Throughout Stargate SG-1 seasons 9 and 10 they spend the time fighting the crusade of the Ori. They mention several times that 'the Ori are not gods.' I think that Dr Daniel Jackson mentions several times something to the effect that they are just 'beings with a higher understanding of the universe' who 'live on a higher plane of existence than we do.'

Now, several religions I know of mention the ability for mortals to ascend in the same manner, gain those same powers and knowledge, and become gods themselves. So, why do they consider the Ori to be false gods?

They are declared as non-omniscient, but not all gods in mythology are so that isn't needed to be a god. They do have god-like powers, including the creation of life itself, seemingly from nothing.

So, from my what I can figure, the Ori are in fact gods, albeit malevolent ones, so why are they so adamant that they are not gods?

  • 16
    On a lot of science fiction shows, such as Star Trek, the characters take a very unusual attitude toward divinity. They may meet entities that are effectively omniscient, omnipotent, or even omnibenevolent, or whose abilities defy the laws of physics, or even are obvious analogies for Earth religions, yet such entities will never be considered divine. Stargate is just a continuation of this trend.
    – Adamant
    May 25, 2019 at 18:53
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    It's pretty traditional to label the gods of enemies... or enemy gods, I suppose, as "false". This is more about enmity than divinity, in this way the idea of an enemy god (one I don't follow) is equated to not a real god (one you shouldn't be following). Often spills over to gods that are "just" foreign, too.
    – Megha
    May 25, 2019 at 23:09
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    You should start your question by the definition of a "true" god. We Humans are ants for the Oris. If they are gods, are we gods for ants and other insects?
    – Taladris
    May 26, 2019 at 11:14
  • There is a later episode in this arc where people ask this same question, and (I think) Teal'c has to change tactics to "are they worthy of being called gods?"
    – Izkata
    May 27, 2019 at 5:59
  • for the human scientists in the show there are no "gods" period. and who is "claiming" that, and in what circumstances do they proclaim that? if this is addressed at some other alien races involved in the humans fight against the Ori, then it's just propaganda addressed to those aliens and formulated in their terms. Its not like the SG1 debated this calmly among themselves, did they?
    – Will Ness
    May 27, 2019 at 11:34

7 Answers 7



  • It is all based on perspective.
  • The SGC considers them false gods because they only achieved their state through knowledge.
  • Everyone has the potential to ascend eventually... then they would all be gods.
  • Knowledge does not equal god...

I won't touch the idea of good or evil with my answer since it is entirely possible to be both an evil or good god...

So it is basically just because of perspective. It depends on how you view the situation yourself. You see that the Ori appear to check off the boxes of what makes a being a god like creature. The SGC sees it quite differently. They see the Ori as having a greater understanding of how the universe works, simply being more knowledgeable.

From the perspective of the SGC if the only reason the Ori are 'gods' is because they have learned how to become what they are, then everyone has that ability. Therefore, everyone can be a god. i.e. Knowing more about how the universe works should not be the premise for what defines a god.

In addition, look at what the defines an ascended being. They live without a form, but can still both live and die. They know what they knew when they ascended and a little more they figured out the way, so they are still learning. They can manipulate matter (fire, make restaurants, etc.) with what they have learned and so they can do things.

These are all just heightened abilities of what a normal living being can do. Compare me to my dog. My dog can live and die, she can both know and learn things, and she can do things (lick herself, chase her tail, etc.). Now, I can do a bunch of things that she could never fathom to understanding. I [could] fly a space shuttle, throw her from a plane (in a parachute), or so many other things that seem unimaginable to her.

Just because I understand these things and she does not, does not make me a god. It means I have a greater understanding of how the universe works. The only difference between humanity and the Ori is that we have a greater understanding and so we know just how much more intelligent they are in comparison!

