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Television | Stargate agrees with the Bible that there is nothing worse than a false god

Issue: "Post-party election blues?," Nov. 6, 2004

The original Star Trek lasted only three seasons, but another popular science-fiction series has started its eighth season. Stargate is still going strong on the SciFi network. It has previous seasons in syndication, a worldwide following, and a spinoff, Stargate Atlantis.

Stargate, based on the 1994 movie of the same name, is predicated on the discovery of a network of big round portals that connect, via wormhole, to other planets. The U.S. government keeps these stargates secret, but puts together a military unit to conduct expeditions to the other worlds.

Whereas the typical science-fiction potboiler makes government secrecy into a sinister conspiracy, Stargate presents the scenario from the point of view of the secret government unit. Though the president and other politicians are presented as too meddling, the heroes are straight-on members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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The series also plays with the ridiculous modern legend that the Pyramids and other ancient wonders were built by aliens. In the Stargate universe, the Pyramid builders were the Goa'uld, a powerful, technologically advanced alien race that uses the stargates to connect the planets in their galactic empire. With names like Ra, Ba'al, and Molech, the Goa'uld turn out to be the pagan gods of the Bible. These aliens, who are wormlike larvae that inhabit hosts, try to conquer and enslave peoples and planets by presenting themselves as deities. The U.S. military has to fight them, both to liberate planets under their sway and to prevent them from taking over Earth again.

Like Star Trek, the series is character-driven. Teal'c (Christopher Judge) is a good alien who becomes a member of the stargate team, along with the nerdy Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and the bright Maj. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping). The role of the sardonic team leader, Col. (now Gen.) Jack O'Neill, is memorably played by Richard Dean Anderson, the star of McGyver.

The plots get complicated, with storylines intertwined with episodes over the last seven years, giving the series a rich texture. Often characters end up renouncing their religion, but-contrary to the current myth that all religions are equally good-Stargate agrees with the Bible that there is nothing worse than a false god.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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