The Hand

Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design

The Hand

This 1833 study of the hand by Sir Charles Bell, a leading professor of surgery and anatomy, is one of the Bridgewater Treatises, which arose from the preoccupation of nineteenth-century Christians with interpreting God's creation in the light of contemporary scientific developments. Bell's treatise suggests that by looking in close detail at small subjects, God's role in creation can be clearly seen, whereas more general studies of the universe and the great natural cycles of astronomy and geology can obscure the intelligence behind their specific features. Bell stresses the importance of the hand in human history, the progress of society and the development of technology and design. He considers aspects of the mechanical systems of other animals, and sees their structure as a product of their function. This comparison serves to link humans with other creatures, but also defines their superiority through the sublimity of design.

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