Battlestar Galactica and Caprica: Using Religion to Create Imagined Worlds
When Americans speak of “religion”, most often they assume its essence to be belief. A religion is something one “believes in”. It is natural then, that when we look at imagined worlds and try to discern their religions, we look to the beliefs professed by their inhabitants. However, religion, as even a cursory survey of religions in the Primary World (our world) will reveal, consists of much more than beliefs. When we say we believe in infant baptism, for example, we point to not a belief, but an action. (As the old joke goes: “Infant baptism? Do I believe in it? Heck, I’ve seen it!”) We might believe in the efficacy of such rituals, but the rituals themselves are what we do with our bodies and other material objects in the world, as our senses interface with our religion.1 As William E. Paden writes in describing the concept of religious world-building, “World encompasses all forms of habitation, action and language, and not just viewpoints, ideas or self-conscious doctrines and philosophies.”2 Religions, like literature, film, television, video games, and other media, are in the business of creating worlds through actions as well as beliefs. When subcreated literary or media worlds incorporate religious actions, objects, and experiences into the lives and histories of their peoples, the imagined world seems more complete and realistic to its visitors from the Primary World.