What is the “land ethic” of Mormons and what do Mormons believe regarding the human role in using the earth? What is the source of this belief?
I know of no “land ethic” that is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the Church does have very definite views on the origin, history, purpose and future of the earth. That subject could fill the volume of a sizable book. So let me see if I can do a thumbnail sketch of the above topics, some of which may be very surprising.
The origin and history of the earth
First off, we will completely discount as fables all the scientific pronouncements of the age of the earth, or of any time line concerning its history that predates the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden. The scientists have no clue as to when that was, and the Church would suggest that it may have been within the last thousand years before 4000 BC.
The Church traces the history of the earth back to the time when it rotated around the planet, Kolob, which is one of the three governing stars that are near to the celestial throne of God. At that time, the earth was a terrestrial sphere. In other words, its condition was the same as is described in the scriptures for the Garden of Eden, i.e., no enmity between different types of animals, beneficial plants and flowers grew spontaneously, and it was a place of peace.
In the beginning of that phase of the earth’s existence, Adam, or Michael the Archangel, was the chief architect in the earth’s development. It was Adam who brought the plants and animals from other worlds and initiated their growth on the earth. At the end of that creative period, Adam brought his wife, Eve, with him and stayed here.
After their encounter with Satan, the earth and all its inhabitants, plant and animal, were transformed to a telestial condition, which brought death into the world. That is the state of the earth as we know it at the present time. The Church believes in the literal interpretation of the biblical accounts of the universal flood, and of the separation of the continents in the days of Peleg.
The purpose of the earth
The earth was built for the habitation of man, and those who live by all the words of God will inhabit it throughout the eternities.
The future of the earth
At the coming of Christ to initiate his great Millennial reign on the earth (which coming is at our very doors!!) there will be a tremendous holocaust. This holocaust will transform the face of the earth, and all the wicked will be destroyed by fire. Those who are not wicked will continue to live into the millennium as mortals, and that mortal strain will continue though to the end of the millennium. At the beginning of the millennium the earth will be transformed back to its terrestrial state–the condition in which it existed prior to the fall of man.
After the end of the millennium the earth will again be transformed–this time to a celestial condition. It will become the eternal home of Christ and all those who live by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God.
The source of all these beliefs is the Holy Scriptures and the pronouncements of the prophets of God in our own time.