Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stargate & Monotheism

Ok, this one is a rant about a pet peeve that might only matter to "gateheads," but here goes. Have you noticed Stargate SG-1's relationship to monotheism? I love the show and watch it every night but this is starting to bug me.

I noticed a while back that it seems that they have managed to bring basically every human mythology into their understanding of the universe. Merlin, Thor, Ra, the fountain of youth, and various other mythological people and things have found a way into the stargate lore. Each of them is discovered to be a real person/thing that has something to do with the cosmic balance of power.

Most of these mythological things had to do with somebody's religion at some point in history. And then i realized that one huge area of mythology/religion has stayed completely off the radar - any of the major current world religions. You won't find them saying that Buddha was an ascendant or that Abraham was an Ancient.

It became particularly noticeable that major current religious figures are taboo for the show in the episode just preceding this season's finale. Vala finds herself in the confusing situation of being quite pregnant without having "done the deed," as she puts it. She asks the Stargate team if they've ever heard of such a thing happening before. Carter begins hesitantly, "well, there is one," at which Teal'c continues, "Darth Vader." Carter seems surprised that Darth Vader was the only one Teal'c could think of, but doesn't actually speak. Mitchell continues, "King Arthur." It's obvious that Carter is thinking of Jesus and is surprised that the others aren't, but she never actually says this. They can't even say His name to put it in the same group with Darth Vader and King Arthur.

Part of me is glad for this taboo. I don't want them "discovering" that Jesus was an Orai or that Mohammed recieved his visions from an ascendant. And they can't exactly spend a whole lot of time talking about who Jesus really is, so they just keep it quiet all together. Part of me wishes that God wasn't considered irrelevant to the quest for understanding the universe and our place in it, but i understand that it's all or nothing, and a secular show basically can't do "all."

But where it really gets frustrating is that when Christianity is hinted at, it's portrayed negatively. The only references to a Christian perspective (that I've noticed) are represented by none other than the cowardly, foolish, pompous, proud, short-sighted jerk Senator/Vice President Kinsey. In one episode he wants to shut down the Stargate because he thinks its unnecessary. When told that earth is facing the threat of global disaster if the Stargate program is shut down, Kinsey reminds the SG-1 team that the US is a nation "under God," and states that he doesn't believe God would ever allow anything like that to happen to earth. His confidence in Providence is framed as ignorant pride. However, his faith in Providence doesn't stop him from desperately trying to flee to the Alpha site when earth comes under attack. As a side note, Kinsey is also the only one i've heard use the term "Hallelujah." He is the stereotypical arrogant Christian.

I love the show. I understand why they can't acknowledge God. But it bothers me a little that everything supernatural is systematically explained away each time they discover a new race of aliens or new technology. Everything is biology and science - as Jackson comments "there is no magic." And the only time anything resembling Christianity shows up on the radar, it's found in the loathed antagonist. All this conveys a world view that science is truth and faith is irrelevant, or even a hindrance.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Apparently i spoke too soon :)
Last week i saw an episode where they went to a planet where the dominant religion is medeival Christianity. Turns out Teal'c has read the Bible (& even Chided O'Neil for not having done so - since it's an "important part of Western civilization), and they doubt a Goul'd could ever impersonate God because that would require him to be loving and compassionate. Turns out the evil Goul'd running the place was playing the part of a demon.

Then this week I saw one where one Goul'd is playing Satan and has created a place that is supposed to be hell where he sends people.

In both of them i thought they were really respectful to Christianity. They left open the possibility that a real God exists and didn't speculate that God is really some alien. They do assert that earth has no demons and imply that Satan isn't real - but all in all i'm still really impressed.