I don't have a religious background.
I mean, sure, go back two generations and you'll find one, but go back two generations and 99% of the population was religious. We're pretty much the first generation where a belief in God isn't assumed.
I have a materialistic worldview. Which is to say that I don't tend to believe in the supernatural. Which isn’t to say that I'm 100% sure that there are not beings out there with capabilities beyond our own, or that telepathy is completely impossible, but that if these things exist, they are part of nature and equally subject to investigation and analysis as electromagnetic waves and subatomic particles.
I am, in fact, happy to believe in a wide variety of things, so long as I am given a reason to do so. What I find impossible is faith. Most people seem to be happy to accept things on faith. When indoctrinated at an early enough age, they are happy to stick with that set of beliefs fairly indefinitely. This is evidenced by the number of people whose religion throughout their lives is the one which they happened to be born into.
When I've evinced a lack of belief in ghosts before, I've had people ask me why I need proof, why I can't just believe. From my side of things, this seems very odd - if I went around believing in things without at least some proof, then I'd have a vast collection of beliefs, very few of them being compatible with each other. I have a sceptical outlook; not cynical, which looks down upon other things, but sceptical, where I want to question them.
Which leads, of course, into why I don't demand proof for the existence of, say, Korea. After all, I've never seen that. And the answer there is that on weighing up the existence of places _like_ Korea, and the chances of a conspiracy managing to invent a wholly fictional country and keep that fact secret long term, it seems extremely likely that it exists.
But, I hear you cry, many, many people claim that ghosts exist, so why take the word of these Korean-believers, but not of those who believe in ghosts? The difference being that I could buy a plane ticket tomorrow and investigate the existence of Korea myself. The investigation of Korea is something that is open to all and (barring plane crashes) bound to succeed, whereas when many people have investigated the existence of ghosts they have had no success at all, and those people that have announced success have not been able to describe their methods in such a way as to allow others to do likewise.
One of the the thing that scientists usually do very well (and are supposed to do all the time, if only they weren't so darned human) is to check up on each other. When a scientist makes an announcement, particularly one of a surprising breakthrough, other scientists immediately try to replicate the experiment in order to confirm (or deny) it. When Pons and Fleischmann announced their cold-fusion breakthrough several other labs immediately tried to follow their methodology. When they announced their failure to achieve the same results the original announcement was immediately discredited.
The fact that declarations are not taken at face value, but are instead replicated, analysed and thoroughly investigated makes the results more trustworthy. Over long periods those theories which have no basis in fact are slowly disproved, those that work become more accepted. The body of knowledge can never be completed, because all new work is constantly in a state of dispute, and even accepted models can eventually be overthrown when a deeper understanding is found.
Most people seem to be unhappy about this lack of certainty. They find the idea that they cannot be told "The Answer" or have access to "The Truth" very unsettling. The idea that if you just have a little faith in what you're told, you can have the inner peace that comes with knowing that you know the absolute truth and the final answer to all of your questions is very appealing. Sadly, I just can't believe these explanations without thought or question, no matter how nice it would be to do so. No matter how much I want to believe, my scepticism won't let me.