• indoubt Podcast
  • ·
  • March 2, 2020

Ep. 216: The Future of Christianity in Canada

With Andy Steiger, , , and Daniel Markin

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What does the future of Christianity look like? Or at least the next ten years? Admittedly, that’s a difficult question but it’s one that we touch on in this week’s episode of indoubt. Andy Steiger joins us to breakdown the future of apologetics over the next decade. You’ll hear Daniel and Andy discuss a wide range of topics, all relating to Apologetics; from why Apologetics Canada was formed to looking at some of the questions that are being asked now like the common question: Why do bad things happen? And the not-so-common questions like: What is transhumanism?

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Kourtney Cromwell:
Welcome to the indoubt podcast, where we explore the challenging topics that young adults often face. Each week, we talk with guests who help answer questions of faith, life, and culture, connecting them to our daily experiences and God’s Word. For more info on indoubt, visit indoubt.ca, or indoubt.com.

Kourtney Cromwell:
Hey everyone, it’s Kourtney. Thanks for listening to this episode of indoubt. On this week’s episode, we’re joined by Andy Steiger, who, as you’ll hear, wears many hats: Apologetics Canada Director, student. And right now, he’s also transitioning out of the position of young adults pastor at Northview Church. We’ve had Andy as a guest before, and it’s so great to have him again. This time Daniel’s talking to him about the Apologetics Canada conference that’s coming up in March, and the theme of the conference this year is the future of Apologetics. And they’re looking at the next 10 years of Christianity.
In this episode, you’ll hear Daniel and Andy discuss a wide range of topics, all relating to Apologetics. From why Apologetics Canada was formed, to looking at some of the questions that are being asked now, like the common question, why do bad things happen? And then not so common questions like, what is transhumanism? This is a really great discussion that gives you an idea not just into the focus of this year’s Apologetics Canada conference, but also Apologetics in general. So, I hope that you enjoy this week’s conversation with Daniel and Andy Steiger.

Daniel Markin:
Welcome to indoubt. My name’s Daniel Markin, and I’m joined today by Andy Steiger. Good to see you, Andy.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, good to be here.

Daniel Markin:
Andy, we have quite the history together.

Andy Steiger:
We do.

Daniel Markin:
And this is a very, very special guest today. Partly because Andy has been wearing two hats, much in the same way that I’ve been wearing two hats this past year. I work part-time, or I guess full-ish time with Northview Community Church, and then I’m also here with indoubt. And you are-

Andy Steiger:
And you’re also a student.

Daniel Markin:
And I’m also a student. And I guess you share some of those things. We both worked together at Northview Community Church.

Andy Steiger:
That’s true. I didn’t think about that. There’s a lot of similarity going on.

Daniel Markin:
A lot of similarities. You also are a student.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah.

Daniel Markin:
But then you have another ministry that you are the director of, which is called…

Andy Steiger:
Apologetics Canada. So yeah, you’re right. I’m wearing a couple hats, same as you. So, I split my time between running the young adults department of Northview Community Church, running Apologetics Canada. And then as you mentioned, I’m just finishing up my PhD at Aberdeen University, and coming in for a landing, and looking forward to wrapping that up in the next couple months.

Daniel Markin:
And having a little more brain space and-

Andy Steiger:
Yes, having a life again.

Daniel Markin:
Having a life again. Every time I look over, I sit next to Andy at Northview, and every time I look over his head’s just down and he’s staring at a book. And you can see he’s got a case of MEGO, which is, My Eyes Glazed Over. And he’s just staring at Michael Palani for a long time but studying hard.

Andy Steiger:
Deep in thought and writing.

Daniel Markin:
Deep in thought. Andy, you’ve been on the show before, so you’re a familiar guest. But do you want to tell the guests a little bit about how you got involved with Apologetics Canada? Because that is your wheelhouse right here. And especially leading up to the Apologetics Canada conference, which indoubt – we will be there. So, tell us, what was your heart behind starting that? And we can go from there.

Andy Steiger:
It kind of surprises people to hear that I didn’t have this vision of, oh man, one day I want to run this ministry, like Apologetics or whatever. It’s something I knew about, wasn’t something that I was super passionate about. I’ve always been passionate about ministry. I’ve been passionate about being a missionary, being a pastor, sharing the gospel. Those are the things that have been my passions. And so, when I had pastored for, what was it, like seven years. And knew that it was time to grow in depth as a pastor, it was a time to do a master’s degree.
And so I moved down to Los Angeles to Biola with my family and was working on a master’s degree there. And had every intention of heading off in the mission field, my wife and I.

