Here's the question of the day: Is belief a choice? I ask this because according to most people's interpretations of Christianity, salvation is based on belief in Jesus.
It seems to me that people have no choice as to whether they will believe something or not. There are lots of decisions that lead to a belief, but the actual choice to believe is nonexistent. For instance, say you're sitting in your living room, and someone comes up to you and claims that there's a dragon squatting behind your couch. Do you have the choice to believe this claim? Could you if you desired strongly enough believe it? Of course not. It's not a choice, because your brain will not allow you to think that this is true based on your prior knowledge and ability to reason. The choice that is presented to you is to ask for evidence or to look for evidence yourself of this claim, but there is no choice to believe. This is a significant conclusion when applied to Christianity. If the popular view is correct, then although we have no choice as to whether or not we will believe in Jesus, we are told to do so, and told that if we do not believe, we will not receive eternal life. The choices we actually do have are to ask God and others for evidence of the claims of Christianity and to look for evidence ourselves. Beyond this we are powerless. We will believe what our brains can rationalize based on the existing evidence. So, if someone looks with all their ability for Christian evidences, but doesn't find enough to convince oneself, then can God hold this person accountable and damn him? Either the answer is yes, or belief is not what God bases salvation on.
The things that seem reasonable to be held accountable for are for lazy thinking, unwillingness to search for truth, and apathy. What seems apparent is that God should look with scorn upon these traits, yet here's the clutch point: while many non-Christians do not believe because of these traits, many Christians are believers due to these very things. Which should God reward, those who believe God because that's what they were told to believe, or those who didn't believe in God because that's what they were told to believe? Which should God reward, those who blindly accept Christianity without reason, or those who assume Christianity is false without reason? Which should God reward, those who believe in God because it's easy, or those who are atheists because it is easy? Neither would seem to be the fair answer, yet in judging these two categories of people, popular Christianity of course favors those who happened to be raised in a cultural or family setting where the suppositions of Christianity were assumed to be true, and belief is accepted and expected in others.