Is the Force just a natural thing in that galaxy that is passed down genetically, or do the 'ones' choose who has the Force? Luke inherits his Force ability from Anakin, but what is the case when a Force sensitive child is born into a non-Force sensitive family? Also, how does that Jedi holocron in The Clone Wars tell the Jedi where the Force sensitive children are?

Canon answers are what I'm looking for, but I am open to any Legends explanations.

  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/38569/51379 – Adamant Jan 8 '17 at 17:15
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    It’s clearly hereditary to some extent (e.g., there’s a correlation between one family member having the Force and another having it), but that doesn’t necessarily make it genetic. For example, family members could both be the victims of a midi-chlorian infestation, or could both have been, as you say, chosen by the Force for some reason. – Adamant Jan 8 '17 at 17:17
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    Honestly, it may be that most Force-sensitive individuals are not related to other Force-sensitive individuals. We have three prominent cases of Force-sensitive families (Luke/Anakin/Kylo, Talzin/Maul/Oppress, Tiplee/Tiplar), but most of the other Jedi/Sith seem to have come from families without any other Force-sensitive individuals of note. Unfortunately, what little evidence we have suggests a strong heritability of Force-sensitivity, which is a bad thing for mathematical/evolutionary coherence, but what can one do? – Adamant Jan 8 '17 at 17:20
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    Somewhere on StackExchange is a discussion about how genetics work in the Harry Potter Universe - i.e.: how can a wizard be born to muggle parents (like Hermione). I'd suggest reading that, because it probably works the same in Star Wars. That is, everyone has the potential, but only a few get that genetic marker switched on, and its mostly random. We can't look to the Skywalkers for this because apparently Anakin was created by the force, so he doesn't count. – Tim Jan 8 '17 at 20:46
  • @Tim - Genes are not the problem, it's the extent of heredity. Something that has a high rate of heredity and gives a selection advantage tends to dominate on an evolutionary timescale. – Adamant Jan 9 '17 at 2:45

At some point in their life (gestation?), force sensitives gain midi-chlorians in sufficient quantities

Yup, everybody's favorite part of Star Wars: the midi-clorians. And we learn about them in everybody's favorite movie: Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

All living cells have mid-chlorians in them.

"Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells." –Qui-Gon Jinn

And it is through midi-chlorians that life can exist and connect with the Force.

"Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you'll hear them speaking to you." –Qui-Gon Jinn

The fact that midi-chlorians are the basis of life is affirmed in the StarWars.com Databank entry for the "Force Planet" that they originated from:

Not marked on any star map and not recognized with any specific name, the Force planet is a mystical world and the foundation of life itself. It is the birthplace of the midi-chlorians, microscopic organisms that connect the living Force to the cosmic Force.

Having lots of midi-chlorians means that you are stronger with the Force, and is characteristic of the Jedi.

Obi-Wan: The reading's off the chart...over twenty thousand. […] Even Master Yoda doesn't have a midi-chlorian count that high!

Qui-Gon: No Jedi has.

Putting this together, everybody has midi-chlorians in their cells (that's why there is life), but you are only force-sensitive if you have them in sufficient quantities. The more you have, the stronger you are in the force.

Given that being strong in the Force is hereditary (e.g. Anakin is strong, and so are his children Luke and Leia, and grandson Ben), I'm going to use Occam's Razor and suggest that it is their genetic makeup that determines the number of midi-chlorians their cells can support. Just like how a child's hair color is determined from the genes of their parents, so too is the amount of midi-chlorians that their cells can support. This is similar to the genetics of magical ability in the Harry Potter universe.

Because midi-chlorians are necessary for life, it seems that they are present when life begins. The simplest explanation of how they get into the cells is that they enter from the mother during the gestation period.

To answer a few of your questions:

Do the 'Ones' choose who has the Force?

There is no evidence that the Ones grant Force abilities to every force-sensitive person in the Galaxy, even if they have the ability to do so with people who they actually meet (genetic engineering?). Given that most people are unaware of their existence, but midi-chlorians are well known, it seems unlikely that they are hands-on with every force-sensitive person in the Galaxy.

Luke inherits his Force ability from Anakin, but what is the case when a Force sensitive child is born into a non-Force sensitive family?

Likely that they got the genetic makeup that resulted in a high number of midi-chlorians (see similar answers to How do Muggle-borns end up with magical ability?). Note that despite being twins (same parents, same prenatal environment), Luke was much stronger in the Force than Leia. This suggests that Luke's genetic makeup resulted in cells that could support more midi-chlorians than Leia's genetic makeup.

Also, how does that Jedi holocron in The Clone Wars tell the Jedi where the Force sensitive children are?

That's unfortunately a mystery. However, the fact that one can scientifically examine the number of midi-chlorians (Qui-Gon did it through a blood test on Anakin) means that it is theoretically possible for some advanced technology to detect midi-chlorians at a distance.

  • Great answer, but I'm still hung up somewhat on the throwaway line "Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist." This implies that these micro-organisms are responsible for all life existing in the SW universe? Either on an individual cell-by-cell basis, or perhaps QGJ meant as a general origin to life in the universe? Mysterious, this is. Too bad it got hated on so hard George never bothered to explain it further. – TVann Jan 10 '17 at 22:51
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    @TVann In The Clone Wars TV series, Yoda discovered the "Force Planet" where the midi-chlorians originated. The StarWars.com Databank entry says that "the Force planet is a mystical world and the foundation of life itself. It is the birthplace of the midi-chlorians." So yes, all life in the Star Wars Universe came from the mid-chlorians. – Thunderforge Jan 10 '17 at 22:57
  • I don't mind the midichlorians. They give us an arbitrary measure of someone's force abilities, and allow us to have these discussions on Stack Exchange – Mikasa Apr 17 '17 at 0:13
  • @MikasaPinata I think measuring midi-chlorians gives insight into someone's potential force ability, but not their actual ability. There is the whole training component as well. – Thunderforge Apr 17 '17 at 0:16
  • @Thunderforge well-reasoned. I agree entirely; it's the same reason Leia could communicate with + sense Luke through the force but could not lift objects with her mind: lack of training. Now we have to wait and see how/if Rey's parentage effects this at all: instant Jedi mind tricks – Mikasa Apr 17 '17 at 0:19

The force has a great analogy in the "Star Wars The Clone Wars" TV show - In season 3 Episode 15 (episode plot here).

The episode takes place on Mortis (desc. here) where Obi-Wan and Anakin crash. It shows the force being 3 entities, a family. The daughter is the light side of the force, the son is the Dark side and the father keeps the balance between them - never letting either of them overpower the other.

They each have free will to give their force powers to those who they deem worthy or fit to use them. This is how people got the force in the first place and how non force-sensitive families get force sensitive children (and how Anakin was born). It also is Hereditary within families which is why Anakin's descendants are so powerful with the force.

  • The episode is more of a metaphor. The force comes through midi-chloriens specifically like shown in the answer above me. But the ones still give power as explained in the episode – Mason Voxland Jan 9 '17 at 22:13

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