Dr. Henry's Battlestar Galactica thingymebob
Knowingly, deliberately and arrogantly plagarised form here:
The Mormon/Battlestar Galactica Connection!
In the late 60's, Glen Larson pitched a TV show called Adam's Ark around the same time that Star Trek was ending. In it, Larson wanted to take biblical themes and set them out in space. While no one was interested in that particular project, Larson was a successful creator, writer or producer on such TV shows as It Takes a Thief, McCloud, The Six Million Dollar Man, Quincy, The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, B.J. and the Bear, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Magnum PI, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider and Manimal.
Star Wars exploded into the world in 1977 and as everyone and his brother tried to capitalize on it's success, something like Larson's old pitch suddenly seemed like a great idea. ABC originally planned to have Battlestar Galactica as a series of two-hour movies, following a big, three-hour premiere, but they were impressed enough to order it up as a weekly hour-long series. It premiered on ABC in September of 1978, after being seen as a theatrical release in Canada and Europe in July of that year. The show was cancelled after just 24 episodes in April of '79. Due to fan pressure, it was revived as Galactica 1980 (in 1980...duh), but this only lasted for 10 episodes.
The opening prologue reads, "There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of human who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. They may have been the architects of the great pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive far, far away, amongst the stars."
Glen Larson (creator and producer of Galactica) is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and many parallels between his church's and the show's mythologies can be found.
The main characters in Galactica are the last remnants of the Twelve Colonies, which were founded by twelve tribes of humans who left their home planet of Kobol, which had become inhabitable because of either natural or man-made contamination. There was a "lost thirteenth tribe" who went a different direction than the rest and, as the story goes, ended up colonizing Earth. Commander Adama once delivered the following speech about their origins: "Our recorded history tells us we descended from a mother colony, a race that went out into space to establish colonies. Those of us assembled here now represent the only known surviving Colonists, save one. A sister world, far out in the universe, remembered to us only through ancient writings..." He goes on to assert that the "lost thirteenth tribe" colonized Earth. Something called "The Book of The Word" described the journey of the tribes of man away from Kobol.
In the Mormon church, The Book of Mormon describes the journey of a "thirteenth tribe" There were twelve tribes of Israel and the prophet Lehi took a remnant of the tribe of Joseph (creating a "lost thirteenth tribe") and somehow travelled from the middle east to North America around 600 BC. They ended up splitting into two tribes, one of whom flourished and according to the book are the descendants of the American Indians. Additionally, the name Kobol is made up of the rearranged letters making up the word Kolob, which is the star "nearest unto the throne of God," or the name of the planet where the Mormons' god, Elohim, is from.
In the TV show, the planet Kobol itself was considered destroyed or just a legend until it was found in the episode, "Lost Planet of the Gods." Adama thought there was a secret passage to Earth in the tomb of the Ninth Lord in the lost city of Eden on Kobol. He identified the tomb by the Ninth Lord's seal.
In the episode "War of the Gods," there is a "Ship of Lights" commanded by mysterious beings. In one scene, Starbuck asks the them if they are angels. The "entity" responds with, "Oddly enough, there is some truth to your speculation." When he inquires, "But why are you bothering with us? We are from a simple handful of human survivors," Starbuck is told: "Because, as you are now, we once were. As we are now, you may become."
This is interesting because the fifth LDS President Lorenzo Snow coined the expression, "As man is God once was, as God is, man may be" as stated in the Articles of Faith (pg. 430). The LDS believes that God was once a man on another planet (sometimes referred to as Kolob) who followed the Mormon teachings, died, rose to the third level of heaven and eventually became a God, just as they teach that if you follow the Mormon teachings here on Earth you may eventually become the God of your own world after death.
Commander Adama notes, "The ancient ones, the Lords who first settled our Kobol, spoke of visitations from what they in their primitive way referred to as angels. Think of them as custodians of the universe, advanced beings, very highly advanced, whose mandate it is to make certain that their powers are never abused by any one of their own."
While the Book of Mormon may teach that there is only one true God (Alma 11:26-29), other Mormon documents say that there are many Gods (Mormon Doctrine, page 163), in fact the Journal of Discourses (vol 6, pg. 5) states that "In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and the people." Battlestar Galactica's "custodians of the universe" may allude to this council of Gods. It may be worth noting here that the majority of Mormon beliefs, church practices and ceremonies are not described in The Book of Mormon. If you happen to be given The Book of Mormon by an LDS member friend or by one of their door-to-door missionaries, you won't find much about some of this stuff and certainly nothing about their various temple ceremonies and beliefs.
In the "War of the Gods" episode, there is a character named Count Iblis, who is basically Satan for the show's purposes, whom the "entities" seem to be after. They note that, "He now uses his powers to corrupt and lead others away from the truth." Apollo figures out the Count's true identity, by thinking "back to the original records. The names Mephistopheles, Diabolis, the Prince of Darkness." According to the original script of the episode, "War of the Gods," Apollo and Starbuck enter a wreckage thought to have been Count Iblis' comrades' ship. There they discover a glove that seems to have been made for a cloven hoof. They lift up a metal panel and discover a devil or demon-like figure. The networks dropped the scene for fear it would be too scary for kids and for the "satanic" overtones.
In the LDS, God has a wife with whom he has children. These "spirit" children are eventually reborn on earth, where their "pre-existence" is "veiled" from them until they die and return to Heaven, at which time they remember their previous life in heaven. Satan is one of God's spirit children, birthed by God's wife in the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven. He is a spirit brother to Jesus. According to Mormon Doctrine, both Jesus and Satan offered plans for mankind's salvation to God, with Jesus' plan being accepted. Satan's plan sought to "deny men their agency," that is, their freedom of choice, something very important in Mormon theology.
In Battlestar Galactica, when the Entities are asked why they cannot stop Count Iblis, they reply, "Because we cannot interfere with freedom of choice. His, yours, anyone's."
Commander Adama performs a "sealing ceremony" between Apollo and Serina, saying, "A union between this man and this woman not only for now but for all the eternities." In the LDS, when couples have a temple wedding, they are sealed for "time and all eternity."
A Galactica 1980 episode contains the phrase "The glory of the universe is intelligence," very similar to a passage in the LDS Doctrines and Covenants #93: "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth."
In both Battlestar Galactica and the LDS, the political structure consists of a Council (or Quorum) of the Twelve, and a President.
What's the point of all this? I guess this just seems interesting to me because the majority of the horror and science-fiction projects that mix in any sort of religion usually use Christian, or often Roman Catholic theology (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Star Trek V, the Exorcist, the Omen series, The Seventh Sign, etc.). Other than a recent film called Plan 10 From Outer Space (which I've only read about), I don't know of any other genre feature using Mormon doctrine as a major component to it's mythology.
Sources for information for this article include the Battlestar Galactica Frequently Asked Questions list maintained by John P. LaRocque; quotations and passages from the Journal of Discourses; quotations from the Teachings of Joseph Smith; quotations from Mormon Doctrine; quotations from the Articles of Faith; The Book of Mormon.
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