I want you to meet someone. This is Jessica Whelan.
I know, I said I wasn’t going to make every post about Atheism. What can I say, I’m a dirty stinking liar. I’ll hit the brakes on it one day… but not this day. NOT THIS DAY.
The Age of Accountability (hereafter known as AoA for brevity’s sake) is something I’ve brought up a few times, at least once here and more often elsewhere. It’s a concept that has always bothered me, but it took me a long time – and my eventual deconversion – to understand exactly why. For those who aren’t familiar with it, AoA is a concept many Christians* adhere to, which essentially says that children will not be held accountable for their sins until they reach an age where they fully understand what sin actually is (and that they are committing it).
In other words, a 5-year-old might lie to her mother, but since she isn’t old enough to fully understand why it’s a sin for her to do so, God doesn’t hold her accountable for it. Only when she reaches an age where she fully recognizes that she’s doing something wrong will she be held accountable.
Sounds reasonable, right? Most Christians would say so. But there are some problems when one goes beyond a surface-level examination, both for those who believe in the AoA, and for those who don’t. It is a concept that has forced Christians to paint themselves into a corner, and they have no way to get out without making a huge mess.
Ever since “going public” with my atheism, I must admit that I’ve had to work extremely hard to avoid what I see as common mistakes that new deconverts often seem to make. I can’t help but be excited about this new perspective that I’ve discovered, and my first instinct is to want to “spread the good news,” so to speak. And truly, it is good news. We aren’t being eternally judged by our finite actions in this relatively tiny slice of time we’ve been given. No one is going to burn in hell for all eternity. How very precious does this life become when it is our only focus? This is all very good news indeed!
But not everyone will see it that way. In fact, most of the people closest to me will see it in the complete opposite light. And just as I don’t enjoy being preached at, it’s important for me to understand that proselytism is a two way street.
The slow erosion of my belief in God was something I never intended, and frankly, was something I never saw coming.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when this erosion began. I’ve always had questions about my faith, as I believe most people have, from a young age. Even the most devout believer will admit there is a lot about Christianity that just doesn’t make a lick of sense. How is it possible to be both three gods and one god at the same time? Where did God come from? How could he have always existed? If the world was only created less than 10,000 years ago, where do dinosaurs fit in? How do we even know that the Bible is true?
These questions (and many, many more) remain generally unanswered, to the point that even adults who are rock solid in their understanding of Christianity must simply accept them as truth on faith, confident that the answers are impossible for mere humans to comprehend. How do we know that the Bible is the true, inerrant word of God? Obviously because we have faith that it is so. Why then must we hold to this unwavering faith? Because the Bible tells us to.
And round and round it goes. (more…)