I think it all boils down to, why believe in something because someone else says it is so? Why look outside ourselves for "the answer?" If there is such a thing, ha ha.
Marktb, there's no need to study religious texts or history books. This isn't the kind of knowing you can derive from intellectual pursuits. No one else will give you "the truth." Unless you have your own experience, you will find yourself either going through life confused and afraid or clinging to someone else's answers for a sense of security.
I recommend that you try some form of meditation. Meditate on your questions and see what kind of answers come to you.