might as well have been wearing a red shirt. I agree with that and that's where I have a problem. From a writing standpoint it fits in very well with the series' themes as a whole, but staged the way it was it pretty much gave itself away.
I guess what I am trying to say is that there is something very overt in the way Starbuck's scenes in the last two episodes has been handled, and for me, it really detracts from the visceral impact of the show.
*** stars in my book. A very good episode hampered by not a lot, except my own very subjective criticisms.
Fri, Jan 2, 2009, 11:46am (UTC -5)
I guess my point earlier is that even though something may be corporeal, faith may still be a central issue because there can still be questions concerning the essential nature of the corporeal being. That's why I think DS9 does serve as an effective allegory. DS9 raises the nature of faith in an episode "Once More Unto the Breach" very well (http://www.jammersreviews.com/st-ds9/s7/breach.php). Yes, Kor is flesh and blood. Yes, you can touch him and see him. Yes, he had amazing battles. But was he a legend? That, requires faith.
Or try "The Reckoning." Is Captain Sisko the Emissary or not? Should he sacrifice his son or not (by letting the Pahwraiths use Jake)? That requires faith. Or try any number of Kira/Odo storylines where Kira has faith in the Prophets, but while Odo does not, he can respect her belief in them.
Or look at Odo and Weyoun in "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River" (http://www.jammersreviews.com/st-ds9/s7/treachery.php). Weyoun's faith is genetically programmed which is an intriguing notion.
To me, DS9 had a great way of discussing faith. Perhaps DS9's stories were told more from the micro-perspective as opposed to BSG's more macro-perspective. At the end of BSG, I agree with you Brennan: we will find the origin's of the God in the BSG universe to be based on something tangible, concrete, and scientific.
Fri, Jan 2, 2009, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
I'm not trying to discount DS9's stories about faith; it's just that I think BSG resembles our own real-world issues in a much more relatable way.
Episodes like "The Reckoning" or "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" showed the Bajoran prophets in the real world in real time, observable for all to see, often interacting with the very people who worshipped them. You can't prove the same of any religion on Earth, nor can you (at least not yet) regarding God/the Gods in BSG.
Of course, the thing about DS9 was that Trek had such a more fantastical level of both technology and of alien superpowers that it reached God-like status anyway. They are simply completely different universes, and the limitations within BSG's universe brings everything a little closer to our level.
Fri, Jan 2, 2009, 2:27pm (UTC -5)
I have not watched them yet. My hope is to finish up the remaining season 4.0 reviews in the next couple weeks and then watch all the webisodes at once and do a brief write-up. Hopefully I'll have all that done just in time for the start of season 4.5.
As such, if everyone can avoid spoilers of the webisdoes for now, I'd be appreciative.
Fri, Jan 2, 2009, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
Sorry to reveal the little bit I did, if it makes it any better, it's revealed in the first half of the first webisode.
Mon, Jan 5, 2009, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
I see your point about the real world interaction with the Bajoran Prophets in a more concrete way vs. our world's interaction with God or the Divine in a more abstract way. The involvement of fantastic alien superpowers and technology certainly places DS9 in a different universe than BSG.
I guess DS9's way of dealing with faith (for me at least) presents a richer tapestry of diverse faith traditions where faith is not only centered on God or the Gods, but in a messiah figure (e.g. Emissary for Bajorans or Kahless for Klingons) or in a group of "superior beings" (e.g. the Changelings). BSG's way of dealing with faith is centered in the aftermath of the apocalypse or a cataclysmic event.
To me, it's no mistake that Ronald Moore was deeply involved in both series. Both series do attempt to raise extraordinarily profound questions about the nature of faith in God, Gods, or someone or something. Before DS9, Star Trek was rooted in the ideals of secular humanism. DS9 was able to examine the ideals of secular humanism in a broader context where other cultures had differing faith traditions.
For me, BSG does highlight very intriguing questions about faith. But I think what BSG does even better than that, is discuss the dichotomy between humanity and machines. Just as other sci-fi sagas such as the Matrix trilogy or the Terminator franchise (including The Sarah Connor Chronicles), we are presented with machines that evolve and grow with artificial intelligence to the point where they can approximate humanity. At the point where machines can perfectly approximate humanity, are they still machines? At some point, will intelligent machines and humankind merge into a single society--free from oppression (the Matrix) or free from constant war (BSG and Terminator)?