Daniel Markin:
Where would you have wanted to go?

Andy Steiger:
And my dream, as you’re aware, I thought it would be great to be on some remote jungle island where people are running around naked. And I don’t know why they needed to be naked, but just that idea of remoteness, right? Just sharing the gospel to people who had never heard it, that was the dream.

Daniel Markin:
Completely unreached.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. Completely unreached. But yet God had different plans. Throughout my time of study, I’m applying at different mission agencies and they’re not getting back to me. And I’m like, Lord, what’s going on here? This should be an easy job. I’m going to be raising my own support. And yet at that same time as I’m praying, the Lord’s really directing me going, maybe I’ve got something else in store for you. And so, at that time I went to a conference in which Lee Strobel was talking. And he was talking about the number of young people that were leaving the faith. And here I had been a young adults pastor, youth pastor for so long and I was totally oblivious to what was going on in culture. I was also oblivious to how effective Apologetics was at sharing the gospel and discipling people. I’d seen it’s effect on my own life, but really didn’t realize how important it was until I saw how it was done well in Los Angeles, how effective it was. I was working with guys at Apologetics.com.

Daniel Markin:
How would you define Apologetics? And then, like first.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, it’s a good point, because a lot of people have no idea what that term means. Apologetics, it’s a Greek word in the Bible, apologia. And in the Bible, it’s used to talk about giving a reason. That’s what the word means, to give an answer or reason. Interestingly enough, it’s still used in the Greek today. You know, if you were in Greece, they still use that word. And they still use it in the same context, to give an answer or to give a reason, particularly in a court of law. And the Bible talks though about being able to give a reason for the hope that you have, specifically in Jesus Christ. And that you would have good reasons for the hope that you have. And you see this, by the way, with all the disciples. You see, even Peter as he’s giving his first sermon. And you see this with Paul. They’re constantly giving you good reasons why they’ve placed their trust in this Messiah and they’re following Him to their deaths.
So that’s the idea behind Apologetics. And so here I am in Los Angeles, I’m seeing how effective this tool is at reaching people, particularly a culture in which you got these young adults that are asking deep, important questions.

Daniel Markin:
Well, and emerging intellectuals too. I mean, especially you have lots of people who are now college educated. And that’s where you see a lot of young adults walk away, is they walk into their first-year philosophy class and they’re told that nothing is true about religion.

Andy Steiger:
Right. And then at that time too, there’s a bunch of popular authors that are writing these bestsellers that belief in God is ridiculous, and whatnot. And people are buying into this, right? And they’re walking away from the faith. And so, I’m seeing what’s happening in the US and how effective that is. And God really began to call my wife and I back to Canada to start this ministry to be able to speak into culture and to be able to help people wrestle through these big important questions. And God has just richly blessed that ministry.
So it’s interesting, you know that I’m in an interesting transition phase where my time at Northview, God bless that ministry, and then with Apologetics Canada, God bless that as well. That’s how I’m at this unique place where I’m too busy. These two ministries are too much and I have to make a choice. So it’s interesting for me, long story short, that I did Apologetics Canada three years full-time before I started helping Northview with their young adults.

Daniel Markin:
Well how did you end up at Northview? Because you were looking to do the conference there because it was a bigger building. And you’re like, can I talk to your young adults pastor about it? Our lead pastor said, we don’t have one. And you’re like, what?

Andy Steiger:
I know. And I took him to task on that, and that led to a conversation that maybe you could be the young adults pastor then. And then that started this conversation where we’re like, what would that look like for a church and a non-profit to partner together? And the truth is, is it was far more successful than we thought it would be. So successful that I’ve worked myself out of a job there. It’s just not possible to continue doing both any longer. So now here I am seven years later returning back to Apologetics Canada full-time. But I’m excited about the opportunities ahead. And I’m so encouraged by the number of people that have been influenced and impacted when you are addressing the questions that they’re asking; you’re doing so with gentleness and respect. And you’re helping people think deeply on these important subjects in which we have good reasons to believe, and to place our trust in Jesus. And just to watch as people’s lives are impacted by the gospel.

