I don't know what they're ultimately going to wind up believing in, because I plotted the whole darn book, but I haven't finished writing it yet. I think they'll probably wind up believing in a sort of natural law, a sense of universal balance, but not necessarily any afterlife or true higher power. Then again, if I ever finish FG and write a sequel, I may address that issue, or I may just leave it up to the readers. The point is, nobody really knows for sure what lies beyond the grave for real in my story. Some have returned from "death," but not with any proof, just vague memories of visions. Similarly, in the waking dream we call life, no one has shown me proof of an afterlife. Even though I've seen a ghost. After all, I don't know what really happened then. Hmm. There is a lot of me in those two characters. I should start writing it again.
I read an article in the Birmingham News today criticizing Richard Dawkins, the famed atheist. While I think he's a prosyletizer out to convert people to his way of thinking, which I innately distrust in any religion/way of thinking/political view, I disagreed with the critiquer and thought of my friend Lisa. Of course someone can disbelieve in God and have an ethical system and be a good person. You can also believe in a different type of god, or gods plural, and still be a good person, at least by my standards. However, if it turns out that only one particular type of God (say, the Judeo-Christian God) sends his followers to heaven, then everyone else is going to be up a creek and possibly in Hell, depending. Let's hope not.
I wrote the beginnings of a novel, called False Gods, about two main characters, an ancient Egyptian reluctant temple scribe and an ardent temple priestess. The scribe, named Khamaat, believes in the gods only because he can't deny that they keep showing up on earth (well, in my book they do) and throwing their weight around. He certainly doesn't think they're all-benevolent and suspects they're not always watching. He finds out soon enough that they're not all-powerful, because they can be killed! The other character, Mereyeta, fervently believes in everything the gods and culture have sold her on believing. She eventually finds out that the gods are just people with amazing powers, and that they have lost their way, neglected their duties and upset the natural order. To restore balance to the world, the two have to take up the powers of the deities for their own and struggle against the gods.