LOST is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a hatch built by the Dharma Initiative. But if we go back and try to remember watching, wondering and speculating during season one, we have a nice illustration of what is involved in learning and discovery, and what a key hurdle to education can be.
Imagine someone (you may actually know such a person) who formulated what they thought was the “definitive LOST theory” during the first season. Once the hatch was opened, their theory ought to have been abandoned or revised, but instead they kept adding ad hoc supplements, leaving their original theory sort of intact, but deformed and obscured by the convoluted additions needed to harmonize the original theory with what has subsequently been revealed.
This, it seems to me, nicely illustrates what is wrong with so-called scientific creationism. It starts with a particular explanation of the world from season one, and rather than revise the details, it adds implausible ad hoc pseudo-explanations as to why, in spite of all the evidence that has mounted during subsequent seasons, the theory formulated during season one is right.
Human beings have only a limited tolerance for uncertainty. The same appears to be true for other species, but the discoveries and advances of humankind, both within our minds and in our societies, have multiplied the room for uncertainty as well. We formulate explanations based on what we know, as a means to keep chaos at bay. And that isn’t in itself necessarily a bad thing. But if you draw hard and fast conclusions too early, and you’re unwilling to revise your views in light of subsequent learning, then you’re not going to learn. It’s that simple.
And so if you find yourself talking to a young-earth creationist who watches LOST, then ask them why they affirm that God made a wonderfully compelling “series” (the natural world), and yet they refuse to watch, or accept what has been revealed in, all the seasons to date. We don’t have the complete picture yet. More discoveries remain to be made. But science has blown open the hatch, and even if what is found as a result requires rethinking theories formulated before that point, that’s a good thing, even if it can be painful or at least uncomfortable. That’s what learning involves. And you’ll probably find that rethinking your original beliefs is no more painful or uncomfortable than the much more difficult process of formulating implausible support structures to try to maintain your original beliefs in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.
Having made this point, I will now briefly retreat into willful ignorance on one particular matter: I’m avoiding all the blog posts about the finale of Battlestar Galactica until I’ve had a chance to watch it!