I was an atheist for some years, but became a Christian at the tail end of the worst four years of my life. I suppose you might say the search for meaning had a bit to do with it.
However the Christian claim is that NO-ONE can come to the Father unless Christ calls him.
"Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. "It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.…
So in one sense it’s not up to you. It doesn’t seem democratic in our modern understanding, where Jack is as good as his master, but that’s the claim.
But I’ve also had a fair number of spiritual experiences. My father turned up in my bedroom the night he died. We argued and talked, and at the end he gave this terrifying scream and disappeared. Yet since I was an atheist at that time, I tried to forget it and it was nearly four more years before I became Christian.
After becoming Christian, there were other experiences - “double whammies” on three occasions (like a breath going through you in waves from head to foot, and in my case on all three occasions used to emphasise a phrase someone else was saying), heavy gripping pressures at night (demonic) and sundry other items.
Once you commit to God, He doesn’t leave you without some sort of witness.
However on the business of allegory - let’s take Jonah, the alleged whale bait, as an example.
Some take this literally, but modern scholarship does not take such a literal view.
From “The Catholic Bible Study Handbook” - by Jerome Kodell OSB.
Jonah - The Book of Johah is different from the other prophetic writings in that it is a narrative describing the prophet and his work rather than recording his message. Today the book is recognised as a parable confronting the Jews after of (Babylonian) times with their own narrowness towards other peoples. Jonah is sent to preach to the pagan Ninevites against his will and is indignant when they repent and turn to the Lord.l The anonymous author is urging an awareness of and openness to the promise of universal salvation given through Abraham (Gn 12:1-3)"
Now an earlier generation, without the benefit of later scholarship, might have believed the story is literal. But would that really have made any difference to their Christian faith? Since God knows our circumstances, He will also know what formed our theological ethos - education level, wealth or poverty, religious and / or cultural background. So in one sense the question of whether a person believes the story of Johah is literal or alllegorical is irrelevant, except insofar as they take home the primary message - that of being open to other people.
So when Christ referred to being in the belly of the earth for three days as the prophet Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days, was He literally affirming the book of Johah as an historical fact?
Or was He simply using the story as a precursor to His own death and resurrection?
In other words, God’s given you a brain. He expects you to use it.