The advance of BSG over the other sagas is that we do see humanity beginning to accept the machines/Cylons as humans and integrating into a society. BSG may end by showing a post-apocalyptic society where humans and machines/Cylons are accepted on equal terms. The Matrix takes us to the doorstep of such a place and the Terminator franchise shows some teamwork between humans and machines (i.e. John and Cameron). But BSG goes beyond both. That, to me, is a very powerful idea that BSG presents and will prove to be one of the great achievements of BSG in my estimation.
Tue, Jan 6, 2009, 7:57am (UTC -5)
I just wanted to point out that there's something wrong with this review. You say:
"A Centurion shoots the Eight that is about to unplug the Hybrid from the basestar's control, causing the Hybrid to let out an endless, disturbing shriek before finally seeing Kara and imparting some information that makes for some of BSG's most significant mythology material yet."
But the Centurion doesn't just randomly shoot the Eight; the order of events is different. What actually happens is the Eight is about to disconnect the Hybrid (on Kara's orders) when it starts screaming it's haunting scream, which seems to inspire the Centurion to shoot the Eight. The Centurion seems to react to the scream of the Hybrid. This is probably just a nit-pick, but it jumped out at me in the review because when I watched the episode I wondered if the Hybrid was screaming out for protection -or- did the Centurion just decide on it's own that it had to protect the Hybrid?
Tue, Jan 6, 2009, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 6, 2009, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
And incidentally, I have a theory on that. Anders was still hanging back in the other room at the time, and then he came running in after the screaming and shooting. I think perhaps the hybrid screamed because he stuck his hand in the water. :o
Huh? Huh??? ;)
Tue, Jan 6, 2009, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 7, 2009, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
As you mentioned Jammer, in the "Six of One" review, there was a taste of irony in what Six had done. I'm curious if we'll see a repeat of the consequences in the following episodes of giving machines free will.
Wed, Jan 7, 2009, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 24, 2009, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
I laughed twice. First, because it was funny. Second, because the same trick was used in the movie "Dark Star."
Tue, Aug 18, 2009, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Can anyone verify this?
Sat, Apr 17, 2010, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
For my money, the most effective example EVER is the Babylon 5 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane".
Fri, Aug 6, 2010, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 28, 2011, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
I agree with you the centurion and Raider behaviour is extremely fascinating, and far more enjoyable than the "servicable" Cylon Civil war.
I am very late to the religion debate, but I am finding this interesting to read. I agree with jammer on all points, but I do sometimes wonder if jammer short-services religious people. I am an athiest, however, I do not think all the worlds ills are caused by religion, which makes me a minority in Athiest circles. I would be very curious to know what Jammers actual religious beliefs are.
Now, I do think religious people are wrong, not STUPID, just wrong. But you can love an abusive father and not be stupid. Anyways, I think what people are reacting to is that I think Jammer is expressing what I call the Athiest-version of religion. I think most athiests think religion is just reading a book and hoping you go to heaven when you die. But as someone said earlier, for alot of christians, Christ was the living word of God. For muslims, Mohamed was an EXISTING perfection of man that is to be emulated, and to insult him IS worse than insulting you family. These people are WRONG, but to dismiss this is also to dismiss humanity in some sense.
This is one way in which I LOVE BSG, one of my friends says that religion will probably make a major comeback in the next few hundred years, and I do not think it is a good thing, but I absolutely agree with him, and frankly, Atheism really has nothing to offer people in need or whatever. to ignore this, which the vast majority of Sci-fi does, I think is as un-human as can be.
Sat, Oct 29, 2011, 8:45am (UTC -5)
1) We don't see any atheist or agnostic characters. In fact, until Baltar's Cult came along, it seemed that every human being followed the exact same religion, and there was never any conflict between people with different beliefs. I find that unrealistic and insulting.
2) At this point in the series, events have occured that could pretty much only be attributed to divine intervention (e.g. Starbuck returning from the dead, happening across the heavy Raider last week). Perhaps there will be a satisfying explanation down the road, but somehow I doubt it. These events have made the BSG universe less relatable and less like the real world than before.
