Thursday, April 23, 2009


Lisa and I are huge fans of LOST. We especially like the mental puzzle it presents with its treatment of the time-space continuum. This season has been very enjoyable. It continues to deal with the themes of determinism/free-will and parent/child relationships.

The key development of this season seems to be the idea that within determined history (what pagans call Fate, neo-pagans call evolutionary randomness and Christians call Providence) humans have a choice (what we all call "Free Will") about who they will be in that determined history. This is a significant idea worthy of some reflection.

Determinism and free will are polar-opposite philosophies of history. Determinists believe that everything is "determined" by an outside force. That's-just-the-way-it[humanity]-is explains why events happen and people act the way they do. The individual can do NOTHING to alter their determined actions or their determined destinies.

Religious determinists attribute the role of determiner to the Fates (pagan goddesses who wove human history) or to God's Sovereignty (Christianity.) Reformed [Calvinist] theology rests on a foundation of a determinist regard of history as the sole choice of God's Absolute --Unconditional, Irresistable, Irrevocable -- Sovereign-Self.

Secular determinists attribute the controling force of history to genetics and evolutionary factors. People act only as their DNA predetermines they will. Human choice is an illusion in the midst of evolutionary selection.

Free-will proponents believe everything is the result of individual choices. American civic religion preaches this dogma -- "You can be anything you want to be." "Your only limited by your imagination." Everything is up for grabs.

Free-will thinking is obviously humanistic. No outside force can thwart the will of the individual. Human beings have all the answers, we just need time to work them out. We may have flawed characters, but in time we will self-actualize.

I belong to a unique branch of the Christian Vine, a singular part of the Body of Christ. We Wesleyans hold a view of human existence and history that believes strongly in the Providence of a Sovereign God. He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live [Acts 17.26 NIV] Even when evil is prominant and His law is being violated, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8.28]

Yet we also hear the witness of Scripture telling us that we have a choice in our actions and our destinies. We are challenged to choose. To return to Acts 17, he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. God allows us to choose to look for him and the outcome of our search is left in doubt.

So I am facinated by the current suggestion of the events of LOST that the events of our lives might be firmly pre-determined, "Whatever will happen, will happen" but we must choose who we will be in those pre-determined events...

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