an editorial by Matt. R Ealist
I recently discovered my outrage at thumbs. Yes, I am speaking of the short, stubby little phalange protruding from the hands of humans and primates. Oh, I shudder at the sight of them! Not only am I convinced of the darkness of these halfling metacarpals, but I intend to start a public campaign to help educate people about the potential danger and inherent wickedness that lurks within their own hands. Allow me to explain how I arrived at this position.
I was reading some of the words of Richard Dawkins, the Oxford Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. First, he explained away belief in God as an evolutionary adaptation, no different than our eyes or feet or, *shivers* thumbs. Then he went on to express his outrage at this particular adaptation. He explained how religion has been harmful to society and is responsible for many atrocities throughout history, and how we would therefore be better off without it. At first, I was a bit confused at how he could be furious at, what he says, is simply an evolutionary adaptation formed by mindless and purposeless processes of nature. Then, slowly, I started to understand, and finally it clicked. He was right! Religion has been responsible for many atrocities throughout history. But, as I see it, he isn’t going back far enough. Dawkins’ outrage is misguided. He is campaigning against the wrong evolutionary adaptation. What first allowed animals to grasp objects well enough to use them as weapons? Thumbs! What trait led to the development of more sophisticated tools, including tools of destruction? Thumbs! What species won the good graces of Natural Selection, placing them at the top of the food chain with oppressive power over all other animals? That’s right, the species with thumbs. Long before humans evolved religious belief they were committing atrocities with the aide of their thumbs. The horrors perpetrated by these dreadful digits are incomprehensible. It is the thumb that allows the murderer to grasp the gun handle; the butcher to clench his chopping knife; and the jockey to lash his horse whip. How many people have died at the hands of thumb-wielding murderers? How many animals have been mutilated by thumb-boasting butchers? How many horses have become humiliated beasts, oppressed and enslaved by thumb-happy horse trainers? I needn’t say anymore.
It is my firm conviction, that if we are going to unite ourselves against any one of our evolved traits and cast it aside, it is our thumbs that need amputating. Dawkins helped me to realize the meaning of the verse, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.” It doesn’t matter that your eye is an accidental by-product of nature. For, “it is better to enter heaven with one eye, than to have two eyes and yet be cast into hell.” Just the same, it is better to enter into non-existence without thumbs than to…..well, enter into it with them! Dawkins would tell us that religion is the adaptation that needs to be expunged. But while it is a matter of debate whether belief in God is to blame for the Inquisition, there is no question as to what made possible the building of the guillotine.