We all inherit (or maybe receive through a form of osmosis) a worldview from our parents or from those who did the most to raise us up through those trying childhood years.
The view that was instilled in me was that of a fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christian faith. That served as the mental template of my early life. When I got old enough to enjoy meaningful rebelliousness, I began to reexamine the basic reality I was first taught. My viewpoint slowly began to evolve, and has left me years later with something that certainly works for me (most of the time), but which still has gaps that will probably never be filled.
Please understand that mine and my family's religious experience, our "church life," was not what seems to me from my personal observation of my acquaintances, the casual affair it is with most adherents. The beliefs instilled me from birth were not vague concepts that mostly sat collecting dust somewhere on the shelves in the backs of our minds. These beliefs were constituent elements to our character and personalities.
When I was a child we attended church services four times a week - two Sunday worship services, a Tuesday night "prayer meeting," and a Thursday service directed at the youth. Though out the year there was a Vacation Bible School in the summer and those (dreaded to me as a child) revivals - that in those "good old days" routinely lasted 4, 5, and even 6 or more weeks. At the end of every year we held a Watch Night service where the New Year was literally "prayed in," after hours of testimonies, singing, and sermonettes.
Yes, we were what I now consider to be fanatics. And we were somewhat isolated from the real world, at least emotionally and intellectually speaking, preferring the company of our "brothers and sisters in Christ" to outside "friends" and even blood family.
These Pentecostal church services we attended were replete with strange wonders. People routinely walked the backs of pews (never falling), turned cartwheels in the floor, and danced and whirled "in the Spirit," they spoke in "new tongues," again in the Spirit," - a strange sounding gibberish that seemed even to my child's mind quite unique to the individual (I could close my eyes and tell who it was speaking in tongues from the sounds they uttered) - while others "interpreted" this heavenly language for us, usually prophecies of upcoming events. People testified of the spiritual warfare that went on in their daily lives, miraculous answers to prayer and stories of demons and angels that were relayed and believed in the most literal manner.
From the distance that has grown between my childhood and now, and after years of probing, reading, thinking, and observing, I'm able to see that as strange as my youthful worldview was and might seem to many, psychologically speaking, there was a certain resonance between it and the typical human psyche.
The majority of humans have experiences with something most think of as a transcendent reality. I like to use for shorthand Rudolf Otto's term "the numinous," although I can't fully accept what he and most would consider the supernatural. Adjectives such as supernatural and paranormal don't fit neatly into my current worldview of naturalism, which to my mind gives us a better shot at making sense of it all.
As strange as my religious upbringing might seem to most, for those who have studied comparative religions, or have watched one of the popular documentaries on Vodou which are sometimes shown on television, or maybe have read about the Native American Ghost Dance movement (to give two distant and seemingly unrelated examples), it can be seen that imbedded deep in the mind of humanity is the psychological framework that allows these - for lack of a better term - alternative realities to catch hold.
The rise of the modern scientific worldview has not - to the consternation of many of its more fanatical adherents - ridded humanity of the psychological depths of the numinous experience. That is for the simple reason that so many humans have encounters that don't seem to rest so easily in the reductionistic framework. The orderliness of the universe as revealed in the "laws of nature" has not canceled out the appeal of superstitious and magical thinking. That is because for most people, what they feel and experience is what they tend to accede to and believe in, overall theories be damned.
Religion and especially religious experience seems at its base to be merely the human expression of the ignorance of our inner selves. Religion is steeped in psychological archetypes and is highly personal. Even symbols that are more or less universally recognized can be given those individual twists which make them variations on a theme. That is why, at least I believe it is why, religions turn dangerous and/or harmful when the symbols are interpreted literally, canonized, organized, and then used as means of controlling the masses under the guise of orthodoxy.
I firmly believe that a free mind is a healthy mind, and to that end I've claimed my basic human right to think for myself and view all authority with at least a healthy dose of skepticism. I've allowed myself to unshamefacedly and in all sincerity say "I don't know" when indeed I don't. Finally, I've embraced the provisional nature of my worldview. That was something that didn't come easily to me after my early training.