Tolkien declared that the Lord of the Rings had a strong religious component. I wonder what his views were on divine intervention and free will. He gave Frodo free will during his quest. Frodo displayed free will (of a sort) when he chose not to destroy the ring. Was it divine intervention that spared Gollum to be there to fight for the ring, find it, bite the finger off and then miraculously fall into the chasm. When Gandalf decreed that many live who deserve death and many die that deserve life and asked who was to decide was he acknowledging a higher authority. When he decreed that Gollum may yet have a role to play was he acknowledging that we as humans have no idea what faces us in the masterplan. Being an atheist and a humanist I disagree with this philosopy but since we are discussing Tolkien and his work this is appropriate since he was such a devout Christian-Harad: To resort to interventions from deities is the last result of people at the end of their logical rope. Even JRRT rejected active intervention from deities in his books, until there was no other hope. If you think the deities micromanaged decisions by the characters--Aragorn deciding to go East or West--then you have thrown free-will out the window.
Harad- Sorry to start this under a new thread but I knew that you and Goro would respond and I did not want to change the direction of the other thread. Thanks for understanding, Strider.