I don’t really have any complaints about last night’s Battlestar Galactica series finale. It was wholly satisfying on a visceral and emotional level. There’s always the fear of being disappointed, but that wasn’t the case here. If you’re looking for reviews of the show, I suggest reading Annalee Newitz’s over at io9.
But I want to suggest that there is a counter-story here, too, which relies on the idea that any technology sufficiently advanced looks like magic. Though our “angels” and “God” come dressed in the trappings of spiritualism, they could just as plausibly be benevolent but meddlesome aliens who take a kindly interest in primitives like ourselves.
While these aliens help guide us, they do not control our destiny. In fact, BSG makes a pretty passionate case for human self-determination. The humans of the 12 colonies have all used science to create life, in the form of cylons. And although those cylons are humans’ downfall in the short term, they turn out to be humanity’s salvation in the long term. They’re the creatures humans must merge with in order to take civilization in a new direction. Looked at from that perspective, humans on Earth today are the genetically-engineered (or simply engineered) creation of an earlier species. They prove that our species is not the result of some kind of divine intervention, but is quite emphatically the result of scientific intervention mixed with a little random evolution.
Can these two accounts of humanity be hybridized, or are they simply contradictory? That we can ask that kind of question after watching Battlestar Galactica’s final episode is ultimately is lure of this series. It offers no pat answers. We must decide.
Interesting that ultimately the show was about reconciling the differences between science and religion. Pretty heady stuff, but something you expect out of the best speculative fiction.