AC raises a pertinent question for even the most devoutly secular historian:
You have to wonder why so many disparate civilizations all over the globe and throughout time, all came to the conclusion that if they brutally tortured/murdered children/babies, as a “sacrifice” to some unseen other, the unseen other would look kindly on their gesture of fealty, and bestow great things upon them, almost magically.
You do indeed. And then ask yourself what religion happens to posit a fallen world ruled by a wicked immortal spiritual creature, and how the present rulers of this world happen to regard that religion. I found the subsequent excerpt from an 1805 inquiry into the fall of nations, which compares the historical accounts of Rome and of Carthage, to be somewhat suggestive in that context:
All the historians that give us the character of the two nations were Romans and of the victorious party; yet most of them are more equitable than the historians of modern times, for they had not seen their own country in its last state of degradation and misery. Those who now make the comparison have proper materials; and it is the business of the writers of history to free it from the errors into which contemporary authors fall, whether from prejudice, or from want of knowing those events which happened after their days.
In the case of the Roman historians, the error arose from a combination of three different causes. In the first place, they compared Rome in its healthy days and its vigour, to Carthage in its decline. They were, next to that, led into an error, by not knowing that all countries that have been long rich are liable to the same evils as Carthage. And, last of all, they wrote with a spirit of party, and a predilection in favour of Rome. These three causes are certain; and, perhaps, there was another. It is possible they did not dare to speak the truth, if they did know it.
One wonders what that truth, which historians know but of which they dare not speak, could possibly have been?