Searching for God Behind the Static

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I like Science Fiction. A lot. And, what is really cool is that other biblical studies/theologians (except Jim West who absolutely Gleeful) seems to like Sci-fi as well.

I currently watch Fringe, because my wife makes me, and Stargate Universe, because it is one of the most well written shows on American television since Firefly. It seems, lately, that both of these shows are experiencing a story arc which is pointing them to something distant. Both shows seems to be racing to finding the original structure of Creation, the power source, and essentially, the Great Architect of the Universe. Neither show has explored a ‘spirituality’ but both are reaching to the stars to find this distant Cosmic Creator. Granted, a few episodes ago, SGU had a very unique moment in its history in which a lead character, in her dream/vision, traveled back to a previously visited planet, and essentially had to give up her child which while on the ship, she ‘lost.’ To her was given a sign – a giant bursting star-like enigma in the sky which existed above the sky of the planet and out the viewing deck of the ship (which she saw and understand when she returned). This past week’s episode saw the revelation of the mystery of the structure behind the static of white noise. Somewhere, back behind the noise is the fading structure which pre-existed at the creation of the universe. The ship, Destiny, has a mission – to find the Structure:

“Destiny has a mission of its own, which is not about going home in the traditional sense, but about getting the people on the ship somewhere else, as if they were chosen. It seems that eons ago, the Ancients discovered a structure buried deep within the cosmic microwave background radiation – noise left over from the Big Bang. They believed that at one time the structure had genuine complexity, coherence, therefore it could not have occurred naturally. We cannot not see or understand such a structure with our current technology or understanding of physics…..We are talking about a mystery rooted in the foundation of reality, a puzzle with pieces scattered across the length and breadth of the universe itself. There was perhaps a level of order present at the very beginning of space-time that goes beyond anything we ever conceived.”

Election. Anti-tradition. Mystery. Searching. Longing. Divine.

We are living in a postmodern age, in which people are giving up on absolutes – either science or religion. We are moving, I think, to where the unknown and the unexplainable are being relished in, instead of needing to have it explained in myths or quantifiable algorithms. Who knows? Maybe the fact that Science Fiction is no longer assuming that Something doesn’t exist is a good sign for Western spirituality. It started, if you remember, with Babylon 5 which dealt with destiny, spirits, souls, reincarnation and other religious tales. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine learned from it, and has some of the same religious elements. Firefly graced us briefly with a Christian chaplain with Christian themes interspersed. (No, I am not forgetting Dune.) Battlestar Galatica. Lost. And now, Fringe and SGU. While there is hardly any religion in the shows, and when we see it, it is generally condemned, there is still a Divine and a search for the Divine. Something must exist beyond our existence, which gives us meaning and hope.

Maybe these shows are using the vernacular of our age to tell their own story of God, and their believe that people are still searching for God. Even behind the static.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,110 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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4 thoughts on “Searching for God Behind the Static

  1. I tend to view post-modernism as the abandonment of formal reason. It was an inevitable response to modernism, which claims to have invented/discovered reason when all they were really doing was multiplying mockery and sophistry.

  2. SGU may not have a spirituality (I’ve never watched it) but the previous Stargate serieses did, SG-1 and Atlantis. They have a strange version of Budhist enlightenment in this whole becoming an ascended being thing. And of course they SG-1 is very much about all the ancient gods on earth having been alien snakes inside people’s heads, called Goa’uld, who are parasites that use humans as hosts and pose as gods to maintain their power, having a sort of “angelic” army of Jaffa carrying staves that fire fireballs. Then there are the Roswell grey aliens who are the Asgard, led by Thor and are friendly to humanity and help them (marginally) oppose the Goa’uld.

    There was one episode in one of the first 4 seasons where they went to a planet where the Goa’uld had taken Christians through the Stargate. When they got there T’ealc was making a comment that he didn’t think any Goa’uld could possibly pull off an impersonation of the Bible’s God due to not having the necessary capacity for mercy. And they find out that the local Goa’uld is in fact not impersonating God, but is impersonating Satan.

  3. Oh yeah, and in the last season of SG-1 there were the Orai, who were ascended Ancients who were idealogically different from the normal Ancients, in that rather than making rules for themselves that as ascended beings they should not interfere with the lower spheres, they relished in interfering and being worshipped as gods. The more people worshipped them the more power they got, and since the normal ancients did not ask for worship, their power was less (due to less worshipers) and hence they were in danger of being destroyed by the Orai even thought they were ascended beings too. And the Orai created a crazy cult in their galaxy that came into the Milky Way on a Jihad of sorts to convert everyone in the Milky Way to believing in their book, called the Book of Origin. Their priors were given super funky powers to perform “miracles.”

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