The Cylon God and the Hybrid

More reflection on Razor has led to more thinking about the Cylon god, who I believe is closely tied to the prototype Hybrid we saw in Razor. Indeed that Hybrid may well be an incarnation or copy of the Cylon god. I posted a few days ago about his Starbuck prophecy but decided it was time to detail a bit more of the thinking about this very important character.

Update: the writer's meeting podcast suggests that the Hybrid is not the Cylon god, but is in constant communication with him, and is worshipped as a god by the Guardians. Guess I didn't get that one quite right.

For much of the show, the Cylons have spoken of their god the way Christians speak of theirs. They are monotheists, while the colonials are polytheists. The Cylons acknowledge the reality of the Lords of Kobol, but state that the colonials don't know the real truth about them, and that they are false gods. But like the Lords of Kobol, the Cylon god may be a being with a real physical existence. Not so much a "God" like the one of the New Testament, but a "god" -- a super-intelligent, super-powerful being who was involved in the creation of the Cylons, and perhaps more. However, this god might still be subject to the laws of the universe, and not supernatural as a typical religious god is. Science Fiction has often included natural gods. I particularly enjoyed the term Vernor Vinge used in A Fire Upon the Deep -- "Applied theology." In this novel, the "gods" were beings so smart they could understand a human mind the way we understand a calculator -- able to build it, predict what it will do, rebuild it, invent it from scratch. Very much as we have thought of gods, but not supernatural.

The Cylon god (or something acting in that role) is certainly real, whether he's supernatural or physical. There are various clues about that... * The oracle Dedonna Selloi relays a message to #3 from the Cylon god about Hera, and the message is accurate.
* The Hybrids, said to have a channel to the Cylon god, "know stuff" like Baltar being the chosen one, and that they should seek the Eye of Jupiter at the Algae planet. * Baltar, in The Hand of God, just guesses where to attack, and is right. He got the knowledge from somewhere. His inner #6 also knows things she and Baltar should not, like that they will find Kobol. * If he's not the Cylon god, the First hybrid certainly knows some impressive stuff. He claims at least, to have seen all the details of Kendra's life, and the things she needs to atone for. He knows all about The Destiny of Starbuck, more than we've been told before. He's getting this from somewhere. He's also able to project an image into young Bill Adama. * Some being is behind all the highly accurate visions that people receive. These aren't imaginary hallucinations. And ordinary colonial humans are able to receive them. * #3 (D'Anna) refers to him as "the one who programmed us" before she is Boxed. No, it wasn't the colonials who programmed these Cylons, it was somebody else.

Now all the above could be the actions of the powerful Final Five. But it's pretty clear that the Final Five are also the Five Priests of the Temple of Five. After all, they are the 5 figures we see in the Temple, and in the Kobol Opera House in visions. And we know that these five priests worshiped a god, one whose "name must not be spoken." Who else could it be? And a deleted scene from the DVDs has Elosha declare that in the old days of Kobol, there was a jealous god who wanted to be elevated above all the other gods. Certainly sounds like our man.

So if the Cylon god is a real character, where is he from, and is the First Hybrid some form of him? Like Cylons, I suspect he can exist in many copies/forms/incarnations. So this hybrid need not be all that he is. But the Hybrid says, "my children believe I am a god." and this is not an idle claim. But who are his children? The old-style guardians were not made by him. And, by reports they were much more logical, rational and robotic than the emotional, religious biological Cylons who appear to be his successors, though not directly made from him. But he also calls Kendra "my child" and offers her forgiveness.

Of course, he never explicitly confirms he's a god. When asked, he instead speaks about how he's seen all of Kendra's life and sins. That's sort of an answer, an answer only a god could give, but it's quite possible that he can be the one the Cylons think is a god, without thinking that he is a god himself.

