Friday, August 8, 2008

Science Fiction Imitates Life - Stargate's Ori and the Islamic Belief

As soon as I saw the Ori on Stargate I immediately knew that it was based on the Islamic radicalism and extremism of today’s world. Islam is the ultimate religious bad guy of today - it comes with the attitude - believe or die - then on the other side it offers an all encompassing bliss if you do take it. The people who are converted by the Ori - it's all Hallowed be the Ori - and they have literally checked out - similarly - those people who -with all the violence and upheaval surrounding Islam - say they have found peace in it - have that kind of Ori glazed look in their eyes. But while these new recruits - let's call them the hatchlings or baby Islam-ers - are trying to convince everyone that Islam is so perfect, so pure and so PC - from their dream landscapes - those - Islamic long-timers or real-ers - who have answered the call of the Jihad - have asked the west to join - Islam. Once they have asked three times - and their 'call' is not 'heeded' - then they are free under Islamic law to attack in order to forcibly bring us under Islam. It is all so Ori!

Would a god who is prepared to lead us on the path of enlightenment so contradict this divine benevolence by destroying all those who refuse to believe in him?

Back in high school I took the opportunity one summer session to attend a class on Science Fiction as Literature. It was an eye opening experience in which we examined the social commentary of C. M. Kornbluth’s The Marching Morons and John Jakes The Sellers of the Dream. Later it became a habit to look for such commentaries. Star Trek flirted with it on occasion, while Robert Heinlein made it a staple of much of his work. Some of the best was, in my opinion, presented by J. Michael Straczynski in his series Babylon 5 and the abortive sequel, Crusade which lasted only 13 episodes due to network squabbles.

After watching the original Stargate movie with its fascinating blending of ancient myth, modern technology and cult fiction, interest in the television series Stargate SG1 was a natural and its occasional forays into commentary alongside shoot-‘em-up adventurism was captivating. This season it became even more so when the Stargate team encounters a new adversary known as the Ori. The Ori have a “submit or die” attitude that shortly after its appearance struck me, and one of my correspondents, as an apparent dig at fascist Islam. The real kicker came in two recent episodes centering on another race known as the Jaffa.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the Jaffa were the servants of other beings who used technological tricks to masquerade as gods. The Jaffa eventually discovered that they were being tricked and rebelled. Now free, the Jaffa are left without any outside leadership and seek a true god to replace the fakes they had worshiped for centuries. Enter the Ori.

The Ori are powerful beings, and appear to be the gods the Jaffa are searching for. One of the most influential Jaffa, Gerak, accepts them and attempts to influence the rest if the Jaffa to do the same. Teal’c, another Jaffa and a Stargate team member, persuades Gerak to meet him at the grave of Gerak’s father who gave his life fighting against the false gods. When Teal’c points out that as proof of their divinity the Ori have done exactly the same things the false gods did, Gerak counters that the Ori’s powers are pure and not deception. At this point Teal’c confronts Garrek what becomes the ultimate question of his faith in the Ori:

“What is the measure of a god Gerak? Is it the scope of their power or how they choose to wield that power? Would a god who is prepared to lead us on the path of enlightenment so contradict this divine benevolence by destroying all those who refuse to believe in him?”

This question is exactly the one, which every Muslim in the world should be asking him or herself right now. Would a god that purportedly cares about humanity, and holds mercy among his divine attributes demand that unbelievers be killed? Would it not be more reasonable for such a god to expect his followers to do what Jesus Christ did; to go forth, teach the Gospel and seek converts to the faith be example. Thus, the early Christian church was successful when many of its members were willing to undergo humiliation, torture and death in the name of their belief. This very willingness was a sign of how strong their belief was, and impressed others more than any other response would have at the time.

As Teal’c points out to Gerak, a god who forces unbelievers into worship is the antithesis of a god worthy of such worship. Gerak realizes the truth of this, and also that his support of the Ori would lead to the bloodshed he hoped to avoid. Finally he must face the fact that he would have to kill Teal’c, whom he respects, and all of Teal’c’s followers. Gerak abandons the Ori, helps Teal’c and the humans, but dies as a result. Still, he understands the importance of his actions when he says, “I die free.”

