I just watched Contact again with Pita. I came to the realization that what Ellie (Jodie Foster) experienced allowed her to understand the grounding of Johnson’s (Matthew McConaughey) beliefs. Johnson was a person who had a faith in God from his experience. He had experienced something God-like first hand, giving him his faith. Ellie could never understand the way he arrived to this belief, since she hadn’t experienced the same thing. To her, everything was just a delusion.
Yet by the end of the movie, she experiences communication with another life-form. No one believes her, because she has no proof. She is put in the same situation that she puts Johnson in; the question of faith based on experience. And as she had no proof of the experience with extra terrestrials, much like Johnson has no proof about God, she is mocked.
It is understandable that Ellie was skeptical about Johnson’s belief. In the end, however, she comes to the understanding about the way people arrive at their beliefs. That no one can truly challenge them, because not everyone has been through the same experiences.
I used follow Ellie’s beliefs in the beginning of the movie. Beliefs such as needing empirical evidence to believe in God, and that God does not exist because there has been no evidence. Now I have come to understand that although I haven’t experienced him yet, it doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future. I now believe that I have no idea whether God exists or not, and that the answer may be revealed to me later on. It’s not atheist, it’s not theist, it’s not agnostic. It was something that took me a while to understand.
And yet I understand nothing.