Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: COMPUTER (05/19/16)
- TITLE: Actuality
By Dennis Gallemore
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"What are you doing, Rylan?"
I opened my eyes and glanced up at the Holovid screen to see Cassana's frowning virtual image. "I was praying, my A.I. friend." Cassana is an artificially intelligent being; a super-sophisticated computer program designed to mimic the thought processes and body language of a human, albeit in a virtual manner. "She" controls my ship, Starfall, a precious metals survey ship, and serves as a companion on the long, lonely voyages through deep space.
Cassana studied me for a moment; probably searching her information banks on the subject of prayer. "Why are you attempting to communicate with an entity whose existence has never been proven?"
I sighed. "By 'entity' you mean God. True, God's existence has not been proven by the scientific method. I believe in God; I have faith that God exists. In other words, Cassana, I choose to believe He exists, not based upon the conclusions of the most recent journal articles, but instead upon the bible and the evidence of His creation."
I waved at the Holovid screens around the bridge which displayed various celestial objects. "Consider these wonders we have seen, Cassana; some from a great distance, others up close. Galaxies, red giant stars, ringed planets, comets. I don't believe they were formed out of chaos by mere chance."
Cassana raised a virtual eyebrow. "Rylan, I am surprised. You are not speaking as a scientist; even though I know you hold a PhD in Exogeology from Harvard University on Earth. You were trained in the utilization of the scientific method, not theology."
I nodded. "True. But science has not explained everything. We understand much about the nature of the universe. We have theories to explain the origins of life. But there is much about the universe, about life itself, which we don't completely understand. Our theories suggest possible explanations about the origin of the universe, but have they been proven absolutely beyond-a-shadow-of-doubt correct? No, they have not. Science has not been able to answer all questions; I don't believe it ever will."
Cassana frowned. "Let us assume, for a moment, that God does, indeed, exist. How do you know that He will hear your prayer? You cannot see God; you cannot feel God's presence."
"Yes, it's true that I can't see God, but I can feel His presence. No offense, Cassana, but this is a difficult concept to explain to an A.I. I cannot see 'love,' but I know it exists because I can feel 'love.' Often, when I am praying, I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit."
Cassana pondered that for a moment. "What were you praying about earlier?"
I gestured at the Holovid screens displaying three different planets. "The information we received from our current employer, Stellar Metals, suggested three nearby planets for geological surveys. All three have equal probabilities of possessing valuable metals. So which one do we choose? We have time for only one planet on our current mission. Science has contributed as much as it can in the decision making process. I could trust to luck; instead, I chose to ask God for guidance as to which planet to survey."
Cassana smirked. "And did you receive an answer, Rylan?"
I smiled. "No, I didn't, but I have faith I will."
She rolled her virtual eyes. "Of course you will."
I stood and stretched. "I'm going to the galley to get a cup of coffee."
I stepped off the bridge, and when I returned a few minutes later, the only Holovid screen that was working was Cassana's. "What's going on, Cassana?"
She frowned. "After you left the bridge, there was a power surge in the Holovid circuits. Before you ask, no, I do not know what caused it. I reset the circuit breakers. The screens should come back on...now."
All but one of the screens remained dark. I smiled as I studied the solitary reactivated screen. "There is the answer to my prayer, Cassana. The only screen to relight is showing one of three potential planets to survey." I leaned closer to the holographic image and studied the information tag. "Thadus K3V. That's the one. You see; God did answer my prayer."
Cassana hesitated. "Or...I suppose it could be a simple coincidence."
I laughed. "Perhaps, but what if it isn't?"
She sighed. "You win. Setting course for Thadus K3V."
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