June 28th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

Michelangelo hid brain image in chapel, scientists say

Some of Michelangelo's best known works may bear hidden messages suggesting that the human brain is among God's greatest creations,    scientists say.

The great Italian Renaissance artist dissected cadavers to familiarize himself with the human body, so he could better paint it. And, according to a new analysis, he included a representation of the brainstem in his representation of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which he painted from 1508 to 1512.

Neurosurgeons Dr. Rafael Tamargo and Ian Suk of Johns Hopkins University looked closely at Michelangelo's painting "Separation of Light From Darkness," which depicts the beginning of the universe. They found that the neck of God in this painting appears to contain the human brainstem.

"He recognized that the brain was an important structure, and I think he included it in the creation of the universe because he recognized that this is one of the most magnificent things that God had created," Tamargo said.

The brainstem is the most primitive part of the brain, through which all signals traveling to and from the brain must pass, Tamargo said.

In the image above, on the left, you can see a comparison between the neck of God in the painting and a real brain stem. On the right, notice the different angles of light on the figure, which was uncommon for Michelangelo.

It was not uncommon in the Renaissance for artists to do dissections for the purpose of creating more accurate works, he said. Leonardo da Vinci, 23 years older than Michelangelo, documented his brain dissections and did experiments on the brainstem.

The neck of the figure of God in Michelangelo's painting, zoomed in above in image G, is abnormal anatomically. This is curious because the artist's other works show a fine understanding of what the neck looks like, as shown in images A-D above (E is by Leonardo,  F is by Raphael). This suggests that Michelangelo wasn't "just having a bad day," Tamargo said.

Tamargo and colleagues are not the first to propose that Michelangelo hid brain anatomy in his paintings. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1990 by Dr. Frank Lynn Meshberger suggested that the Renaissance master's "Creation of Adam," another fresco from the Sistine Chapel, depicts the human brain.

Michelangelo probably didn't know the functions of the various components of the brain, but he understood it was an important structure, Tamargo said.

"Separation of Light From Darkness," located above the altar of the Sistine Chapel, is too high for people of Michelangelo's time to have been able to see details such as the brainstem, and telescopes did not yet exist. But the artist probably knew that someday, someone would notice, Tamargo said.

"I think he put a message there for the future, to let people know that he knew anatomy, and probably to enhance the meaning of that fresco," Tamargo said.

Check out the full study online here.

soundoff (599 Responses)
  1. tom

    LOL... the real painting to look at is of God in Creation of Adam ... look where Michaelangelo placed god.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      Who cares really? Unless there's buried treasure under his neck, nothing is going to change.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • monetlks

      This has to be the dumbest thing I ever heard. Don’t you people have anything better to do than make up stupid theories that nobody really cares about. I highly doubt that he drew a brainstem on the throat of god.... Common' that’s just lame.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
    • god

      Exactly Tom. He placed me inside a human brain, which means I am only a figment of the human imagination.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • rebeccak

      The weak mind, as you so put it, belongs to the person who can't or wont believe in god. Do I exist? You have never seen me. It will be too late to repent after your dead. Your loss.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      @ Monetlks – Who are you to tell us what to believe in? You think you have to right to impose your view upon those who disagree with you? The last time we mortals allowed that kind of attitude to persist, innocent people were burned at the stake, hanged at a tree, beheaded, had their hands put on a vice and had their mouths mutilated by medieval devices because their views were in conflict with the mainstream religion. Even Jews were burned alive even after being forced to confess to false accusations and false sins and even after being converted to Christianity.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      It is amazing that we keep finding new things everyday... The human mind is filled with wonderful Ideas......

