Thursday, April 07, 2005

3-2-1 Contact

So I was watching one of my favorite movies of all time tonight, Contact. And I thought I'd post a transcript of my favorite part of the movie. If you haven't seen the movie, the basic premise is this:

Scientist Elie Arroway (Jodie Foster), who places her faith in the absolute certainties of math and science, spends her career looking into the stars for signs of intelligent life. She receives a signal, which turns out to be a message from near the star Vega. After much decoding and stuff, they discover that its plans for some type of machine that appears to be a transport. So the world goes about building this machine from the schematics embedded in the message.

All along the way, while cultivating a relationship with Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), a theologian/spiritual advisor type, she shows her disdain for those who would believe in a God. "What's more likely?" she asks. "An all-powerful mysterious God created the universe and then decided not to give any proof of his existence, OR, that he simply doesn't exist at all, and we merely created him so we wouldn't have to feel so small and alone." She craves the empirical. Joss replies, "You loved your father, right?"

"Yes, very much," Arroway replies.

"Prove it." A pager saves her from having to find an answer.

So in the end, Arroway travels through the machine, which opens up some sort of wormhole, taking her to Vega, where she has a conversation with the intelligent life, disguised as her dad to make "things easier" on her. She finds out that we are not alone, that there are many civilizations in the universe, and that this process of sending a message and travelling has been going on for billions of years.

The problem arises when she returns. The machine is designed so a small pod falls from a crane, through a bunch of spinning rings that open the wormhole. It appears to everyone else that her pod simply fell straight through, with no trip taking place. So she is left with an amazing story of travelling across the universe, meeting another lifeform, and then being returned with absolutely no proof that her trip ever took place. The world is skeptical, and a commission is formed by the president to get to the bottom of it. The film's conclusion (and my favorite scene) is Dr. Arroway taking the stand before Michael Kitz (Michael Woods), formerly the National Security Advisor.

(Kitz): "Why don't you simply withdraw your testimony and admit that this journey to the center of the universe never took place?"

(Arroway): "Because I can't.

I...I had an experience. I can't prove it, 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 given something wonderful, something that changed me forever. A vision of the universe that tells us undeniably how tiny and insignificant...and rare and precious we all are.

A vision that tells us that 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 humilty and that hope. But....that continues to be my wish."

No one has the luxury of living without faith. We all place our faith in something. The "something" might change, but it's no less amazing whether it's believing that this earth happened by accident, or that we're all here as the intended design of a God who would leave us with no concrete proof that he exists. Why don't we Christians simply withdraw our testimony and concede that He doens't exist, that life is meaningless, and we're all simply a worthless dot in a huge universe.

Hopefully, the answer will be "We can't," and maybe even for the same reasons as Dr. Arroway.