Cylon Religion

From Battlestar Wiki, the free, open content Battlestar Galactica encyclopedia and episode guide
Revision as of 14:54, 7 January 2011 by MileyDavidA (talk | contribs) (tweaked a bit)
This article discusses the religion of the Cylons of the Re-imagined Series.
In the Original Series, the Cylons have no documented religion.
For summary information on the Colonial faiths as seen in the Original Series, see Religion in the Twelve Colonies (TOS).
Part of the series on


The majority of the so-called Significant Seven Cylons follow a monotheistic religion handed down to them from the Centurions. This is distinct from the polytheistic religion followed by most of the Colonial Humans and the Terrestrial Cylons known as the Thirteenth Tribe (from which come the Final Five).

Unless otherwise indicated, the term "Cylon" as used herein refers collectively to Centurion Model 0005, and humanoid Models Two (Leoben), Three (D'Anna), Four (Simon), Five (Aaron), Six, Eight (Sharon), and presumably Seven (Daniel); and to their beliefs. As previously indicated, these beliefs differ from those of the Thirteenth Tribe, which shared a polytheistic tradition with the twelve Human tribes. The Final Five of the Thirteenth Tribe incorporated the Centurions' monothistic belief system into the numbered models they created with the Centurions. The Number One model line (John Cavil) are atheists, but it is not known if their atheism was intentional or a programming error. It is unclear whether the semi-sentient Raiders and modern Centurions have even the capacity to process religion. Cylon religion supposes that the Hybrids can communicate with God, but what if any beliefs the Hybrids themselves hold is unclear, aside from their belief that Kara Thrace is the harbinger of death; since undergoing brain surgery, Thrace's husband, Final Five Cylon Samuel Anders has effectively become a Hybrid, and echoes their characterisation of Thrace. Number Eight Cylon Sharon Agathon and her human husband Karl Agathon are a monotheist and a polytheist respectively, and it is unknown what religion(s) they impart to the human-Cylon hybrid child Hera. Both traditions are practiced by her terrestrial decendents who are hybrids of human, numbered Cylon, and the independently-evolved terrestrial humans; with polytheism dominating for thousands of years before being largely eclipsed by monotheism.

Prior to the First Cylon War, a small sect of humans secretly practiced a monotheistic religion. This movement has been reborn under Gaius Baltar who preaches Cylon dogma taught to him by Messenger Six. Terrestrial Cylons Tory Foster and Galen Tyrol appear to have converted to monotheism as well under Baltar's ministry, whereas Saul Tigh has not despite Caprica-Six's influence.[1] Only Ellen Tigh and Samuel Anders recover their memories from the time they ally with the Centurions and embrace their beliefs.

God

The Cylons believe that God created humankind. Humanity, to the Cylons, is a flawed creation, one that is sinful and has essentially thrown away the gift of the soul and of God's love. The Cylons believe that God directed humanity to create the Cylons as a more perfect entity. From there, the Cylons believe they were to take the place of the flawed humans in the cosmos and become, essentially, the next generation of humankind.

The Cylons, seeing themselves as humankind's children, believe they cannot not truly come into their own until the human race is gone. The logical conclusion they reach is that they must commit genocidal parricide in order to evolve and mature ("Torn" Podcast, Act 2).

Attitude toward Colonial Religion

The Cylons believe in a singular deity and reject the worship of multiple deities [2]. Although unbelievers sometimes refer to this being as the "Cylon God", it has been frequently explained that God is the one true God of all, human and Cylon. As such, its followers view the Colonial worship of the Lords of Kobol as blasphemous (Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I). The Cylons claim that they know the scriptures of the human religion better than humanity does, but do not believe the Sacred Scrolls to be literally true (Home, Part I). They acknowledge the historicity of the Lords of Kobol without accepting their divinity.

That said, the Cylons tolerate Colonial religion on New Caprica, and direct evangelism has been mainly limited to Leoben's workings on Kara Thrace.

Beliefs

The Cylons apparently worship a metaphysical being, a being that wishes for all to believe in it and love it, human and Cylon alike. The Cylon religion includes concepts of "sin". For example, the Messenger Number Six warns Gaius Baltar that suicide is a mortal sin when he jokingly suggests killing himself (Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down). A tortured Number Six copy named Gina Inviere does not initially kill herself to escape horrific torture because she believes that suicide is a sin (Resurrection Ship, Part II).

