I would have never guessed that a passably good science fiction movie would be connected to once of the most meaningful and forcefully moving books that I have ever read, despite the the fact that it strains my credulity that any being, god or no, could design π to have messages in it.
And it seems only for analogical convenience that The Five wound up with no hard evidence you'd expect from an alien civilization wanting to make their intentions clear, precisely the same objection levelled earlier in the book against god. ("why aren't the 10 commandments carved in the moon?" or something) Why indeed hadn't the aliens been more obvious? Why didn't they make it ridiculously plain that the machine wasn't a hoax? Why did it behave almost as if broken?
But despite the whining about plot holes, (and maybe even my liking of the book is a stronger claim for existing despite them) Sagan's yearning, for the numinous, for the contemplation of the central mystery of the fact that we are here in the universe at all, for the resolution for the deep loneliness of humankind is so present every chapter and page and passage. It is the thing which religion is about, but his point, I think, is that it is a thing unto itself, properly apart from religion. It is to be alive, to fear, to love, to think, to doubt, to look, curious and thirsty, at the sky and stars, to stare until your eyes unfocus and fill with tears, and to fall on your knees in awe.