Battlestar post mortem

Well, the Battle Star Galactica (embedded video) series finally ended this last Friday night. A fairly decent series. Perhaps a bit too much religious hocus pocus for my taste, and I think they could have made a better story without it. A more grand, ambitious and even human story. But I guess they were making a sort of Hindu-like, cycles of the universe type of thing as one of the central themes of the show, along with some “mystery” about behind the scenes “forces”. So, what about the ending?

Spoilers ahead (if you haven’t caught up yet)!

So, they somehow make it to Earth 150,000 years ago because of a resurrected Starbuck remembering notes to a song her father taught her. Lee Adama apparently wants to chuck the city life, and all technology under the idea that our “souls” have not matured enough to handle it. It’s a resurrection of the “noble savage” myth. In fact, humans, during the course of the show, have matured a little bit. They are cooperating, reluctantly, with their Cylon enemies. This is a step towards maturity. What does dumping all the technological advances give? A loss in agricultural and medical advances for one. It guaranties a future of needless pain and suffering. Technology may not be perfect and have all the answers. It can be used in an immoral or immature fashion. But, it does, so far, provide the best means of moving humanity forward, advancing our understanding of the cosmos and our own nature, and alleviating the suffering caused by various diseases.

If we are to take the story in full historical context, what happens? They intermingle with the natives (which predictably turn out to be human, but so far with no technology or speech..another unlikely scenario. They were clearly organized in tribes and even chimpanzees have a form of communication) to produce the future of the human race. The rest of the story is, from the context, our history. A history of pain and suffering from which we now are getting alleviation due to technological advances. Advances, which, if the Caprica survivors had bothered to build upon after arriving on Earth, would have been there from the beginning. Of course, the end of the show brings us into modern times, where they show us the rising popularity of robotics. The implication is that the cycle will continue with machines rising up, near destruction of humanity, and so on. If the survivors had instead built upon what they had, with the lessons they had learned, the cycle could have been broken.

Of course, this is fiction, so it’s not really a big deal. But I think there is something instructive to be gleaned from this. In this broader context, we can see that it is a mistake to throw away our advances and move backwards. Of course, going backwards is exactly what a lot of creationists would have us do. Eviscerate our science education and dumbing down our populace will result in pushing us in the same direction as the well meaning Lee Adama did in the show. The “noble savage”, or even the “Garden of Eden” can be a tempting myth, but it is just that. A myth. We must do better.

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