7: A Living Universe
There is a certain degree of pantheism within Babylon 5 philosophy, especially in the way the universe is spoken of. Especially the Narn philosophy of G'Kwan and G'Kar and the Minbari religion tend to go into such a direction: The universe as an entity of its own, the universe as a character in the game of life, not merely the battlefield, but much more: The universe as a living being. This living universe but consists of parts; those parts being nothing else than us ourselves - thus also forming a connection of the parts which form the whole: everything, everybody is connected - there is no separateness, no real loneliness, no real individuality. Well, there is, but it serves a greater whole - putting individuality into the right perspective, defining also its use.
Defining also, and giving it its meaning - within a living universe, with us being the body parts, no one being superfluous, no one being unnecessary. This means that not just the universe is regarded with a greater dignity, but also life, all life, not just human life. Life also being re-defined, not anymore being reduced to what we perceive as the obvious. The essence of the universe, its living breath, is contained and preserved in every little cell and molecule and atom and quark and spark of energy: The field of life, the field of reality, everything, belonging to a living universe, is living matter. There is no emptiness, no void. Creation is life.
There is open discussion on the issue of souls on Babylon 5, an issue most often being circumvented these days in non-religious surroundings. But within Babylon 5 philosophy, souls are a crucial element - and what is a soul if not the essence of what we are, the part of us which is not the physical body, which is not following physical laws, which is not subjected to the restrictions of physical reality, which, by all we know and believe, is contradicting physical reality: and which is thus immortal, the essence of life eternal. The recognition mainly thus being accompanied by the acceptance of the existence of a soul is that there is life beyond our reality, life beyond physical being; life after death and beyond death and beyond space and time.
So is Babylon 5 a religious show? Partly, yes; and partly meaning: to a great part. A lot of religious elements can be found in the show: The monks being introduced in I believe season three, the monks working together with the Rangers, as shown in 4.22 'The Deconstruction of Falling Stars'; the Rangers resp. Anglashok themselves forming something like a religious order; the religious nature of Minbari culture, the Narn religion as told by G'Kwan with G'Kar contributing to it. The nature of Good and Evil is explored through the Shadow wars, and it is dealt with in a quite religious manner, regarding to the prophecies and similar things. Also, staff members of Babylon 5 are openly said to belong or to have belonged to Christian or Jewish religion, something which would never happen in Star Trek as far as I know it (Star Trek only mentions religion in reference to alien cultures, like the Bajorans, but reduces it mostly to general spirituality). And, most of all, we have John Sheridan's death and resurrection.
B5 clearly is a show with a lot of talk and symbolism regarding philosophy and religion. The notion of a living universe is nothing entirely new; new about it is but the place it takes in a television show. There are almost no taboos in Star Trek regarding to topics of society, but with Babylon 5, there are also no taboos regarding to religion in TV fiction. The pantheism of Babylon 5 is something which is explicitely being shared by Buddhist and Native American religion, and more implicitly also by Christianity - when you think about trinity more closely, you might come to similar conclusions. God Father represents the process of creation and its beginning and end, he is the the basis of it all. God Son represents creation, represents life, represents us. God Holy Spirit is the messenger, the connection, the field of interaction and communication between both. All three but are not separate entities, the separation is just a model; they are indeed one, everything is connected. The Buddhist terms of Dharmakaya (Body of Thruth), Nirmanakaya (Body of Emanation) and Sambhokaya (Body of Joy) could be explained in a similar way (cf. The Good Heart., Appendix).
April 1st 1999