Which artist has caused the most harm to Western culture? Picasso? Warhol? Maplethorpe?
Photographer and philosopher Laszlo Bencze offers a surprising answer: Michelangelo
It was Michelangelo who chose to depict God in such a profoundly powerful manner that no member of Western Civilization can escape thinking of God creating Adam—their forefingers just having touched—on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There’s a reason God tells us not to attempt to depict Him. It’s not that some cheap, silly, inept, awkward, or satirical image might diminish Him. It’s that some truly great artist might create an image so compelling that it would ever after define and limit Him.
So now we are stuck with this image of God as an old man (vigorous though he may be), clad in a rough woven robe, presumably wearing sandals, grey bearded, no longer in his prime, unacquainted with modern technology, not up on current literature or philosophy, paternalistic, bombastic, stubborn, opinionated, and just plain out of touch.
Is there anyone among us who doesn’t at least fleetingly glimpse Michelangelo’s vision whenever anyone mentions God, the Creator, or the Intelligent Designer?