Sociologist, Christian Smith and his team of researchers conducted surveys across America (and all religious preferences ) with over 3,000 youth, and got a feel for how they viewed God. (I would guess many American adults could score with similar results.)
The findings congealed into a perspective Smith terms,
“Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:
1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”
2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”
3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”
4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.”
5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”1
This view allows for much individual choice, values, and ethics, and nothing much in the way of a deepening relationship with the Creator.
It actually reminds me of how a child grows up. First, as a baby, the infant knows that something feeds him. After a while, he understands that certain things he does may cause certain needs or wants to be fulfilled. A little while later, the child comprehends that he has a person caring for him. Only much later does that child really respond to the parental love in any kind of reciprocal way, let alone, show much unselfish kindness to the parent. This is a good picture of the journey of spirituality, toward the heart of God.
1 R. Albert Mohler, Jr.| “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion” Christian Post. Accessed November 16, 2009 from http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050418/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion/index.html
(FULL article by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion” here.)