Daniel Markin:
Now obviously because I work with you, and I’ve been at Northview, that I have quite a good understanding of the work that you do. And one of the things you’ve helped teach me is that within Christianity there is deeply satisfying answers to every single question that can be asked. And you begin to see that in the marketplace of ideas, Christianity holds up again and again and again as the best way that leads to human flourishing.

Andy Steiger:
And that was something that, to be quite honest, I wasn’t positive about when I first got into school, right? You go and you do your BA, for example, and you’re like, man, I wonder what’s going to happen when I dig deeper into this Christian faith thing? Am I going to find that it’s not as solid as I had hoped it would be?
And then, I did my BA and I’m like, wow, it is really solid. Then you do your masters and you’re like, well, I’m going to go even deeper now. Maybe if I go deep it’s not as good as I thought.

Daniel Markin:
Yeah, maybe these professors are lying to me. And-

Andy Steiger:
Right. And then I came out of my master’s degree going, oh my goodness, it is solid. And now here I am-

Daniel Markin:
But wait.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, no, but wait.

Daniel Markin:
But wait, I will do a PhD. And I surely will-

Andy Steiger:
Truthfully, I was a little concerned. What happens when I go the deepest I can philosophically and theologically into these topics? And man, has my faith been so encouraged. I am rock solid in my belief. I’m so thankful for being a Christian and what I have found in Christ that I have seen nowhere else.

Daniel Markin:
So 10 years ago, you’ve been at this for 10 years with Apologetics Canada. And you said that there was all these questions being asked back then. I want to know what those questions were when you first started, what were the questions that young adults, that skeptics were asking? And then if we can transition some of the questions that have began to change to what people are actually asking now.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. What I have found is that human beings have been basically asking the same questions since our history. We’ve been asking the same questions: What’s the meaning of life? Does God exist? Do all religions lead to God? Why is there evil? Is there life after death? These are the big questions that human beings struggle with. Now we’ve struggled with each of these questions in various ways. We’ve asked them in different ways. Such as Nancy Pearcey one time was talking with me and she’s like, I don’t know. Don’t you think that the question of truth, isn’t that an important question in our culture? And I’d say, yeah, I agree with you Nancy. But I think there’s different ways we ask it in different communities or different times. Such as do all religions lead to God, is a good example.
That’s a very cultural question of, is there truth and where is that truth to be found? So I’d say that those are the same questions that were being asked then. They’re the same questions that are being asked now. However, when I first started Apologetics Canada the new atheists were in full swing at that time. And so they were really challenging Christians, particularly in the area of God’s existence and suffering and evil, and those sorts of questions.
And I think that there was a real sense that there wasn’t good answers for a lot of young adults that are like, maybe this Christianity thing isn’t as strong as I thought. And Dawkins and Sam Harris. Yeah, Hitchens and these other… Daniel Dennett, and you name it, right? Well maybe they’re onto something and maybe I’m wrong with this whole Christian faith thing. And so I had met a lot of young adults who had given up on Christianity. And to be fair, by the way, I think there was some important things that were happening in the church at that time. Because the truth is, I had pastored for seven years in that period before 2010. And I think that the church was not as culturally engaged as they should have been. And they were not wrestling with the questions that our culture was bombarding our young adults with.

Daniel Markin:
So why wasn’t the church invested in questions like that?

Andy Steiger:
I think that there’s a lot of answers to that question. One of the answers though that I would give is in the evangelical seminaries, for a long time, this has changed though. But Apologetics and philosophy were not being taught. And cultural engagement were not being taught. And I know that because I was involved in the Bible schools, and I was involved in the seminaries. I know what they were teaching. And when I came back to Canada, I advocated in these schools and in the seminaries that these sorts of topics would be taught. That they must be. And so, it was interesting for me to be able to see culturally how we started seeing in higher education. Maybe we do need to start talking about logic and philosophy. Maybe we do need to be talking about Apologetics and what’s going on in culture, and the questions that are being asked.
And some of them were difficult questions that, quite frankly, seminaries weren’t addressing. For example, this was even at Biola. They felt uncomfortable to deal with questions like, did God command genocide in the Old Testament? Right? And so those are the kind of stuff that we don’t really want to talk about that in our seminaries.

