42, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (c)1993 Common Faith Chapel, ULC All
42, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything
(c)1993 Common Faith Chapel, ULC
All Rights Reserved
Rev. Karin Conover-Lewis, D.D.
In Douglas Adam's "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy", a
highly-advanced race of people built a gigantic computer in order to
find the answer to a question. That question was "What is the
answer?" When pressed by the computer to be more specific, they
narrowed the question down to something very simple.
"Deep Thought", they said (that was the name of the computer, you
see) "Deep Thought, what is the meaning of Life, the Universe, and
Everything!?" Well, Deep Thought pondered the question for a moment,
then informed the scientists that they would have to be patient,
because such a question would take a while to work-out; seven-
and-a-half million years, to be precise.
So the Highly Advanced Civilisation waited patiently while Deep
Thought worked on the question, until the momentous day finally
arrived when the Greatest Computer in the Universe was to have the
answer to the Biggest Question in the Universe. The scientists
gathered around, counting down the minutes and seconds, until at
last! With no great fanfare Deep Thought churned and clicked and spit
out the answer to the question which had occupied the minds of an
entire race of people for eons.
"The answer to your question is 42."
Needless to say, the scientists from the Highly Advanced Civilisation
were just a tad put-off by this answer, and began to question the
computational abilities of the Greatest Computer in the Universe.
Deep Thought spoke up. "Perhaps", it said, "Perhaps you didn't ask
the right question".
We ask a lot of questions while we go through our lives, but the
single question that keeps coming back is "why?". "What does it all
mean?". "What is the meaning to Life, the Universe, and
Everything!?". We keep going back to that question; we keep searching
for the answer, because we can't accept that our lives are entirely
without meaning. We can't accept that our lives are entirely without
a purpose. We have to know that it all means *something*, and we want
to know what that *something* is.
We want to know that there is an overall plan to the universe, that
our lives make some sort of sense. We want to know that our lives
will serve some purpose, that some good will come from our being on
this earth for the fraction of a second that we are here. Because if
our lives don't mean anything, then "what is the whole point!?".
This question comes to us most often when we are at our lowest - when
our lives seem to be going compleatly in the wrong direction, when we
seem to have lost all control over what happens to us, when we are in
the depths of despair and we don't think that we can take any more,
when we cry out to God and demand to know "WHY!!???".
But are we truly asking the right question? Are we like Douglas
Adams' scientists, asking vague questions and being annoyed by vague
answers? If we ask questions that have no answers, what should we
expect? Every grade-school child in America knows the answer to that
one... "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer!"
We *know* that our lives have meaning - but exactly what is it? Is it
to grab all the money and posessions that we can, to be the most
successful person that the world has ever seen? Is it power and
glory? Does it all come down to "he who dies with the most toys,
wins"? Okay, but if that's it, then there's no point, because you
can't take it with you!
Well, if we're not here to collect toys, maybe it's something else.
Is the purpose of our lives simply to get to heaven, no matter what
we have to do, no matter how we have to suffer along the way? Are we
living lives where what happens to us after we are dead is more
important than what we do while we are living? Is our only goal in
life not really life at all, but achieving some vague but "guaranteed
to knock your socks off" reward after death?
What's the point of that? Are we really to believe that the entire
universe is set up in a reward and punishment scheme, in which a
person's actions during the 75-or-so years spent on the earth
determine their fate for all eternity? Or, even worse, their actions
don't have any influence in the matter at all - instead it's all
based upon whether or not they subscribe to a particular religion
while they are alive? C'mon... there has to be a better answer than
Well, yes - there is a *much* better answer.
"Ours is the responsibility of conserving, transmitting, rectifying,
and expanding the heritage of values that those who come after us may
receive it more solid and secure, more widely accessible and more
generously shared than we have received it...".
This is the main tenent of the Common Faith. We *do* have a purpose
here, and our lives *do* make a difference. It's not important that
we know the secrets of "the big picture". What comes after this life
will come whether we spend this lifetime worrying about it or not. We
are far better-off to concern ourselves with *this* life, with *this*
world - because that is our primary purpose. That is the reason we
We can have a positive influence on the earth, and make certain
that we leave a better world for our children, or we can have a
negative influence, passing on a world that isn't fit for pond scum.
It is in how we conduct our daily lives that this decision is made -
if we care for the environment, if we take care of the creatures that
share the planet with us, if we treat all of humanity with decency,
with love, and with respect, we will help to make the world better
for those who come after us.
We must refuse to remain silent when we see wrong happening in the
world. When we see people being oppressed, we must do what we can to
prevent it from continuing - in this, our lives have meaning. When
governments lie to their citizens in vain attempts to retain their
power over those people, we must expose the truth - in this, our
lives have meaning. When citizens of any country lay starving in the
streets, racked with sickness and disease, infested with parasites,
we must feed and shelter them - in this, our lives have meaning.
In all that we do, we must look not to reward or punishment, but to
that which is right - that which is truth. We must always strive to
do the right thing, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Only
when we resolve to do that which is truly right, that which is
morally sound, unshaken by any fear of the consequences for our
actions, will we truly find the answer to "Life, the Universe, and
Produced and distributed by
Common Faith Chapel, ULC
Rev. Karin Conover-Lewis, D.D., Pastor
711 W. Colorado Ave, Trinidad, CO 81082
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