I was taught/trained to believe in God. First parents and siblings, then the influence of Sunday school and church, and peers. By the age of 18 I had not come across anyone seriously urging me to cease believing in God, and I had not heard any sustained arguments against believing in God.
I did not believe in God as a way of meeting psychological needs, any more than saying the pledge of allegiance or learning the Minnesota state anthem met deep psychological needs. It was just something everybody did.
I was taught that I had direct access to God through prayer, and that God had direct access to me through omnipresence and omniscience. (Those words weren't used in Sunday school.) It was more like, "God knows what you are doing and thinking all the time" so there was no escape.
Also if Jesus didn't exist or if he never claimed he was the son of God, than I'm pretty sure that would be a major flaw with Christianity. — dclements
If Jesus had not existed, there would be no such thing as Christianity, never mind it having a flaw.
I am certain Jesus existed. Whether he was the Messiah, whether he performed miracles, whether he said he was the Son of God, I don't know and can not know with certainly.
Paul is our first source (but Paul never met Jesus) and the Gospels (formed up and finished later than Paul) are the "authoritative" story of Jesus. There wouldn't have been a Jesus movement for Paul to first resist then join if Jesus had not existed.
What Paul learned about Jesus was apparently powerfully persuasive, and Paul did have access to people who knew Jesus first hand (like Peter and James). What people of Jesus' time experienced of Jesus must also have been persuasive, else there would have been no Jesus movement.
The Gospels were formed up and published by editors in the nascent church several decades after Jesus, the Disciples, Paul, and the first or second generation of witnesses had died. The editors were at a temporal and geographical distance from the time and place of the Gospel narrative. This nascent organization, the letters of Paul, and the pieces of text, oral tradition, and liturgical practice that existed are all testimony to the fact that Jesus had existed, and something remarkable happened in his person.
But what, exactly, happened -- we do not know, and short of Jesus coming to us and telling us all about it, we never will know.
My skeptical view of Jesus-as-God incarnate took quite a while to form up--becoming clearer when I was about 40 years old. From skepticism I settled into a frustrating on/off belief/disbelief pattern.
If now, 30 years since becoming skeptical, I feel a pull towards God, it is the need to resolve cognitive dissonance between the deeply held belief I once had and the skeptical-verging-on-or-being-disbelief position I hold now.