My story is fairly simple. C.S. Lewis did it.
As a kid I had an extremely active imagination, I loved to believe all of the stories my Mum told me about fairies and magic woods etc. I had a voracious appetite for books, and the one that seemed the most real, the most plausible was the story of Aslan, singing the world or Narnia and surrounding country into existence. A giant, mysterious and wise talking lion, now there was a God you could believe in! Of course, my mother, being the brilliant woman she is took the time to explain that you cannot believe everything you read, and that you must think carefully about whether something is true or not. She is and never has been religious, but my father is (in that weird creepy way of mumbling and muttering at odd times around the house), so my mother was careful to leave it up to us kids to decide for ourselves. Trouble began when during Sunday School and storytime at the front of the congregation with the Minister, I began comparing Jesus and Aslan, as their similarities seemed obvious to me (I’ve only just learned recently that this was by design!). Of course it was then carefully explained to me by the adult believers around me, that the story of Aslan was just make-believe, but the story of Jesus was very very true. I immediately recognized this as ridiculous. I understood that I had no idea whether a giant talking lion had the ability to come back from the dead, or sing a world into existence, but I had plenty of evidence that human beings certainly couldn’t do any of the things they were claiming Jesus did. The combined stories of the Narnia Chronicles made for a far more convincing gospel, and C.S. Lewis seemed a much more reliable source, his writing was simpler and far more direct, not cloaked in metaphor that constantly needed to be explained, and everyone knew he had really existed as he had been alive far more recently than the Bible’s authors, and it seemed strange to me that someone would not have confronted him about lying if it was all just made up (I didn’t quite have a grasp on the whole ‘fiction/non-fiction thing’ yet). But the adults around me insisted that the more plausible story was false, and that their story was the truth. In my little brain it seemed obvious that they were mistaken, and if they were wrong about that, I reasoned, they could be wrong about everything.
We all continued to go to church, even long after my Dad left, as my siblings, my Mum and I enjoyed the sense of community, and the damn good burgers they made for the lunch afterwards. My Mum was even the church secretary for many years, making the bulletins every week, and I was the janitor during my teen years after my brother quit. But passed the age of five I knew that there was a very big dividing line between the way my thinking worked and the way the rest of congregations did, and I often found myself feeling sorry for them. As a kid it was weird knowing that in this regard you are probably smarter than many of the adults around you, but I think it was a big confidence booster, and has kept me questioning authority figures all my life, which has been invaluable in terms of my life as a “science enthusiast” and a sensible human being in general.
I will admit though, there is still a little part of my heart that insists that Aslan is real, and I just haven’t found the right wardrobe or picture frame yet. And if it is ever revealed to me that there is a God, I have every confidence he will have a lovely big mane for me to cuddle in.