Do earth based religions deserve the historical prejudice they once suffered? We no longer burn witches, or torture “heathens,” But this step took awhile.
Most religions and all mythology began with animistic styles of belief. That is, early human beings saw the life energy in all organisms, and even inanimate objects. They lived closer to the earth than people do now, so they knew the connection between rocks and soils, trees and rain, mountains and rivers, and everything else.
Mono-theistic religions, the belief in one supreme creator came very much later. The problems of having just one truth led to intolerance of other people’s “truth.” The never ending line of split off churches is still with us today. The early Christians split off from the Hebrews, or Hebraic people. Even though Jesus Christ was a Jew, few on either side of the split view him that way. Another major spin off came when Arab peoples chose to recognize Mohammed as their prophet. Of course, we all know what became of each of these early monotheistic faiths. Lutherans split off from Catholicism, and so on, down through history. These split offs are very much still with us today and still splitting.
The deists, however, are also still very much with us today. They see some of the Creator in every particle and energy of creation. That is, the divine is not one separate omniscient God, but instead is manifested in all matter and time.
Most scientists, ever on the look out for one grand unified theory are more supportive of the original animistic beliefs. This is because once matter was discovered to be made up of atoms, and energy, the idea of all things sharing matter is proven true.
Biologists and geologists have proven the connection between rocks, soil, and things such of limestone, which depend upon what was once animated organisms to become solid rock. Fossils and petrified wood, and carbon dating techniques, have shown that all of life and non life is interdependent. All water and air molecules circulate freely in and out of plants, animals, and earth, so that each of us has breathed the same molecules as ancient dinosaurs, (now fossilized rock) once did.
Fearing earth based religions who still see these connections as sacred, happens due to ignorance. Like all fear and intolerance, people tend to cling to the belief system into which they are born, or those beliefs that surround their whole lives.
Even Christians have their animistic beliefs. Some saints, such as St. Francis, help Christians hold a respect for other living beings. And in Hinduism and Buddhism reincarnation and great reverence for life energy, is crucial.
Now that globalization is making the world a much smaller and crowded place, earth based religions such Wicca, paganism, and many eastern beliefs are thriving once again.
At the core of every faith is usually a foundation of love and compassion. So to fear, ridicule or insult toward earth based faiths is anathema to every religion.
When ever one sole authority sets up the idea that only his or her idealism is the true one, religion is contaminated with hate and fear. That is why in Buddhist faith, one who see the Buddha is asked to kill him. No one authority holds a monopoly on truth. The assumption that you have seen the Buddha means that you have been deceived.
Because earth centered faiths recognize the creation as sacred, they teach respect for that which nurtures and gives us life. In the modern age of pollution, trash, cheap goods, and vanishing species, surely to regain respect for a living planet is long overdue.