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The Lost Delusion

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Watching Lost has always been an act of faith. The polar bears, the time travel, Evangeline Lilly playing tough - the show is one long benefit of the doubt. But something's different this season, some conversion where faith has become Faith.

I think Lost has seen the light.

From the pagan trappings of that cheesy Temple of Doom to one heavy-handed Christian allegory after another, Lost appears to have abandoned all hope of a rational, secular explanation of its mysteries. The battle between Faith and Reason, Religion and Science, Gut and Brain has been decided.

Freethinkers everywhere, better luck next time.

Saying Lost is too supernatural is like calling American Idol judgmental. Sorta the point, right? No one watches a show about disappearing islands for the realism.

But Lost, for the better part of its run, presented the faith versus reason battle as a fair fight, and though we suspected all along that the answers would fall more in the realm of gods and monsters than quantum physics, well, fantasy is fantasy. But a thrown game lacks drama, and this season Lost's philosophical bitch slaps are rigged against the faithless.

Last week's episode was called "The Substitute" but it might as well have been "The Lost Temptation of Christ." Sawyer, the island's sexy bad boy typically motivated less by reason or faith than survival and pragmatism, had all but reached the end of his tether, understandable when your wife commits suicide by hydrogen bomb. Forsaken and near-naked as Jesus on the cross, Sawyer was visited by his occasional friend, sometime enemy and presumed corpse, John Locke.

Blurring Testaments with the same dizzy glee it mashes up pop culture minutiae, Lost reanimated Locke's corpse with a bit of Genesis here, some Luke by way of Kazantzakis there. We saw it coming a couple weeks ago, when a bunch of doomed extras took refuge from Smoke Monster Locke by drawing a circle in the sand - a tactic that worked much better for Willem Dafoe in his battle with Satan.

Actually, we saw it even earlier, didn't we, this big fat thumb on the philosophical scale bearing down on the side of the spiritual. From the start, the burden of rational thinking - of skepticism - was plopped on the unfit shoulders of Matthew Fox's Dr. Jack Shephard, and the actor's teary petulance never so much as hinted that a rejection of faith is anything more than a wounded man's bitterness. Reason, on Lost, is a childish tantrum, certain to run its course, with spirituality waiting when it does.

Fair enough, I guess. Their show, their mumbo-jumbo, after all. Pandering to a nation where more people believe in guardian angels than human responsibility for global warming can't be bad for ratings. In fact, the faithless could certainly learn a thing or two from the Creationists and climate deniers by demanding equal time - loudly, and whenever possible.

Maybe when Dr. Jack was haunting all those airports a couple seasons back, he happened to thumb through some Richard Dawkins. Stranger things happen all the time.