Daniel Markin:
And to be fair, that’s what so many young adults and people who’ve grown up in the church have not even heard a message preached on that.

Andy Steiger:
Right.

Daniel Markin:
Like they have, they’re like that happens in the Bible? That’s not in my Bible.

Andy Steiger:
Right.

Daniel Markin:
And then one of their friends turns to that passage and they read it and they say, oh dear.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, they go to Joshua and they’re like, oh man, what’s going on here? How do I understand this?

Daniel Markin:
Right. So, they would feel like the wool has been pulled over their eyes for all these years. And then finally they’re being shown how dark and terrible this thing is.

Andy Steiger:
Well it’s interesting in that in the church we’re constantly encouraging people to read their Bibles. Then they go read their Bibles and then they’ll come across stuff where, A, we haven’t taught them how to read their Bibles well. I’ve often talked about this difference between a worm’s eye view of the Bible and a bird’s eye view of the Bible. And in many ways, we’ve been taught to read the Bible from a worm’s eye view.

Daniel Markin:
Which is?

Andy Steiger:
Where you start with a word in the Bible, or you start with a verse, you know? And then if you’re lucky, a person will actually read a whole chapter of the Bible, let alone, God forbid, a book of the Bible. Right? And see that becomes a bird’s eye view where you reverse that, and you read it a normal way. We’ve really been taught to read the Bible as a magic book, and that’s where you look at a word or you look at a verse. But the way we normally read a book, is you read the whole book.

Daniel Markin:
You read the whole story.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. And you take it in context as the whole story, and then you think about that chapter. Then you think about that paragraph or that sentence. And how rare is it that I would read a novel and I just focus on a single word. The same is with the Bible, you need to take it as a whole. So I’d call it like a birds eye view. Right? You take it as a whole and you see it in its context.

Daniel Markin:
Yeah. That’s one of the things that you and I have talked about with young adult ministry. And then even Apologetics stuff is, yeah, people view it like a magic book. They’re like, there’s all these miracles and things. But it just occurs to me that not many people know the entire story of the Bible. That it’s something that is lost.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. And this is an important one for me even as a pastor that dawned on me far too late. And that is when I’m reading things like the gospel, for far too long in my life I had thought that the gospels were written by either somebody who had been with Jesus or somebody who had talked with somebody who had been with Jesus, such as Luke or something like that. And I always thought that they wrote down what they remembered about Jesus. You know? And so, these were just these fragmented thoughts that were just cobbled together into the story. But the reality is, is the more you read the Bible, the more you understand what you’re seeing is that, no, there’s a history.
And more than that, it’s an argument in which they’re telling you specific aspects of what happened because they want you to think deeply about who this Jesus is. And John even says this at the end of his gospel, he says, listen, I could have written a whole lot more, could have filled pages and pages. But I’ve written this, and I’ve given you this to think about so that you’ll consider who this Jesus is. It changes the way that you read it.

Daniel Markin:
Yeah. They’re not writing what they remember, they’re writing what they want you to know.

Andy Steiger:
That’s right. Which challenges you then to be thinking about, why did they write this? Why did they share this story? And what am I to take away from it?

Daniel Markin:
And what’s the purpose of stacking these parables here? Because, correct me if I’m wrong, sometimes some of them, if you compare them between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they seem like, well that miracle seemed to have happened way before this one. Or some of them might seem out of line. But is it that the gospel writers are sometimes stacking them to create a certain argument within their greater story that they’re telling?

Andy Steiger:
Well, it’s interesting that what you find in the gospels is what you would find in everyday life. Each person’s telling you the story from their vantage point. And they’re highlighting those things that they’re wanting to focus on. And so that means then that you’re going to see slight variations where one person’s going to jump into one aspect of a story and give you certain details, where somebody else is going to jump into a different part of the story and give you different details. And so that’s where, again, it helps you to see that they’re making an argument. They’re telling you the part of the story that’s important to the argument that they’re making, that they want you to think about.

