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TitleSubduing the Earth: Man's Dominion
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsNibley, Hugh W.
Book TitleNibley on the Timely and the Timeless
PublisherReligious Studies Center, Brigham Young University
CityProvo, UT
KeywordsAbraham (Prophet); Adam (Prophet); Cain; Dominion; Enoch (Prophet); Israel; Moses (Prophet); Noah (Prophet); Smith, Joseph, Jr.

Ever since the days of the Prophet Joseph, Presidents of the Church have appealed to the Saints to be magnanimous and forbearing toward all of God's creatures. But in the great West, where everything was up for grabs, it was more than human nature could endure to be left out of the great grabbing game, especially when one happened to get there first, as the Mormons often did.

One morning just a week after we had moved into our house on Seventh North, as I was leaving for work, I found a group of shouting, arm-waving boys gathered around the big fir tree in the front yard. They had sticks and stones and in a state of high excitement were fiercely at­tacking the lowest branches of the tree, which hung to the ground. Why?I asked. There was a quail in the tree, they said in breathless zeal, a quail! Of course, said I, what is wrong with that? But don't you see, it is a live quail, a wild one! So they just had to kill it. They were on their way to the old B. Y. High School and were Boy Scouts. Does this story surprise you? What surprised me was when I later went to Chicago and saw squirrels running around the city parks in broad daylight; they would not last a day in Provo.

Like Varro's patrician friends, we have taught our children by pre­cept and example that every living thing exists to be converted into cash, and that whatever would not yield a return should be quickly exterminated to make way for creatures that do. (We have referred to this else­where as the Mahan Principle—Moses 5:31.) I have heard influential Latter-day Saints express this philosophy. The earth is our enemy, I was taught—does it not bring forth noxious weeds to afflict and torment man? And who cared if his allergies were the result of the Fall, man's own doing? But one thing worried me: If God were to despise all things beneath Him, as we do, where would that leave us? Inquiring about today, one discovers that many Latter-day Saints feel that the time has come to put an end to the killing.