God-Adam! Is That What it Really Says?


While reading a recent article on the origins of the abstract art movement I was struck by this quote from Wassily Kandinsky, widely considered to have been one of the founders of the movement: “the contact between the acute angle of a triangle and a circle has no less effect than that of God’s finger touching Adam’s in Michelangelo.” Apart from putting me in mind of Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, this statement emphasized once again the power of one of Genesis’ creation stories. It also made me aware of a new dimension of the distressed pleas of Creationists for a reversal of science and a resetting of the hands of time itself. It seems that there is so much to lose.

Michelangelo’s Adam, as I always tell my students, has bestowed a disproportionate influence on all subsequent biblical interpretation. Rather like the case with Handel’s Messiah and Isaiah 9, modern readers find it exceptionally difficult to climb over Renaissance images to peer directly at the ancient sources themselves. Isaiah was writing about Hezekiah ben Ahaz rather than Jesus of Nazareth, but just try to convince any holiday shopper of the fact! Art has made the decision for us; there can be no questioning of Handel. Michelangelo was a brilliant painter, indeed, a genius by any stretch of artistic imagination, but he was no Bible scholar. Even if he had been, the tools available now were not available then.

I sense that Creationists fear the loss of the literal image (if it can even be considered literal) of Michelangelo’s God and Adam. How threatening it is to ponder that God is not a bearded white man! What blasphemy to consider that instead of an insouciant Adam we have promiscuously procreating ape-like hominids hopping around!

One of my favorite movies has always been 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick’s coming of age. The iconic monolith with early, distinctly apelike humans cavorting around it, timidly daring to touch it, to become something more — this abstraction felt like creation to me. Indeed, much of the film is abstract art. Creationists fear the demise of classical art; however, abstract artists do not destroy classical art, but rather build on it. It is humanity growing up. Like abstract art the biblical images leave much to the imagination. Is it better to remain firmly mired in what we know cannot be true or to allow human progression to continue? Even Wall-e reaches a mechanical hand out to the light (image copyrighted, all rights reserved).

15 thoughts on “God-Adam! Is That What it Really Says?

  1. I had seen a video series years ago on, “The Jesus I Never Knew”, a book by Philip Yancey, in which the author seeks to re-think his outlook of Jesus by taking him out of the stereotypical portrayal of classic art and film.

    It shook me up to question how much of our belief systems are defined by artists interpretations. Artists, who like you and me, only have opinion and interpretaion to go on.

    How many historical facts have we filtered through the artistic interpretations of others? And does their fame and acclaim give them any more authenticity than us everyday seekers?

    We may never know.




    • Good point, Chaz.

      I often tell my students that our interpretation of the Bible is frequently predetermined by artists. Not that artists set out to change or set opinions, but people are easily led. Some times it is nearly impossible to convince people that the images they have seen are one interpretation among many. Those of us with artistic sensitivity wouldn’t wish to place such a heavy burden on creative people, but society does it all the time.


    • Precisely, Chaz.

      Looks are superficial (but then, I would say that!). My students, however, were shocked with the idea that their savior might not be good looking.

      BTW, I’m adding you to my blogroll…


  2. No problem Steve… ditto on the blogroll.

    Um… if you ever get a chance to see the video discussion of The Jesus I Never knew… it is the authors narated version of how he came to write the book and a concise teaching of what the book says…. in it he shows a portrayal of a short, stout, gruff Jesus with a British accent giving the sermon on the mount.

    His delivery uses very ordinary conversational phrasing and emphasis(es) as well as humour. So much different than typical portrayals where Jesus is soft spoken and melodic. Really shook up my thinking to ask… “who’s to say this isn’t the type of person that Jesus could have been? And how much do we really KNOW anyway”?

    My answer…. not much. Yet none of that takes away from the power of what Jesus taught.




    • Thanks, Chaz. No, I never did see this video discussion. Once the semester is over and I have some free time again, I’ll look for it. I like your take on the subject.