      June 28, 2010 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • chaos

      @ tom.
      With regard to Creation of Adam, that does look like a brain shape :o. Never noticed that before. I don't know if I see it because I was looking for it.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:30 | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      Hahaha. A weak mind is one that believes in fairy tales because they 'feel good', not one that comes to a difficult conclusion because that is what the facts lead to. Those who don't believe in God do not believe that because it gives them peace, or pleasure, or a feeling of security – they do so because they look at the evidence and come to a conclusion. If God gave us brains, why would he/she then punish us for using it? Why would he/she give us 'free will', then punish us when we use it? Why would he/she hide himself/herself and place evidence of a natural evolution of life in contradiction of the bible, then punish us when we don't believe the bible? Why do some evil people prosper and some devout people suffer – if something appears to be random chance, why are we to be punished if we believe it *is* random chance? The weak mind is the one that cannot grasp the contradictions, and instead holds on to simplistic explanations of the universe – such as magic!!!

      June 28, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
    • Ian A

      Hey, everybody, monetlks "highly doubts" this, and he's clearly much more intelligent than the neurosurgeons and art historians who did this study. After all, he can post negative comments on CNN.
      I now feel enlightened. : )

      June 28, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      Michael Angelo doesn't know then anymore than we know now.. He sure can paint tho

      June 28, 2010 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      Just like the face of Jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich. The mind can see what it wants to see.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      You are projecting a modern understanding of the brain onto a man of the Renaissance. Back then people had no idea what the brain did. Because the people of the Renaissance were so heavily influenced by the classical Greeks and Romans, they regarded the heart as the seat of reason.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Jessy I'm not actually quite sure you understand what brought about those acts. Arguing, presenting dissenting views, or criticizing another's views, is NOT what cause hanging, burning, etc. Saying "this is stupid" or "why would you guys believe that" are words, and no implied threat either. Just a dissenting position.

      What cause burnings, what caused hangings, what caused the heinous acts you speak of, were attempts to physically prevent the dissemination of alternative views. It wasn't "I disagree, you are all idiots" it was "we don't like what you're saying, thus we're going to kill you".

      As for what he said however, I tend to side with the experts in the relevant fields, rather than some random guy who just doesn't think it's possible.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • Chet

      This gives new meaning to the title of his piece, "Separation of Light from Darkness". One can now interpret that he was skillfully referring to the dawn of the human brain as the "light", or evolution of humanity while receiving approval from those around him at the time that it was the "creation of the Universe". Sheer brilliant and masterful.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • DH

      What's more important than whether there's a brainstem in there is why he painted a male god with breasts.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Why does all news that expresses a significant scientific discovery related to the realm of religious works have to start a bunch of name calling? He was a brilliant man, painter and studied the human form in all ways. He loved God and thought nature and the human form were wonders to behold. It is what it is... a theory. Take it or leave it, but quit bashing those who see it from a perspective other than your own.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      @ Andrew – I see what you mean. However, I still believe for a fact that people back then in the medieval times were punished just for even disagreeing with other other people's views. Even today, some teachers are still punished (either by the state or the student's parents) for teaching evolution in class (thankfully the punishments have become less severe these days). But I still understand what you mean.

      @ DanW – You're confusing that part of history with the Egyptians. The Egyptians were the ones who believed that the heart was the mind. Which explains why the brain was already scrambled up like eggs during mummification and not preserved like the other organs. The Romans and Greeks were smarter than the Egyptians than that.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • Michaelangelo

      Hate to say it but it looks more like he swallowed some dudes entire genitalia. I mean really look at now that you read this and see if you see what you are told to see. Maybe Michaelangelo was just trying to tell the church to let gays in. LOL

      June 28, 2010 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
    • Gadfly

      Goes to show we will find endless subjects with which to pour our money, resources and top scientists' brains into something so arbitrary and minute. . . hey. . where's Waldo???? come on Earthlings lets rally behind sensless wastes of time for our human race. . . sheeesh!!!!!!!!!

      June 28, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • JG in NY

      I agree with Chet and god above (as opposed to God above).
      What it says to me is that Michelangelo didn't hold his holiness in as high esteem as everyone thinks he did, and expressed in this painting (and others as Tom points out), that god is a human creation, and that in that day and age he wouldn't dare be up front about it! I'm sure he was quite relieved when the scaffolding came down at the end of this commission... probably felt reassured that he'd be long gone before anyone could pin down the subtext he'd placed on that ceiling.