The sad truth taught by this single episode of Stargate is that any leadership worthy of being followed must prove it; not by power alone, but by how such power is used. Theocracies generally use power to aggrandize their human leadership, who invariably become as corrupt as any secular leaders. The result is that any will of god, upon which the theocracy is founded, is all too easily replaced by the will of man. When we see Muslims calling for death, destruction, conquest and forcing the rest of mankind to submit to their rule we see the same general pattern that we see in any fascist regime. Hitler’s Nazi Germany was an excellent example, but we should not forget the Spanish Inquisition sponsored by the members of the Roman Catholic Church who also tortured and killed people in the name of god, but did it for personal gain in the form of possessions and political power.

The other sad truth with which we must live is that it is probably impossible to use a show of faith to convince Islamists that their way is wrong. They accept no criticism of their ways and allow no self-examination or revision of their beliefs. The turn away from the religious practices of others, or treat it as blasphemy. Because of this their society has been attitudinally frozen in time for centuries and they have become blind to the progress of the rest of the world. They either see it as corrupt, which means it must be destroyed, or stolen from them and needing recapture. They do not recognize that the world had passed them by.

In this episode of Stargate SG1 Teal’c also asks Gerak another exceedingly important question: “Have we truly lived as slaves for so long that we must fear being free. “ Perhaps that is the problem. The people whom the free world are facing either fear being free, wish to enslave others because they achieve personal benefits from the practice, or don't understand their own enslavement. It will be a struggle to change this attitude, but it will be a worthwhile one. All people deserve to be free, even if the chains they wear are of their own forging.

Source: Intellectual Conservative


Anonymous said...

no, the Ori is an example of all the crap Christianity has brought us. Note the episode "Crusade", like the crusades during the 14th century. Not Islamic

Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree, the Ori reminds me more of Christianity than anything else.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the last 2 poster as in part they have forwarded no reason to back up there postion and the show is written in a christian country and would never have gotten past the network heads if it was to portray all the bad crap that christianty has supposedly brought.

Pry tell what crap has christianity brought us that islam has not.

Charles said...

If the Crusades happened in Middleage launched by Christianity, it doesn't mean that Muslims can't launch Crusades on their own.
Anyway, why do we have to compare a fiction to reality? Is it so important?

Anonymous said...

The Ori are actually a representation of the Christian religion. Scifi Channel is a cable station and not a network so they can do what they like... the monk like robes the speaking of language similiar to
Latin? The missionary like teachers who find it their job to evangelise then threaten damnation. All Christian ideals. Christian or Muslim or Jew should people really kill in the name of a god in the first place? Interesting the other popular S
Scifi show is Battlestar Galatica also a war raging between religious ideas.
Comparing fiction to reality can actual teach us a few lessons but then again everyone always thinks that it's their group persecuted so maybe they don't learn anything at all.

krvaughan said...

1. wow, am i really seeing a debate over which religion a science fiction show is bashing?
2. Is the writer of this blog a Christian? maybe an atheist? becuase i think the religion of peace counter is from an atheist website.
3. I'm a Christian, and at the time period of the crusades, Christianity was not the only institution carrying out violence. I'm not saying its an excuse, but its not fair to pin things only on Christianity. All throughout history people have killed over land, religion, property, money, power, and many things. If anything this is a demonstration that we are sinners in need of a Savior, just as The Holy Bible tells us.

Take care,

God Bless You And Always Be With You All,
yahoo id - kennyvaughan7

iiwo said...

An excellent entry!

Your thoughts are well presented and have changed my mind. While I too view it as commentary on Christianity (at least fundamentalist) and/or Catholicism, I have been persuaded otherwise.

I would present the hypothesis that any theological set of ideals and propoganda could be substituted for the Ori. Whether or not the writers intended it this way, this episode--and really all season 9/10 Ori episodes--are actually commentary on how humans tend to interpret the divine. Whether or not any deities exist is a whole other debate--the fact is there are a limited number of ways in which we wield the power of a god against our fellow man. Sadly, the fashion of the Ori is one of them.

I am working on starting a new blog of my own, and may quote parts of this article if that is ok.

Anonymous said...

Get a life all of you

Anonymous said...

