Posted by: Phoebe | June 26, 2008

The Human Hand Glorifies God

This quote is from the book How the Mind Works by Stephen Pinker, an evolutionary psychologist. Needless to say, I do not agree with his evolutionist beliefs, but I appreciate the beauty of his description of the human hand. Not only can the hand do all the motions which Pinker describes, but hands can work with arms to be able to play musical instruments to the glory of God! We are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139)

I have added spacing to the paragraph to make it more readable.

“A remarkable feat is controlling the hand. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Greek physician Galen pointed out the exquisite natural engineering behind the human hand. It is a single tool that manipulates objects of an astonishing range of sizes, shapes, and weights, from a log to a millet seed. “Man handles them all,” Galen noted, “as well as if his hands had been made for the sake of each one of them alone.”

The hand can be configured into a hook grip (to lift a pail),

a scissors grip (to hold a cigarette),

a five-jaw chuck (to lift a coaster),

a three-jaw chuck (to hold a pencil),

a two-jaw pad-to-pad chuck (to thread a needle),

a two-jaw pad-to-side chuck (to turn a key),

a squeeze grip (to hold a hammer),

a disc grip (to open a jar),

and a spherical grip (to hold a ball).

Each grip needs a precise combination of muscle tensions that mold the hand into the right shape and keep it there as the load tries to bend it back. Think of lifting a milk carton. Too loose a grasp, and you drop it; too tight, and you crush it; and with some gentle rocking, you can even use the tugging on your fingertips as a gage of how much milk is inside! And I won’t even begin to talk about the tongue, a boneless water balloon controlled only by squeezing, which can loosen food from a back tooth or perform the ballet that articulates words like “thrilling” and “sixths.”



  1. Great insight pj. Isn’t it also interesting that we gage the excellence of the artist by their ability to capture the human hand? Maybe it’s because they are capable of great use as well as expression… and they tell so much about a person’s lifestyle. The other day I was looking at a gardener’s hands. They were cracked, and sunburned, and ingrained with soil but they were also quite gentle.

    I imagine it would take some serious understanding and skill to capture such opposing qualities in a drawing.

    You know, we say so much with our hands alone. Motioning “good bye” or “hello”, asking people to join us or to leave, asking a question, or offering assistance. Also, look how many refferences there are to hands in our language. Giving a hand, lending a hand, hand in hand, needing a hand up, handy, hand over, handiwork. They must be a very important part of our our cluture.

  2. Thank you Tara! I agree that hands are amazing in showing unique individuals. Mother hands and Father hands are beautiful kinds of hands. Baby hands too! Dr. Spitzer hands! 🙂

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