Time Paradox and the Space/Time Continuum
This post was written by Master Nak. Welcome back to the blog, Nak! ~tJM
Ok, I admit I am stealing this theory from Bob Zemeckis and the Back To The Future writers, but I have a hunch that the rule applies in Lost as well.
In BTTF Part 2, Doc Brown said that if the same person from two different time periods ran into his/herself, the meeting would cause a "time paradox," and could potentially rupture the entire space/time continuum. Earlier on in the season, Locke saw the light from the Hatch shining into the night sky, and knew that if he kept going in that direction, he would find his past self. However, something made him turn away and lead the others away with him. I know Locke later gave an explanation for shifting his course, but I think there was a deeper reason - he couldn't run into himself because it would cause a time paradox.
This would also explain why Ben is still on the island in the present day and did not jump back with Jack, Hurley and Kate. The possibility of old Ben running into young Ben (who was on the island with the Dharma Initiative) prevented him from jumping through time. And in the most recent episode, "LaFleur," Charlotte's corpse disappeared when everyone jumped to 1974. We know that Charlotte was on the island as a little girl during this time; she could not possibly simultaneously exist as both dead and alive.
The space/time continuum seems to be "course correcting" to prevent the occurrence of a time paradox.
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