Some researchers did some (not extremely rigorous) “research” (IE: interviewing teen-agers), and then compiled their findings as to what those teens claimed to “believe” in terms of religion (if anything).
The results were basically as follows:
The authors find that many young people believed in several moral statutes not exclusive to any of the major world religions. It is this combination of beliefs that they label Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:
- A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
- God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
- The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
- God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
- Good people go to heaven when they die.
These points of belief were compiled from interviews with approximately 3,000 teenagers.
I submit that this (or something very much like it) is what is most likely to remain as a “residue”, given the (inexorable) decline of so-called “organized” religion:
- First, you’ll notice that thhe above is basically a “dumbed–down” version of monotheism. This is to be expected, given that what we typically designate as the “West” was under the heel of various explicitly monotheistic regimes for approximately 1500 years (from the time when the first “Christian” roman emperors forcibly closed the “pagan” temples, right on up to the so-called Protestant “reformation” (when the Roman Catholic church failed to put down the various heresies which now constitute “Protestantism”).
- The “Commandments” are basically the same sort of touch-feely crap we’ve been wallowing in since (at least) the “Summer of Love” (1967).
- Same goes for #3: their “god” basically amounts to an imaginary “self-esteem” coach.
- This is basically the “God of the Gaps” thing – a ‘religion” which only resorts to “God-talk” if reality-based solutions fail.
- An extremely nebulous “after-life” (with no particular content or promises)
So, yeah: this is basically what you end up with in a culture where “organized religion” is no longer in a position to “enforce” any kind of doctrinal/creedal orthodoxy by means of torture and slaughter of “unbelievers”.
Why isn’t it polytheistic/pantheistic?
Easy: As I’ve said elsewhere on the blog, the various “Abrahamic” religions have a tremendous advantage over Non-Abrahamic ones, here in the “West”: ingidenous non-Abrahamic religions (the various forms of “paganism”) were forcibly exterminated during the “Christianization” of Europe. So-called “neoopaganism” (in all variants) doesn’t represent the re-awakening of any sort of “living tradition”, so much as an attempt to cobble together various Non-Abrahamic religions from whatever “The Church” couldn’t be bothered to burn.
(This is especially noticeable with stuff like Wicca).
Quite frankly, Monotheism is extremely “easy” (and comfortable) for “Westerners” – which also goes a long way toward explaining why something like ISCKON (The “Hare Krishna” thing) is the closest approximation of Hinduism most White folks would every contemplate joining):
(TL;DR: a “Hindu”-looking sort of Monotheism is relatively comfortable, for somebody raised by even “cultural” Christians).
At any rate, the above “beliefs” mentioned by the teens probably represent the vanguard of what is probably going to end up being the most common form of “religious” expression in a few decades – a dumbed-down, touchy-feely, creedless, contentless Theological pablum which makes Unitarian Universalism’s 7 bromides look intellectually/spiritually rigorous by comparison.
*Yawn*. At least the adherents of the above “belief-system” are unlikely to ever bother torturing/slaughtering dissidents.