I think it portrays God-centric religions and how they always demand people worship them. It may be true that certain religions in the last century or so have become more tolerant, but most God-centric religions demand that their followers worship them and all the non-believers are damned.

Anonymous said...

The crusades were orchestrated by the Roman Catholics, not by Christians (who do not pray to the dead (i.e. "Virgin" Mary,) but who are guided by Jesus.) Also, the first crusade was done to stop the muslim madness that's getting a decent foothold of the world again today. Learn your history, commenters, thank you.

Another Anonymous said...

I have an idea that could resolve this problem entirely: Why don't we all give up Christianity and Islam and take up Buddhism? No creator gods breathing down your back, too gentle to overthrow the people oppressing us, fancy glowing mountain temples with monks that could pick you off if they didn't take vows not to bash anyone's face in, Budddhism has it all.

mike3 said...

"I have an idea that could resolve this problem entirely: Why don't we all give up Christianity and Islam and take up Buddhism? No creator gods breathing down your back, too gentle to overthrow the people oppressing us, fancy glowing mountain temples with monks that could pick you off if they didn't take vows not to bash anyone's face in, Budddhism has it all."

Why must “God” in the religion HAVE to be bad? Why not a good religion with good God that is truly good and not this thing that's “out to get you” or other monster like that? How about the ORIGINAL Christianity of Jesus, unfettered by people's added dogmata (which would immediately preclude the violence as it said to love everyone and fighting a war is not love!), the ORIGINAL Islam of Muhammad, also unfettered by people's added dogmata. How about the Native American religions? Wooh! They've got “God” but it's nothing like what's in Xtianity & Islam!!! And a lot are actually quite peaceful. What about the religions in Africa? Like the Voodoo? How about Baha'i Faith? There's lots of religions with “God” and similar concepts in them yet without the dark.

This is not an argument for whether or not God exists, which religion is “RIGHT”, a way to diss Buddhism, or whatever: rather it's to break down the barriers and shut doors in your mind and broaden your horizons. If you take it as something else then you have entirely and totally missed the point.

As for the Ori of Stargate, to me they seem a general representation of bad religion, though I'll admit it has a Christianish flavor.

HotConflict said...

Of course there are connection between fiction and reality. The enlightened are able to decipher the meaning in Tales of the Ancients!

Islam and StarGate...any connections?

Check out the video series on , they go over a lot of Sci-Fi and islamic related material.

Anonymous said...

you refer to the "ORIGINAL Islam of Muhammad" as if it was a good thing. Muhammad played nice at first while in Mecca, to gain converts. While there, his start on writing the Koran was all sweetness and tolerance. He didn't get far, and they didn't want him around, so he moved to Medina, and it's there that the Koran filled up the rest of the way with hate and violence and cult like manipulation of followers. It's those later written sections on hate and forcing others to their faith, that devout Muslims follow. The reason is that in order to deal with the contradictions in the Koran, it directs them to follow the latest written directive on any subject. So the evil later sections, override the earlier nicer stuff, and the world has suffered ever since. How on God's green earth can that be considered a good thing???
Oh, and nice guy Muhammad's Koran also directs them to be deceptive to us infidels, however and whenever necessary to achieve the goals of Islam. So all that PC stuff from them, and their useful western muliticultural idiots, about Islam being about peace, is a huge load of dung.

Anonymous said...

1. The Ori remind you more of Christianity because of their visual look. No SG-1 author would risk a fatwa if he choose to let the priors wear Oriental clothes.

2. Origin is both, Christianity and Islam. Only Islam is well hidden so no one could get a target on his head. And better written, Origin has better fairytales than the bible or the koran.

3. How does "Original-Christianity" looks like? I'm sure my tiny post is longer than all the true christianity preserved in the bible. Everything else was thrown out and forgotten or maybe stored in the secret libraries of Vatican.

4. Islam took the place Christianity had once in the middle-ages. Christianity has another face today because it has less power than 5-10 centuries ago. That could happen to Islam too, unfortunately Muhammed prepared counter measures so no one would accept criticism no matter how true it seems(just like the prior self-destructed as SG-1 captured him, a counter measure). Does anyone of you remember how Europe was Christianized? By the sword, the moslems with rifles if they choose so and the Ori with beam weapons. One of the latest example i red was about a Slavic temple fortress called Arkona which fell before a huge Christian army. Before the armies could enter Arkona the Pagan Slavs died free just like Gerak did.

