Monday, February 16, 2009

LT205: The Black and White Theory II

This is a series of posts that examines the black and white theme of LOST. Be sure to look back over the previous titles for each portion of this theory.


The Black and White Theory begins with the idea that the science community and the religious community and not being introduced in LOST in order to determine a winner. Instead, these two schools of thought are meant to compliment. If this theory holds any water then we should begin to see how the show is an exposé on the meaning of life. Wow, that sounds like a lofty endeavor for a prime-time TV show even as I write these words, but let’s have some fun exploring the possibilities.


The scientific and religious communities have a long history of tug of war. These opposing forces begin their struggle…well…in the beginning. One of the more recognized religious books, The Bible, begins this debate with the story of creation.

Immediately the two communities are out of step with each other. Bible scholars suggest the planet is about 6,000 years old and the scientists generally agree on five billion years old. That is quite the discrepancy and the view any one individual holds is generally an issue of whether one is a man of science or a man of faith.

Out of the gate we have a conflict. But this theory is based not on their opposition to each other, but to the reconciliation.


Both communities agree that the written language first appeared around 4,000 B.C. The earliest writings indicate that the view at that time was that our planet was flat. Earth was described as being an island that floated on the oceans. Interesting enough, the history of natural science begins with a theory that is reflected on LOST.

The accepted belief was that earth was a flat disc which was covered by a dome where the sun and stars were hung. We see this depicted in the first Orientation film on LOST.

The earliest Mesopotamian writings contain these descriptions and can be considered as scientific evidence of a sort.

Around 1200 B.C. Moses wrote the book of “Genesis” and describes the firmament as the place where God placed the sun and stars. King David repeats this information. Isaiah writes of “God dwelling above the dome of the earth.” One might suggest that the Hebrew language may have been limited in its available terms, but actually the word “disc” and “ball” were both available and in these quoted examples, the author selected “disc”.

In 400 A.D. Saint Augustine wrote, “But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible.” In other words, the official view of the church was that world was flat and to think that the world was round and that mankind has settled on the opposite side of the planet was absurd.

Augustine further wrote, “It is too absurd to say, that some men might have taken ship and traversed the whole wide ocean, and crossed from this side of the world to the other, and that thus even the inhabitants of that distant region are descended from that one first man, Adam.”

Using the most limiting estimate of earth’s existence (Biblical view of 6,000 years) reveals that for the first 4,000 years the scientific and religious communities were in synch with the belief that the world was flat. Without assigning blame, all observable evidence suggested an island to the scientific observer. The religious community embraced the idea because outside the dome provided a convenient place to find heaven and hell.

Even today there exists an organization called the Flat Earth Society who still embraces the world is flat and offers the United Nations logo as proof.

The important thing to notice is that the religious and scientific community agreed even if for different reasons. It is my proposal that when a truth is discovered that both communities will be in agreement. Similarly, I expect the truths about LOST to be realized when both the Man of Science AND the Man of Faith are on the same page. However, it is important to note that the mere agreement by both sides does not mean we have discovered a fact. The flat earth theory is proof of that.

“Why do you find it so hard to believe?”
“Why do you find it so difficult?”


Around 300 B.C. Aristotle was the first to suggest that the earth may indeed be round. It would be years before his suggestion was taken seriously. Aristotle is often recognized for his contributions to logic, but he had an equally important impact on the natural sciences.


Before moving on with this topic, it should be pointed out that Aristotle is considered the father of Western philosophy. His works was then advanced by people with very LOST sounding names like John Locke who coined the phrase, “life, liberty and the pursuit of property” (later changed to pursuit of happiness by our founding fathers).

Other students of Aristotle’s philosophies include Rousseau (Danielle) and Edmund Burke (Juliet’s late husband). When Walt is studying his book of birds and trying to get his parent’s attention, Brian and Susan are discussing a client of hers named Berkeley. George Berekley is a follower of Aristotle. Additional proponents of Aristotle include Thomas Hobbes (connection to Locke in LOST) and David Hume (Desmond).