Still, this was a very good episode. I called Barolay's death as soon as she got on the Raptor (nice try, Ron!). And what was the point of the incestual Six/Six kiss? Other than titillation, of course.
Tue, Nov 29, 2011, 9:50am (UTC -5)
I fear that up to and including Exodus, B.S.G. set the bar so high that anything that doesn't measure up to it is just not very good. But the latter part of Season 3 and the first episodes of this Season have been underwhelming--to say the least--in their own right. This one IS a step in the right direction though.
"So say we all" ;)
Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 3:24am (UTC -5)
I'm religious, and more so, I am a theologian, but this whole religious claptr... er... debate gives me the creeps. I loved BSG in the first two seasons, but I found the religious topics annoying and boring (Balthar's personal angel-Six really-really freaks me out every time she appears on screen, though I have to confess angel!Six is much nicer to watch than the whore!Six from the first two seasons).
This feeling is growing stronger and stronger as I'm watching seasons 3 and 4, and this last episode really made me think to stop watching the whole stuff, and I would if it weren't the last season. And I am going to watch the whole arch just to see whether there is any *scientific* explanation to the miracles, angels, prophecies and resurrections, though I suspect I will have no real answers just another pile of sh... er... words.
I really like watching Adama and Roslin's relationship, and the way they love and hold on to each other. Nowadays those scenes seem the only life-like moments of the whole lot.
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
Enahma, if you don't like allegories to religion, it might be best to avoid all sci fi and fantasy.
Mon, Jul 16, 2012, 5:33am (UTC -5)
I don't think the point of religion in BSG is supposed to be an analogy of modern religion, or even an atheistic view of religion, I think it was modeled on the Greek and Roman religions, and worshiped in a similar way (IE everyone believes in essentially the same group of gods, but different people "focus" on different gods). Further not only is this portrayed, but Moore specifies this in the pod-casts.
And correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think Adama ever specifically identifies being an atheist in the whole series. He says "religious crap" all the time, and he think he functionally is an atheist, but I don't think he has ever said the gods themselves do not exist. I think this puts him in the camp of Caesar who did not believe (so we think) yet he didn't do anything to affect others beliefs.
This is why I am having a hard time reading some of these comments about how BSG's portrayal of religion is "believable", just pick up any history book and you will see that we believed in a pantheistic version of religion for FAR longer than a monotheistic one.
Tue, Jul 17, 2012, 2:41am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
You trot out what has to be THE lamest apologism for religion ever: Our human mind is too puny and limited to be able to comprehend all the illogical, vile, corrupt, iniquitous, spiteful, vengeful, malevolent, destructive, and just plain idiotic "wonders" that the supposed "lord" has supposedly wrought. It's a copout designed to deflect awkward questions and put a square peg into a round -- or, if you will, octagonal -- hole.
Insect are not self-aware. Nor do insects follow a religion, most often under the pain of ostracization or worse.
A far more plausible explanation than "goddidit" is that everything happens by chance, without any, except human, intervention and direction. Or maybe we really are dumb fish in someone's big fishbowl, but in such a case the interaction between us and the owner of the fishbowl is so random, unpredictable and capricious as to render the latter irrelevant for day-to-day purposes.
In any case, a god whose origins are in sources that have more holes than Swiss cheese and a god that requires me to suspend the faculties "he" endowed me with in order to buy into "his" story is NOT the kind of god I'm interested in doing business with.
I'm still in two minds about the portrayal and quantity of religion on the show. On the one hand, I'm practically allergic to anything that smacks of religion and found many religious references and mystique superfluous and infuriating; on the other hand, it IS all interesting from a pseudoanthropological perspective, i.e. it makes one ask questions every now and again.
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
I'm not defending religion. I'm talking about sci-fi and the concept of God. Star Trek has never actually dealt with the concept of a hypothetical infinite being whose existence cannot be proven or disproven because this infinite being is too large to be comprehended by infinitely smaller, less intelligent beings. BSG, on the other hand, does. The existence of God in BSG's universe is not something that the human and Cylon characters can prove or disprove, so the show is not shying away from the mystery of whether or not God exists. Hope that clarifies for you what I'm saying. No need for knee-jerk reactions, buddy. You don't need to freak out every time the subject comes up, because you'll be freaking out a LOT.
