This week’s episode of Lost may have been the most revealing in the history of the show in terms of understanding the mystery of the island and the theological beliefs of the show’s writers. “Jacob” – the good, god-like figure – says explicitly that the purpose of the island is to constrain the evil force known as the smoke monster or man-in-black. He identifies this evil force with the belief that people are corruptible because their nature is sinful. Then he defines his own purpose on the island: “I bring people here to prove him wrong, and when they get here their past doesn’t matter.” He aims to demonstrate that people are inherently good and therefore have the ability to choose the right path, regardless of their past, which the island provides opportunities for them to do. For Jacob, this ability to choose freely is sacrosanct. To redeem themselves, the characters have to make this choices autonomously without being compelled by Jacob in any way: “I want them to know the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them; it’s all meaningless if I have to force them to do anything. Why should I have to step in?”
This episode was absolutely fascinating (a Lost fan I work with said that it may have been the best hour of television he has ever watched) and watching it I felt excitement as I saw pieces of the show coming together. Yet, though the show has contained many biblical allusions and themes, this plain revelation of the show’s meaning is plainly at odds with a biblical, orthodox view of both human nature, and the meaning of good and evil. I will be unpacking this claim more this week and as the show progresses, so stay tuned! I’d love to read your insights as well.