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    It's worth noting that knowledge is in fact one of the traditional qualifications for a deity, and in fact in many monotheistic theologies omniscience is one the defining factors of God.
    – Adamant
    May 25, 2019 at 18:50
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    @Adamant - And that is why it is all based on perspective. If you define someone as a god, then they are. However, if you don't, then they aren't. The Alterans do not view themselves as gods, but the Ori do. Does that mean that the Ori are gods, but the Alterans arn't? They are the same...
    – Odin1806
    May 25, 2019 at 18:56
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    From my perspective, they both self-evidently are. It's just that, as a consequence of being written by either devoted Christians or devoted anti-theists, the shows would rather posit otherwise.
    – Adamant
    May 25, 2019 at 18:57
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    'From my perspective' is exactly my point. I do not see either of them as gods... from my perspective. Sure they have greater abilities than I do, but [in the show] I could do that one day. I am not a god now, but I could be if I learned something? That seems awfully easy to gain that status. To me, a god should be something unimaginably unobtainable. - In addition, what would Daniel be? He did ascend, but came back... was he a god? If so, is he still?
    – Odin1806
    May 25, 2019 at 19:02
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    A child can turn into an adult, but a child is not an adult. An atom of lead can turn into an atom of gold (and some byproducts) through nuclear transmutation, but lead is not gold. Why should it be strange that a human could become a god?
    – Adamant
    May 25, 2019 at 19:04

This is addressed extensively throughout the final seasons of Stargate SG-1. The Ori are certainly powerful ascended beings, but simply being an ascended doesn't make you a god, at least to those with sufficient advancement to (broadly) understand the process by which one can ascend.

TEAL'C: One of the Ancients returned to human form to warn us that the Ori gain strength by sapping the power from their followers. That is why they seek our support! The Ori are not some benevolent gods, offering you the path to enlightenment. They are but manipulative beings who will use you and discard you once you have served their purpose.

SG-1: The Fourth Horseman, Part II

You may also want to note that although the Ori certainly do exist, their interaction with their followers is extremely minimal. Most of their worshippers come to the decision to worship the Ori as a result of a mixture of threats of violence and "magical" acts performed by their hired goons, the Priors of the Ori.

HAIKON: The Prior has healed our sick. Caused our crops to grow as if by magic. Why should I doubt the power of the Ori?

MITCHELL: Look, their power is not what you should question. It's how they use it. Anyone refuses to worship them, and they die. And I'm not talking about a few non-believers here and there. I'm talking about whole planets wiped out!

HAIKON: And I should simply take your word for this?

MITCHELL: You want to believe my people are godless and inferior? Go right ahead. But we have never needed proof of our gods' existence in order to believe in them. Faith. It was your faith that sustained you for five thousand years, not the Ancients themselves. Don't throw your history away for a bag full of magic tricks.

SG-1: Babylon

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    Right, but the process of ascension as described in Stargate is very similar to other religious teaching where the followers are able to become gods.
    – Daishozen
    May 25, 2019 at 18:30
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    @Daishozen - Yes, powerful beings can seem god-like to less advances cultures. But that doesn't make them gods.
    – Valorum
    May 25, 2019 at 18:31
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    So I guess, a follow up question would be what would the stargate definition of a 'real god' be?
    – Daishozen
    May 25, 2019 at 18:41
  • @Daishozen - Cameron Mitchell appears to be some flavour of Christian
    – Valorum
    May 25, 2019 at 18:43
  • So, basically they are saying you are either God, or an imposter? Polytheism is not a possibility?
    – Daishozen
    May 25, 2019 at 18:44

One should not forget the rest of the Stargate universe and timeline.

  • The previous main enemy, the Goa'uld, styled themselves as gods, but were literally parasites. Their power came from the technology, but they reveled in worship and they usurped the position of gods in human pantheons. And then they got defeated by the Tau'ri.
  • Then there are the Ancients, who ascended, but did not suffer from the delusion of grandeur of being divine. And they left the other races to their own devices.
  • The Asgard are another nigh-divine race with great powers. Which is just better tech.

So there is a certain history of races in the universe which are extremely advanced, yet are not deities. And the fight against the Goa'uld really inserts quite a bit of iconoclasm and irreverence into the show's DNA.

Now, the Ori

  • are ascended, which is nothing new (see Ancients)
  • behave like the Goa'uld in demanding obedience and worship
  • are hostile to anyone who does not submit, yet they are defeatable. SGC cannot fight true omnipotent gods. But the Ori can be defeated and are hostile; and thus their claim of divinity is rejected (one will not worship one's enemy).

They basically are a stronger form of the Goa'uld, working through their obnoxious worshippers rather than personally. Their actions make them unworthy of worship, thus false gods. Humanity would be better of without them.