      June 28, 2010 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Are you guys arguing about the exsistance of God again? No one can win this argument. Have fun.

      June 28, 2010 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Just a note. I know God is real but, I can not prove it to someone who does not want faith.

      June 28, 2010 at 18:33 | Report abuse |
    • JG in NY

      I agree with you, Robert. With those of us who do not equate 'faith' with belief in your god, you have no hope in arguing.

      June 28, 2010 at 18:42 | Report abuse |
    • Imagination

      In my Big Mac the other day I saw the face of General Grant smiling at Saint Peter. I also saw two foxy redheads, too...but this was later at Joe's Bar at 2am.

      June 28, 2010 at 19:09 | Report abuse |
    • I see it too

      After a couple of tokes of good smoke in ze bong...I see old great Uncle Bob coming fer to carry me home..."Swing Low...Sweet Chariot...comin' fer to carry me home....rubber-buggie-bumpers."

      June 28, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
    • barry Douglas

      If Michelangelo intended the brain stem to be superimposed on the throat and neck I believe he would have made it more obvious. cf his flaying of St Sebastian in the Last Judgment fresco that is actually a self portrait. I think more likely, the person who posed for the God image may have had thyroid nodules...

      June 28, 2010 at 19:26 | Report abuse |
    • BABAK

      This is right up there with seeing Jesus in a cake or potato chips......

      June 28, 2010 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Maybe it's symbolizing that it's all in your head? 😉

      June 28, 2010 at 22:20 | Report abuse |
    • samsteve

      go mike!

      June 28, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse |
    • dlewis

      What does that mean?? What do you mean 'where he placed God'?? Please explain...

      June 28, 2010 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
    • dlewis61

      I don't get it Tom. What do you mean where Michaelangelo placed God?

      June 28, 2010 at 23:12 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      What I really want to know is "How much money was spent to research this, and how long did it take?" The reason I ask is because I can come up with some type of study to show there is a hidden image on the mole of my butt, I wan to know how much I will get paid.

      June 29, 2010 at 02:37 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      That's not God, that's Zeus.

      June 29, 2010 at 05:28 | Report abuse |
    • Grant

      this is just another simalarity we all find day to day, like looking at the clouds or a rock formation. If I was a fisherman than I probably would find gills on god somewhere also. look hard they are probably hidden there. sorry but the brain stem story is quite the stretch.

      June 29, 2010 at 06:00 | Report abuse |
    • george

      my guess would be God created the human body and brain so complex, because we are His best work.
      and He didnt creat us to be gods, but He did create us to be with Him forever, and that is possible through accepting and believe the Christ died for your sins. a lot of people over complicate the gospel. look at the many examples Jesus gave in the first four books of the New Testament, showing when a persons heart was convinced of the good news.
      thank you for your posts.

      June 29, 2010 at 07:04 | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      Or, maybe it's his way of just saying "it's all in your head" in regards to religion.

      June 29, 2010 at 07:30 | Report abuse |
    • Zezus

      It's amazing people are still gullible enough to believe in an invisible man in the sky, but then again, I once believed in Santa Claus - the minds of children.

      June 29, 2010 at 07:52 | Report abuse |
    • revengencer

      I so deeply pity those who would attack the faith of others. It is the saddest form of dispair and it should have no place in our world. It doesn't matter your beliefs, as when you mock the faith of others, you are lashing out defensively because you are unsure of them. You attack in an effort to shelter your own insecurities and doubts. If you can't allow someone to believe what they choose without mocking them, you don't even deserve to draw breath from the same air as them.

      June 29, 2010 at 08:51 | Report abuse |
    • steveinkc

      @dlewis61. If you look at the broader view of the image in the Creation of Adam, with the cloak behind God, it's clearly a diagram of the human brain. Quite cool actually.

      June 29, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse |
    • So What

      Does God have a head like that or anything else? I hope we didn't pay for this study!

