I propose that an individual cannot be held accountable for their beliefs.
This is because beliefs are typically formed by outside influences beyond the control of the individual; whether dictated by fate or a God or by sheer dumb luck, it is beyond their control. Firstly, though, are my thoughts on belief:
The system of belief – whether it is in God, Allah, Buddha, magic, physics or whatever else – is primarily a tool for the individual to connect to reality in a way where he or she may gain some knowledge over it. To do these through study is the most common method, and the most socially acceptable. To come to your own opinions through your own channels, without first referencing the ‘facts’, is a heresy not much appreciated.
That’s because while the primary nature of beliefs is to support that illusion of control, the secondary nature is another, more insidious trick; to act as a metaphor representing just how the universe works. This is an illusion that drives many seemingly mad, desperate to commit horrible acts in the name of whatever faith they belong to, theistic or otherwise… and it is, naturally, the same illusion that drives fundamentalism. This is reality without studying, without wisdom: this is why the heresy is not appreciated by many.
But these people can’t help it. They are a product of their environment. The Catholic, for example, may derive their beliefs from a much earlier experience: a close relative was very sick, and they prayed as hard as they could, and the relative got better. This is a miracle in the subjective eyes of the Catholic. Regardless of whether or not it was a coincidence, it is interpreted using the Catholicism model as a miracle. A physicist, then, has the luxury of seeing physical results of his reality-tunnel; but these are no more (and no less) convincing then the experiences held by the Catholic. Two models can intersect, naturally, but they clash much more often.
Anyway – enough from me. What do you think?