Sun, Jul 22, 2012, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
Aha, O.K., I get it. I misunderstood that part of your original point. Sorry about that.
As I said, I'm ambivalent about the religious angle in B.S.G. I think having one definitely contributed to the show positively, but it veered into the ridiculous on occasion and at other times it was used as a deus ex machina.
Anyway, you're totally right: B.S.G. showcased religion infinitely better than Star Trek.
Thu, Jul 26, 2012, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 12, 2013, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 12, 2013, 6:28am (UTC -5)
It's worth a look if you can track it down, provides good backstory for Gaeta's upcoming mutiny, and explains what it was that Gaius whispered in his ear that made him go postal with the pen.
Sat, Feb 2, 2013, 9:10am (UTC -5)
Two picayune complaints: too much whispering by the characters - too many pulled guns.
Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 8:58am (UTC -5)
On the one hand, I recognize it's just a piece of entertainment. A blu-ray set that I bought, filled with human actors and stories that are sometimes good, sometimes lame. On the other hand, many of these stories are causing me to THINK.
I was a very strong Christian growing up. Was taught from an early age by my Christian parents. Brainwashed, you could say. (Although from their standpoint, they were just doing their duty as my parents, teaching me *The Truth*.)
All that changed when I was 27. I came to strongly doubt what I had believed for so long. My faith in God gradually diminished until I realized that I didn't believe in anything supernatural anymore. At that point, I realized I was an atheist.
That was 10 years ago. I'm not going to lie and say that my life has been so much better now that I've rejected Christianity. For sure, it has left a hole in me. Belief does fill a certain void. It gives you a clarity of purpose. Even if you don't understand that purpose, you can still take solace in the fact that you have one. Plus, there's the benefits of living forever, never losing your loved ones, etc. Not having that, just realizing that death is the end, is hard to face.
Also, Christianity gave me something else. A personal God who loved me. Someone to pray to when I was lonely or sad. Having that feeling that I am never alone, that I will always be cared for... Well, that's a powerful feeling.
But for me, ultimately, it was all a lie. So what good is all this religious sentiment if it is based on a lie?
Enter Battlestar Galactica. Specifically, these last few episodes with the excellent acting of James Callis as Baltar. Within this universe, you have a man who went from being a skeptic to truly believing. And why does he believe? What events really shaped him to this point?
The other colonials believe in the Lords of Kobol. But do they really? You get the distinct impression that many of these people are just going through the motions, doing various religious rituals because that is how they are raised. But Baltar's religion seems to be more personal. It's not based on archaic history and mythological figures. It's based on a personal connection with this God.
And Baltar doesn't preach that you have to DO anything. His main tenet seems to be just to recognize - believe - that there is one true God, and that this God loves you as you are.
On that level, Baltar's religion really resonates with me as being almost identical to mainstream Christianity. That "personal God" vibe is almost exactly the same religion I grew up with. And in many ways, this fictional religion of BSG may even be superior to Christianity. No need for belief in ancient texts. No need to "prove" who Jesus or whoever was. Just a God who loves you. And faith.
This is what I struggle with. This is what I question. I do not believe in the supernatural at all. And yet, I want to. What if somehow, I could? This is where the BSG story gets me.
I've had the religious feelings before, where I felt I was close to God. Atheism just doesn't offer this. It doesn't offer solace. It doesn't give you comfort in death. It just says, "This is it. All you see is all there is." What if there could be more? What if - while at the same time you don't believe it - you could bring yourself to believe it?
What if there could be a God like the one in this fictional show? Would such a being be knowable? Why would such a being allow evil? Could you still believe, without any reason for believing? Is it possible to simply choose to believe, with no facts to support that believe? To have faith, only because I want it to be real? I wish it could be. I just don't know.
My apologies for the overly long post. This episode just struck pretty close to home for me.
And BTW, I find nothing odd about Baltar leading a cult. Charismatic people have always found a way of attracting the disenfranchised. It's human nature.
Thu, Jun 27, 2013, 3:34am (UTC -5)
Hey, I don't really know what to say here, but your post made me want to say something...