      June 29, 2010 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • Guy

      Do you people realize that we only use 2-3% of our brains? Why is it so hard to believe that our next steps in Evolution will be the expansion of our minds.... Being able to tap into and utilize your entire brain. Comunication through Telepathy, moving matter with your mind, Healing through concentration and meditation. These might seem like crazy concepts, but our brains can enable us to do amazing things! Maybe Michaelangelo understood that unlocking the true potential of ones brain would make them closer to God. Meaning we are GODS ourselves but have not realized our true potential. Emerging from the Darkness into Light. Seperating Darkness from Light could mean ones Enlightenment of the mind and unlocking our God Like potential.

      June 29, 2010 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • Joel Weymouth

      @Dean – difficult decisions? You choose not to believe in God that is an easy decision: because then you become your own god. And what is really pathetic and hypocritical of these Darwinian Monkey men (including CNN and all the other media outlets including FOX News) is when you find something that is extremely difficult to reconcile with Chance: you then say- "Nature has decided..." or "Mother Nature has given..." or "The Universe..." attributing some generic intelligence so you don't have to say "God...". You all believe that man and the universe was designed by a higher intelligence, but you are too cowardly and dishonest to say God... you just use euphemisms for God. Cowardice is quite simple.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Sinner

      @Dean- God gave us free will because he did not want a Stepford Wife. He wanted to create something that could truly love without being influenced. If we did not have our ability to choose this on our own then it was forced love, which is not real love. It seems like you have made your choice and I have mine.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Bales

      Dean: Those who believe in God do so because they look at the evidence and come to a conclusion. "If God gave us brains, why would he/she then punish us for using it?" He doesn't. "Why would he/she give us 'free will', then punish us when we use it?" Free will is the ability to chose one's actions. And actions have consequences. (If I am at the top of a building, I can descend via stairway, elevator, or jumping out the window. If I do the last, I am not "punished" for exercising free will, but for ignoring the obvious." "Why would he/she hide himself/herself and place evidence of a natural evolution of life in contradiction of the bible, then punish us when we don't believe the bible?" There is no sign in the world that says "life evolved." That was decided upon by men who rejected God as the creator of life. Don't blame God for what men have decided.

      June 29, 2010 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • kaypeope

      what are these scientists smoking? this is yet another "theory" by science that actually can't be proved.

      July 23, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
  2. Kiri

    um... or he just painted God's neck to be pointing upward, thereby making it look different.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul Ronco


      June 28, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      He knew what necks look like from that angle. This was intentional.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
  3. Michael D. Moffitt

    I don't agree with Tamargo's conclusion that "[Michelangelo must have] recognized that this is one of the most magnificent things that God had created." On the contrary, if God Himself is depicted has having (and therefore needing!) a brainstem, the implication is that some other being must have created it in the first place. If anything, this finding could be interpreted as sacrilege.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josh

      the idea of sacrilege only exist if you dissagree with a certain point view. in the painting it looks like god is wearing goggles. is he, i doubt it. but from my point of view he is wearing goggles. its not sacrilege just what i happen to see.

      June 28, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • Billy Williamson

      That is what I was thinking, as well. Along with The Creation of Adam, with God residing inside of a brain, I think Michelangelo was expressing his own beliefs.

      June 28, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      Spot on. I see it this way as well. There are a lot of places such a drawing could have been placed; to place it within the depiction of God certainly seems odd.

      June 28, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • jds

      God created man in his image, supposedly. So you're argument is flawed right off the bat.

      June 28, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • Bob U

      @ Jude: Is God also as condescending as you are? Geez, when will you grow up?

      June 28, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
    • steve505

      Hey look everybody! "Jude" has all the answers, the very keys to our existence! "Jude" has got reality all figured out! "Jude" knows exactly why mankind is here, where we are going, where we are from, and the purpose for our existence as a whole! BRAVO, "Jude", BRAVO! You are the only truly enlightened human being out of billions that have lived! How did you get so lucky???

      Or.... maybe YOU'RE the moron... yeah that's much more plausible.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      If God wanted us to be beneath him, then why did he give us a brain that is not only limitlessly curious, but is designed to push our understanding beyond our own limits? It sure strikes me as odd for any God to do that unless God intended us to become something more than just mere mortals. Besides, if God created man in his own image, wouldn't that mean he wanted man to become like him (as in a God)?