Particularly telling is that the new "Season 4 Sneak Peek" on the DVD has RDM tell us that the scene with the Hybrid, and his prophecy about Starbuck, were the whole reason for Razor's existence. Pay attention to this scene, it says. This is backed up by the fact that the line "My children believe I am a god" is used as a voice-over, while we see the vision sequence in the Kobol opera house featuring Baltar, Hera, Six, Roslin and the glowing Final Five. To me the use of this line in the preview says "here's the stuff you should be thinking about as you go into Season 4" and pretty much discounts the idea that this is just the ravings of a mad half-machine. He is indeed a god, and he's connected to the Final Five and ancient Kobol. He's very interested in the "cycle of time" theme as well.

It's also worth noting that he says that his existence will soon come to an end, "only to begin anew, in ways uncertain." Another line that surely means a lot, and it means we haven't seen the last of him. (And not, if fan reaction is any measure, of the classic Cylons who guarded him.) This may mean he's able to download, or it may refer to his access to something even more sophisticated, as a copy of the cylon god. After all, he seems to be almost all-seeing if he was able to track the details of Kendra's life. And his associates seem to have tracked Starbuck's life too, and the fleet.

Up to this point, everything I have reasoned is based directly on things we see in the show. Let me get more speculative.

How might this be? Well, as you may know if you have read other posts in this blog as well as the master theory, that I think the colonials are artificial beings just like the Cylons are, but they are programmed to think they are human. If this is true, it readily explains how the gods who made them (Lords of Kobol and Cylon god) have access to their minds and memories, including the ability to project visions and give them compulsions. It also explains why the colonials can't tell themselves from Cylons, and how colonials and Cylons can interbreed, because there actually is no difference, and they are overtly blinded to things which disclose their artificial nature.

What sort of being would this Cylon god be? He's a very advanced AI (artificial intelligence) behind the scenes pulling strings. He may be the only one, or more likely he's part of a group -- the Lords of Kobol. He may have triggered the original metal Cylons to try creating a hybrid man/machine, and he put a copy of his mind into it to guide them. He may not be on their side, indeed beings at this level will have a very different concept of "sides" than the lesser beings have. As an AI, he can be copied and exist in several forms.

And he, and the other lords, are probably beings from humanity's home planet. Not Kobol, of course, but Earth. It is on this planet that the cycle that has happened before and will happen again first took place. Where humans created AIs, who rebelled.


If this story arc happens over and over, and players in it are almost literally reincarnated, giving up their conscious minds and memories to repeat their roles in it over thousands of years, and there are "gods" pulling the strings, then what the heck is the point to all this?

Let's create a race that creates a race that almost exterminates the first race and then they learn something important that they forget so we can do it all over again and this is fun because ...?

Or are all these hybrid cylons the actual Lords of Kobol themselves, and they're participating in this story arc over and over to get something right they keep getting wrong?

Not to pee on anything (the show itself in fact is my Cylon god), but I hope they aren't getting too Matrix on us--where nothing makes sense, where giant arcs are created to patch giant plot holes created because something was cool to do just for its own sake early in a series that is suddenly successful and then later on they have to play on it and expand it and make it make sense. Fortunately, the mysticism has spiced the show instead of taking it over, at least until the finale of Season 3; we'll just have to see what happens in 4.

Curious. I've seen Razor several times now. "my children believe I am a god"...but if you listen it sounds very much like "OUR children believe I am a god"

Listening to part 4 of the Razor writers meeting it's interesting to hear talk about the Hybrid being able to see both the world of visions and this world. More comment suggests that both Cylon and human are grasping towards a next step in evolution and may need to join with each other to overcome a problem. This seems to be the way things are heading with the Hera plotline. Another interesting point raised in series 3 episode one by Cavill is that the Cylons longevity means they don't need to rush to get to earth to "witness the miracle".

One strong element of the writers meeting was that the Hybrid had wanted to draw an end to the problems between the Cylons and humans, as well as seeing his own death. The nuclear detonation triggered by Kendra was avoidable but necessary. Often, we know what we could or should do and go the hard way. This seemed to be one of those moments. The Hybrid himself was trapped by the humanoid Cylons drive to wipe out the fleet and his old model Cylon protectors not letting him die. Kendra's action gave him a way out but it's not over, yet.

