We have come to the end of our God at the Movies series, which has included 4 films on video and 4 films in the movie theater. We even had a church service in a movie theater this year! It has been a great season of seeing how the truth of God’s Word is often echoed in the stories of our culture. Our hearts continually long for the heartbeat of home.
This last God at the Movies post will talk about the movie Contact – which is streaming on Netflix right now. This is one of my favorite movies about science and faith – because it presents a lot of different opinions without putting any (but the extremes) down. Ellie Arroway is a scientist who is looking for extraterrestrial life by listening for radio signals in outer space. She does not believe in God. Throughout the movie she encounters Palmer Joss, a religious advisor who is a friend and challenges her disbelief in God. Though there are many other characters in the movie, these two really drive home the main message of the movie. They have some conversations about God – she doubts God exists and says people make God up because they “need” Him. Palmer counters that Ellie can’t “prove” she loved her father, but she still knows that she loved him.
Ellie eventually hears a message from space. A code is deciphered in the message that shows how to make a transportation capsule. Ellie is eventually chosen to go in the capsule and makes contact with the “aliens” – but when she comes back to earth there is no proof of her visit. No time has elapsed (though there are 18 hours of static on her video camera), and she is challenged to prove her experience to the public. She can’t, and can only share what she has experienced and ask the world to accept her word – on faith. Palmer, her friend, stands up for her.
The movie is showing two main things. First, it shows how science and faith can exist together, even though there is tension. This tension is heightened by extreme views on both sides, and by those seeking only to exploit for the sake of power. Still, the friendship of Palmer and Ellie shows that science and faith can be bedfellows. Second, the movie portrays the journey of faith for someone who does not believe in God. She doesn’t end the movie believing in God, but she experiences the reality of living with faith, and having an experience of truth that is beyond scientific facts. This is an important movie to watch to understand how people of faith can be friends with those who reject God, and how our friendship can encourage them to pursue truth.
As for me, I believe that science and faith are not enemies. All truth is God’s truth. Science uses a very specific method for gathering and testing knowledge, and this is very important. I see scientific evidence for God, including creation and cause and effect. Science is not the only knowledge, though, as evidenced by logic, beauty, and love, among others. God is revealed in logic and math, and in the wonder of nature and beauty, and of course in love and relationships. May we continue to pursue God and His truth. And may we walk with those who are struggling to experience His love.