Skeptics of all historic periods have been correct about the non-existence of gods. All it takes is time for that belief to become a reality.

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Skeptics doubt the gods of their epochs. And the passage of time has proven over and over again that the skeptics were right over and over again.

An ancient skeptic would have been anyone unsure of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, or Norse Gods.

Imagine several ancient Egyptians who doubted the existence of their epoch’s deity-packed pantheon. Suppose these skeptics were subjected to a barrage of criticisms from defenders of the Egyptian faith.

Suppose they had to support their skeptical positions and offer reasons for their incredulity. Suppose defenders of the ancient faith offered credible arguments and the skeptics offered weak arguments.

It wouldn’t matter how inept these ancient skeptics might have been in presenting their views. And it wouldn’t matter how they mishandled the internal dissonance and public isolation resulting from rejection of childhood indoctrination. Nor would it matter how marginal these ancient skeptical Egyptians were. It wouldn’t matter if they were indeed the only skeptics in the entire multi-thousand-year epoch of Egyptian religion.

None of that would matter because we know from the distance of two thousand years since Egyptian religion died out that ancient Egyptian skeptics were correct. No gods actually graced the ancient Egyptian pantheon.

Other such skeptics surely arose during the multi-thousand-year epoch of ancient Sumerian-Akkadian-Babylonian religion. These skeptics were right too. None of those gods existed.

And yet another skeptic, let’s say she was a teenage girl surrounded by ancient Norse theology. She doubted that epoch’s god. She too was correct. Time proved she was right.

And on and on—all those skeptics in the past were correct when they disbelieved the deities of their now-dead religions.

Ancient skeptics doubted because there was something incredible in the theologies of their epoch. Most people cannot espy a cause for doubting the religions that are in full flourish during their lifetime. Only a skeptical few can see ample cause for doubt.

(I say skeptical few, but there could have been hundreds or thousands of ancient skeptics in any given era. There may indeed be a steady state of five percent or ten percent or twenty percent of a population in any epoch that is skeptical about their epoch’s idea of God).

Emerson said one epoch’s religion is the next epoch’s literary entertainment. We enjoy ancient Greek religion as a literary event called mythology, but ancient Greeks didn’t call their religion mythology; they called it theology.

Visit Greece and you’ll see it’s in ruins. And the ruins are the very real remains of ancient temples to Greek gods that did not exist.

They believed in those gods. Visit Greece and you’ll see it’s in ruins. And the ruins are the very real remains of ancient temples to Greek gods that did not exist.

And yet the epoch of ancient Greek religion lasted for two thousand years—and then it died out and became utterly unbelievable.

Plato thought it the utmost sacrilege that his philosophical contemporaries denied the gods of Greece given the ancient pedigree of those Gods. Plato could not know that a few hundred years after he lived everyone everywhere, including every Greek, would deny the gods he found credible.

Aware as we are of the fate of ancient religions, should our epoch be any different than epochs past? Is it part of our temporal myopia to think our religions will escape judgment thousands of years from now?

Will a distant future prove that our current skeptics are correct? Do skeptics of all ages divine the future of all gods?

It would seem so. It would seem that time is on the skeptic’s side.

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J. H. McKenna (Ph.D.) has taught the history of religius ideas since 1992 at various colleges and since 1999 at the University of California, where he has won teaching awards. He has published in academic...