Riess is interested in how Mormons view traditional Christian teachings (existence of God; Jesus Christ’s mission; life after death; the Creation) as well as Mormons’ certainty about LDS teachings. She found, “Almost all self-identified Mormons say they believe in God.” However, “every generation of Mormons shows a drop in confidence on specific questions about LDS belief compared to more general beliefs in God and Jesus.” “The areas that see the greatest decline in certainty all have to do with questions of prophetic and priestly authority.”
She discusses the post-WWII shift in emphasis from apocalypticism, persecution, the Gathering in Zion to the family and Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, which she tracks through the topics of addresses given at General Conference by (ironically?) prophets and priesthood leaders.
At this early point in the book, Riess makes a very important observation about the survey results that reveal significant differences of belief between generations, “How much of the difference is the result of generational change and how much is due to a life cycle effect is hard to tell from this snapshot.”
If there is indeed a “life cycle effect” among LDS believers, this question is significant and could indicate that additional layers of complexity exist within much of the data Riess has collected.