      But for us to reach such a level, we would have to open our minds to endless possibilities. We have to gain a much deeper understanding of who we are and why we are here. If you immediately know the candle light is fire, then the meal was cooked long ago.

      Call me a heretic if you like, but that's how I see it.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Rconnor

      That was my take on it...he is telling us that God is our creation...he's in our heads because we want him to be. God didn't create us....we created him.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Goalie

      Well sacrilege is as sacrilege does. In some circles in the 1500's the very fact that god was reaching towards man was "sacrilege". But facts is facts and the facts is that Michelangelo was about the most irreverent man you'd ever wanna meet and his works in the Sistine Chapel are full of examples. Like the way god "moons" the pope. Or the way Jews, Muslims and Gays are all in the Christian heaven. Or the way young boys are "flipping off" the pope behind his back. Makes you wonder if young boys had "issues" with priest even back then. If Michelangelo purposefully painted a brain stem I have no doubt it was his way of saying that man created god and not the other way around.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      @ Goalie – Well, you do have your views, but I have mine. Now, I don't know where you got the message that "Man created God" in Michelangelo's painting, but the brain in the painting is telling me otherwise.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
    • DarwineEatsJesus

      @ Jessy, who cares what you think. Me like most people here based on Michellangello's behavior believe he painted the brain stem to indicate that God is a human's imagination fabrication. Then again who cares what I think.

      June 28, 2010 at 19:32 | Report abuse |
    • Mona

      Man is God? I don't get it, I see the breasts.

      June 28, 2010 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
  4. Kim

    LOL, that's what it looked like to me, too. And it also looks like God has boobs. Could it be he was depicting God as a woman??

    June 28, 2010 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • K.Kelly

      With a beard?

      June 28, 2010 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
    • W

      they're called pecks.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
    • Smort

      Actually they are called pecs. Like pectoral. Peck is what chickens do to the ground.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
    • wsx

      The figure also has wide hips.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      Well, believe it or not, we humans (as a fetus) start off as female. But later on in our own development in our mommy's womb, depending on the DNA and hormones, we change to male or stay female. The nipples on the man's chest are what's left of the female characteristic. Go ahead, look it up! You'll even be surprised to see that the man's penis also starts off as a clitoris during fetal development.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:39 | Report abuse |
    • Eatenhogg

      Maybe he's depicting God as a circus freak.

      June 28, 2010 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @Kim That's exactly what I saw first. Maybe we just see what we want to see, but if you scroll the page so you can't see the head, tell me that doesn't look like a woman. Not just the boobs, but the pose, the hips, and the legs as well. To me that's every bit a big and controversial as God having a brain stem for a neck. Maybe even more so. Either God is being depicted as a woman or He's got moobs. (Goobs?)

      June 30, 2010 at 02:23 | Report abuse |
  5. Over Analyze Much?

    Maybe he was having a bad day. The dude was standing on scaffolding looking upwards and painting for years! Maybe he half-assed the neck.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bryan Jon

      I thought I was the only one that thought like that. YOU are right on!

      June 28, 2010 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • too curious

      Indeed – just looks like a bunch of artist goo to me. wtf. Is this really news or just some sort of intelectual wet dream ? We need to ask Mike Angelo for the answer – as if we care.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
    • Enlightened

      Actually, you are all wrong: he wasn't standing and looking up on the scafforld, the guy was laying on his back on the scaffold. Go back to school and brush up on your history!

      June 28, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      "Enlightened": Actually, he did stand and paint as well. All that looking up is known to have caused permanent damaged to his neck. That would not have happened had he been lying on his back all the time.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • BS McGee

      half-ass the neck!!! i did a literal LOL!


      June 28, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
    • yvonnepoo

      Just a note. I know fairies are real but, I can not prove it to someone who does not want to have faith in them. Same thing for my God that is a huge beautiful Dog!

