Genesis 3 and the Age of Accountability

I have always wanted to know how any reasonable person could hold Eve accountable for the crime of eating magical fruit.

The Bible teaches that because of the Fall of Man everyone inherits original sin, the punishment for this is death and eternal hellfire, unless you accept Jesus as your personal savior. If we follow this to its logical conclusion that means millions upon millions of “innocent” children are currently experiencing eternal torment in fiery Hell all because they are too young to understand their own sinful nature and to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Well that doesn’t seem like something a just, loving and benevolent deity would do and therefore Christians need an escape hatch to save their opinion of their deity. Enter the “Age of Accountability.” This is the belief that since Jesus covered the sins of the whole world, God, out of his mercy saves those children too young to be held accountable for their actions.

Just to be clear there is absolutely no biblical doctrine about the age of accountability, this is purely the result of a thought exercise trying to account for why a just and loving God would send millions of innocent babies to hell just because they are not old enough to accept Jesus as their savior. It has since become a widespread belief. And this is what gets me. If Christians refuse to believe that God would punish children who are incapable of understanding, why do they believe that God would punish all of humankind for the actions of two people who are also incapable of understanding?

Let’s briefly recap Genesis 3. God creates Adam and Eve and places them in the garden with the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which Adam and Eve are commanded not to eat from. A talking snake reveals to Adam and Eve that the fruit is wisdom granting magical fruit and convinces them to eat. The two realize they are naked, sew some fig leaves together and hide from God. God curses all three of them, makes some clothes for Adam and Eve and then kicks them out of the garden.

So Adam and Eve have been running around the garden completely in the buff having no idea how bad being naked is. They eat from the magical wisdom granting fruit true and suddenly they realize that being naked is very bad. They had no knowledge of how bad their nakedness was and therefore could not be and were not held accountable for their actions. Then they received knowledge of the “wrongness” of their current state and immediately, independent from God, take steps to correct their wrongness. There is a clear and evident transition.

Because of their lack of knowledge of Good and Evil Adam and Eve cannot be held accountable for any of their actions up to and including the eating of the fruit. In fact, based on the information provided in the Bible we have every reason to believe had Adam and Eve been given the knowledge that eating of the magical tree was wrong they would have taken steps to prevent that action just like they immediately took steps to cover their nakedness as soon as they had the knowledge they were naked. Anyone who believes in the Biblical God needs to ask themselves why God would hold back the very knowledge that would have allowed Adam and Eve to follow his will. Some people will argue that Adam and Eve knew eating form the tree was wrong because God had commanded them not to. However, these same people will argue that disobeying God is evil and following God is good, knowledge of Good and Evil is exactly the knowledge that Adam and Eve lacked. Adam and Eve are like the little girl whose mother is desperately trying to convince her not to accept cookies from strangers, if a stranger offered her a cookie the next day and she accepted it no one would argue the little girl was purposefully trying to disobey her mother, the girl just isn’t old enough yet to have the mental capacity to comprehend that accepting cookies from strangers could possibly be bad. Satan could have appeared in full red-face, horns, tail, and pitchfork and Adam and Eve would have had zero reason not to listen to him.

In a cruel twist of fate Adam and Eve were incapable of preventing themselves from eating the magical fruit because they could not know eating the magical fruit was wrong precisely because they had not yet eaten the magical fruit that would give them that knowledge.

If God cursed all of mankind because of the actions of two individuals who He failed to give the knowledge they needed to effectively follow His will, why on earth would he spare children from eternal torment because they lack the same knowledge? I have no reason to believe that the millions of children who God has murdered, commanded to be murdered, has allowed to die in the hands of abusers, through various natural disasters, accidents, or starvation are in a “better place,” in fact if I believe in the God of the Bible, I have every reason to believe the opposite. And that is just one more reason why I’m not a Christian.

Thoughts? Comments? Share them below and remember, don’t follow the herd.

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