Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is your god kind of like Superman, but less awesome?

Guest post by Aaron Armstrong

In his book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, sociologist Christian Smith describes what he refers to as "the de facto dominant religion among contemporary teenagers in the United States is what we might call 'Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.'"
The creed of this religion, as codified from what emerged from our interviews with U.S. teenagers, sounds something like this:
  1. A God exists who created and orders 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 one-self.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
"It's just whatever makes you feel good about you," says the teenager from Maryland. Smith's essay is an eye-opener. Because at the heart of it all:

It's all about us.

Am I the only one who finds that a bit depressing?

The god of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is best described as "something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist—he is always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process."

He helps me pick myself up by my spiritual bootstraps, gives me a pat on the head and then is off to... I don't know, take a nap or something.

Kind of like Superman, but less awesome.

Is that a god really worth believing in?

Read the rest.

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