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Need for Faith

In the 1997 film, Contact, Dr. Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster, is a radio astronomer trying to fulfill a lifelong quest to discover life on other worlds. The death of her parents, especially her father when she was young, contributed to her rejection of God and her staunch athiesm. Her love interest in the film is religious scholar Palmer Joss, played by Matthew McConaughey.

Ellie challenges Palmer, "Is there an all-powerful, mysterious God that created the universe, but left us no proof of his existence? Or, is there simply no God, and we created him so we wouldn't feel so alone?"

Palmer responds, "Did you love your father?"

Ellie answers, "Yes. Very Much."

"Prove it." Before Ellie can respond, they are suddenly interrupted.

Later in the film, radio telescopes pick up a message from space, a plan to build a machine to "transport" one person to make contact with the alien beings. After a long series of events the machine is built, and Ellie is the one chosen to go. She is transported through a wormhole—a tunnel through space and time. She finds herself on a beach where an alien being appears, having taken the form of her late father so she could feel more comfortable. The alien being tells her that they also are searching for the meaning of life, and that while man is not ready to join the other alien civilizations, this is a first small step.

She is then transported back to the machine and to earth, but in real time—mission control had not observed her to be gone at all. With no proof of her fantastic experience, she must convince the world and an international review panel that she experienced something real. One of the panel members asks her, "Should we take this all on faith?"

The tables have been turned. Now she must explain the need for faith: "I had an experience I can't prove," she says. "I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real. I was part of something wonderful, something that changed me forever, a vision of the universe that tells us undeniably how tiny and insignificant, and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not—that none of us are alone. I wish I could share that. I wish that everyone, if even for one moment, could feel that awe, and humility, and hope."

Elapsed time: The first scene, measured from the Warner Brothers logo, runs from 1:13-1:15 (with some irrelevant lines omitted), and the second scene runs from 2:09-2:18.

Content: The film is based on the novel by the late scientist and athiest Carl Sagan. In this film he gives equal treatment to the need for faith and the search for truth by both science and religion. The movie is rated PG. There is some mild offensive language and one scene of sensuality.

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