‘The Creation of Adam’ and the Kingdom Within

Reaching within: What traditional art offers the heart

“The Creation of Adam,” 1508-1512, by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Sistine Chapel, Vatican. (Public Domain)

Michelangelo Buonarroti’s “The Creation of Adam,” a small part of the fresco at the Sistine Chapel, is an iconic image and often referenced in television and literature. An episode of HBO’s “Westworld” referred to the painting in regard to the significance of consciousness. The “Westworld” character Dr. Robert Ford, played by Anthony Hopkins, used “The Creation of Adam” to suggest to one of his human-like android creations “that consciousness is the true gift that a creator can give its creation.”

Is this interpretation satisfactory or is it lacking? Is Michelangelo suggesting that God is nothing more than consciousness? Or that consciousness is the link between human beings and God? Or is he simply representing his understanding of a biblical story?

In his article “An Interpretation of Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ Based on Neuroanatomy,” Dr. Frank Lynn Meshberger suggests that the depiction of God as consciousness is a plausible interpretation of “The Creation of Adam.” He claims that Michelangelo’s sonnets and his study of anatomy provide evidence for this interpretation.