I'm 23 and I'm not here to try and suck you back in or whatever (I hope I don't end up coming accross that way) butalso grew up with a believing parent, and I still believe myself, but lately more often I find that I sleep through church, go months if not a year without reading the bible and occasionaly question aspects of God, yet I still believe personally. I can't say why, fear, maybe of the alternatives, guilt perhaps, but take comfort in my believe, so there's that.
All I know is it works for me, and I continue to choose to accept it. And thats really all it is a choice of your own. As for how I see it, that choice is faith, it's when there is a group of like-minded (hearted?) people that you get religion, and that is where the problems come in, because faith or no faith, people are flawed and have the potential to hurt each other and ignore the rules. Thats why I view faith and religion as seperate ideals. Why should the screwed up actions of another believer affect my choice? One is personal, the other is public.
Basically, believe in what you want to believe in, regardless of others actions or thoughts of it, it's your call.
Regardless of your choice, I hope we both eventually find the answers we're looking for someday. Best of luck.
And for any others, I'm sorry if this post offends you, it's not my intent. If you don't agree, thats cool, it's what free will is there for, I just ask you don't end up raging on me for saying this, I don't really want to start a debate, as I'm not terribly good at it details-wise, and I know there arr lots out there who've been wronged by religion, just keep in mind that wasn't me. :-)
Hope you all have a good day, now I gotta sleep, have a flood to clean up after, blegh.
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 6:45am (UTC -5)
At the risk of starting a religious war, let me make a few observations.
Firstly, religious belief (theism) is a manifestation of both human fear and human arrogance: Fear in terms of a lack of knowledge and a lack of control about certain things (death being the most obvious), and arrogance in terms of endeavoring to control those things through the proxy of a god.
Secondly, is there an undefined supernatural entity in existence, in the sense of the entire universe being someone's high school science project? It is possible. There is no evidence either way.
Is there, however, an interventionist god, i.e. a god that is in active control of human life and a god that rewards and punishes people for our choices and decisions? NO. How can I say that with so much certainty? Simple: Because it is impossible to reconcile the idea of an omniscient and omnipotent god on the one hand, and the idea of human free will on the other. The two are totally incompatible and negate each other entirely.
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm well aware of those kind of... contradictions, is the word I think. In fact last week I asked that same question myself. I believe that if He plans out our lives, it's as a series of choices WE have to make, but if he knows every choice we make, why would we, thus free will is questionable.
I guess thats where personal belief, interpretation and rationalisation enter into it, e.g. He DOES lay out every choice we make, but He doesn't know the decision we'll make till we get to that decision, and knows what choice we'll make for that particular instance.
It is a paradoxical quandary, I'll give you that, and I can't really explain it. I could try and speak alm kinds of rhetoric, but alk that would do is lead us around in circles all day. I'm just not well versed enough in the theology to make well form arguements that might provide an acceptable answer.
In the end of it though, while I do enjoy looking into it, questioning, and digging deeper, as I think blind, unquestioning faith can be and is at time a very dangerous thing, the fact that there are contradictions and inconsistancies don't affect my choice to believe. I don't just sit content and think; "It works because it just does, God doesn't need to make any sense.", that just doesn't cut it for me. So, I have to interpret things in a way that reconciles those conflicting ideas so they make a semblance of sense. Which could still be wrong.
Like I said it's a personal thing, everyone sees it in their own way. Both you and Clint have shared your opinions and questions, and I'm sharing and answering to the bedt of my (limited) ability. If you find what've said unsatisfactory and disagree with it, then that's your opinion and it's not my place nor my right to judge or berate you for having that opinion. I just ask that you grant me the same.
Oh and and I'll be the first to admit that Christians can be some of the most judgemental, bigoted, disdainful, intolerant and stubborn kinds of people. They're personal actions and veiws don't reflect too great on the rest of us.
Thank you for the discourse, I hope I helped you see where I was coming from, and again that I didn't come across as someone heading the convert train, not my intent.
Tue, Jul 2, 2013, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Of course it's a personal choice, and it all ultimately boils down to one's own perceptions and understanding. AFAIC, I could care less what a person believes so long as they keep it to themselves and themselves only (i.e. not even try to indoctrinate the family, let alone the public at large).