      October 12, 2015 at 08:40 | Report abuse |
  6. What

    LOL What? I think you guys are stretching it. Even if it looks a little strange it's probably just due to time wearing down the paint.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CMac

      Whew. Thankfully you're around to point out the obvious things that generations of art historians never thought to check on; it amazes me that there are so many learned scholars in the US posting mundane items on news boards.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse |
  7. Larry H

    yea for sure... "brain stem"? I dunno know about that.
    From the look of God in the painting... looks like God has female breasts and male facial features.
    What do the experts say about that?

    June 28, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • otto

      God had moobs? oh My!

      June 28, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
  8. OMB

    so this is what they do at Johns Hopkins?? Interesting –

    June 28, 2010 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. reese

    I totally see it, if I stand on my head, squint my eyes and envision a brain stem. Else it looks like a painting of a throat.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. danish

    Please. This is old news to the art world. Gross anatomy was almost a requirement for figure study at one time. And this is the least of his brain representations. Try looking at the Creation of Adam (from the same ceiling I might add) and you'll find god and the host comprise a much better brain reference, which is an even better interpretation of his "playing" with man/mind/god.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. imabeliever

    Wow – the scientific community's version of Jesus on a potato chip.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blondegeisha

      touche Ima

      June 28, 2010 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
    • god


      June 28, 2010 at 16:32 | Report abuse |
  12. Be more respectful!

    Kids learn to respect a little more!
    God has a sense of humor but he also deserves more respect.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      i would have to disagree. God is the most homicidal, tyrant i have ever read about. there is no way to repsect someone tof that mindset.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Sybaris

      Which God?

      June 28, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
    • god

      I AM GOD. Your disrespect to me is sacrilege. You will pay for this ! I condemn you to the pit of tartulus! You will meet Kratos there !!!

      June 28, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      I have to agree. When I read the Bible, there have been many instances where God did a lot of things that Christians seem to forget.

      The flooding of the world.
      The firestorm that wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah.
      Adam and Eve driven out of Eden.
      God allowed the Devil to ruin Job's life (though God did fix everything afterwards)
      God punishing Jerusalem when David fauxed up on the census.

      Yeah, God was pretty naughty at the time. So far, he hasn't been this drastic in the modern time. Or am I missing something?

      June 28, 2010 at 17:49 | Report abuse |
    • bluenote

      Yeah, you're missing a few things. AIDS, 9/11, the holocaust, GWB, Crack, Rap and Hip Hop, Vegans, the violent crime rate in New Orleans, Detroit, and DC, and plane crashes in general, just for starters. lol

      June 29, 2010 at 08:13 | Report abuse |
    • Bob Bales

      Jessy: All of the actions you mentioned were justified and do not reresent God's being "naughty."

      June 29, 2010 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • yvonnepoo

      justified? by what morals? yours?

      October 12, 2015 at 08:35 | Report abuse |
  13. yogleX

    Some see jesus on a toast, some a brainstem in a fresco.
    What you think is what you see.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. jan

    Maybe Michaelangelo meant to tell us that the idea of God was just all in our heads.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Exactly what I was going to say.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
    • johnq

      Which might make more sense if they knew how the brain functioned back then.

      June 29, 2010 at 02:56 | Report abuse |
  15. blandford55

    people, get SERIOUS!!!! they did not know what a brain stem was 400 years ago!!

    June 28, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kerry

      *cough* 500 years ago, they did.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Acaraho

      Right but 3,000 years ago the Egyptians were performing mummifications and extracting organs from bodies.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
    • kingtrick

      And Abraham lived to be 175 years old 3000 years before the Egyptians, even without modern medicine!

      June 28, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      And the pyramids were built to standards of precision we cannot accomplish today, all without "modern lasers." Just one example among many that its clear we have no clue what really was what thousands of years ago

      June 28, 2010 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Really? Take off your tin foil hat and examine the level of precision of the St Louis arch. MORE precise than the pyramids. And go a ways deeper into the the desert and see the prototype pyramids, to include the ones that fell apart.

