They are not the oldest, but definitely old. Religious values and religious morality are in many countries still the cornerstone of society. I'm not going to argue whether religious values are good or bad. I'm pretty sure everyone has their opinions on that. I'm going way deeper into the subject. I will argue that moral conservatism, at any given point in time, is harmful to society.
Just to make things clear I'll give you a short explanation as to what moral conservatism is (don't confuse it with political conservatism). Moral conservatism is the situation in which many religious communities are right now. They are clinging to moralities that by modern standards can be judged cruel, unjust or even immoral. In other words: moral conservatists are desperately holding on to old, outdated or sometimes even ancient values.
The Birth of a New Morality
Every single day we search for new moralities, new values and new customs in order to preserve as much of human life as possible. Every single day we leave behind the moralities of yesterday, for they only represent the experiences of men of earlier times as to what they supposed useful and harmful.
It is this 'leaving behind of old moralities' out of which new, better and more adjusted moralities are born. In order to improve society, one must always stay open-minded. There is no ultimate morality, and so our search will always continue.
It is also this 'leaving behind of old moralities' that religious communities fail to do. For a time their morality was the 'best' morality on the planet, until someone came up with an even better alternative. Now, in an open-minded society this 'moral evolution' would have carried on without any problems. Then what was the problem? Well, there's a flaw in the system because their morality teaches them that they should be close-minded. Their morality claims to be the truth itself, the ultimate morality even though such a thing does not exist.
The Vicious Circle of Religious Morality
Religious people who cling to their old and outdated values are holding back the progression of morality, and with that the progression on the fields of preserving our lives, our planet and our future. Their morality is force-fed to their kin, making sure that it stays preserved just the way it is, denying a child to perceive the world as they see it. The door to human progression is locked by their parents and the lock can almost never be broken. Very few escape this vicious circle of moral preservation.
Breaking the Circle
The question we all want to answer: ''How do we break this circle?''. I'm sorry, you said ''we''? We can't. 'They' should break free from the circle. The only thing we can do is help them as much as we can. We will have to fight to keep religious values out of schools, politics and other public domains. Rather than forcing a morality, we should make sure that every human being gets the chance to perceive morality as they see it. A child should not be taught what to think, but how to think.
“Let children learn about different faiths, let them notice their incompatibility, and let them draw their own conclusions about the consequences of that incompatibility. As for whether they are ‘valid,’ let them make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.”
~Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.
I'm pretty sure we'll get there within this century. More and more people are breaking free from the chains of their religion. More and more people are seeing that enjoying the freedom that comes with moral progressivism is way more pleasant than chaining yourself to moral conservatism. A chain is always a limitation, a border which we cannot cross. But to find better moral values we must always search on unknown terrain.
To be part of the never-ending climb on the mountain we call 'morality' is to be part of the most difficult struggle humanity will ever face. The struggle for goodness and preservation. No deed is more humble than passing on the flame of moral progression to the next generation. Those who are morally progressive will find their way up the mountain. Those who are morally conservative will stay in a cold, dark and isolated mountain cave, forever.