To expand a bit on the bio:
They tried to bring me up as an atheist, of course – very usual at that place and time. Only they didn’t succeed, as I found their conviction as just another belief, much more probable perhaps, but none the same unprovable. Moreover, their kind of atheism was almost synonymous with that sense of the word materialism which is, when thought about really thoroughly, in my opinion just a kind of fatalism. And I prefer to believe in free will, despite realising that that too may be just wishful thinking.
In my teens I had this interest in Buddhism, with its non-violence aspect, its not being exactly a religion (at least not indisputably so), its not demanding one’s choosing the “right” sect &c, but unfortunately, I was already old enough to realise pretty soon that predominantly I was just in search of something to diminish my natural fear of death.
And then of course I happened to come across the Authorised Version, and having had almost nothing of the book pre-chewed and pre-interpreted for me, I read it as it was and concluded it’s the most unethical book I’ve ever read, even though I’ve heard about many books which are presumably even worse.
To be sure, agnosticism is not just about religion – it’s about knowledge in the broadest possible sense. So that, for instance, yes, I think it very highly improbable that at this very moment I’m sound asleep, but… but can’t rule it out altogether, as often in my sleep I’d feel the same. Or that the Earth moves around the Sun – but weren’t people absolutely certain it’s the other way round only half a millenium ago? And so forth.
No wonder the chaplain from Heller’s Catch-22 is one of my favourite characters there: There was no way of really knowing anything, he knew, not even that there was no way of really knowing anything. I guess this simple (or not so simple) sentence covers it perfectly.