True gods don't originate from mortal beings (at least in the Stargate universe if not in any real world belief system). They have always been gods. When mortals are elevated to anything god-like, they remain distinct from true gods. The Ori began as mortal beings (ancient humans) who, like their Ancient bretheren learned how to ascend. As ascended beings, both the ascended Ancients and Ori are therefore not true gods despite being so god-like. The only distinctions between them were the galaxies they called "home" and their ethics/agendas. Oma Desala and Anubis were ascended mortal beings no different from any other Ancient or Ori except for their personal agendas and codes of ethics (or lack thereof); they were not gods, but just as much gods as the Ori.

Nothing encountered in the Stargate universe is a true god. Anything encountered that appears god-like is always either an ascended being or a poser like the Goa'uld.

  • 1
    The only fault in your answer is that you don't define what a god is. Without defining that, it's impossible to know what a false one is.
    – RonJohn
    May 27, 2019 at 9:39
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    Anubis was an ascended Goa’uld, not an Ancient
    – Rob
    May 28, 2019 at 5:35

Gods are supernatural -- "of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe". The Ori and Alterans are just higher states of regular old natural beings. Since they (the Ori) claim to be gods and they aren't gods, they are -- by definition -- false gods.

  • I'd appreciate reasonings for down-votes.
    – RonJohn
    May 27, 2019 at 17:15
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    I wasn't one of the downvotes, but explaining the difference between "above nature" and "higher than natural beings" would probably improve this answer a lot.
    – Ray
    May 27, 2019 at 19:49
  • @RonJohn - The reason you got a down vote is the same as why I continue to ignore the comments that have built under my answer. People don't agree with your definition of a god. People don't realize, somehow, that gods can be defined in any number of ways and they think that since you don't agree with their version... you are wrong. When people don't agree with other on this site they can turn into snowflakes pretty easily...
    – Odin1806
    May 28, 2019 at 14:15

Stargate being an American/Canadian Production, you can safely assume that the definition of GOD strictly follows the lines of the generally accepted Bible canon. Therefore nothing ever can be another god. GOD being omniscient AND omnipotent AND timeless makes HIM singular in all cases. (Every other narrative would lower the market for the series.)

So especially Ori, by defining themselves as gods, simply give themselves away to be heretics or infidels against THE real faith.

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    Can you provide any evidence that this is the case, for now it’s purely speculative, regardless of the quality.
    – Edlothiad
    May 26, 2019 at 9:28
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    In the show, Mitchell and Landry are sympathetic towards Christianity. Mitchell talks fondly about having a Christian family. The other characters don't give much indication of their personal feelings about religion - other than that they hate alien "gods" who enslave humans.
    – Robyn
    May 26, 2019 at 10:30
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    @Edlothiad Is it entirely speculative, though? "God" is never formally defined in the show, so we fall back on the definitions that would implicitly be used by the characters. The major characters are mostly Americans. The most common ways that Americans use the word are: 1) To refer to the Judeo-Christian god (frequently by those who believe him to be both real and unique (implying that any other god would be false)). 2) To refer to gods of mythology, which are not believed to be real (thus false). Even non-Christian Americans will typically think of gods in terms of the common definitions.
    – Ray
    May 26, 2019 at 16:55
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    The problem with your answer is that the SG universe doesn't seem to have any true gods at all.
    – RonJohn
    May 27, 2019 at 9:41

I recently re-watched the franchise, and I don't recall a discussion in the show about if there is a real god, how would one recognize a god as being a god. I vaguely recall that some of the earlier episodes suggested that science disproved the existence of God completely, but that is the best of my memory for in-universe discussion.

If we were to consider the culture the show is marketed to, largely the United States, and the theological and philosophical considerations within the culture, it will be heavily influenced by Christianity.

Please correct me, but my understanding is Thomas Aquinas claimed that for the Universe to exist, something had to bring it into existence. For this to occur, the creator of the Universe must exist outside of the Universe, thus all actors within the Universe cannot be a god, and this is an important philosophical underpinning of Christian theology as well as a reason the Ori are not gods.

  • 1
    Aquinas made a series of related arguments that stated that all things must [be caused/be set in motion/have not existed at some time], stated that there must be an exception to each of these rules in order for anything to exist, and asserted God to be that exception. He assumed God to predate everything in the universe (it's unclear whether he drew a distinction between the universe and the stuff in it), but did not assume that God can never enter the universe. (After all, a construction crew can build a house and then walk in the front door when they're done.)
    – Ray
    May 27, 2019 at 20:02

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