In the movie Contact, Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster has to face a problem she has with her beliefs. Throughout the film Ellie doesn’t know how people can believe in something without any real proof. Without evidence of the existence of a god Ellie is unable to believe in a god. At one point in the movie, when Ellie is talking to Palmer Joss, a theologian, and explains to him a scientific theory called Occam’s Razor which states the simplest solution is usually the correct one. Using this theory Ellie asks Palmer what would be the simpler solution: a higher being creating everything and then leaving no proof of their existence, or the creation of the world being coincidental. She asks him if it is possible that humans invented the idea of a creator to give them some kind of purpose and make them feel as if they are not alone in the world. Palmer responds by asking Ellie to provide proof that she loved her father to show that some things can be true but can’t be proven.
Later in the movie, Ellie is forced to see her dilemma from the other side. After she experiences a trip to visit an alien civilization she can provide no evidence of her trip. To the observers on Earth her trip appeared to be a failure and they were only out of contact with Ellie for a fraction of a second. However, Ellie had memories of eighteen hours of experiences. The other scientists tried to prove to her that she hadn’t gone anywhere, but she continued to believe she had. Dr. Arroway had to appear in front of a committee to explain her side of the story and she admitted that in their position she wouldn’t believe the story either but she couldn’t back down from her beliefs. It was suggested that S.R. Haden could have set up the whole thing to have something he would be responsible for after he had died.
In the end, Ellie understands that despite there being no proof for something people will believe in it because of their experiences. She could not deny her experience because to her it was factual and she had proof of it because she had experienced it, while to everyone else they had proof that it didn’t happen because they had experienced the capsule falling straight through, giving them proof that Ellie hadn’t traveled anywhere. When Ellie was sitting in front of the committee of people, telling them what she had done, she understood how Palmer and others could continue their belief in God. She saw that they had all the proof they needed because of their experiences and they didn’t question what they believed because to them it was factual. Ellie knew that her encounter with the alien in the form of her father was fact in this same way.
Because of the mysterious nature of religions there is no proof that they are either true or fictional. It is possible that they are, as Ellie said, completely fictional and made up by people to give themselves a purpose and make them feel less alone. However, it is also entirely possible that religions are completely true and some higher being created everything. The faith people have in their religions is all the proof they need that they are true. As Palmer Joss, revealed it is not possible to prove to someone that you love someone, but it is possible to prove to yourself that you love someone and that same method of proof can be used for people to prove to themselves that their religion is true.