I'll just state on this snippet:
"[God] doesn't know the decision we'll make till we get to that decision[.]"
If this is true, then it means such a god is not omniscient, and a god that is not omniscient is fallible and imperfect, and hence not a god.
Anyhow, nice talking with you! :)
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
No doubt that "Faith" tells a story combining religion and science fiction. I am not so sure it does it successfully. If we presume science fiction is based in the so-called materialist view of the universe, then faith by definition is a material phenomena -- that is, part of the mechanics of matter and energy. Thus, to allow faith (unreason) equal footing with science -- in its broadest sense -- intrudes on science fiction and thereby undermines it.
It is not just this episode. Its the whole story. Most simply put, the Plot Gods' reliance on Fate and Destiny takes BSG well outside of SciFi. BSG is not SciFi, and that is too bad.
Just imagine a BSG universe that had been better laid out. Imagine a cohesive plot that made sense, rather than relying on Fate and Destiny to force things along. In such a series, the characters struggle with meaning would be much more profound.
As it stands, its just kindergarten spiritualism. Expertly executed, but trite nonetheless.
Sat, May 30, 2015, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
@JR said it best about DS9 and Trek in general, it's a scientific perspective where, by definition there are material explanations and therefore, no supernatural divinities. We get "straw gods" which we can see are just more advanced aliens.
@D Albert Yes, BSG is *not* like our world. BSG is full of evidence of divine intervention. We call them the "Plot Gods", but any character in the show who doesn't see direct physical evidence of divine intervention isn't paying attention. To be an atheist in BSG is to willfully ignore reality. They can quibble about the nature of God, but anyone with half an open mind has to admit that *something* is pulling the strings.
@Michael It's waaay too deep of a discussion for this forum, but I'm not sure there's such an obvious contradiction between human freewill and a "somewhat" interventionist God. Constraining choices -- limiting your exercise of freewill i
s not incompatible with freewill. There's a lot more I'd love to discuss with you over a beer, but this forum isn't really the place for it....
Yes, the interaction between Adama and Roslin is just soooo well done... it's the only decent relationship that didn't feel forced since Dee and Billy.
Sun, May 31, 2015, 6:15am (UTC -5)
You're right: This is not the appropriate forum for this, but I can't resist :D
Epistemic modalities and qualifications such as "somewhat" interventionist or offering a limited range of "choices" ignores the basic question, to wit: Does a "god" know what choices we are going to make? Yes or No? There's no in-between. If it's yes, then our entire lives are predetermined, hence meaningless as far as being "judged" for them. If it's no, then the "god" in question is not a "god."
I asked this questions countless times to religious apologists and the answer was usually something along the lines of the usual lame copout: "'God' is too complex for us to understand." The only thought-provoking rejoinder was: "Yes, 'god' knows but 'he' chooses to not know." (That's redolent of the old paradox: Can a "god" create a rock so heavy not even "he" can lift it?) That statement brings up far more questions than it answers though, the biggest of which is WHY. It all seems capricious, infantile, and futile, and it segues into the biggest clincher, which is that a "god" is not necessary to understand, appreciate or experience the universe (Occam's razor), so why believe in one?
Sorry, couldn't help myself... :D Thanks for a friendly comment; they have been in short supply around here lately!
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 1:00am (UTC -5)
OK... here goes, at least until Jammer kicks us off ;-)
Imagine a being -- we can call them "wormhole aliens" if you like ;-)
that does not exist in time as we know it. (Maybe our time dimension corresponds to one of their physical dimensions, and vice-versa; the how doesn't really matter.) They know what act we're going to take, because they've seen it. I don't think that takes away the choice. If I flip a coin, and they say "I've seen this, it comes up heads", that doesn't change the physics or make the flip any less random. Christianity at least (can't speak to other religions) describes God as eternal, which is consistent with a being that exists outside of time. He could know what we're going to do, not because we have no choice, but because, in some sense, it's in his "past".
Why does god have to be omniscient? Can we have a god (meaning an entity that cannot, even in theory, be adequately explained by a materialist approach -- i.e. science) who isn't omniscient? Or infallible?
