The Souls of Cylons

Ron Moore, executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, talks about the theology behind the Sci Fi Channel series.

BY: Interview by Ellen Leventry

 

Ron Moore is producer of the Sci Fi Channel series "Battlestar Galactica," based on the 1978 TV show of the same name. He spoke with writer Ellen Leventry about religious themes in the original series and the reimagined show.



Glen Larson, creator and producer of the first show, is a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints. He based much of the first series on Mormon cosmology. Was there a concerted effort to move away from that in this version?

Not specifically, no. I looked at the original series as mythos and the way it dealt with religion as sort of a global sense. I was aware that Glen had used Mormon influences and how he had created the cosmology, but I'm not that familiar with Mormon belief or practice. To me there were things that were sort of obvious, the twelve tribes, the twelve tribes of Israel.

At the beginning, I sort of assumed that the Colonials--the human beings--would have a belief system, probably polytheistic. In the original, the "Lords of Kobol" were referred to several times. But it wasn't until the development of the miniseries when I sort of randomly gave the Cylons a belief system. I was creating the characters and working on some lines for Number 6 and I thought it was interesting if she professed a belief in a single God. I had really given her a belief in a singular God almost by accident.

I compared that with the polytheistic religion of the colonials, I started to realize that an interesting pattern was developing--the Cylons believing in the one true God and the Colonials having an older, multifaceted system of deities that was obviously patterned on the Romans. As the series went on, I started to believe that the Cylon belief was going to be a guiding principal.

People are really noticing the dichotomy between the Pagan and the monotheistic themes. It strongly parallels the rise of Christianity and the demise of paganism in the Western world.

That's true. There was a book that I started reading about the one god driving out the many--the rise of monotheism in the Western world and how it came to displace pagan religion. Those themes were interesting to play with in the show: The dynamic whereby the pagan religious practices tended to be tolerant and tended to allow monotheistic beliefs within their own culture.

That's true. There was a book that I started reading about the one god driving out the many--the rise of monotheism in the Western world and how it came to displace pagan religion. Those themes were interesting to play with in the show: The dynamic whereby the pagan religious practices tended to be tolerant and tended to allow monotheistic beliefs within their own culture.

And then there came this came this notion of this outside monotheistic belief, of the one true God that could not tolerate others, that started to drive out pagan worship and that fit very nicely with what we were doing with the show. Because you had this apocalyptic moment of genocide which kicked off the entire series, of this Cylon culture that has this belief system in one god that is literally wiping out this pagan belief system and then is pursuing them across the galaxy. There was a certain resonance in history.

Some viewers say the show stereotypes fundamentalist Christians as kind of robotic, while others are saying, "This is great...pagans are finally the good guys!"

The parallels between the Cylon beliefs and fundamentalist Christian beliefs, yeah, there are certain aspects of it there, but there's also the roots of the drama, also contains things such as Al Qaeda's use of its religious practice to justify what it does. That's part of who the Cylons are too, they aren't just really stalking horses for fundamentalist Christianity.

Continued on page 2: »

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