5. Stop arguing about Buddhism, Native Indian religion or anything else(I don't say that they are bad, for me Buddhism is one of the best religions if i can label Buddhism as a religion). In the series the best "truth" is that of the Ancients, "The concept of Understanding". I look at understanding as a free standing philosophy with no limits and fluent like water. Without definite viewpoints, total respect of free will...etc or just watch Stargate;) To be clear i don't mean that everyone should follow the Ancients because i totally respect the peoples choice even if they are "Ori".

Anonymous said...

Awful, this islam thing. yo, alladin!

Hakan Nour said...

The Ori are false gods , Islam Judaism and Christianity believe in one God who is the creator of the universe. The Ori make benefit from believers. So , this could be a fake religion , not a real religion. Also fire is the symbol of the Ori , maybe the Ori is satan.

Commentary said...

It's about Islam, more than Christianity.

In Christianity, people don't go around all day saying, "Hallowed is God." But in Islam, one of the most common things to say is "God is Great." They say it...CONSTANTLY. And, the followers of the Ori are always saying, "Hallowed are the Ori."

Second piece of evidence:
Followers of Islam pray five times a day, prostrating themselves to the ground as they do so. One of the major hallmarks of the Ori religion is the 6 hour "prostration" that followers must participate in. In Christianity, while people may occasionally prostrate themselves in worship, it is not something that regularly takes up so much time or occurs with such regularity.

Commentary said...

Although there is a dig here against people who have nonscientific religious theories of human origin - the Ori's religion is called, "Origin" - at least phonetically.

Joseph said...

As someone pointed out, the ORI's are shown praying while on the grown in an open area, just like the Musilms do daily.

The SG1 creators had to be careful however not to appear to be showing it was Muslims becuase of fear for their lives. So they added extra things to resemble other religions.

You can make fun of just about any religion EXCEPT of the Muslims because they will kill you. Hey, that's what the ORI's are all about! :-)

Point made.

Sean said...

"The crusades were orchestrated by the Roman Catholics, not by Christians (who do not pray to the dead (i.e. "Virgin" Mary,) but who are guided by Jesus.) Also, the first crusade was done to stop the muslim madness that's getting a decent foothold of the world again today. Learn your history, commenters, thank you."

First off, Catholics are Christians. Just one of it's many forms. Hence why Europe during that tome was known as Christiandom.
Secondly, the first Crusade was a bunch of peasants who were very charged by Pope Pious II's oratory that they disregarded his plan and marched off to the Holy Land to kill infidels... and never made it. They were killed at Constantinople.
Thirdly, the reason for the call to the crusaders was it was the Pope's way of stopping the European nobles from killing each other and attempt to unity them for purpose.
There are many books that give a detailed look at the Crusades and I highly suggest you read them and "learn your history."

Stephen said...

I wrote a Note on my FB page awhile back on religion in Stargate. I'll post the link below if you can see it (I have it set so everyone can). Below I also have pasted the comments I make regarding the Ori.

"With the coming of the Ori in the 9th season, we see many more parallels between it and some of the Abrahamic religions. ... We are given excerpts from the book that the Priors are preaching from, the Book of Origin. In all honesty, it sounds powerful and profound, almost like the Bible itself. If I didn't know any better, I'd say the writers had lifted some passages from it. For all I know, they may have lifted passages from the Koran. I actually want a copy of the Book of Origin; it sounds like a fascinating read ("Line in the Sand").

