Fate Versus Free Will

Who Has the “Power Over the Clay?”

Here, I use a biblical text to illustrate the similarities between the Lostaways’ predicament and the predicament of the human condition. The Book of Romans characterizes God as a potter and human lives as clay, assuring readers that there is a benevolent creator, in control of a logical plan. “Has not the potter power over the clay..?” (Romans 9.21) But what about man’s desire to manipulate the “clay” and direct his own path? The writers of Lost continuously underscore the tension between these two opposing philosophical forces: predetermination and free will. Among other things, the series is an allegorical study of fate, questioning whether human beings control their own destinies or if there are forces that determine, or have already pre-determined, their paths.

Take for instance an exchange between John and Sawyer in “The Economist” (4.3). Sawyer asks Locke how he survived Benjamin Linus’s gunshot. He responds by revealing the bullet wound, explaining that if he still had his kidney, the shot would have killed him. Recall Ben’s first murder attempt: before leaving Locke for dead in the pit of Dharma corpses Ben says, “I hope Jacob can help you now, John.” As destiny would have it, Anthony Cooper, recipient of Locke’s kidney, turns out to be the savior in this fateful predicament. It is likely that Jacob organized, or re-organized, events to work out in John’s favor. So perhaps Jacob is the potter of fate, at least for the chosen few: Kate, Jack, Sawyer, Sun, Jin, Locke, Sayid, Hurley and maybe Ilana, too.

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