      June 28, 2010 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
    • John Smith

      okay, i might be a bit off, but how do you see the prototype pyramids if they fell apart?

      June 28, 2010 at 18:51 | Report abuse |
    • De Bunker

      Standards of precision we cannot accomplish today? Well that is just plain false. Modern engineers have already uncovered what the egyptians did and how they did it.

      June 28, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse |
    • vabels

      Sugestion: read something / everything about Michelangelo and leonardo da Vinci.
      You will be surprised.
      If the religion were less vigilant (dead risk!!!!) may be the science had made greater leaps – and more publicity / imprinting!

      June 28, 2010 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
    • dogmai

      Yep, people are lunatics, especially the ones who proclaim to know the "will of the God." God is all loving, compassionate and forgiving, but he hates gays and our enemy! So kill in God's name! What utter nonsense people believe in.

      June 28, 2010 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      Exactly! They are making inferences about Michaelangelo, based on a modern understanding of the brain.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:15 | Report abuse |
    • DanW

      Exactly! They are making inferences about Michaelangelo, based on a modern understanding of the brain.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • Joanne

      Too true!!

      June 30, 2010 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
  16. Chris

    The whole Sistine Chapel is full of this stuff. If you think implying that God has a brain stem is sacrilege, how do you interpret the painting on the ceiling of God's butt?

    June 28, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Michelle

      I would reply if I weren't speechless.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse |
    • Goalie

      The best part of god's butt is its location-Directly above where the pope stands when he holds mass in the Sistine Chapel!

      June 28, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • Jessy

      Here's another note: Why is God wearing pink?

      By the way, nice info on the butt's direction. I guess Michelangelo is trying to telling us that he never trusted the Popes.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
  17. Tad

    This is just the tip of the iceberg in the Sistene frescoes completed by Michelangelo. Check out the book "Sistene Secrets" to get a more in-depth look at all the hidden symbolism. You might be surprised at how little these were influenced by Christianity, especially Catholicism.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Chris

    ^ Yes, they did. It says that right in the article, Chief.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Penny

    All those beautiful old paintings had strong sexual overtones. This looks like a penis to me.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Enlightened

      So god was deep throating?! That explains all the priests!

      June 28, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • KP

      I was also thinking it looked like a penis...I love art.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • yogleX

      the penis is in your eye, not in the painting.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  20. Los

    What?! They didn't show any pieces by Donatello! He gets no respect. First, they made him into the least favorite TMNT and now this!

    June 28, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. James

    Maybe the brainstem is just shaped like a throat.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bryan Jon

      Hey.......I never thought about it like that.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  22. Kevin

    I saw this cloud yesterday that looked like a Landon Donovan.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pockets

      I looked up and saw clouds today and your not going to believe this but they looked like............................... hold it... are you ready for this... c l o u d s. You got it real clouds. Well one could have been a dragon, but I'm not that sure....LOLOL

      June 28, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
  23. chalie

    Mary...I guess it depends on perspective but that too could be one of God's greatest creations.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sara Harvey

    No, it is not a brainstem, for goodness' sakes.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jessy

      Then what is it?

      June 28, 2010 at 17:53 | Report abuse |
  25. mike´s dad

    These guys need to spend more time with their patients and let people enjoy things for what they are...

    June 28, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. BrickellPrincess

    That is one of nature's greatest creations.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      Nature's creation: Creation doesn't happen without intelligence. Does nature possess intelligence or is it just dumb matter?

      June 28, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
    • Inyourdreams

      It's just dumb matter doing what the designer designed dumb matter to do. Say that five times really fast.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
    • Abd al-Latif

      There is no "dumb matter"–even an atom has breathtaking beauty. And reflects intelligence.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
    • Bioartchick

      What exists is a result of occurrences prior, and that is all that can be said factually. To assert intention or design of the universe/nature is to speak without evidence, and one cannot prove a lack of intelligence any more than disproving the existence of purple polka dotted unicorns with 9 eyes. I also argue that there is no such thing as supernatural or unnatural– that human beings have made up those concepts in an attempt to understand information with too much missing preliminary knowledge, and to assign ourselves value through the favor of the profound.