The first clue to the scientific community came from the Greeks who advanced sailing. It was simple observation as they noticed that approaching ships revealed the tops of their sails, then the entire sail and finally the ship. This led to a simple conclusion that maybe the earth wasn’t as flat as once thought.

The science community and the religious community were at odds again. However, hindsight reveals that the religious scholars noted that some Hebrew text did use the word for “ball”. Job 26:7 states that God was "hanging the earth upon nothing", rather than a supported flat disc. Religious writings around the time of Moses (and not included in the Bible such as the Book of Enoch) state the earth was round. The Bible did not exclude the possibility of a round earth. It was the church leaders who focused on isolated texts.


Hindsight then reveals that the original flat earth theory was wrong. But over time, both the scientific and religious communities fell back into agreement. I offer this as evidence that eventually the two competing sides do and will compliment and confirm each other. I further suggest this is the underlying message of LOST.

My Black and White Theory is that Locke, our man of faith, and Jack, our man of science will reconcile their views and discover the truth meaning of life on their island and our world.

In the next series of my Black and White Theory we will explore more of the scientific side of the show. My hope is these posts will strengthen the proposal that the black and white theme was introduced as the first theme of LOST for a reason.


Jack shows Kate the wound, and she grimaces.

JACK: Look, I'd do it myself, I'm a doctor, but I just can't reach it.

KATE: You want me to sew that up?

JACK: It's just like the drapes, same thing.

KATE: No, with the drapes I used a sewing machine.

JACK: No, you can do this. I'm telling you…if you wouldn't mind.

KATE: Of course I will.

Kate picks up a little sewing kit.

KATE: Any color preference?

JACK: [laughing] No. Standard black.


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Anonymous said...

Ben said...

Wow, I'd really like to comment on everything you've written over the last week but there's so damn much...

But I'll go over some things that did catch my attention:
First, thanks for the shout-out a few posts ago, I like being acknowledged for stuff.

Speaking of, I think you misunderstand Sayid and Ben's relationship...the tension between the two of them was an act to gain Hurley's trust, and perhaps to mislead Jack about their relationship.

The thing about John's b-day and the makes sense that the song is still on the air 3 years after it was made. Hell, it still plays on the air.

About Danielle's gun not firing, remember when she first met Sayid, she told him she took out the firing pin? Also, I don't think Smokey took over their bodies, or else Danielle wouldn't have been able to kill him with a shot.

What was your point about the Earth not being flat? how does that have anything to do with Lost? It's like you wrote a History term paper and wanted to post it.
And I think you misunderstand the Augustine-antipodes thing...the fable was that the world was round, and that for each person there's a counter-part on the other side of the earth. Augustine wasn't saying that the earth was flat, but it was false that everyone had a counterpart.

Nice catch on the Ben reaction to Desmond...I didn't even consider Ben's motivation to kill Penny...I think he's got too many other things on his mind.
Also nice catch on the Hurley recording thing...I'll have to check it out.

I guess we can kiss goodbye on the flashes being 108 min apart theory...since those two flashes happened one right after the other.

You don't have to waste your time with any more black and white stuff, they've got it all on the Lostpedia website.

I agree that it's incredulous that Rousseau's partners would've gone into the temple.

Christian IS creepy...I don't even want to know how he's involved in all this.
Any news on them saying anything just before a flash?It seems like as soon as they're in peril, a flash occurs...Is a god or demon controlling the flashes for them?

Good idea on Charlotte being Ben and Annie's daughter, but Charlotte would have to be much younger...Ben must've been born in the late 60's, and by appearance, Charlotte late 70's. Charlotte could be Annie's sister maybe?

I don't really have any further thoughts on the last show... Not that I can remember. If I do, you'll be sure to hear from me.

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