Re-designing the Designer: Adapting Polytheism in Battlestar Galactica.

Authors: Berger, R.

Conference: BSG 2007: The Politics, Poetics and Philosophy of Battlestar Galactica

Dates: 28 July 2007


The original series of Battlestar Galactica was largely based on Mormon theology and the writings of Erich von Daniken, freely admitted by creator Glen Larson. The 1978 series promoted the notion of a polytheistic religion that had perhaps been founded by more intelligent beings from other worlds.

The reconfigured 2003 series effectively establishes this ideal against the Cylon’s position of a monotheistic faith, replicating Christianity’s almost total triumph over paganism. This article argues that this new series of Battlestar Galactica is a heteroglossic adaptation, shot through with the many utterances of previous variants, as well as reflecting contemporary religious debates, from monotheism to pantheism via eugenics and intelligent design. At the centre of these debates stands Adama, adapted from the sage and spiritual leader of the original series, into a sceptic, who nonetheless sees the benefits of a unifying faith.

This paper will further propose that the series aims to establish the validity of science over faith – as the devout Laura Roslin’s life is saved by superior Cylon technology - and through Adama, the pantheistic notion that any intelligent designer must come at the end of a process of evolution, not at the start. In short, Battlestar Galactica turns the polytheistic position of the original series on its head and offers multiple-readings responding to a range of recent religious debates.

In addition, the series serves to rewrite, reconfigure and re-purpose ideas of intelligent design and creationism, making it one of the most complex and resonant television series in recent years.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Richard Berger