So I have entered an alternative ending, well near the ending, to the SciFi movie Contact (1997), one of my favourite films. The film is based on Carl Sagan’s book of the same name (1985). A SETI scientist, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine that would enable humans to contact them.
Near the end of the film, after the apparent failure of the machine, which carried the protagonist, Dr. Eleanor Arroway (played by Jodie Foster), is grilled by a Congressional investigation. During this grilling, Michael Kitz, the National Security Advisor (played by James Wood), asks her if she believes in God (the conflict between science and religion and the existence of God is a sub-theme in the film). She prevaricates and indicates that she has insufficient information on the matter.
This always seemed to me to a lost opportunity to bring the conflict between believers and non-believers to a focus. So my alternative is that, when Alloway is asked that question, one that was gratuitous in the circumstances (it had nothing to do with her report and the operation of the machine), she responds with a question of her own, viz: ‘Which god would that be?’ Kitz has made three unjustified assumptions all at once, and scientists always question assumptions. He assumed that there is only one god, that we all know who that god is and that every believer worships that god. Indeed, ‘In God we trust’ was adopted as the official motto of the US in 1956, replacing ‘E pluribus unum’, which was adopted when the Great Seal was created and adopted in 1782. Since 1957, ‘In God we trust’ has also appeared on all US banknotes. However, nowhere is that god defined. It might be a reference to the god of the Bible and Jesus, but that would be an assumption. So Alloway’s new response is entirely justified.
My alternative screenplay continues with a theological debate between Kitz and Alloway, where Kitz’s ignorance becomes obvious and the session breaks up in confusion, with the audience getting a glimpse of the stance of scientists, most of whom are non-religious, and a government playing lip-service to an ill-defined religion. The alien in the film, in the shape of Alloway’s dead father, showed no hint of a belief in any god.
The deadline for entries to the competition is 4 September and have to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.