I try to take on Big Questions on this site, so it was inevitable that I would have to take on the meaning of life at some point. And give an answer.

It’s a philosophical toughie. It’s the hardest possible essay question on The Final Exam.

According to existentialism, each man and each woman creates the meaning of his and her life. Life is not determined by a supernatural god or an earthly authority.

Of course, philosophies often evolve into religions.

In the Judaic world view, the meaning of life is to elevate the physical world and prepare it for the world to come. Christianity has its roots in Judaism’s ontology, but its central beliefs come from the teachings of Jesus Christ, as presented in the New Testament. As with Judaism, life’s purpose is to prepare for the next life. I this case, by seeking divine salvation through the grace of God and intercession of Christ.

In Islam, man’s ultimate life objective is to worship the creator Allah by abiding by the Divine guidelines revealed in the Qur’an and the Tradition of the Prophet. Once again, our life on earth is just a test that determines one’s afterlife. Like Christianity, that afterlife can be Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannam (Hell).

Even Wikipedia offers a page on the meaning of life. In fact, the question is so incomprehensibly big that it not only requires serious study, but invites humorous, throw-up-your-hands reactions too.

In Douglas Adams‘ popular series Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there is an answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” The answer is “42.” This was obtained after seven and a half million years of calculation by a giant supercomputer called Deep Thought.

The public is not satisfied with this answer, even if it is correct. The supercomputer explains that “I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is. I agree.

Adams continued the story and he suggested that the question was actually correctly asked by Bob Dylan: “How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?”  Is that a reference to reincarnation?

In another of Adams’ books, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, he writes that the question is “What is 6×9?”   Yes, 6 x 9 = 54 – but only if you re using base 10.  In base 13, it does equal 42. So…

The Monty Python troupe made a film titled The Meaning of Life.  At the end of the film, a character played is handed an envelope containing “the meaning of life.” When he opens it, he tells the audience that “It’s nothing very special. Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

But these answers (and questions) may not satisfy your old philosophical or spiritual seeking.

Then, I turn to The Simpsons.

homer-godUnfortunately for all of us, in the episode (“Homer the Heretic“) where God finally agrees to tell Homer the meaning of life, the show’s credits begin to roll just as he starts to say what it is. D’oh!