For the full disclosure: I try to keep an open mind: The universe is the way it is, not the way we might hope it to be. People who ignore that do so at their peril. And, yes, I do believe in God; if nothing else, I think there's enough fundamental questions about the nature of the universe (values of physical constants, the big bang, etc.) that the scientific explanation starts to violate Occam's razor -- or at least it does in my mind.
Thanks for the quick and thoughtful reply!
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
Wow, thanks for taking the time to compose a thoughtful and indeed thought-provoking response. I don't think Jammer will kick us off the forum; he DA MAN! ;) Seriously, this place has seen some really acrimonious flame wars, and all participants made it out alive, even if some with their tail between their legs...
Having said that, I don't want to get into a big, timeconsuming exchange because I neither have the time nor do I think the two of us can definitively descry on a sci-fi forum some of the most profound mysteries of the universe that have eluded many of the finest thinkers for eons. Therefore, just a few (hopefully) brief remarks.
"flip a coin, and they say "I've seen this, it comes up heads", that doesn't change the physics or make the flip any less random." Entirely correct. However, you do not then proceed to punish the coin for coming up heads when you somehow think it should have come up tails, or vice-versa. At this point a digression is in order.
I do not reject the possibility of the existence of a supernatural entity per se. For all we know, the entire cosmos could be someone's giant high school science project or a fish tank or, indeed, a simulation. I highly doubt we will ever know and--given that, due to the expansion of the universe, we would not be able to reach its putative end even if we achieved the speed of light--I doubt there is even a way of knowing.
Rather, I reject out of hand the possibility of there being a meaningful, perceptible, interventionist "god," in some kind of a personal or collective interaction with humans, as devised by the human religions past or present, and which "god" "punishes" or "rewards" us based on the decisions we make. Such an understanding, apart from being childish and ludicrous, also inevitably brings up the antimony adverted to in my previous message: Free will on our part and omniscience on such a "god's" part are mutually exclusive.
Now, why would such a "god"--if it existed--have to be omniscient? Religionists, to my knowledge, never impugned the omniscience of their gods, but let me answer it nonetheless. If a "god" is to dish out "rewards" and "punishments" (as in "heaven" and "hell" or their more mystical counterparts), particularly of an eternal character, then it has to have perfect knowledge. Indeed, for such a "god" to have created the universe in which to dish out "justice," it needs to have perfect knowledge that its "creations" were perfect. Otherwise, what would distinguish that supposed "god" from the "fallible" humans?
I mean, I hear you. There is no theoretical reason why there could not be a fallible and non-omniscient, non-omnipotent, and non-omnipresent interventionist "god," but in asserting this you completely diverge from the established theology. Indeed, in quite a few places such a statement could easily get you killed, even today. Be that as it may, if that kind of a "god" exists, then it is incompatible with the theologies concocted to date.
Lastly, is a god (in the sense of my above fish tank simile) necessary to explain the universe? Even at that very general level I would venture a no, while, again, not discounting the possibility. The laws of the natural sciences, the constants, etc. could all be coincidences. They could have turned out to be something else, in which case we might never have come to exist or might have come to exist in a different shape or form. (I take it you're familiar with the multiverse theory, some strands of which posit that other universes exhibit different laws of physics, etc.) The laws and constants are what they are, and such as they are:
* out of hundreds of billions of galaxies,
* each with hundreds of billions of stars,
* each with at least a few planets orbiting around them,
* over billions of years:
on one of those planets the conditions happened to be such as to enable a species called humans to arise, the modern version of which has been poking around the place for a couple of hundred thousand years.
When you contextualize humans (and indeed all organic life, starting with protozoa) like that, it is not a miracle that we are here today.
On the contrary: It would be a miracle if we were NOT.
Tue, Jun 2, 2015, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Once more into the breach....
Funny, the '.. fallible and non-omniscient, non-omnipotent, and non-omnipresent interventionist "god,"...' sounds EXACTLY like the ancient Greek gods, or any number of polytheistic religions. There's a great scene in the Illiad where Diomedes (with Athena's assistance) wounds Aphrodite and chases her away, and even holds his own against Ares, before getting taken out by Apollo. And they get away with it because Zeus is sleeping after, IIRC, a wild night with Hera.
