My husband loves Stargate [SG-1], but I've never seen a single episode. I'm always reading while he's watching. I asked him what was so great about it and he said 'I know you. You'd hate it'.And nonmagical thinking has the gall to call herself an atheist? She is hereby excommunicated, and here's why...
What's So Great About Stargate SG-1?
As a scifi fan, I started watching Stargate SG-1. After having completed the series, I started studying more of science and also religion, and I began to appreciate it more and more. It explores a lot of scientific areas and, if you know the science behind it, it illuminates it. What's even greater about it, though, is the overly religious theme to the entire show.
I will try not to give specific, identifiable plots below so as not to spoil it for anyone. I will give you just the basic premise and some examples.
Stargate SG-1 is about a military team in present-day Earth (comprised of two military people, an archaeologist, and an alien) who explores distant planets using a device called a stargate which establishes wormholes between it and another stargate.
Millenia ago, a parasitic race called the Goa'uld (pronounced many different ways, most simply "ghouled") came to Earth and began harvesting humans and transplanting them on distant worlds. They were a very advanced race as they were technological scavengers. They possess technology and understanding of the universe which is centuries, perhaps millenia, ahead of where we are at now. The Goa'uld themselves are snake-like parasites which take humans as hosts and are then able to control the human body as if it were there own. They have supernatural like characteristics in the body, though, like glowing eyes, a bizarre voice, and super strength.
Once on Earth, they posed as gods over the various cultures. Whether they took the existing gods and posed as them or their personas were documented after-the-fact is never made quite clear. Apparently, though, they took the existing religions and posed as certain deities. For example, some of the Goa'uld invaded the Egyptian culture and posed as some of their gods, such as Ra, Apophis, Hathor, Isis, etc.
Given that the Goa'uld had technology and understanding millenia and millenia more advanced than them, they truly did appear to be all powerful gods. They did not age (due to using an invented healing device called the sarcophagus), they armed their guards with energy weapons, they flew ships, they were able to transport themselves on beams of lights, etc.
Posing as gods, they are able to make slaves of humanity and make them worship them on various worlds. On some planets, the worlds themselves become lost, or perhaps the stargate becomes lost, and so the god never returns to their planet. Nonetheless, the religion imposed by the Goa'uld carries on there, with just as much pomp and superstition as religion in our society.
Over the course of the show, you learn more and more about the Goa'uld and them posing as gods. You do, though, meet other aliens who are even far more advanced.
The absolute, most advanced alien race on the show are the Ancients. The Ancients were an evolution of humans which preceded even our evolutionary line. They advanced beyond anything imaginable. They built the stargate system, they were able to accomplish time travel, they could create life, they could heal bodies with just their touch, etc. They were highly evolved.
At one point, the Ancients evolved the point where they no longer needed their bodies and were able to exist as pure energy (though, they interfered with their own evolution to get to this point). They were said to have "ascended" to a higher plane of existence.
On this higher plane of existence, their knowledge of the universe is staggering. They understand the universe as, in a way, they are the universe. They aren't omniscient or omnipotent, but we, as humans couldn't tell the difference. They can appear in any form they want, they aren't bound by the laws of physics (as we understand them), they can manipulate the weather, they can manipulate matter in general, they can cause other people to ascend after their deaths, they can enter humans' minds, etc.
By our definition, they wouldn't be gods; however, they are mostly benevolent, just choosing not to interfere in the lower planes of existence. The Ancients, before they became the Ascended, had an internal fracture and broke off from a dissenting faction. This faction ascended as well in a galaxy far away and became known as the Ori.
The Ori did choose to interfere in the lower planes of existence and demanded people to worship them. Why? Because if people believed they were gods, they could use parts of their worshipers mind to enhance their power. So, the more believers, the more powerful they become. The more Ori, though, the less power there is to go around.
The Ori wrote a holy book called Origin. In this, it is much like the Bible. It has accounts of history, descriptions of the Ori, allegories, prophecies, etc. They promise to their followers that, whoever shall believe in them, will live with the Ori forever. The Ori, though, desire power and, as such, they don't make good on their promises. The people die and stay dead -- they do not ascend. Of course, as humans with limited understanding and knowledge, they don't know this. The only reason that SG-1 knows this is by discussing it with the ascended ancients in our galaxy.
Stargate SG-1 & Atheism
It is a very critical thinking-oriented show. It makes you think not just about science, but also about religion. In the case of the Ori and the Ancients, how can we possibly know they are not gods? If they were to appear to us and demonstrate their power, we would not be able to tell if they are gods or simply highly evolved beings.
In the case of the Ori, this is disastrous. They have written a holy book for their people and confiscate their lives by having the people worship them and believe in them for the promise of life everlasting. Furthermore, the Ori wage a war on humanity in our galaxy. Once they know of the humans in our galaxy, they must have more power by gaining more believers. As such, the priests of the Ori go to different worlds in our galaxy preaching from Origin and gain more and more believers. As they gain more believers, they become ever more powerful.
In the case of the Goa'uld, this is an evolved race of aliens who have taken human civilizations over by posing as the gods of our religions. Could you imagine an evolved alien such as the Goa'uld or Ori coming to Earth and demonstrating their advanced technology, pretending to be Jesus? Instant slaves.
Not only is it a great show about religion, not only is it a great show about science, but it is a great show all around. Science, religion, action, fighting, drama... it's great. The storylines are great and all the episodes make you think. There's a reason the show was on for ten years and had two movies (third being discussed) and a spinoff that has lasted five years. It's amazing.
I rest my case. Back to watching the season finale of the second season of Stargate SG-1. It's one where you question the reality you wake up in :-)