Douglas Noël Adams (March 11, 1952 - May 11, 2001) was a cult British comic dramatist, amateur musician and author, most notably of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of radio and television shows and books.
Adams was a self-declared "radical atheist", though he used the term for emphasis, so that he would not be asked if he in fact meant agnostic. He stated in an interview with American Atheists that this made things easier, but most importantly that it conveyed the fact that he really meant it, had thought about it a great deal, and that it was an opinion he held seriously. He was convinced that there is no God, having never seen one shred of evidence to convince him otherwise, and devoted himself instead to secular causes such as environmentalism. Despite this, he did state in the same interview that he was "fascinated by religion." [...] "I love to keep poking and prodding at it. I’ve thought about it so much over the years that that fascination is bound to spill over into my writing." His fascination he ascribed to the fact that so many "otherwise rational... intelligent people... nevertheless take it [the existence of God] seriously".
Adams is credited with introducing a fan and later friend of his, the zoologist Richard Dawkins, to Dawkins' future wife, Lalla Ward, who had played the part of Romana in a number of episodes of the Doctor Who television series.
". . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, `This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for."
- — As quoted in Richard Dawkins's Eulogy for Douglas Adams
"So, I was already familiar with and (I’m afraid) accepting of, the view that you couldn’t apply the logic of physics to religion, that they were dealing with different types of ‘truth’. (I now think this is baloney, but to continue...) What astonished me, however, was the realization that the arguments in favor of religious ideas were so feeble and silly next to the robust arguments of something as interpretative and opinionated as history. In fact they were embarrassingly childish. They were never subject to the kind of outright challenge which was the normal stock in trade of any other area of intellectual endeavor whatsoever. Why not? Because they wouldn’t stand up to it."
Adams' fascination with religion was evident in much of his writing.
The Babel Fish
In the original The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, we are introduced to the Babel Fish, a small, yellow, leech-like creature that, if placed in your ear, will instantly translate anything said to you in any form of language.
- Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
- The argument goes something like this: "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
- "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."
- "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
- "Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
The Great Prophet Zarquon
In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, we are introduced to The Church of the Great Prophet Zarquon, who have been waiting for Zarquon's second coming. Zarquon (who obviously parallels Jesus) appears just moments before the end of the universe, and all he has time to say is: "Er, how are we for time? Have I just got a min-"
God's final message
In So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish, the fourth book of five, in the horribly misnamed The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, God's Final Message to His Creation is...
"WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE".
The two main characters of the book, Arthur Dent and Fenchurch, upon reading the message, are filled with a profound sense of peace, calm, and understanding: "Well, that's alright, then."
Entirely accurate dating technique
"And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change..." --The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy