I was brought up as a catholic, I attended both catholic primary and secondary schools and was even confirmed at around the age of 10 or 11. I still remember being a fervent believer, but all along some things troubled me. For example, why was it that people in the bible seemed to be able to talk to god, but despite my most fervent prayers I never heard any reply and no matter how well intentioned my prayer, it never seemed to make any difference on the outcomes.
Also, there are very many different religions around the world ranging from simple (and complex) animism to the most sophisticated ones such as Buddhism, Hinduism and the people of the book - Jews, Christians and Moslems, without even beginning to think of all the different flavours within those large groupings
I know I had the common paternalistic view of many Christians towards Jews in that why couldnâ€™t they see that the Messiah they seem to be waiting for had already come, and I used to feel sorry for them. (BTW, I am not trying to characterise this as a true exposition on Judaism, it was just my view at the time.) Later I realised that Moslems might just as easily feel the same way towards Christians and I could think of no satisfactory argument to refute that. BTW I have no idea whether this is a common view amongst Moslems, I do know that the few I actually know do not feel this way.
The thing is that all (or at least most) of these religions claim to have The Truth and that all the others are wrong. It became obvious to me that they canâ€™t all be right. Although, maybe it is the case that every religion is right about every other religion. Anyway, I vividly remember one day over the 1971 Christmas school holidays, when I had just turned 14, I was sitting high up in the Jacaranda tree in my grandparentsâ€™ front yard when the idea occurred to me that I simply did not and could not believe. I could see no objective evidence for any god and any belief system that required me to beg the question in order to see its â€œtruthâ€ (ie, if you believe, then you will see) is not one that I can subscribe to.
Since that time I have thought a great deal over this and many other things. Today my belief system is heavily influenced by my reading on many subjects related to science. For example at the most fundamental level I believe that we can never truly know anything, that there is no true knowledge with the sole exception of some branches of pure mathematics. Everything else I ascribe a probability to. Some things are almost certainly true, for example the universe exists, and so I give them a very high probability, others are almost certainly untrue, eg the universe is really just the dream of the great cosmic turtle (and will you guys please shut up or youâ€™re going to wake him!...) and so I give those a very low probability. Most things lie somewhere in the middle.
Of course for day to day use, this philosophical point is not particularly workable so I operate on the common sense principle of assuming many things are true, or untrue, but always I try to keep my real thoughts handy. This means that I never just take something that anyone says as true, until I have compared it with what I already â€œknowâ€ (remember I do not claim to actually know anything absolutely) and whether what is being said is plausible and whether the speaker should be considered a credible witness. However, even when all these criteria are met, I still retain an element of doubt.
One implication of this is that although I do not believe in any god, or for that matter in an afterlife, I do accept that there is a (diminishingly) small chance that these things are true. I have said to others that if I die and find out that it is not the end I will be disappointed. (Joke: What advantage do non-believers in an afterlife have over believers? A: At least they will have the benefit of knowing they are wrong.) Why is this? it will be because the Universe will then have failed Occamâ€™s Razor and is more complicated than it needs to be.
Just MHO, of course. I am happy to debate these ideas too, so don't feel you will offend me by disagreeing. On the other hand, I will be more than a little surprised if you come up with something I have not heard before, but I do allow that it is possible (just not very probably <grin>)
Anyway, enough of my ramblings for now.
Ye may knowe mee better as Cap'n Bluenose