October 24th, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


We were born to be violent, saith the good doctors Horns, Jung, and Carrier.

Well, not exactly.

These scientists from the University of Utah determined that human hands evolved to—among other actions—punch!

“In vitro strain in human metacarpal bones during striking: testing the pugilism hypothesis of hominin hand evolution,” in the Journal of Experimental Biology, asserts that, compared with other primates, chimps et al., hominins (bipedal apes) developed a different hand structure: shorter palm and fingers, and a longer thumb. It has always been assumed that this design allowed for greater dexterity, particularly in the manipulation of tools and other objects necessary for survival.

But this paper adds another twist, perhaps complementary to conventional wisdom. As the human hand became more delicate, it also evolved into the perfect shape to form a fist, ideal for punching enemies (competitors for mates?) without suffering breakage of one’s own bones.

The researchers employed male cadaver arms to strike a dumbbell in three different ways—with a clenched fist, an unclenched fist, and an open-palmed slap. They determined that a clenched fist is the safest and most effective option to deliver that knockout, as gauged by the strain exerted on the metacarpals of the hand. The clenched fist, strengthened with curled fingers and reinforced by the thumb, reduced metacarpal deformation.

Announced the authors:

Our results suggest that humans can safely strike with 55% more force with a fully buttressed fist than with an unbuttressed fist and with twofold more force with a buttressed fist than with an open-hand slap. Thus, the evolutionary significance of the proportions of the hominin hand may be that these are the proportions that improved manual dexterity while at the same time making it possible for the hand to be used as a club during fighting.”

In fact, this controversial theory has been worked on by Prof. David Carrier for a while. He has argued earlier that the male human face developed such a robust jaw, cheeks, and brow, simply to withstand such punching competitions.

Pugilism, indeed!

In fact, at a conference, when Carrier presented these hypothesis, another feisty scientist, Prof. Frank Fish, of West Chester University, in Pennsylvania, waved his fist in Carrier’s face, declaring:

I can hit you in the face with this, but it did not evolve for that!”

Fish, by the way, is a black belt in taekwondo, but thankfully, no blows were delivered at this congregation of elite (presumably intelligent) scientists.

Said Carrier:

Frank was waving his fist at my face. He was suggesting that the human hand did not evolve for fighting, and I thought, ‘Wait, maybe it did!’”

Born to fight?

Replied Carrier:

I think some of that’s understandable. There’s a fear that if there is evidence that we are anatomically specialized for aggressive behavior, that might in some way justify violence, might justify aggression, might justify bad behavior. And the way I respond to that is by saying understanding is not justification.”

Nonetheless, interesting.

That humans are born in sin is something that the Bible has claimed for a long time.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
in which you formerly walked …,
in the lusts of our flesh,
indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath.
Ephesians 2:1–3

By nature!

Perhaps that’s why there is an extra warning for leaders in the church …

An elder, then must be above reproach …,
not pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious ….
1 Timothy 3:2–3

So …

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.
Romans 12:17; 13:8


  1. rodney October 26, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    If anyone “punches” you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.


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