On the BSG science blogs, a lot of discussion has taken place around the colonials decision to abandon the bulk of their technology. (If killer robots destroyed everything, and I spent 4 years in a tin can eating algae I might quickly embrace living off of the land too.)
In the Open Thread discussion of Daybreak Part 2, Robert Cruickshank offered this excellent observation:
I have to confess how surprised I am that people aren't willing to accept what General Boy called "the choice of primitivism." It may be because of my own familiarity with the subject as a historian - perhaps those who can't accept it just aren't aware that human beings have often expressed a desire to, or actually have chosen to, do exactly this.
And I don't blame people for not having that awareness - we live in an age in which our technological society is considered superior to the absence of it, where criticism of technology is dismissed as "Luddite" and where people living off the land are derided as "primitives".
The desire of human beings to blame their problems on their present surroundings - whether ideological, technological, or cultural - and move somewhere new and unspoiled to start over again in a kind of New Eden is VERY VERY STRONG in our history. Hell, it's one of the founding myths of the United States.
From the Amish Country to Walden Pond, from the hippie communes of the 1960s to the hardy pioneers of the 1800s who forsake Eastern civilization to "light out for the territories" in Mark Twain's phrase (and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has a very similar ending to BSG), plenty of people have desired a tabula rasa - to get back in touch with their souls, as Lee put it, and start again with a more authentic lifestyle free from the corrupting influences that brought so much suffering.
And that's a point which all those people saying "I could never do that" are missing. If you asked any of those humans before the fall of the colonies where they could make the same choice, nobody would have said yes.
But they have been through a harrowing journey over the last four years in which they learned, repeatedly, that their technology not only won't save them, but that it has frequently destroyed them. Finding Old Earth as a nuclear ruin would have put a profound exclamation point on it.
And so when the find an Edenic place to live - where they don't have to be afraid, where they really can just spread out and explore, you can bet that the desire to give up the past ways and start anew will take over. If I were down there I'd have been in complete agreement with Lee.
One of my concerns with online discussion of TV shows is that too often people criticize the direction of a show because "I would never do that" or "it does not make sense to me." If everyone thought as you did, there would be no diversity of thought at all in the human race. Human beings see things differently. People make what I believe to be stupid and crazy decisions all the time, decisions I would never make.
But the point, especially in art and literature, isn't that they made a bad choice - rather it's to understand why the choice was made. And I think BSG has done that very well here.
Ultimately, good art is NOT about pleasing everyone. It's about making a profound artistic statement that leaves people feeling moved, even if people passionately disagree about what those feelings should be.
You may also find interesting this article by Jared Diamond (author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed) where he suggests that moving to an agriculture based society was the worst mistake humans ever made.
As a whole Battlestar Galactica raises questions and debate around the topic of the technological singularity, and transhumanism. For more on that debate, I highly recommend the essays, Singularities and Nightmares by David Brin, and Why the future doesn't need us, by Bill Joy.
If anyone wants to discuss these topics in the comments, please do.