Any speculations on where your thoughts come from? Chiefly the thought that there is no god versus belief?
As a secondary consideration is there any way to prove that your skepticism is your own versus just another uploaded mental "operating system" such as that seen with belief?
From your conscious mind. I mean your brain at work. Where does it get the thoughts to work on? Maybe the cosmos is chockerblock full of them since Adam was a boy. Maybe ours are on a metaphysical plane that only our brain can retrieve, process and restore as new or changed thoughts.
I think we have, or end up with an OS that is culturally formatted. We take in so much information from those close to us. It means, I think, that our perception is formatted to allow the most ludicrous ideas take hold, such as me becoming a Jehovah's Witness or some other poor soul thinking Islam is a good thing.
Even the thoughts in my post are formed through processing information from other sources, in this case Rupert Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance.
Thoughts, your own mind, is blank at birth. We learn in 2 ways; being taught and direct experience.
Using the scientific method of observation, we do counter learnt "knowledge" quite often which makes you question all taught things as a non theist.
WTF would you or want to prove your own skepticism? To whom?
This is probably fairly basic but here goes. I was baptised a catholic and brought up as one. I was in primary school (aged about 8) when I started to question the validity of what I was being told about god such as; water into wine, feeding the 5,000, not going to church was a mortal sin equivalent to murder (also a mortal sin) and so on. It all seemed unbelievable and that notion has stayed with me. As I've grown older I've read a number of religious texts across many faiths and the notion has not only remained but flourished as I came to understand that it's nonsense.
Where did my thoughts come from? I think from the way I'm wired mainly but perhaps the seed was sowed, unwittingly, by my mother who said that when she too asked questions of the 'fantastic' when she was younger she was told that was where faith came in. That struck me as flimsy at best even at a young age, but my mother had a faith throughout her life.
Is my skepticism my own? I was brought up to question things and to ask if i didn't know or better still go to the library and find out for myself. So I guess my parents were instrumental in this even if they didn't expect me to question the validity and/or the existence of god.
For most of my life my skepticism was a private matter only because there was no one as interested as I was in religion, not god necessarily, and the impact it was having and continued to have on various peoples. I found out about the atheist community about 3 years ago and came across Christopher Hitchins. I thought 'Wow!' this guy thinks the same as I do, he's come to the same conclusions I have albeit in a far more robust and perhaps intellectual way but none the less it acted as a confirmation of my own thoughts and findings.
So if I have just uploaded a mental operating system I was and am not aware of it and so I'm quite happy that my skepticism and 'no belief' is mostly my own.
Well the first question is easy. My thoughts are mine. I own them. I spend a great deal of time sorting them out.
As such, my skepticism is also my own.
Everyone tries the best they know how (and are allowed) to make sense of the world and their experiences. In between everyone's ears is a mental model of reality that attempts to explain and predict experienced reality, to accurately discern cause and effect.
Some people -- no, make that most people -- hope they can borrow someone else's mental model and have it work for them. Typically, that of their parents (or at least their imperfect understanding of it) as well as various other mentors and authority figures and perhaps personal heroes and so forth. And sometimes it works at least "well enough".
I can only say that in my case a very careful adoption of my parent's and religious instructor's beliefs and assumptions about life led to constant surprises as my mental model of reality (how life is supposed to work, given allegedly correct inputs) constantly failed to explain or predict lived outcomes. Eventually, despite being essentially a compliant, conflict-averse, obedient sort of chap, I had to admit that my parents and fundamentalist overlords were not just a little wrong, but just about totally wrong, about how I should be thinking about life and meaning and purpose and relationships and a whole raft of other important things.
So ... I did not make the mistake of finding another religion or ideology or guru to spoon feed me another set of false assumptions and bad advice. I started systematically looking at how life actually works instead of how I wished it worked. I started observing and experimenting. And eventually I arrived at a much better epistemology.
It was only later that I noticed other thinkers had arrived at similar conclusions and that they had accepted names. Critical thinking, rationality, empiricism, stoicism, the scientific method, etc. A whole range of concepts that had long been forbidden to me and that I had been quite ignorant of.
Since there's no such thing as a totally unique life experience or a totally original thought, it is therefore no surprise that there are thinkers and authors and speakers that happen to agree with me. But that doesn't mean that I sought them out and just believed them without justification or requiring any substantiation, like I did with religion.
Your question assumes that no one can think for themselves. I am not that cynical. I believe that people can reason through things and hold personal views that are not dependent on belonging to a group. And that is fortunate, because when it comes to atheism there's really nothing to coalesce around and have a sense of community about. My camaraderie, such as it is, comes from more substantive things like who my neighbors are and who needs help and how I can be involved in the larger community in practical ways. It comes from playing no-stakes 500 rummy with friends, from attending a charity dinner with the couple next door, going to a meetup to discuss software development, or attending the annual business meeting that my main client puts on. From mentoring my grandson and stepson, and so forth.
Is there any way for me to "prove" any of the above? No, but fortunately, I'm not obligated to prove anything to anyone.
my thoughts come from a combination of my predicate wiring, the genetic propensities I was borne with, and my experiences in life. we are a self writing program, but it isn't like computer programming. the brain is 3 dimensional and analog, with some connections being stronger than others.
but the things we are exposed to, the experiences, do change the base from which we operate.
skepticism is the result of being exposed to things which teach you the FACT that nothing which is unobservable is worthy of justified belief.
if one "operating system" leads to demonstrably true results and one doesn't, it's a fairly simple thing to decide which one to trust.
why would i have to speculate on where my thoughts come from? i am perfectly well aware of where they come from. i do this think i learned as a child, which some people do and some don't. it's called thinking. my thoughts don't come from anything resembling belief, in the sense i perceive you to mean. no, they're not someone else's. that doesn't mean i don't listen or read. it means i process what i take in on my own, and some of the processing means rejecting bullshit.