Discovering truth in popular culture brings me immense joy. I recently finished listening to Stephen Fry read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. A seriously funny book. Granted, if you don’t get British humor and don’t find dry sarcasm funny, you may not enjoy it.
If you like sharp wit with a heaping side of silly, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is for you.
But this isn’t a book review. As I was listening/reading this amazing book, I had a bit of a revelation. I’m a proponent of keeping your brain turned on all the time, especially as a Christ-follower, so whenever there’s an opportunity to connect truth with popular culture, I’m all over it.
You found Jesus in a Douglas Adams book?
I sure did. Or at least, I realized something amazing about Jesus while I was listening to Stephen Fry’s dulcet tones.
In case you don’t know anything about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it’s a ridiculous, random adventure of a man name Arthur Dent. He’s a relatively plain sort of guy, an everyman kind of character, until Earth is accidentally demolished by aliens building an intergalatic transway.
It happens, you know?
Well, in one of the rather lengthy bits of history and trivia that make this book an absolute riot, we learn the story of Deep Thought, the second most intelligent computer ever devised. People created Deep Thought in order to ask it the only question that ever mattered: “What is the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything?”
Deep Thought agreed to ponder the question for about 7.5 million years, which was what it required to do the calculations. The scientists who created Deep Thought agreed, and it was passed down for generation to generation to wait on Deep Thought for its answers.
And because Douglas Adams can do a better job of this than I can, here’s a snippet from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when Deep Thought provided the answer to life, the universe, and everything:
“All right,” said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.
“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”
“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.
“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.
“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”
– The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
You heard it here, folks. The ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42.
Doesn’t make sense?
Check out Deep Thought’s explanation:
“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”
Now there are scores of folks who have deep, intense theories about what 42 actually means, that Douglas Adams had a real reason behind that particular answer. And if you’d like, please feel free to share what you know in the comments. But this is what occurred to me while I was listening to this familiar interchange.
If you ask a Christ-follower to identify the answer to life, the universe, and everything, he (or she) will probably tell you that it’s Jesus. At least, they should. But what kind of sense does that even make? Let’s just be honest here. How would that conversation even go?
“What is the meaning of life?”
That would be a conversation stopper right there. It makes no sense. How can the meaning of life revolve around a person you can’t even see with your own two eyes? How can the meaning of the universe be connected to someone who lived thousands of years ago? And the meaning of everything has to be bigger than just one name, doesn’t it?
Let me submit then what Deep Thought had to say in response: “I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”
What is the question anyway?
For me, the question is purpose. Does my life have meaning? What do I have to do for my life to matter? So, if that’s the ultimate question, Jesus makes sense.
Because with Jesus, you can do anything. With Jesus, nothing is impossible. With Jesus, you have access to all the power of God through His name, and you get to be part of a much larger story that is still being written. A story that will last forever.
It’s not an earth-shattering revelation. It’s just one of those warm, fuzzy moments you get when you find truth in an unexpected source. One thing’s certain, I’ll never think of the number 42 the same way again.