“I mean, yes idealism, yes the dignity of pure research, yes the pursuit of truth in all its forms, but there comes a point I’m afraid where you begin to suspect that if there’s any real truth it’s that the entire multi-dimensional infinity of the Universe is almost certainly being run by a bunch of maniacs; and if it comes to a choice between spending another ten million years finding that out or on the other hand just taking the money and running, then I for one could do with the exercise.”– Frankie Mouse, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Legions upon legions of devoted readers of Douglas Adams will have no problem in telling you the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. As calculated by the second greatest computer to have ever existed, also known as Deep Thought, it is 42. The number 42. There is no more complex meaning to life than that. The problem with this, however, is that The Ultimate Question is unknown. For that solution, the greatest computer to have ever existed was built: Earth. After many eons and more random events than could be imagined, the Question was discovered: “What do you get if you multiply six by nine?” as spelled out in Scrabble tiles.
While this is, indeed, both an amusing and fictitious question and answer (also incorrect according to most known methods of multiplication), it poses a reasonable question to any searchers for the meaning of life: what if the meaning of life does not make sense or, worse, offers futility rather than meaning?
We search because we want to know our purpose, to know that we mean something in a universal, not just a local, sense. The problem with searching is always what we might find. If, in fact, the reason for being is not for our own sakes but for some others’ needs or even a cosmic gag, is the search still meaningful itself?