  3. who ever god is, he yet told what is good and what is bad, for the rest is up to mankind to change, love have no bounderries, so in any shape we will found our way, for now, in this shape we are causing too much damage to the beautiness named “everything”, “being”, “living”: the reult is now suffering, i sincerly hope this world will soon end if mankind do not stop weapon production and the eating of living animals … god or evolution from god gave us the “brain” to not accept sufferness in our process: before mankind was created, all the living creatures who were eaten by one and anothers or men asked god to become human as well, so they won’t be eaten this time,and this time, they will think twice before acting as a savage animal: unfortunatly god or who ever mis underestimated the power he were giving them, because the brain is yet too much and perhaps not enough ? people are brain controlled, in the middle of chaos they dare call an island paradise; places that are overbounded with rubbishes from occident countries … if human do not understand the power of the brain and how easely they are controlled by money – sex – power, they will construct a prison were the only prisonners will be themselves, that day people of power will be stronger and 90 percent of the world will be slaves, sufferness, torture and violence will no longer be bad manners, as it is for a large population leaving in the will of sex drugs and violence …


  4. be aware that the first explorer of the universe will be the worst and most dangerous men in the world: in a 100 years pirates of space will really exist, will those people cause the same dammage they caused to the beautiness of humankind ? i hope not: we are in fact too dangerous, if we do not stop today no one will be able to stop us from people who only love power, money and sex, what ever race they come from …
    In fact we are guests who came the latest in the party, there is no more happiness in the party, everybody felt sleep, but us, our generation we still want to dance in the middle of chaos, inspite of asking ourselves ” this life i have in occident is only possible by killing and slaving third world countries and oiled countries ” , ” when i vote i think of the futur life i will have, but the politicians are thinking of the people they will kill to give YOU, a happy and calm life, a machiavelic life in a time of wakeness !


  5. In europe, in all media, sex has became the key for a laic state, if you show your nudity you are a free thinker: but you only can show your nudity with cost clothing… every step of people of occident are highway for a longer dark age, people who support dictators, supported by their own politicians: 90 percents of dictators in the world are created by europe: Karl marx was a young rich english man, ben laden familly are close to american aristocracy, as it was for hitler and the british royal familly, the mollah of iran are all married to english citizen, since 30 years all the money of dictated oiled country are placed in Canada, London and Swiss bank. All the wars and genocide are organized to controll your everyday life with fear: chaos is not the search of truth, they also lie to you when they say chaos will be the next step after them: today there is people who support Truth, because it is now to say it.
    Do you think chines are happyer in china or europe, do you think a real muslim get more ability to listen or to punish ? do you think laicity is the right to be free minded, or to act freely in any level of society ? Do you think that truth is valuable, when every big human steps are in the law of finance and power.


  6. People of the ghettos in france or elsewhere forgot that inside of your own people some are paid to create violence, in the name of religions, why since 15 years no school in occident try to elevate mindly people of the ghettos ? Do we need a revolution in Occident ? because it is too much !!!! All i mean is that we have the solutions for everythings, it’s up to us, each citizen on this earth, to stood up in front of stupidy at all corners of streets or mind


  7. In all the races on this universe there is conflict, but conflict shows the love, in any state people made of courage and love will found help, today the energy is here to change, and you can read it in people eyes … don’t fear to shoot your shoose to presidents, don’t fear to stop alone a hundred cars, where a lonely student stoped a hundred tanks .


  8. Humans will write the futur of universe, they have simply to accept the unacceptable to be able to evolute, because evolution is a black space were light will be at any shape We, Me, desire !


  9. Internet is the key for a world solution, but tomorrow if all communication are cut, only civilization with the capacity of gathering and sharing will evolute, and for now the only countries capable of such a move are religious countries: in laic countries all the old problems are cleared with illusions and pleasure which does’nt long: we can see it when wars are declared, people from occident rush into shops to buy food, racism rise, while poor countries ask themselves why wars are always in their borders: they do not know that oil is more valuable than life, people of occident also think that the oil do not cost: faulse; politicians from occident have invested milliards to protect the non stop approvision of oil: the money they gave to mollah and dictators in oiled country is Trust and Confidence, to slave people in oil countries, and the smartest: create chaos in those oil country, help their army, and create continual war: the solution to solve the wars will be hided with fear and the fear of third countries and their cultures.


  10. To occupy most of the timelines in the news they use events that have no importance for the freedom of those oiled countries: those occidental countries have no politician party since 1945: in fact the democrat and consevators in occident have the same ideology for oil: wars, spying, destruction of freedom in oil countries has always been the same ideology for political party in occident: today there is no more ideology who resist to money and power. For me ahmadinejad, medvedev and obama, sarkozy and merken, they all work for the same ideology: Keep the world as it Is


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