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.