I remember one of my many steps towards atheism was taken when I was at school. It was in history, when we leant about Custer's last stand and the events leading up to it - and finally we arrived at something called the ghost dance
- a ritual steeped in cultish logic (and unsurprisingly toxic Christian Missionaries ) seeking divine intervention from a messianic figure , the ressurection of the dead to restore the nation, sweep aside all enemies and specifically to prevent them being slaughtered at what became known as the massacre at wounded knee
It didn't work, obviously.
And I think it was the first time, without taking the subsequent step of questioning the existence of the spiritual realm and the capriciousness of gods, it nevertheless perturbed me enough that I can recall it now quite clearly and my teenage self was wondering why that was. Was the situation not quite desperate enough? Did their gods have something better to be doing?
It struck me as rather sad and not just a little pathetic that the miracle they'd begged for, danced for, had so singularly failed to arrive and their hopes had been so utterly dashed.
Of course I'd subsequently learn about the poverty of the miraculous, but this was an early lesson.