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2005: Grizzly Man. Werner Herzog’s tragicomic documentary about wildlife nut Timothy Treadwell, eaten in Alaska by the bears he loved, presaged in a freaky way the philosophical conflict that would erupt a couple of years later with the coming of the New Atheists. Treadwell was no punk (“If I show weakness, I’m dead!”), but he looked in the eyes of a bear and beheld a promise of cosmic fidelity. Straight-man Herzog, dourly Germanic, saw only “the cold indifference of nature.” Which side are you on?

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James Parker is an Atlantic contributing editor.

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