In Genesis 2:7, Moses records an epic statement from the Creation:
“And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of LIFE, and the man became a living soul.”
For as long as man can remember, he has been trying to get a handle on this grand, “larger-than-life” concept called “life.” What is it? What is its purpose and meaning? Why are we here?
This question has been debated through the ages; writers have written about it from hundreds of viewpoints; satirists have mocked it in various ways; et cetera.
In fact, in 1979, a nice British chap named Douglas Adams wrote a book entitled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a hilarious science-fiction spoof, full of satire and wit. In his traditional satirical manner, Adams includes some humorous looks at humanity and life.
For instance, in the book, a certain race of sentient beings build a gigantic computer that they called “Deep Thought.” Deep Thought was designed and engineered for one single purpose: to answer the Great Question.
“What is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything?”
When Deep Thought was built and powered on, they asked it the Great Question, and the computer replied that this is a very tough question, and it would take 7½ million years to calculate the answer.
Well, 7½ million years later, the grand day had finally come. Millions upon millions of people were gathered together desperately awaiting the answer. The men responsible for, trained for, and even born for this day, waited on Deep Thought, on the edges of their seats. Deep Thought powers on for the first time in 7½ million years, and informs the men that he had the answer.
“But,” he warned, “you’re not going to like it.”
“The answer to the Great Question… of life, the universe, and everything… is… 42.”
[Insert silent internal calamity, manifested by gape-mouthed, blank stares into nothingness here.]
Despite the point Mr. Adams may have been making by this situation, it seems to this writer that there is an obvious point to be drawn from it: a computer cannot answer the grand question of life (nor can science, by the way—nor anything earthly, for that matter).
Well, Deep Thought having utterly failed to fulfill its purpose, another computer—even bigger and better—had to be built. Whereas Deep Thought was as large as a city, this new computer was so massive it was commonly mistaken to be a planet! They named it, Earth. No one on Earth was aware that it was simply an experimental computer built to, hopefully, help them discover the answer to The Great Question.
In the opening of the sequel, when revisiting this situation, Mr. Adams makes a very interesting statement:
“And this is very odd, because without that fairly simple and obvious piece of knowledge, nothing that ever happened on the Earth could possibly make the slightest bit of sense.”¹
This statement is so true in reality, as well: without the fairly simple piece of knowledge about human existence—about life, the universe, and everything—nothing that ever happens on the Earth could possibly make the slightest bit of sense, indeed.
Philosophers have been meditating upon that question for centuries²:
All of these philosophies have (at least) two things in common:
- They are all subjective.
- They are all wrong.
In truth, there is an objective meaning and purpose to life—and there is but one place to find it:
“His divine power has granted to us ALL THINGS that pertain to LIFE and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” (2 Pet. 1:3,4).
Of all the things we take for granted when it comes to the Bible—the word of Almighty God, the revelation of Yahweh of Hosts—perhaps the number one thing is this: The Bible, and only the Bible, contains the answer to the Ultimate Question of life, the universe, and everything. And, in the words of Douglas Adams:
“Without that fairly simple…piece of knowledge, nothing…could possibly make the slightest bit of sense.”
[In the next installment, we will look to Paul’s brilliant masterpiece of a speech to the Athenians in Acts 17:24ff to form a four-point, “skeleton” outline for man’s purpose in life.]
¹ Douglas Adams. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. New York: Harmony Books, 1980. p. 2. Print. Emp. added.
² “Meaning of Life.” Wikipedia. Web. Accessed 5-10-2015. URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life#Ancient_Greek_philosophy