Daniel Markin:
Well I’ve heard the illustration too of a crime scene, right? Because a lot of people will be like, you can’t trust the Bible. See, they all got together, and they got in a room and basically all decided what they’re going to tell and make up this magic story. But there is inconsistencies in each of the four gospel stories. Not that they’re inconsistent, but they’re a slightly different telling of it. And is it J. Warner Wallace who says… What does Wallace say?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, he’s a good friend and homicide detective. He was a cold case homicide detective. And that’s exactly the point he makes is, yeah, they are telling the story from different vantage points. And they’re not exactly the same, which is a good thing. That doesn’t mean that they’re contradictory, by the way. Like you and I could tell the same story, but we could give different vantage points of the story. If you see the whole thing, you would see that they line up just fine. It’s just you’re highlighting a different aspect than I.

Daniel Markin:
Right. If you’re in a car crash and you’re driving the car and I was standing on the street and saw it happen, our stories are going to look a lot different.

Andy Steiger:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now the interesting part is this just becomes one of those things where they show you that they’re trustworthy actually. And that surprises some people. But one of the things I find, again, the more I’ve studied the Bible, the more I’ve studied Christianity, it’s trustworthy. And so, as I’ve gotten into Apologetics, this is something that I’ve wanted to help different churches, pastors, to be able to see, okay, what are the questions our culture’s asking? What are the answers that we find in Christianity, that we find in the Bible? And how can we communicate that in a clear and persuasive way.
And I would argue that that’s much of the ministry that I’ve done with Apologetics Canada, and even this conference that you talked about there, Daniel. This is our 10th year doing the conference, and I think it’s quite something that this conference is sold out every year. It has been incredible. It’s one of the reasons why we moved to Northview is because we were looking for bigger buildings as this conference sold out. And even this year it’s one of our fastest, it’s the fastest selling year that we’ve had yet. We have a month out and we’re almost sold out in this conference. And to me, I think the reason that is, is we’ve worked really hard to address questions that people are asking. And I think when you do that, people will come. And the thing that I find so fascinating is that this conference was always geared towards Christians.
I’ve always seen Apologetics as first and foremost geared towards Christians, not evangelistically. If you want to think of it evangelistically, it’s evangelistic to you. It’s to encourage you and your faith-

Daniel Markin:
And equip you to then go and talk to the secular person or to the –

Andy Steiger:
I think you’ll always share something with somebody that you believe is true, whether that’s your iPhone or whatever. If you think it’s the best product, you will naturally be an evangelist for it. Right? And the same thing is true of your faith. If you believe that Christianity is true and it has transformed your life, as it has mine, you can’t help but want to just tell other people about that. So, what’s interesting then is in us addressing questions that culture is asking, the conference every year has been full of people of a variety of worldviews. Which I’ve loved. And so it’s a great place then for people to come, no matter where they’re at in their faith journey. And to come along like-minded people, and to think about important topics. That, honestly, I think we should be thinking about.

Daniel Markin:
I think people of all different backgrounds and different religions, you talk to anyone, people love deep conversations. And so for an opportunity to come somewhere and have one of those conversations, even if they wouldn’t completely agree with it, I think is probably really refreshing for them.

Andy Steiger:
I think people like deep conversations as long as they’re relevant.

Daniel Markin:
Yeah.

Andy Steiger:
I think that’s the challenge. Sometimes academics has erred on the side of boring because we haven’t shown the practicality of that important conversation.

Daniel Markin:
I think it’s unique too that it shows that people who aren’t believers aren’t monsters. Because I think there’s a lot of fear in Christianity. They’d be like, oh there’s a secular person coming. We’d be so scared that they would come here and critique something. But I think it shows that they actually are curious and genuine. And probably want to learn and interact with those things in a good-hearted way. I mean, there’s probably some who just are really against everything and they just want to be there to fight.

Andy Steiger:
Interestingly enough, I’ve been doing this ministry for 10 years, and a lot of the ministry that I’ve done I’ve gone into coffee shops, prisons, conferences, universities. I’ve even preached in bars. That was one of my more interesting ones. And I have never come across a hostile person. I’ve come across people that are passionate, for sure, but I have loved all of those opportunities to engage with people. And interestingly enough, where I’ve received the best and most thoughtful and intelligent questions has consistently been prisons. Those are where I’ve been the most challenged.

