In 2009, Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith published Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. Smith researched teens and young adults about their faith lives. What do young Americans believe? Does God affect their lives? From his data, Smith establishes that the faith lives of young Americans can be described as "moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD)." These are the tenets of this understanding:
First, a God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on Earth. Second, God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. Third, the central goal in life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. Fourth, God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. Fifth, good people go to heaven when they die.