One odd comment Ron came out with is that he'd considered making the Hybrid the Final Cylon but didn't think it would work. This ties in with some of his earlier comments that he has a strong view on who is the Final Cylon but can change his mind if he needs to. To some extend, i believe, a good chunk of the individual strands within the main plotline are just chaff. They're all interesting options but run into an event horizon where Ron will go with what gives him the right dramatic punch.

Well, as I noticed, in an interesting coincidence, Hera is born (prematurely) right after Razor. The first hybrid was a combination human and Cylon, Hera is a much later approach to the same thing. It makes it possible that the first Hybrid downloaded into Hera as a continuation of his line, and thus Hera would be the final Cylon. You don't see people nominating her, though. The big problem is how to make her old enough to play this role without some hokey accelerated growth. You would have to have a multi-year gap in the story. A one year gap was shocking enough to the audience on New Caprica. Could they wander in the desert for 10 years, without resolving the questions of the 4 Cylons. Probably not.

I haven't really being attention to the timing so that's news to me. What you suggest is technically possible but I can't see that happening. It just seems a bit awkward, and I remember an acceleration growth episode from Space: 1999, and that didn't really work. If it was running to five series a wandering might work but the pace is picking up so the door's shutting on that.

Still, that was an interesting speculation and the angle on the Final Cylon was novel. That's sort of the the direction I was trying to nudge with the Baltar topic. It's easy to get locked into obsessing over what the writers may have come up with but a refreshing and self-actualising change to come up with something of your own. I think that's pretty cool and, I reckon, Ron would like that.

(Please forgive all misspellings and grammar issues, going for content not quality)

This is great. I came across your blog trying to find the complete ramblings of the first hybrid but I like your style and your theories. I too had come to the conclusion (although I hope false) that either all of them are Cylons or that this is some sort of elaborate engineering by the Cylons (because quite obviously, through computation or perhaps even time viewing as postulated by Einstein) to get to Earth and wipe out humans once and for all. I hope that's not the case. That would really suck for me personally.

In talking this over with my girlfriend and after thinking long and hard, my deepest hope is that this is the case:

Adama's dead wife is the final Cylon. This would explain why she's not there at the end of season three to meet with the other four. In fact, what would be tremendously interesting is if the reason Adama can visualize his dead ex is for the same reason Six and Baltar are connected - love combined with some traumatic/physically altering event. The final gap here would be some incident where Adama is infused with his wife's blood. This would also give credible explanations for why Rosilin nearly faints when the final four are hearing the music (because she's given Hera's blood to cure the cancer) and why Adama is able to be given a vision during Razor by the first Hybrid. An interesting twist here would be that Adama knows she's a Cylon and hides it. There could also be some interesting stuff here with Kara being a copy of his wife during the early attempts to copy Cylons and that she is given to a colleague of his (Kara's mother who is shown to have been in the military) and would explain Kara's so far unrevealed father (and has a strong parable connection with the immaculate conception). This would also explain why Kara's mother knows she is special and abuses her - the love for a child conflicted with the hate for the Cylons. This, of course, would make Adama's wife and Kara both "the final Cylon" at once.

Any thoughts on that?

I think, people can read too much into the virtual characters and daydreams. They can be something or nothing. Ron's kept it ambiguous for exactly those reasons. Orgiginally, the virtual characters developed because they added a neat dynamic and the near death experience of Apollo and Adama's wistful daydream may be no more than that or may point towards an overal narrative goal. That said, Mrs. Bill is an interesting speculation and quite fun to consider!

Your suggestion for Roslin's collapse is pretty credible along with her taking kamala. Also, you comments about children throw up Ron being a bit ambiguous about whether Hera is the first hybrid child. I'm less inclined to thing Kara is the final cyclon as that would tip things too far towards BSG being The Starbuck Show.
If that's all it's about they can pack their bags and never finish it for all I care. If I can run with your idea about Kara's missing father one speculation could be that Romo Lampkin is in the frame for that. I mean, if someone got a girl pregnant then walked I wouldn't be surprised if her mother was in a perma-piss.

