The premise of the whole Hitchhikers series is that Earth gets destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Earthling Arthur Dent is rescued from his home in England by an intergalatic hitchhiker named Ford Prefect (a little piece of British humor ... the Ford Prefect was a car marketed by Ford in the UK). The series is classic British humor set in a theater of the absurd, yet in the midst of all the silliness, Adams actually made some incisive commentary on the human condition.
42 becomes the answer to "life, the universe and everything" when a group of humans asks the supercomputer named "Deep Thought" the question: "What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?" Deep Thought takes millions of years to work on this question and, when he finally discloses the answer to the descendants of the original questioners (after warning them they wouldn't like the answer), he announces, "The answer to life ... the universe ... and everything is ..... forty-two!" Needless to say, this causes great consternation among those who are now responsible for announcing this great discovery. Those hearing this answer are sure it is wrong, but Deep Thought assures them he has done all the calculations correctly. Deep Thought tells them there is nothing wrong with the answer, the problem is they do not know the question!
BTW, if you want to know for sure, here's the answer to the same question according to Google.
The older I get, the more appreciation I have for asking the right questions. I care less about answers these days. Answers are cheap and everyone claims to have one (even if they don't understand the question themselves).
In the movie Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, a young Orthodox rabbi, says he has no easy answers about evil in light of the attacks of 9/11. He says the following in response to the question: Have people asked you where God was on Sept. 11? How do you answer that?
I think that's the point. We won't have the answers, we aren't meant to have it all worked out. We're meant to live with the ambiguity of the questions and perhaps some plausible options ... perhaps. Living with questions takes more faith than living with answers.
... Yes, since Sept. 11, people keep asking me, "Where was God?" And they think because I'm a rabbi, I have answers. ...
There is a part of me that wants to yell back at them, "What? You're asking now? Why now? Why didn't you ask about Bosnia or Rwanda or Hiroshima or gas chambers and concentration camps or go back through all of human history? I don't understand. Now you're asking 'Where was God?' How many people go to bed hungry every night in the richest country in the world? And now you're asking about 'Where is the God of justice?'"
I don't mean to demean their question, so I always have to kind of check myself, go back and try and understand. What they are looking for is what all of us are looking for: some way to let real life, with the pain, not blow us apart -- probably a bad use of terms. We're all looking for that.
I guess the most important part of that conversation is to begin to identify how all of us are looking for that, rather than use some notion of God or some doctrine or some religion to provide easy answers, when we know deep down they don't really exist. So I can make someone feel good for 10 minutes doing the stuff I don't believe. But I know, and they know, that 10 minutes later, the same questions come flooding back. ...
I actually think that my job as a rabbi is to help them live with those questions. ...