All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.

Here’s a question to ponder: Can any sentient race exist without war? Even though that’s one of the “unanswerables” that keeps humanities scholars busy, I’d suspect we all have an opinion, even if we do (in the immortal — though not the most famous — words of Neil Armstrong when challenged by NASA brassregarding his pretty-damn-late decision to eject before crashing the “flying bedstead” lunar lander simulator not long before his Apollo 11 flight) “retain our God-given right to be wishy-washy.”

My opinion in short: No.

As long as the inhabitants of a hypothetical universe are numerous and have the ability to hold opinions, they’ll hold differing ones. And as long as we remove time from the equation, eventually — think monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare — they’ll come to blows (or sticks/rocks, guns, nuclear war) over it.

This issue seems to lie at the core of the BSG universe. Say what you will about Cylons, but they’re clearly sentient. (They “have a plan,” right?) So we’re faced with two sentient “races” that inhabit the local universe and are at odds with each other. As far as I can see, this conflict — like all “ultimate” conflicts — can end in three ways: one side could completely and utterly eliminate the other, one side could cause significant damage to the other to the point that the remaining enemy could be subdued and/or convinced to behave non-violently, or the two sides can come to an agreement and live together peacefully.

Just to be clear, I’m not betting on #3 in the BSG universe. However, the theoretical possibility or impossibility of #2 has been on my mind a lot over the last few weeks. If the Cylons are indeed machines that are “programmed” to damage the human race, is it possible to make peace with them in any number at all? If even one of them remains, would it not continue to execute its programming to bring about some horrible fate for humanity?

On the other hand, I have a hard time accepting that complete genocide is really the right answer. (Remember, we’re talking long term here, not the immediate.) Worse yet, the whole idea of “programming” becomes horribly blurred when you consider that we, too, can be “programmed” via hypnosis and other physical/mental conditioning such as brainwashing. Are we that different?

Where this is all going, at least in my mind this morning, is that if option #2 (some Cylons are left alive) is what ends up happening in the BSG future, could it be that the scripture in this post’s title referrs to an endless swap of power between the oppresed and the oppressors? Or maybe the Cylons just interpreted it that way; Maybe in their machine-influenced thought processes they saw inthese religious documents a prediction of their predicament and a way forward — a mission — by trying to fulfill the prophesy by starting the war, losing it, and waiting to start it again.

Or maybe the prophesy is meant to be even more vague, with different groups assuming the roles of each side each time — repeating the war over one or another issue endlessly throughout time.

One Response to "All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again."
  1. Jon Davis says:

    If we believe the Cylons to be sentient, then that gives a lot more significance to their religion. You guys mentioned it briefly in GCW #3 when Number Six says to Gaius that “procreation is one of God’s commandments” (from the Miniseries). I think that perhaps this is a driving force in their “plan”. Perhaps the Cylons are trying to find some way to connect directly with their god – joining with their creators (humans) may be part of their plan to do so. In another part of the miniseries, Six also says “God is love”. These concepts are important elements in the Cylon faith, and I believe a fundamental motivational factor in their “plan” for humanity. It is important that love be experienced by the Cylons (Six and Gaius, Sharon and Helo, etc) and that procreation take place so they can get closer to connecting to their god.

    Another thought along those lines…. are Cylons actually trying to become fully human so that they can be in God’s love? Leobin Conoy makes the statement “I know that God loved you more than all other living creatures and you repaid his divine love with sin, with hate, corruption, evil. So then he decided to create the Cylons.” (from the episode ‘Flesh and Bone’) He said it to Starbuck to demean humanity, but it may be revealing the jealousy of Cylons that God has favor on mankind, even though they’ve turned away from God. At any rate, if we are to figure out what the Cylon “plan” is (or parts of it anyways), it has a lot to do with the Cylon faith.

    So why haven’t the Cylons wiped out the rest of humanity on Kobol (New Caprica)? I believe this has something to do with the compassion that Caprica Six and Boomer (the one reincarnated from Galactica Boomer) showed to Anders on Caprica during the garage blast (from the episode ‘Downloaded’). That event shows a significant shift in Cylon behavior towards humanity. As the “Heros of Cylon” Caprica Six and Boomer may have used their influence to change the Cylon’s collective(?) approach in dealing with humanity. This would represent a change of the “plan” of which we’ll likely only understand and appreciate significantly at the end of the series when the “plan” or “plans” are revealed. And of course, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out in season 3!

    On another note, in recently listening to your conversation about the origin of the Cylon human-agents, it was mentioned that maybe they were cloned from an original human. An interview with Ron Moore by Chase Masterson revealed that the 12 models were designed out of the Cylon’s study of humanity. They were built to “represent different archetypes of what humanity is”. You can confirm this on the BattlestarWiki (battlestarwiki.org) – look up “cylon agent”. Maybe 12 models for the 12 colonies? In this interview, however, Ron Moore points out that there was no singular human basis for each model. This would also lend credence to why it is so challenging for Cylons to procreate (breed) genetically (sure they can manufacture the sentry models, and replicate/grow(?) the humanoid models) but procreation seems challenging (for example, the episode ‘The Farm’) Maybe all the humanoid Cylons share identical basic genetic code and they need humans for new genetic material?

    Another observation… Humans (purely organic) surround themselves with technology/metal bulkheads. Cylons however have very organic ships (remember the docking bay are on the basestar from ‘Kobol’s Last Gleaming’?) Not sure that this has any plot-related meaning, it’s more likely production design related. Makes you wonder if there are blood and guts in the sentry models too? I don’t recall ever seeing the insides in an episode, just buckled armor and such.

    Keep up the great podcast, I really enjoy the discussion and theories and deep thoughts.

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