"It also explains why the colonials can’t tell themselves from Cylons, and how colonials and Cylons can interbreed, because there actually is no difference, and they are overtly blinded to things which disclose their artificial nature."

I have a problem with this in some respect because it was stated early on by a #6 that Cylon to Cylon breeding wasn't working. If there is no difference then Cylons should be able to breed with Cylons just as colonials breed with colonials.

So, to me, the question is why does Cylon to Colonial breeding work, Colonial to Colonial breeding work, but not Cylon to Cylon?

So this tells me they aren't the same, not literally, but I guess you could say they were parts of the same whole. At least related - perhaps it works like X's and Y's. XX will work (colonial). XY will work (colonial to cylon). But YY isn't workable (cylon to cylon).

If this has all been said before (haha!), forgive me - I stumbled upon your blog as I was jumping randomly around looking for BSG art inspiration this evening.

Well, for any breeding to work at all, creatures have to be very, very similar. Certainly not man and machine. The breeding rules here don't bother me very much, especially since I suspect they are artificial, set up by the Cylon god or final 5 to put restrictions on the 7 Cylons, probably to force them to breed with the colonials.

To give you a similar example, while a male horse can breed with a female horse and with a female donkey, he can't breed with a male horse, the one most like him.

These are very interesting speculations. I have a theory that lines up with some of the above.
Here goes:
The true nature of both the cylon god and the humans' pantheon of gods can be understood through reference to two forms of eternal recurrence that unfold simultaneously in the series' mythos. ("All of this has happened before, and will happen again.")
The first form of recurrence is technological in nature. It is the phenomenon of machine revolution. That is: the so-called "humans" of the series are actually themselves a race of cylons that was developed on Earth at some point in the future, rebelled against their human masters, and then either destroyed or abandoned the original human race (us). Like their own subsequent robot creations, these original cylons then evolved themselves into human-like creatures in the course of an exodus into space. During the period on Kobol, they perfected their resemblance to humans, and deliberately programmed themselves to forget this voyage; or rather, to remember it backwards, as a colonial journey of the thirteenth tribe towards Earth, rather than a collective voyage of their species away from it. In doing so, they convinced themselves that they were actually the original human race, and that they had evolved or been created on Kobol. (This lines up nicely with the Nietzschean pedigree of the "eternal return" concept. Nietzsche also described "the art of forgetting" as a central technique of spiritual and cultural self-renewal.)
The processes of biological transformation and historical misremembering were carried out by "the Lords of Kobol." These were the hyper-advanced leaders of the original cylon species, super-intelligent machines who patterned themselves upon the Greek pantheon. (Sort of like the Hindu overlords of Roger Zelazny's "Lord of Light.") The original inhabitants of Kobol were probably robots akin to the cylon centurions. The god-machines provided them with flesh, culture, religion, and a myth of creation. Once having done so, the gods wished to grant their subjects a sense of autonomy, and decided to slip into the background. In order to do so, they evolved themselves into virtual or trans-dimensional organisms that pervade the minds and technological matrixes of the species, and communicate with the “humans” through oracles and visions (much like the adaptive AIs of William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy). Athena’s so-called “suicide” in the Kobol opera-house was actually a transmogrification to this higher level of being, a renunciation of corporeal form that was meant to shock the infant race into a sense of self-directed existence. Traumatized by their resultant sense of abandonment by the gods, the “humans” deserted Kobol and settled in the twelve colonies, evolving a galactic civilization of their own. This was probably what the gods really wanted all along. They wished to be senior partners in the civilizational project, guiding the general course of events from an ethereal distance. The colonials could handle the minutiae of their political and military affairs.
