Last night our family watched a StarGate SG-1 episode for our family home evening activity. The episode we watched is called “New Ground” from season three. I saw it for the first time back in 2000, and I can still remember being uncomfortable watching it because of the cognitive dissonance it produced for me. Just for the record, the kids loved watching it, and we had a great discussion afterwords.
The story highlights the potential for conflict between scientific discovery and dogmatic faith, and does so in an interesting and compelling fashion. For anyone with kids or teenagers, I highly recommend watching this episode with them.
The basic plot line is this: The StarGate team travels to a new planet, where a star gate has been recently uncovered by local archaeologists in their country of Bedrosia. The archaeologists are very surprised to find a star gate, because they were actually searching for evidence that star gates did not exist. Bedrosia is at war with a rival country, the Optricians, over their beliefs regarding the origin of human life on their world. The Optricians believe that aliens brought humans to their world thousands of years ago through a portal, while the Bedrosians believe that their god, Nefertum, created life on their planet.
One of the archaeologists is convinced that the functioning star gate is dramatic proof that his own beliefs, and the beliefs of all Bedrosia, are wrong, and that the Optricians have been right all along. The Bedrosian military is not convinced by the evidence and believe that the StarGate and SG Team are all part of an elaborate hoax setup by the Optricians to undermine Bedrosian institutions and their faith (i.e. their religion). From the Bedrosian General (I’m paraphrasing): “I will not allow this hoax to undermine the institutions and faith of our people. I have read the book of Nefertum from cover to cover and know that it is true no matter what lies the Optricians try to make us believe. Our solders have not died in vain.”
“The primary theme of the episode is the ideological war between religion and science. The archaeologist is a true scientist, who has no unfounded allegiance to abstract belief, but is eager to change what he believes when presented with new evidence. The Bedrosians are dedicated to their faith, and are presented as arrogant and stubborn — unwilling to consider that their beliefs might be wrong, even when presented with hard evidence. This dichotomy is manifested in the characters of the archaeologist and the military general.” – http://www.gateworld.net/sg1/s3/319.shtml
Two thumbs up from Rich & Heather!