Daniel Markin:
How much of that is the way that you share your faith? Because it occurs to me that if you went in really combatative, would people be more combatative? Or do you find that if you went really hardcore and combatative, would they just shut up and no one would listen? You’d be like, ha, I won. Or, how do you balance that?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, there’s two things I think are so important about that question, Daniel. The first is you will become defensive when you are insecure. So in other words, then, this is where Apologetics is so helpful, when you become confident in your faith you don’t lash out at people because you’re not insecure. You’re not afraid to dock through those big questions. Because a lot of people ask me, because I speak at a lot of universities. And in fact, last summer I spoke to a bunch of law professors and some top-notch thinkers, right?
And some people are like, man, wouldn’t that be scary? And I’m like, no, not at all. I love it. If somebody can raise a question or an idea that I’ve never thought about before, I want to give him a high five. Because I’ll get to walk away from that experience and get to think about that. So that’s the one on the one hand, right? So know that topic deeply and you’re not afraid to talk about that topic. And then when somebody brings up something you’re unfamiliar with, if anything, you’re excited about that because now you can go home and think about it. Now the second one is this though, and this is critical. When I get into a conversation with somebody, I do not think of it as an argument to win. And this is something that I think a lot of people in our culture do not know how to do when they have a conversation.
Because we become very combative in a conversation where it’s, you have a winner and a loser. And you don’t want to be the loser, so it doesn’t matter how ridiculous. Or your argument may be totally flawed, and you could see it, but man you’re going to fight tooth and nail for it because you don’t want to lose.

Daniel Markin:
And see that you have lost.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. And so then our conversations become these debates. So I do not go into it with that sort of mindset at all. My mindset when I go into a university, a coffee shop, or just a conversation with a person, is simply that. I want to love that person. I want to have an intelligent, thoughtful, respectful conversation with them and talk through these important ideas. And I want to do so as a fellow human being. I’m not trying to win that argument. I’m just trying to get them to think more deeply about it. And quite frankly, I want to think more deeply about it. And if my view on it’s wrong, I would like to be corrected. And my hope would be that when I talk to somebody else, that they are willing, when their view’s not right, to rethink it and to be corrected.

Daniel Markin:
Have you ever done debates?

Andy Steiger:
Well, it’s funny that you bring that up, because in my master’s degree I actually took a debate and logic class with William Lane Craig. They only allowed 15 students to take that class, and you had to debate each other in front of Dr. Craig. And then he personally critiqued each one of us.

Daniel Markin:
Now Dr. William Lane Craig is a very famous Apologetics.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. If you don’t know who he is, I would say he’s arguably, and I think atheists would agree with this, the greatest one of, or the greatest living debater alive. I think that’s just unquestioned. And it’s funny because I’ve talked with a number of atheists and they’ll often echo what Sam Harris said, nobody puts the fear of God in an atheist like William Lane Craig.

Daniel Markin:
Until they meet Andy Steiger.

Andy Steiger:
So that was very nerve-wracking. Great experience. Have I done debates? Yeah, I did that. And I even had William Lane Craig critique me. But no, I personally have felt like debates though have not been my calling. Not that I’m against them, I’m not, I think they have their place. I have just gone about it in a slightly different way.

Daniel Markin:
So your conference coming up, you started in 2010 with these conferences. It’s 2020. Could you give us a sneak peek slash hint into what this conference will look like this year?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. So it’s incredible to think that we’ve been doing this for 10 years. Looking forward to this year’s conference, which the theme is, back to the future. And we’re excited to have Back to the Bible with us. Dr. John Neufeld is going to be joining us as one of our main speakers. And the topic that we asked Dr. John and the rest of our speakers to address is, okay here we are in 2020, what does the future look like? And I personally, I would argue that this is an important habit that the church has not done a good job on and really needs to do a better job on. Because often people say, oh, the church is just playing catch up in culture. Well one of the ways that we avoid playing catch up in culture is we take moments like, here we are in this new decade, and asking, okay, what are the questions that are being asked?
But more than that, what are the questions that are going to be asked and that we’re going to need to be prepared to think more deeply on? So we have Dr. John, for example, talking about a topic that I think’s incredibly important, theological relativism. And addressing questions about theology. What are the questions that Christianity is being challenged with theologically that we need to think more deeply about? The big one though that we’re dealing with this year on our Friday dialogue is we’re dealing with, what are the key ethical challenges that Canadians, Christians need to be thinking about? Particularly within this next decade. And a lot of people don’t realize that there are a number of books that have come out such as Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity Is Near. You got Noah Harari has written Sapiens and Homo Deus. You’ve got Humanity 3.0, or something like that.
I can’t remember what that one is. I’ve read a number of these books, right, where you’ve got all these people, influential best-sellers where they’re saying, hey, this is what the future looks like. And it’s everything from, hey, within the next decade we think a computer is going to pass the Turing test. Hey, within the next decade we think that, and this is a big one, things like transhumanism are going to be taking some serious leaps forward.

