Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide, God

My posts are usually about the Bible, Messianic Judaism, Second Temple Jewish Literature, theology, Israel, and so on. And in some ways this is a theological topic. But I thought I would muse on some fiction reading I am doing right now and how it relates to the question of God, creation, evolution, and so on.

We’ll have more coming in days ahead on Jewish apocalyptic writings and on the Remnant of Israel.

When I was in high school I read Douglas Adams’ wildly popular Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a wacky sci-fi comedy trilogy. I am no Douglas Adam’s expert. I don’t read Douglas Adams websites or critical reviews or any of the like. So I may be somewhat off base here. If there are any Douglas Adams fans or experts reading this, please chime in and correct me or let me know if I am somewhat on track.

I am now reading another Douglas Adams novel: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a sort of mystery/sci-fi comedy.

Now, as I read Adams, he is a firm believer in evolution, the accident of life, probably atheism, and the meaningless and absurdity of life. Adams is sort of a laughing nihilist, using comedy and absurdity as a sort of explanation for the meaningless and uncertainty of it all. His novels are full of wacky explorations of the implications of relativity and the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics (which I know only a little about as an almost engineer who went to Georgia Tech for two years right out of high school before changing completely to theology and Bible).

Adams, it seems to me, is more honest than most. There is a growing popularity in atheism today, the greatest light of said movement being Christopher Hitchens in my mind (Hitchens is a superb writer and I admire his stuff even when I frequently disagree).

The atheist writers I peruse on the Borders book shelves seem to me to be a little overly optimistic about life considering it is, in their philosophy, meaningless from beginning to end. Adams seems to realize this and sort of laughs at the absurdity, perhaps an existentialist grasping at meaning in the void. If you don’t know what I mean, read Dirk Gently, which will be shorter than the trilogy known as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And here is where I get to my point: we live in a culture in love with the idea of evolution but unwilling to accept the consequences. I saw this strongly when I read a wonderful little piece in the Dirk Gently novel.

In this scene, Dirk Gently, part detective and part para-normal expert, is trying to open the mind of his friend, Richard MacDuff, to the reality of supernatural things. Richard has just discovered the possibility of alien life hidden on earth and a time machine. Yet he refuses to believe in the possibility of a ghost. Dirk gives him a short little speech:

Richard, I commend you on your skepticism, but even the skeptical mind must be prepared to accept the unacceptable when there is no alternative. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we have to at least consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anitadae on our hands.

See what I mean? A lot of people are open to some kinds of supernatural ideas and closed to the idea of God and creation. But take Dirk’s advice. Don’t insist on pure rationalism when life cannot be explained merely with reason. Accept the unacceptable and call a duck a duck.

Now, I regularly hear in the media people laughing at all who believe in God and looking down on us poor believers as intellectually challenged dimwits. But intelligence really has nothing to do with any of it. PhD’s at various universities believe amazingly diverse things, some whacko enough they deserve to be thrown in Arkum Asylum.

Our presuppositions have a lot to do with whether we find naturalism, ghosts, UFO’s, or the Bible’s account of creation more credible.

But, hat’s off to you Douglas Adams (died 2001), for some great advice. I will not insist on the purely rational. Life isn’t that simple.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Atheism, Messianic Jewish, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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