In a genre that largely treats God as dead, Battlestar Galactica stood out because God was actually a character in the series. It was never implicitly implied that the mysterious being pulling the strings of the hapless humans and Cylons was God per se; even the mysterious invisible beings that haunt Cavil and No.6 wouldn’t confirm it (or is reluctant to). His portrayal, of course, would get some Christians protesting, as he (or at least his representatives) seemed manipulative, vague, sometimes cruel to ensure the poor humans instruments do what he wants.
God also had an interesting way of choosing them – ie prophets. Instead of the boy scout Apollo or even the conflicted No.8, they picked No.6, who was literally responsible for the genocide of the human race, and Cavil, a selfish, amoral, self-absorbed bastard.
I think some viewers expressed frustration at the vagueness of these mysterious beings’ actions, but I thought it was perfect.
Ultimately, I think the BSG god represents mankind’s frustrations, fears, confusion and awe of God. Namely, why His actions are perplexing to most of us, our grief at why he allows evil things to happen, and our frustration that He refuses to explain his actions.
I couldn’t help but include a god-like character in the Distant Stars novels either. I think of this being as kinder version than the Machiavellian BSG one, though no less frustrating and exasperating. Thinking of this character as a literal representation of the Christian god would be a mistake though. This character, like BSG’s is a reflection of my emotions about God.
Can God exist in sci-fi? You bet.