This is a few days old (I'm still catching up from the long weekend), but The Daily Galaxy has posted a brief exploration of The Theology of Battlestar Galactica. The post argues that the Cylons' religion is basically ironic:
"If we don't exercise reason at all times, or use science as the exclusive way of knowing, why should we expect another species, even one created in a robotics or computer lab, to be imminently rational and scientific?"I can't say I agree with this interpretation—I think we're expected to take the Cylons' belief more seriously than that. After all, every prophecy they've presented has come true. The Cylons, by virtue of their resurrections, have first-hand experience of bodiless existence, and one Cylon, Leoben, presents this experience as the core of his faith in the episode "Flesh and Bone." TDG calls the Cylons' religion into question with a series of "yets" where I would put "therefores":
"They believe that they have souls even though they are able to download their consciousness to new bodies when their current ones are irreparably damaged. They also believe in a single omniscient, omnipotent god who guides and rewards them, despite being fully aware of their origins as lifeless hardware created by the polytheistic humans. And even though they are potentially immortal, they ponder what happens when they die."The Cylons believe they have souls not despite their resurrections, but because of them. Their metaphysical ponderings stem from their firsthand mystical experiences of "downloading" and the bodiless existence that precedes it. And though humans may have created the first Cylons, they refined themselves into their current state—with God's guidance, they would argue. Not only this, but Cylon religion has proven far more complicated than it first seemed. Instead of the simple monotheism described in the first episodes, we've now seen a number of different robot spiritualities, from Leoben's pantheism to Brother Cavil's nigh-atheism. But most importantly, I still think that the show is pointing toward a final unification between Cylon and human, and this means a union between their religious systems as well. We've seen prophecies fulfilled on both sides of the conflict, and the show can't reject either belief system without some sort of explanation for the truths that both have uncovered.