According to Father George Rutler, religion is one of the most fundamental factors for developing an individual’s belief system. While other factors that influence and shape a society’s values are previous experiences, culture, environment, and even genetics. These factors lead to our beliefs and attitude. These beliefs shape our values and lead to society.
Talking specifically about religion and values, faith is the most central belief system for many years. Religion provides the code of conduct, and it can be used as a guidebook that the followers consult for various purposes. The traditional forms of religion were created to accommodate social relations. Christianity’s practice evolved to maintain the survival benefits through the selection of genes or gene-culture coevolution dynamics.
Religion plays a vital role in creating self-identity and a community’s collective identity, which then shapes the norms or beliefs the attitudes and impacts an individual’s behavior or a group. According to Kelemen, 2004 Children are in general sensitive to religious beliefs and the theories of Gods and other pastoral agents, which results in a strong-willed bias of considering explanations of the concept, based on the primary purpose they cater to rather than their predicate causes, which also remains into the adulthood. These beliefs are predicated upon attributes that include beliefs about God’s existence, immortality, and omnipresence; attributions about psychological characteristics such as fairness, compassion, and harshness; and attributions about God’s causal involvement and motives in life events of an individual.
According to Father George Rutler, while most religions across the globe shape moral behavior through positive and negative reinforcement, it is done by introducing ‘God-fearing’ concepts in the religious handbooks. For instance, the introduction of heaven-hell and salvation in Christianity. The Christian priests always encourage their followers to work to better humanity and God’s worship to make God and Jesus happy.
According to the study conducted by Shariff and Norenzayan (2011), they conclude that people are more likely to behave in a moral or a better way when they fear God’s punishment or if they expect the best reward from God. In other studies, they concluded that in Christianity, hell’s introduction as a horrible place exists to compel individuals to behave morally and ethically. Simultaneously, the idea of heaven is given to compel individuals to feel good and work effortlessly to better mankind. Another most relevant detail for this suggests that it might have nothing to do with religious beliefs. The pastoral handbooks or religious rituals help in shaping the moral and compel us to behave better.
It is also in arguments that not all religions work on the thematic principles while most of them do. Most of the worldwide religions work on thematic principles and works on the concept of God and humanity, morality, altruism, miracle workings, and maintaining peace. However, these are certain ideologies that make each religion different from one another. These differences in ideologies are not so easy to judge, but they exist and sum in disharmony and inequality at times. Irrational and distorted deductions of religious books are held responsible for it when some of the followers go against God and Jesus’s sayings. Some followers go against the fundamental principles.
Due to globalization and people shifting from place to place to seek more value and better living conditions, there are always many religions in a single community or a region. Sacrifices and wars in the name of religion are no more something new. The most significant examples of the religious wars are The Crusades, Sati System, Buddhist Burma, Jihadists, and the Witch Hunt, which ended thousands of lives. But besides, almost all religions preach humanity and kindness. This is mankind who goes against the will of God and indulges in wars with their fellow brothers. God does not want His mankind to do this, said Father Rutler.
Religion is considered one of the oldest factors that shape the personal identity and behavior of a person. Other factors are culture, personal past experiences, environment, and even genetics. Religion brings mankind closer to God, and God wants His people to show empathy to His mankind. This leads to a positive behavior of individuals and also shapes society. However, not all religions teach love and harmony. These resulted in religious wars that included the great crusades war and many others, but God always asks for peace, and He mentioned it many times in the sacred books.