Science versus faith: Science wins

“For a reason” is the catchphrase that inspired the name of this blog, the one phrase that seemed to best capture the central mystery of the show.

Originally, it was a phrase associated most strongly with Locke, something that Locke, as the man of faith, would say to Jack, the man of reason.   Jack would always brush Locke off, too skeptical to listen.

Now we’ve turned a corner. Jack is no longer skeptical. But neither is he relying on blind faith.

In last night’s episode, 6×07 Dr. Linus, the phrase “for a reason” was spoken twice, once by Richard Alpert and once by Jack.

You can see both those moments in the “Quick Cut” video below:

Alpert: “I devoted my life in the service of a man who told me everything was happening for a reason. And now that man’s gone, so my entire life had no purpose.”

Jack (as the flame approaches the dynamite): “For some reason Jacob had been wanting me to know that he had been watching me ever since I was a kid. I’m willing to bet you that if Jacob went to that trouble, that he brought me to this island for a reason, and it’s not to blow up sitting here with you right now.”

Jack for a reason in LOST 6x07 Dr Linus

"Jacob brought me to this island for a reason"

That’s a big shift. Originally, in Locke’s formulation, the explanation for the reason they were brought to the Island was mystical and abstract. It was fate. It was their destiny. Locke was speaking the language of abstract religion.

But now we’re getting more concrete. It was Jacob, a specific person, who brought them there, for his own reasons.

Since Jacob, presumably, is just a person, not a god, we have now left the realm of abstract faith. Perhaps God or fate or destiny may work in mysterious ways that humans cannot fully understand, but Jacob’s reasons can and will be explained.

Because the reasons originate from within the mind of a specific person, the explanations will be concrete and non-mystical — the type of explanations that even a man of science can accept.

And, in fact, Jack is looking at Jacob and his reasons with a scientist’s eye, drawing a link between cause and effect: “I’m willing to bet you,” Jack says, “that if Jacob went to that trouble, [then] he brought me to this island for a reason.”

In the lighthouse, Jack observed evidence that showed him that Jacob had been watching him since he was a child. From that, Jack infers an explanation: That Jacob must have had a reason to bring him to the Island. It’s a logical and rational inference — and a testable hypothesis.

Jack tests it by lighting the fuse on the dynamite. The flame fizzles out. The hypothesis is confirmed.

“For a reason” has become a mystery that will be solved not by faith, but by science.

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