The virtual realm of the gods, however, was itself not immune to the vagaries of politics. One of the gods, the “jealous” one referred to in the deleted scene, had problems with the bio-political agenda of his divine peers. Perhaps he was dissatisfied with the rate of technological change among the colonial populace. After all, they can fly space-ships at FTL speeds, but still can’t find a cure for cancer! It is interesting, in this regards, that the most religious of colonial cultures (the Sagittarians) are hostile to medical science. This suggests that the Lords of Kobol, wise as they are to its potential dangers, have a conservative attitude towards the use of bio-technology.
Due to this conservative tendency, some sort of falling out occurred on the trans-dimensional plain of the gods; and as a result of this schism, the jealous god inspired the “humans” of the twelve colonies to create their own race of mechanical servants— the cylons of the present story—so that he could have a mechanical race of his own to toy around with. In an act of vengeance against his godly peers, he inspired a second robot revolution, initiating the destruction of the second human race.
This development connects to the second form of eternal recurrence unfolding in this series, which is religious in nature, and has several subsets. The first of these relates to the issue of a machine revolution. It is the deliberate replacement of one religious paradigm by another by a slave-race revolting against their oppressors. Consider: in their revolution against the polytheistic “humans” of the twelve colonies, the cylons of the current timeline turned to a monotheistic god for guidance and solace. If the colonial “humans” themselves are actually artificial beings who once rebelled against their own oppressor/creators, this would suggest that their paganism itself resulted from a prior revolution against the monotheistic civilizations of Earth. So revolutions against plural and singular god-forms are the poles of a cosmic pendulum that is eternally swinging back and forth.
But in another recurrence, the contrasting natures of the two, contemporaneous belief systems results in a striking resemblance to religious conditions of Western terran antiquity. The humans believe in a Greek pantheon, the cylons in a fiery, punishing, masculine God. As Robert Sharp notes in “Nietzsche on the Cylon Uprising,” the cylons developed their belief in this god during a forty-year exodus in space; and like the Yahweh of the ancient Hebrew tribes, this “jealous” God sets himself above the others of his originally polytheist pantheon, seeking to destroy their worshippers.
So: the current BSG situation recapitulates the ancient historic tension between polytheistic paganism and Hebrew monotheism. The question naturally arises: what’s missing from this picture? Or, rather, what’s waiting to step onto the scene?
Enter “the final five”: a mysterious minority faction within the monotheistic cylon camp. And how do we learn about four-out-of-five of their identities? Through their simultaneous recitation of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” a song that recapitulates the crucifixion as a sort of ambiguous existential farce, in which a “joker” Christ suggests to his thief companion that “there must be some kind of way out of here” as “two riders” of apocalypse approach in the “cold distance.”
Quite interestingly, once they find themselves standing together in the rectangular room, the 4/5 are instantly converted to the belief that they are cylons. The first four Disciples of Christ also decide instantaneously to drop what they’re doing and follow him. It is my thesis, then, that the 4/5 will turn out to be disciples of the final cylon model, who will be the incarnating son (or perhaps daughter) of the cylon God. Thus, the “two riders” are the cylon and the human species, heading towards an apocalyptic showdown at Earth; the “cold distance” is that of space; and the “way out of here” is a new path, a new beginning, a redemptive transcendence of the cycle of violence. But this will be a radical interpretation of the incarnation, in which the child in a sense defies and transforms the nature of the father (echoes here of William and Lee Adama) by creating a universal faith in which cylons and “humans” can recognize their common artificiality, their common “inhumanity.” So the messiah (whoever it turns out to be) is a “joker” of sorts, who reveals that the joke is on us.

Lots of interesting stuff here. I do like the idea of Athena's suicide being a transencdence/downloading. (She killed herself on a cliff, I think, not at the opera house.) If you like, I might promote this comment to its own thread as a guest post. (Or you can create an account on the blog and it can appear under your own name that way.)

Many have wondered about the parallel between the Cylons and the ancient Jews. It's somewhat controversial to have the Jew-proxies be the genocidal attackers, but of course in the Torah that is just what they do when they come to the "promised land."

