When I was little, religion wasn't a huge part of my life at all. Mum and Dad didn't go to church on Sundays - I think they were too busy and were moving up and down the UK at the time. They put their religion down as Church of England on census forms and the like, but they weren't religious. When I was seven, we settled into Cambridgeshire, and one of my friends went to Sunday School. Of course, this meant that I wanted to go, because she did. I had no concept of what it actually was, though. So, since I went there, Mum started going to church, which I think she liked as it helped her fit into the new community we'd moved to. So at this point, yes, I did believe in something, at least the idea of God, heaven and an afterlife.
My secondary school was actually a church school, which I went because it was where my parents wanted me to go. Anyway, long story short, I didn't get on well there, and eventually moved to a more normal school. It was around this time I started seriously thinking that I didn't believe, at least not in the same way. However, I think these two events are less connected then they seem. Also incidentally, Mum had a falling out with some of the people at church. Still, churches are often such a huge part of small town life that we still attended events there regularly.
Sometime in my mid-teens, I realised I didn't believe in any sort of higher power or religion. However, I swung way too far the other way. I thought that religion was stupid, that it was the route cause of everything bad in the world. I blamed everything from the Holocaust to terrorism on religion. Despite the actual reason for this being bad people who would do bad things no matter what. Oh, and I thought Islam was bad because of making women wear the headscarf. Please remember I was 15. While my age doesn't give me an excuse, it does explain why I thought that way.
Now, though? Since going to University, I'm much more measured. With everything bad that goes on in the world, I don't see how there can be a benevolent God that's meant to look after everyone. However, I have seen how faith can do good things, too. It can encourage people to better themselves, or simply give someone something to hold onto in their darkest times. With all that's wrong with the would, I don't want to deny people things that bring them some form of happiness. For some people, it's sport. For me, it's reading and video games. And for some, it's faith. Also I have met Muslims who weren't bad people, who wore the headscarf because they wanted to. I realised that forcing women not to wear an item of clothing that they like is sexist, too. And it really wasn't my debate to have, considering I wasn't Muslim. My end view is that I don't mind other people being religious, so long as their beliefs don't infringe on anyone else's human rights.
With that said, though, I do really like hearing other people's views on faith. It is a fascinating topic.