The following reflection is by Fr.Tom Cahill
The world’s fastest computer makes 1,759 trillion calculations per second. Though faster than any human brain for calculating, it can’t do the mundane problem-solving that Joe Soap does daily. Neither can it calculate what the important things in life are. Such things as meaning, purpose, destiny, friendship, service and love. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t have a mind of its own. But even humans with a mind of their own don’t always calculate correctly either.
Take the prodigal son in today’s Gospel. (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32) He has a mind of his own, but focused on himself. If ‘garbage in garbage out’ is the techno mantra for computers, then ‘selfish in, selfish out’ is the moral mantra for people. The father knows this, yet allows his son the freedom to act selfishly. Rather like God with us. If we don’t use our head we’ll suffer for it. Unfortunately, often so too will others. The father can object to his son’s demand, but doesn’t. He acknowledges that his son is a free agent. So he gets his way. Not surprisingly, it’s the way to disaster. Back he comes to his father the wiser for a lesson that only life can teach him.
Wisdom doesn’t come from machines, even from supercomputers that use 147,456 processors to simulate just 1 per cent of the human brain. The director of America’s National Science Foundation claims that supercomputers ‘let you get closer to the truth.’ Good to know! Yet even better is to know that when you accept God’s word without calculation you find real truth even more quickly.