I was looking for early reviews of the film adaption of The Golden Compass, but have not found anything yet. Instead, I found this article decrying the film and the "insidious" possibility that the movie might lead children to read Philip Pullman's book, which promotes atheism and is resolutely anti-Christian.
I came upon The Golden Compass based on a recommendation by Christopher Hitchens (he recommends Pullman in this mixed review of Deathly Hallows (a book I enjoyed)). I picked up the book immediately and fell in love with the His Dark Materials series, which mixes fantasy, physics, and religion in a provocative and sprawling manner.
Since I first heard of the film adaption, I have been anticipating a backlash. I don't mind Christians taking issue with Pullman, or warning people that Pullman portrays Christianity as evil. However, I am disturbed by the idea that the film is dangerous because it could lead children to read the books.
One of the primary tenets of the series is an insistence on intellectual freedom and the book attack the Church for limiting that freedom. If you are afraid of people investigating the atheist ideas promoted in book, aren't you playing right into Pullman's criticism?
I guess you could say that Pullman could "tempt" and "mislead" people away from the "Truth" and from holiness and, as a result, warn people off the book. But, it also betrays a fear that ideas underpinning faith in a Christian God are so thin that exposure of these ideas to forceful attack might undermine people's faith. Of course, that is how the Church is portrayed in His Dark Materials, afraid of ideas and of where exposure of these ideas to the world might lead.
I have always believed that if your ideas can't survive thorough criticism and examination, then you may want to consider new ideas. Christians should be encouraging people to read The Golden Compass. If you are strong in your faith, you should easily be able to dismiss Pullman's arguments and provide counter-arguments.
In addition, I have problems with books and movies being attacked for promoting atheism. The Chronicles of Narnia promotes readership of the Bible, watching Schindler's List may promote interest in Judaism, watching Kundun may promote interest in Buddhism, and watching Malcolm X might promote interest in Islam. I never heard attacks on these films for these reasons. Why is atheism so different?