Some truths are more important than others. I believe the Question of God is the single most important question to be asked in human history, and one that still needs to be asked today. Why?
Here is a door behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that's true or it isn't. If it isn't, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud...on record.
— C.S. Lewis, in Man or Rabbit?
I think everyone generally agrees on this. In Brief Answers to the Big Questions, the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking writes, "it is hard to think of a more important, or fundamental, mystery than what, or who, created and controls the universe".
The Creation of Adam, painted by Michelangelo
I was born a Christian, to Christian parents. They were raised Taoist and Buddhist, but over their years they converted to Christianity, and were convicted to build a church. A community I basically grew up in. As a kid, I was raised with Christian values, through community, stories, and songs. I grew up fascinated with Bible stories, especially the biblical accounts of kings, kingdoms and heroic pursuits. From the wise and less-wise kings in the Book of Judges, to the miracles of Jesus Christ in the Gospels, to the apocalyptic scenes in the Book of Revelations. (Not unlike many other Christian boys...) Being a Pastor's kid, I wasn't just exposed to Bible stories. I grew up volunteering in the church, most commonly on the worship band, where I've been rostered on just about every instrument that one could be rostered on and for as long as I was remotely volunteer-ready. I also participated in just about every church service and program, designed anything that needed to be designed (think, countless PowerPoint slides), and stacked any chairs that needed to be stacked.
I don't think I ever fell short of what was expected of me in church. All was smooth-sailing... until I left the country to move to Australia. But this was the beginning of a process in going from a kind of mere, ritualistic Churchianity to a more real, principled Christianity. Allow me to elaborate. In Australia, I did not have the same obligation to go to church. Attending church at all required an hour total of public transport and walking. This was not a matter of having newfound free-time. It was more like, I no longer had the convenience of hopping into my family car to get to church. It was no longer a given, it was an if. It was a conscious decision to be made. That raised personal questions of priority.
Living alone in Australia amongst not just new faces, but a hundredfold more new faces, meant many external questions were raised as well. All too often, a question would be raised of my faith which I could not answer. The simplest and most startingly obvious of questions. And then I would muster answers I had heard before, reproduce someone else's enlightenment story, and then get stumped over my inability to produce anything remotely original.
My Christian journey quite perfectly resembled a drawn-out instance of the Dunning-Kruger effect (pictured below). From Churchianity to Christianity. And the troughs that I had found myself in did not lie in practice. It was not even about understanding the point of it all. I did understand why. It lied in those questions posed which I could not answer with true conviction, birthed from a place of lived experience and intellectual coherence. Every question I could not answer posed an overarching, deep, reality-shattering existential question: "How can I so deeply believe in something that I cannot justify?"
The Dunning-Kruger Effect (Source)
I think this is a process every born-Christian has to go through at some point in life.
At my current level of knowledge, I can say with reasonable confidence that my Christianity has merit, and I genuinely think it holds the truth. Whether it is entirely true, I cannot be completely certain. But I am certain enough to call myself a Christian. My frequent personal prayer is that God might allow me the privilege of experiencing the actuality of His infiniteness, through my very finite perception.
Yes I’m aware — in claiming an identity as a Christian, I'm deeply susceptible to bias and illusion. When you attach your identity to something, anything, you become much more susceptible to bias and illusion. Your unconscious self will drive you to maintain cohesion and consistency at every step, often even at the expense of truth. I came across something Paul Graham wrote fairly recently that echoes the sentiment of many:
I think what religion and politics have in common is that they become part of people's identity, and people can never have a fruitful argument about something that's part of their identity. By definition they're partisan.