A friend of mine (Stephanie) sent me an email saying, "You can't eat a mandarin (orange) without thumbs."
I'm pretty sure she meant it literally, but it got me to thinking. First it was, "Huh?" Then I got a little bit more philosophical.
What would happen if we didn't have thumbs? How would that have changed us as a cultural whole? Could we knit? Would we ever have "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"? Would opossums have jumped to the top of the evolutionary totem pole? How do folks that really don't have thumbs function? (Yes, it was a slow work day.)
Bach didn't use thumbs for his keyboard - it wasn't fashionable at the time to do so. (A little side trivia: Bach didn't use a piano - they weren't invented yet. They used harpsichords at that time, which pluck - rather than strike - the wire.) They played just using the four fingers of each hand. How genteel.
Lady-like knitting is not supposed to show the thumbs. It's all hands in. You can't get much done that way but you look good doing it! You also don't want someone to be "all thumbs", especially if that someone is your dentist. It sure makes it sound like thumbs are bad.
But without our thumbs we wouldn't have the tools we have, open ketchup bottles, tie ties, or knit comfortably. I like my thumbs. They're useful little things to have, especially for knitting.
So I agree, Steph - you can't eat a mandarin without your thumbs.