Throughout history human beings have believed in gods—thousands of them. And just as past cultures—many great and lasting civilizations—have all but slipped from our memory, so have the gods they worshiped.
While today's dominant religions fixate on (and wage wars over) a few prominent deities, we would be wise to remember that billions of people from past centuries believed in—and devoted their lives to—entirely different gods. When civilizations lost their dominance, collapsed and were eventually overshadowed by others, so the gods they worshipped died out, and lost their relevance. If these deities are remembered in the present at all, they are thought only to be quaint relics of a distant, more primitive people.
This fact, perhaps more than any other, demonstrates that gods are human inventions, and live only so long as groups bound by common belief survive. Gods live solely in the minds of men and women, and are conjured up to serve very human personal and political needs.
Consider the following compilation of gods in whom people have believed over the course of human history. By no means an exhaustive list, it nevertheless serves as a reminder that gods have always been, and continue to be, human creations.
"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
~ THOMAS JEFFERSON