"We can easily parallel this to Christianity, particularly in the Middle Ages. The Book of Origin is the Bible, the Priors are the Apostles performing miracles proving their word is from God, we may even find some parallels in the Old Testament to God destroying cities like Jericho and Nineveh and empires like Babylon and Assyria for their evil deeds. In the Middle Ages, we have the Crusades that those touting Christianity engaged in. If we treat Islam as the parallel, we have the Koran and Mohammad preaching his new faith along with other missionaries and preachers, we have the holy wars that some of their more fundamentalist groups still engage in. In both Christianity and Islam, we have the perversion of their holy books to support mass murder, just as the Priors were using their holy book. The power of the Ori is certainly great, but who would want to serve gods who destroy whole worlds for not believing in them? It's as if the writers are asking us why anyone would want to serve Jehovah or Allah who condones killing entire cities and nations, even if He is all-powerful? My answer regarding Jehovah, is that the nation or city must have deserved it, they must have done something that angered God. The Bible does speak about how evil Jericho, Nineveh, Babylon and Assyria had become. But surely the followers of the Ori could justify their gods' actions in a similar way. And it makes me shudder to think that such deplorable actions could be justified so easily. The Priors mention the love of the Ori, and every time they do, I feel a little shiver up my spine. Is this how the atheists see Christians? Do they get creeped out when we talk about the love of the Lord? The Priors threaten them with death, and we threaten them with hell.

"Needless to say, the Ori give me the greatest uneasiness when we consider false and true religions. ... [One] character, Teal'c, a Jaffa formerly under Apophis, did mention that he felt no Goa'uld could impersonate the God of the Bible because they lack the necessary "compassion and benevolence" ("Demons"). The Ori also apparently lack these traits, only pretend to have them. Perhaps this is what separates us from the Ori. Perhaps this is what separates the true interpretations of the Book of Origin from the perversions the Priors concoct. Perhaps this is what separates the true interpretation of the Bible from the perversions of the Middle Ages. Perhaps this is what separates the moderate Muslims from the extremist factions. Compassion and benevolence."

jammy said...

It's clearly about Christianity dumbass. Let's not forget that both Islam and Christianity grew from Judaism and these three are extremely similar and share many texts.
They're all equally silly however but you just want to pick on Islam because you're a fool.

yonnie said...

Not sure if anyone mentioned this yet... Take a look at what the Doci is wearing around his neck. Then take a look of a satellite view of the Vatican, rotate the view 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

It is very obvious that SG1's writers are slamming home-runs against Islam, Catholics, Christians and other religions.

Finally, mainstream TV goes up against religion! Too bad they lost.

David1984 said...

"Note the episode "Crusade", like the crusades during the 14th century. Not Islamic"

It's a false statement, because if you understand the word "crusade" as military campaign which done in the name of a god (or religion)the muslims started it first by attacking the byzantine empire in 7th century. the christian crusades were in fact protective operations to stop the muslim expansion and to reclaim the christian lands that were lost to the islamic aggressor.

jfleduc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephen killion said...

ok so this muslim vs. Christian stuff is ridiculous. Both have committed equal atrocities in their long life.

Anyway the ori are obviously catholic. Crusades. The power they get being worshipped is paralell to the catholics running the western world for as long as they did. To retain their power and to obtain more they started the crusades. Hell everything about their homeworld down to the stained glass is totally vatican city.
and look at all the worlds that worship the ori, they have zero comparison to arab culture, but are definitely ripped right out of the dark ages, another gift of the church.
its pretty clear stargate as a show was anti all religions. But it makes a point not to condisend or ridicule those with true faith. They are never the bad guys. But the ones who use man's desire for something bigger than ourselves for their own personal gain, or as a crutch or shield are percieved as evil. Which unfortunately are most "religious" people. For every good person whose faith is pure and true, there are many times more looking to take advantage of that. or at the very least use it as a way of deflecting their own dark sides.
Im not athiest, i just refuse to believe that whatever god or omnipotence is, be it a man with a glorious beard chilling on a cloud or the universe itself, he/she/it would have no need or reason to wish us to worship them in any way except maybe to appreciate the miracle and beauty of life, to preserve their creation at all cost , and yes that means also those that disagree with you, and be a genuinely good person. And anyone claiming they represent the all knowing directly is manipulating you. if an alpha and omega exist as a being, to think we can understand it or that it has anything to do with the petty crap all religion has ever done is beyond me. I truly have to give the big guy more credit than that.
anyway sorry i brought my soapbox. thats why i love stargate.

Teri Pribyl said...

Never felt the writers were being cryptic in anyway. The Ori are based on the 3rd century writings of Origen an early Christian theologian with some major errors to his theology. He taught that we need to continually ascend, sound familiar. His belief was that Christianity was like a ladder of divine ascent. Not salvation by faith alone in the blood and sinless life of our saviour Jesus.