It wasn’t really a very negative or hurtful experience that drove me from Christianity. Merely observation about what was going on and how all of it seemed phony, or worthless. None of it connected to the Bible, and the Bible was quickly losing ground in my mind as infallible truth anyway. All of it just added up to doubt for me; then, I asked myself what I really believed.
The conclusion is that I believe what I can observe (or better, what is observable). It is somewhat scientific, but it is my way. I don’t trust emotions or the things that happen during highly emotionally charged situations. I’m not saying that I am emotionless, but that I don’t trust them because they can mean so many things and come from so many different stimuli. Many religious leaders use emotions to keep people coming back. It is similar to an addiction. So much that happens in churches would be considered sheer madness if one individual acted that way, but because it is an entire group, it is okay. I think it is group madness and I was right in the middle of it, as you may have been or may still be. In that highly emotional state, which becomes a type of hypnotism, people are super-suggestible and if they go far enough they become gullible and eventually are enslaved, either to a person/personality, or an office (i.e. apostle, etc), or a doctrine. It sounds harsh, but I think it is accurate.
This is how my first steps into agnosticism began. I started looking, listening, etc., and soon realized that a deity’s existence cannot be either proved or disproved. There is nothing to see, nothing to feel, nothing to hear that can be seen, felt, heard by another. In other words, one person’s experiences with religion, god, spirituality, or whatever are entirely subjective. Others cannot duplicate those “experiences”. I might claim to hear the voice of a god, but the whole room full of people does not hear it. I might say, “Thus sayeth the Lord,” but the rest of the people only hear what comes from my mouth. There is no voice directly from heaven. So, directly observing situations and really taking apart what people (especially the “leaders”) said was a big step toward thinking for myself and coming to the conclusion that I did not believe any of it. The things that happened to me, which at one time I credited to God, I then began to see were either purely coincidental or had some other explanation.
So, a negative experience didn’t drive me out of the church, but I did notice a general lack of genuine care and concern from many, particularly from the leaders. They mouthed love, but their lives were the exact contradiction. This, of course, didn’t make me want to stay there either. And my family and I did try other churches. Each had their own “weird” thing that turned me off, but it was ultimately my observations of both the Bible and the church that made up my mind.
Agnosticism soon became a silly notion in the light of what I saw and understood. I think agnosticism is a legitimate response to things that can eventually be tested, or to things that have been tested but not completely proved or disproved. It simply means that I don’t know based on current observations by myself or others. Atheism seemed a more realistic approach to the idea of gods. I do not believe in any gods, including the one portrayed in the Bible. I also don’t believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, or the Easter Bunny. To my way of thinking, they are all the same kind of thing. I see them as devices imagined/created to keep people in line, under control, or in a position in which their minds or bodies can be easily manipulated.
I know I’m talking more about what I think that what happened to me or the progression of events. It’s difficult to distinguish ONE thing that did it, but if I had to pin it down, I would go, once again, with the observations I mentioned before.