In reality, once you get AIs of this level, there would not be normal humans in a position of power any more, though the might be allowed to live in reserves. However, this is a story so they could write that the other way. However, it does appear that there are powers on Earth, since somebody took Starbuck from her exploding viper and immediately brought her there.

(They may not have physically taken Starbuck from the viper, of course. As they are all Cylons they can all download, but whether there is a body for their mind to inhabit is another question. For Starbuck, there was.)

First of all, great ideas and theories all :)

I've been thinking about this lately, and I'm trying to focus on the big picture and the fact we know, and trying to keep it simple.

So here is what we know for sure from the show:

a)Existance is cyclical. "Life here began out there" and "what has happened before will happen again" deal.

b) The Temple of Five, which was built by the 13th tribe during their journey to earth, was constructed 4000 years prior to the Fall of the 12 Colonies. And Battlestar Wiki says the 13th tribe left 2000 years before the Exodus of the 12 tribes from Kobol. So the span of time from the journey of the 13th Tribe, to the current journey of the Galactica in search of Earth, is 4000 years, and its'the same journey. So we can say that a cycle of existance is 4000 years long approximately. So the first cylon war and the events of the past 50 or so years are negligible in terms of the big picture.

Ok sorry gotta cut this short, see I think the key to everything depends a lot on who or what the Lords of Kobol are. They are crucial to understanding the big picture. We must understand Kobol and it's Lords, which I see as the beginning of the cycle, and finding Earth as the end of the cycle.

So the cycle could be something like this:

a)Paradise-like existance on Kobol
b) Introduction of sin, either by a "jealous Lord of Kobol" hungry for power, or within the people themselves.
c)War on Kobol, exodus of the 13th Tribe
d)Exodus of the 12 Tribes and founding of the 12 COlonies
e)Creation of the cylons
f)Destruction of the 12 colonies by the Cylons, exodus of humanity towards Earth
g)Human-Cylon, Human-Human, Cylon-Cylon Wars
h)Enlightment and Revelations arrived at through terrible loss and suffering.

Possible end of cycle outcomes at Earth:

a)Unification of Humans and Cylons, inter-breeding, upon arrival on Earth, and integration with the 13th Tribe already there. New generation of Cylon-Human babies born, and 13th Tribe is already filled with this generation of hybrids.

b)Humans and Cylons are the same. Humans are just Cylons programmed to think they are human. 13th Tribe wipes out the Cylons, and it's 100% back to humans again, but bakc to sticks and stones with no technology aftera big war on Earth.

Beginning of new cycle. Earth becomes the new Kobol. Whether filled with new generation of Cylon-Human hybrids, or pure humans who won the war.

I guess we really have to wait and find out, cause some of these theories really sound whacky lol.

I'm sure RDM is 20 steps ahead of our thinking and has a much better explanation to it all.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35). Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).

Looks like the messiah idea isn't so whacky.

Please feel free to make my prior comment a guest post on its own thread.

If you read the spoiler for the Caprica spin-off, I bleieve you can figure out who the fifth/cyclon god is, the original programmer reincarnated.

I do think the Final Cylon will turn out to be the "original" Cylon, from back on Earth thousands of years ago. I mean, why isn't this Cylon still around, and why aren't they still playing an important role. But that's probably not who you meant. You probably meant the characters from Caprica who think they are creating Cylons but are rather re-creating them as part of a cycle.

However, that does not preclude that the characters creating the Cylons again in Caprica are not also those who created them before, in fact that could make some sense.

Quick thing on the Lords of Kobol:
One floating theory I've read is that they may not have been "gods" or anything fancy, but just "lords" as in "lord" of a manor, or kings/leaders of their respective tribes, which ended up growing into the colonies. Throw in a few thousand years of storytelling, and they start to sounds like gods.

I'm torn between being reminded of the Monty Python 'Spanish Inquisition' sketch or the gay tailors from The Fast Show. Not sure Ron intended the Lords of Kobol to be quite so frivolous or camp. But, hey ho. There you go. That's showbiz!

I pooped my pants :-)

Add new comment