Daniel Markin:
What is transhumanism?

Andy Steiger:
And so let’s talk about that.

Daniel Markin:
Which is great because that’s a question. Like I don’t really know what that is and…

Andy Steiger:
And this is an interesting one that we need to talk about questions that are being thought about in our culture. So, for example, Netflix recently had a couple series that they’ve done on the topic of transhumanism. They’ve looked at it from different vantage points. But it’s one of those moments where culture’s talking about this, we need to talk about this, and have well thought up ideas of how we address this.
So transhumanism simply means, beyond human. And it’s an idea of evolution that a lot of Christians have failed to consider, but our culture at large has been considering. And that is, is if you hold to an evolutionary model of human beings it means that evolution didn’t stop. That evolution is continuing. However, it’s argued that technology has brought us to a place that we now can direct human evolution in our own choosing. So no longer is it random mutations and natural selection that’s directing our-

Daniel Markin:
And very slow.

Andy Steiger:
… our future. Right, and slow. Now it’s me that can direct my evolutionary future and it’s very quick. And so these are raising really challenging questions about humanity, technology, and their integration. And a question that honestly we have to think about and that is, how far is too far? And I’d argue that we’re in this frog in the kettle moment in culture where we have been for thousands of years integrating with technology. And I’m talking, Daniel, everything from wearing clothes, to wearing shoes –

Daniel Markin:
The wheel would be technology, right? Like using a knife is technology.

Andy Steiger:
That’s right. And so we’ve integrated with technology for a long time. Now here’s a good example of our integration with technology, just to see how it’s evolved. There was a moment where we would wear glasses, and then technology evolved to the place that we had contact lenses. And you could even change the color of your contact lenses. And then technology changed to laser eye surgery. And now we’re getting to this place through things like CRISPR-Cas9 and other genetic technologies that now there’s these… That we believe in the near future we could pop the hood, if you will, on the genetic code and we could fiddle with it. And that raises these important questions like, are we okay with that?
Are we okay with fiddling with the human genome? Are we okay with fixing my eyesight genetically? And then it raises these other questions such as, while I got the hood up, right, do you want to change the color of your eyes? Do you want to have better than 20/20 vision?

Daniel Markin:
Want to be taller?

Andy Steiger:
And then that raises the other questions of enhancement. Right? Now one of the things that I’d just like to say, and this is one of the reasons why I think this conference is so important and the topic we’re dealing with. Is when I first got into Apologetics, normally when I would come across a question like, why is there evil? Does God exist? These sorts of questions. We have an intellectual tradition of thousands of years to lean back on of deep thinkers, philosophers, Christians, who have thought on these issues that we could lean on.
This is a unique time in history. We’re asking questions that we don’t have an intellectual tradition to lean back on. People in the past didn’t wrestle with questions of enhancement, or questions of genetics, and these transhumanist ideologies. We didn’t even think about that. We didn’t know that was going to be possible in the future. So we’re in this vacuum. And I’ve seen this vacuum as I’ve been at places like the Evangelical Philosophical Society and these other academic conferences where I can see that there is a vacuum here that we haven’t thought deeply on these. We don’t have great answers, and we need to do more thinking on this. And so, for me, this conference is really ringing an alarm bell saying, hey church, we’ve got challenging questions coming. They’re already here. We need to think more deeply about this.

Daniel Markin:
It’s 2020, what are the next 20 years is going to look like and-

Andy Steiger:
Next 10 years.

Daniel Markin:
Next 10 years?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, that’s all we’re asking is, what’s the next decade? I think 20 years is too far out. I have no idea what 2040 is going to look like. But I think we have some idea of the challenges that the next decade are going to bring. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about this year at the conference.

Daniel Markin:
That’s awesome. And if people aren’t local to British Columbia, and we’ve had people fly out from Alberta to come to the conference and things.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, people come from all over.