The Cylons maintain that one of God's commandments is to procreate ("be fruitful"), but the humanoid Cylons are incapable of procreating with each other. The Cylons apparently strictly define "procreation" as biological reproduction, and not creation of copies of existing Cylon models using asexual, industrial, or laboratory techniques. As a result, the Cylons began attempts to create a Cylon-human hybrid (deemed more feasible than their previous attempts at procreation amongst their own kind). To this end they developed "farms" on the occupied Twelve Colonies to create a hybrid, but these attempts continued without success.[3]

Most Cylons espouse monotheistic views, but often with subtle differences in interpretation. For instance, Leoben Conoy believes that "We are all God". The John Cavil model is the only one that is openly atheistic.

The first successful Cylon-human Hybrid, Hera Agathon, the daughter of Sharon and Karl Agathon, is literally considered to be a "miracle from God" by the Cylons (Final Cut).

Possible origin

A small minority of monotheistic humans existed on the Twelve Colonies before the Fall. Their religion was looked upon as dangerous and heretical by the majority of Colonial society and most of them were forced to hide their beliefs. The secret monotheistic organization was known as the Soldiers of the One and considered a terrorist group by the Caprica government.

Two of them were Zoe Graystone, a closeted monotheist and her boyfriend, Ben Stark, who was more fanatical of the two. Graystone and Stark died in a suicide bombing caused by the latter, but Zoe had created a digital copy of herself before her death. Zoe Graystone's avatar, Zoe-A, was later uploaded into the first Colonial Cylon, a mechanical model created by her father, Daniel Graystone. The fact that the first Centurion in the Colonies had the memories of a human monotheist might have been the cause of the Cylons' belief in one God.

Further hints of the group's legacy can be seen during the Cylon Civil War, at a Cylon funerary service that takes place on the Battlestar Galactica, where the usage of ornaments and amulets in the form of the "Infinity" symbol can be observed (Islanded in a Stream of Stars). This same symbol is used to represent the Soldiers of the One more than sixty years earlier, and may suggest a deeper connection between the two monotheistic groups.

Analysis

The concept that the religious beliefs of the Cylons are similar to the real-life Abrahamic religions of planet Earth is a plot twist which executive producer Ron Moore developed and considers to be an intriguing switch: normally, the "Good Guys" in a TV show are monotheists, and the "bad guys" are polytheists. However, in the Re-imagined Series, the "good" humans follow a polytheistic religion that worships a parallel of the Greek gods, while the "bad" Cylons worship a monotheistic God, similar to real-life Abrahamic religions.

The Cylon God and the Lords of Kobol have an "overlapping" existence that is confusing to both Colonial and Cylon sides. Both sides appear to be guided to conflict (and, in rare instances, cooperation) through events that appear pre-destined. The story arc of finding the Arrow of Apollo involves the hunt for the Tomb of Athena by the Colonials. According to the Sacred Scrolls, the humans will be aided by a "minor demon." The cooperative Sharon Valerii copy assists the group in finding the tomb.

In another instance, the oracle Dodona Selloi tells Number Three that the Lords of Kobol, specifically Zeus, are sad for her. The oracle then relays a message from the Cylon God to Three of the existence of Hera Agathon and the imminent failure of the occupation of New Caprica (Exodus, Part I).

The convergence of the Cylon and Colonial religion occurs yet again at the algae planet, where possession of the Eye of Jupiter is fought over by the two sides. While the Colonials believe the Temple of Five on the planet was built by the Thirteenth Tribe to represent five priests who worshipped "the one whose name cannot be spoken", one Cylon (Number Three) and Gaius Baltar believe that the significance of the Temple has something to do with the five missing humanoid Cylons. Lieutenant Felix Gaeta discovers that the algae planet's sun will soon go nova; both he and Admiral Adama do not believe that the curious coincidences of Colonial and Cylon involvement with the Eye, at that particular place and time, as merely coincidental (The Eye of Jupiter).

Cylon attitude towards their own religion varies between the models, and it is this variation that is one of the major causes of the Cylon Civil War. The Fours and Fives follow the lead of the atheist Ones with the more reverent Twos, Sixes, and Eights in opposition.

Sayings and Prayers

References

  1. He continues to speak of the plural "gods" vice the singular, and refers to Baltar's followers as kooks ("The Oath").
  2. This is similar, but not necessarily identical, to the beliefs of the Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
  3. This Cylon-human hybrid child should not be confused with the living humanoid central computer of a basestar, also known to the Cylons as a "Hybrid".
  4. This is similar or identical to the blessing many Christians in North America recite before meals.
  5. This resembles the islamic Shahada: "I bear witness that there is no god except for God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger of God." It also reflects the 1st, 2nd or 1st and 2nd Commandments (depending upon demonination): "I am the Lord your G-d. You shall have no other gods before me.
  6. It is noticably parallel to Reinhold Niebuhr's well-known Serenity Prayer.