The multiuniverse theory seems to be invented to explain away what seems like an *amazing* coincidence. Obviously, there's some personal bias here, but requiring a huge number of additional universes doesn't seem to be the simplest theory from an Occams' razor perspective. It's as if I flipped a coin a hundred times and got all heads -- then postulated that a bunch of other people *must* have performed the same experiment and gotten other results; rather than simply acknowledging that the coin is not random.
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Whoa, I never said I supported the multiverse theory! I think it's nonsense, although not implausible. If our universe is indeed a giant aquarium of sorts, who is to say that other aquaria do not exist, with different basic parameters?
Yes, the Greek pantheon was created very much in the human image, as did dime-a-dozen other "gods" in all parts of the world, until we decided to "upgrade" our "gods" by making them more, um, ethereal. Whether the pantheons of corporeal deities of yesteryear or their transcendental monotheistic successors, it's all man-made nonsense.
Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 6:47am (UTC -5)
About free will and an eternal god zzybaloobah gave this example, "flip a coin, and they say "I've seen this, it comes up heads", that doesn't change the physics or make the flip any less random.".
I would like to point out that while it doesn't change the physics it does change the nature of the flip. Since you know what's going to happen (you being god in this instance) you have in fact made the outcome predetermined by observing what will happen.
That's the essential problem, if you can observe the future there can be no free will because the future has been set before you've made any choice. The solution to this would be to have god exist eternally in all possible outcomes of everyone's choices and thereby god would have an infinite number of plans for the universe but that would be quite pointless.
Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 7:26am (UTC -5)
"[I]f you can observe the future there can be no free will because the future has been set before you've made any choice."
Precisely. So, the options are:
#1: We have no free will because a "god" already knows all our choices,
#2: We have free will, and there is a "god" but it is not omniscient, or
#3: We have free will and there is no "god," at all or in the interventionist sense as envisioned by what we understand as religion.
I'm gonna go with #3,
Sun, Mar 11, 2018, 6:52am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 17, 2019, 1:04am (UTC -5)
(yeah, I don't check this board that often)
I don't see a problem with free will and a being outside of time that sees your action. The argument "but they know what you're going to do, therefore you didn't have a choice" also invalidates quantum mechanics, which argues for the inherent randomness of physics.
I give you the 2 slit experiment (or any number of quantum experiments), where the outcome is truly believed to be RANDOM. A person who can see the future *knows* which slit the electron will go through. Does that make the result any less random? It better not, or QM is out the window. Or perhaps I just proved that future knowledge is impossible....
I don't think knowing the future result changes the process in the present that produces the result. If physics says "this outcome cannot be predicted, it's a result of a truly random process (i.e. QM indeterminacy)", then a being who can see the future (and knows the result) doesn't change the physics. Similarly with free will. Seeing the choice in the future does not invalidate the concept of "choice".
I'll check back in a few years to see if you have a reply....
Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 9:19am (UTC -5)
It did, but I think it's one of the shows greatest legacies. It's a great illustration of "divine providence" told with a sci fi backdrop.
I view each if the seasons as having a strong theme that doubles down on one of its core components.
Season 1 - unity = military and civilian losses have to come to grips with what happened and co exist. That story really concludes in season 2' Home arc.
Season 2 - law and order = martial law in the first half, the pegasus arc in the middle, the stand alone episodes after that. There's a strong sense of a tug of war between following laws and making them up/breaking them as we go.
Season 3 - personal suffering = New Caprica's arc damaged everyone and they spend the rest of the season picking up the pieces.
Season 4 - religious providence vs free will = "God" is guiding them to earth. In the macro, the characters really have no say in it, but in the micro we see them make a thousand little choices that may not have big picture consequences but which personally affect them and those around them.
Thu, Jan 27, 2022, 1:29am (UTC -5)
Kira was the primary person of faith in DS9 and witness to so much death.. Seeing her here - older, sick, at death's door, and yet with new found faith - gives the scenes between her and Roslin that much more weight.
For those of us familiar with DS9 anyway.
Also, DS9's best actress and best female character (albeit this is not Kira) together with BSG's best actress and female character are just a joy to watch.
Wed, Mar 15, 2023, 6:04am (UTC -5)
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