At birth each of us is virtually a blank slate. At this time in our lives we have learned nothing. Our only skill is to cry when the need for food, personal attention, and comfort arises. Until something is needed we are content to lie there and watch the world revolve around us. Throughout life we develop values based on what we have previously learned or experienced. The goal of developing values in children is to establish the capability to make sound judgments and ethical decisions (Kolberg, 1971). The entire process of value development is lifelong and continuous (Nucci, 2002).
There are as many individual perspectives on values as there are people on the planet. Nonetheless, there is a consistent theme that arises when examining values and beliefs. Values determine how a person responds to any situation. A person with values is a person that makes the right decision for the right reason.
Parents, religious leader, educators, peers and experiences contribute to the development of values. Often parental teaching is substantiated with religious teachings.
Many people equate values and religious beliefs with ethical behavior. A person can have very high values, honesty, loving, and giving without having any religious beliefs in God or salvation at all. As people go through life, they have different experiences that may affect values in a positive or negative manner. A person that is taught to believe that God can heal all sickness if they pray, may loose faith if the prayer isn't answered. The converse is true if the person is cured of the illness. The person then believes that the power of prayer is worth continuing throughout life. God becomes a central part of the development of the permanent values of the person's belief system.
Religion is a powerful motivating force. The first...