The Intellectual Dark Web is a dumb name. I feel silly just typing it. I keep waiting for a new name to be coined but, until then, I guess we’re stuck with it.
The Intellectual Dark Web is neither as nefarious nor silly as it sounds. What it means is also a bit ambiguous. The term was invented by Eric Weinstein, one of the founding members of the informal club, with I imagine his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. Bari Weiss introduced the world to this group with her piece in the New York Times Opinion section. It is well worth the read and, frankly, you may find it difficult to follow the new few paragraphs if you’re unfamiliar with who these people are and what they represent.
I will try to be brief. The Intellectual Dark Web is a term used to describe a group of men and women who are combating the hegemony of progressive thought in popular media. They are heretics of the popular culture. Eric Weinstein’s brother, Bret Weinstein was run out of Evergreen State College because he objected to the idea of a “Day of Absence” where white people were not allowed on campus. Dave Rubin left the progressive YouTube channel “The Young Turks” after it was clear TYT was ideologically driven. Rubin has started his own YouTube channel “The Rubin Report” which has become popular in its own right. Joe Rogan is a comedian, UFC sportscaster, and TV show host who is now most known for his incredibly popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Ben Shapiro is a Jewish conservative who runs the now immense The Daily Wire conservative news website and a daily podcast aptly named The Ben Shapiro show. Other figures associated with the I.D.W are Sam Harris (yes, that Sam Harris), the indomitable Jordan B. Peterson (whom Christians have already claimed as their own, even if he is not), and the feminist Christina Hoff Sommers.
What these figures from widely diverse backgrounds, religions (or lack-there-of), and ideologies have in common? They are all working to combat Progressive ideology. Many of the members of the I.D.W. come from the Left side of the political spectrum. Those who do each have a testimony of when they realized Progressivism was a religious ideology that demanded total submission to its tenants. The term to describe such experiences has been called being “red pilled” (a reference to the scene in The Matrix when Neo chose to take the pill that would wake him up to the real world).
What Does This Have To Do with Apologetics?
Let’s make something clear: The progressives, the intellectual and political Left, both in media and those holding political office, want as little religious freedom as possible. They want Christianity expelled from the public square, 501(c)(3) tax exempt status removed from churches and universities, bakers/florists/photographers who refuse to cater gay weddings either fined out of business or jailed, homeschool outlawed, and pastors censored or jailed. This is not fear-mongering. This is already happening in Europe, California already tried to go after Christian universities, and they will try again.
As we see the direction our society is going, it is easy to turtle up, circle the wagons, and pose strict purity tests on those whom we associate with. It’s safer that way. But that way begins the slow fade.
I’m advocating for the opposite approach. As fellow outcasts, we can find common cause with the I.D.W. I have almost nothing intellectually in common with Sam Harris. Nothing except this: the state should not coerce or outlaw religious practice. So, in that common cause, can we not join hands? I disagree with almost every other word Joe Rogan speaks. Dave Rubin and I come from opposite sides of the ideological spectrum. But I want to see William Lane Craig go on their shows. I would love for Russell Moore sit down for long-form interviews on JRE and The Rubin Report. Same with Al Mohler, Michael Brown, and Doug Wilson. Let the more socially and politically active leaders in the evangelical world, those steeped in Christian theology and apologetics, throw in their lot with those who are already fighting on the front lines for us.
Even though they may not put it in these terms, the I.D.W. is standing up for the Image of God and want to maintain the freedom Christians enjoy of sharing, defending, and acting out our faith in the public square, and in our businesses and families. Christian apologetics should also be about finding allies in a hostile culture and doing what we can to support them. Read their articles, watch their shows, share the ones that we find common cause with. Be clear where you disagree, and you will, often. Caveat: I limit my consumption of the JRE to figures of the I.D.W. and when I do I expect the colorful language of an atheist. He is the only member of the I.D.W. I can think of that speaks that way.
We should not spurn help where we can find it.