Daniel Markin:
Yeah. If they can’t make it, say they live on the Island, like Prince Edward Island, how can they follow the content that you guys are putting out?

Andy Steiger:
Well, one of the things that we always do is record our sessions. And so the sessions are going to be recorded, people can see those. I’d encourage people to go, by the way, online to apologeticscanadaconference.com and see the different sessions. You and I have just talked about a couple, we’re going to be dealing with other things like with regards to questions that are coming to the Bible, for example.
Or we got people like Sam Alberry where we’re going to be talking about questions of loneliness and singleness. So we’re going to be dealing with a number of important questions people are dealing with. So they can go take a look at that. If that’s of interest to them, they can actually purchase the downloads if they can’t come out. So that when the conference is done, we’ll release those and people can purchase them. And as well, as you know Daniel, we’re going to be taking a different approach to the conference in the near future. We’re going to start doing one day conferences, and we’re going to be doing those across Canada. And so, I would encourage people to become a part of our mailing list online, and then they can see when we’re going to be in their neighborhood.

Daniel Markin:
Andy Steiger and Apologetics Canada coming to a city near you.

Andy Steiger:
That’s right. We’re looking forward to being able to reach more of Canada and to engage with more churches.

Daniel Markin:
Well that’s good. And it’s so important because there’s clearly a hunger for it.

Andy Steiger:
Yeah, and right now we’re out in Toronto and Barrie, we’ve done conferences. And we’ve been in some other provinces for one day things, but we’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of that in the near future.

Daniel Markin:
Well, Andy, thank you for being with us here. And if people want to get involved and hear more about the work that you’re doing with Apologetics Canada, but also some of the resources that you are producing, where can they find you?

Andy Steiger:
Yeah. Hey, if you’d like to know more about Apologetics Canada, check us out at ApologeticsCanada.com. We are looking for people that are interested, by the way, in this topic of dehumanization and humanization, and a lot of what I’ve talked about is in my book. If you’d like to help us with getting the word out and different projects that we’re doing, shoot us an email at info@apologeticscanada.com.
Let us know that you’d like to participate with us. We’re always looking for various help, from promoting things to helping us with research. And so we’ve got, as you know, lots of different projects that we’re doing. One of which is a project that I’ve got going right now with the UN where we’re talking on different aspects of dehumanization. It’s a whole other conversation. But we have different lawyers that work with us and different students that help us in research projects and whatnot. Yeah, shoot us a line. We’d love to work with you.

Daniel Markin:
Well thank you for being here Andy, and I’m sure we’ll speak again.

Andy Steiger:
Thanks for having me.

Kourtney Cromwell:
It’s such a good opportunity to have Andy as our guest and I’m really glad that he was able to join us and give us these things to think about. Like he mentioned, if you’d like to attend the Apologetics Canada conference, you can go and check it out on their website. indoubt will be at this year’s conference, so come by and say hello. And if you tell us that you listened to this episode, we’ll have an exclusive gift to say thank you.
Andy Steiger will be our guest for next week’s episode too, so I hope that you check back in with us then and listen as we can continue the conversation on culture and apologetics.

Kourtney Cromwell:
Thanks so much for listening. If you want to hear more, subscribe on iTunes and Spotify, or visit us online at indoubt.ca, or indoubt.com. We’re also on social media, so make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Christianity - Ep. 216: The Future of Christianity in Canada with Andy Steiger on the indoubt Podcast

Who's Our Guest?

Andy Steiger

Andy Steiger is the founder and director of Apologetics Canada, an organization dedicated to helping churches across Canada better understand and engage today’s culture. Andy created and hosted the Thinking Series and is the author of Thinking? Answering Life’s Five Biggest Questions. Andy’s most recent work is with The Human Project, an award-winning video series created in partnership with Power to Change.
Christianity - Ep. 216: The Future of Christianity in Canada with Andy Steiger on the indoubt Podcast

Who's Our Guest?

Andy Steiger

Andy Steiger is the founder and director of Apologetics Canada, an organization dedicated to helping churches across Canada better understand and engage today’s culture. Andy created and hosted the Thinking Series and is the author of Thinking? Answering Life’s Five Biggest Questions. Andy’s most recent work is with The Human Project, an award-winning video series created in partnership with Power to Change.