      June 28, 2010 at 19:45 | Report abuse |
    • JD

      If what you say is true, that all that exists is the result of something else prior causing it, how do explain the first action (big bang if you believe in that)? Similarly, how can you accept that a universe so perfectly organized as this is the result of random occurrence? It defies the law of entropy to say that the universe simply occurred at random.

      June 28, 2010 at 20:23 | Report abuse |
    • dogmai

      When you prove the existence of God, the rest will naturally fall into place!

      June 28, 2010 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
    • Enlightened

      So what happens when the existence of an all powerful being is disproven? I don't need an old book of morals to tell me how to live my life just so that I can line the pockets of a lazy bum who brainwashes people into throwing more money his way. I gew up knowing right from wrong and don't need someone else telling me that unless I follow their ways to live "a better life" I will be doomed. You live your life and I will live mine.

      June 29, 2010 at 06:59 | Report abuse |
    • laserles

      Scientific proof of GOD...contact by an alien intelligence and highly advanced inscription technology...stone etched holograms and time capsule messages for modern humanity. Photo images of details written in the bible.

      Petro Photoglyphs:

      Simple and scientific proof of GOD...

      June 29, 2010 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • Sidb

      I recommend people ignore this – probably a link to spyware or a virus.

      June 29, 2010 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • rmj92

      omg I once saw a purple polka dotted unicorn once but dang it, it only had 8 eyes..... shucks. 😉

      June 30, 2010 at 00:06 | Report abuse |
    • Ivan

      Evolution, not creation.

      June 28, 2010 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Well put. NATURE, not the work of a mystical, invisible man in the sky.

      June 28, 2010 at 21:43 | Report abuse |
  27. dan

    someone as intelligent as michelangelo most likely realized that there is no "God" other than what is in our minds... hence the brain stem. I highly doubt its meant to signify the brain as an important creation.. why would got be "in" on then in the painting?

    June 28, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • blondegeisha

      We are not the only creature with a brainstem. Kudos for being and independent thinker without a need for an imaginary friend

      June 28, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
  28. Bob U

    What an utterly ridiculous speculation. If I stood naked over Michelangelo, and he painted what he saw, you'd also find a brain stem.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. PB&James

    Well...I guess you can find a meaning in anything as long as your looking for it.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cat

      Do anyone see a penis. Back then sexual organs were everywhere. Just because it was on God makes it even more invisible, because people would not believe he would do that.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • Ian A

      You certainly can find basic grammar knowledge as long as YOU'RE looking for it.

      You think these experts were looking for a brain stem in this painting?

      June 28, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
  30. Robert W.

    Well, It certainly is art that gets people thinking.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anne

      That sure is a cerebral observation.

      June 28, 2010 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
  31. where

    OR it is a freaking neck

    June 28, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Pedro

    alternate interpretation. god is a creation of the human brain.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob U

      Very Good!! Says a lot with few words.

      June 28, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • vabels

      my brain says: YES, that's it, Pedro!

      June 28, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      And this brain that invents the idea of God: can we trust this brain anymore , or just yours, Pedro.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      you can believe anything you like, brad. that's the great thing about the human brain. reality is optional.

      June 28, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • yogleX

      if your brain invented the idea of God, then who invented the idea of YOU? If it's also your brain than who invented the idea of your brain? You are just a fairytale, just like God.
      Science will get you nowhere.
      It's better to think about: What are you involved with? What exactly are you as a person doing?
      Science will just erase God, YOU, ME, and everything from the face of the earth.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • Pedro

      @yogel millions of years of evolution created the human brain. some people seem to think the human brain is too perfect just have happened by accident. they think something so perfect must have been created by god. if there were a god, he would be even more perfect than humans, so something must have created him as well. then, of course, god's god must also have a god. because he must be even more perfect than that god. it's a never ending fallacy of logic.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
    • xD

      lol @ yokelX. science is evil and magic is real!

      /me claps hands and reeaally believes.

      June 28, 2010 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
    • yogleX

      you didn't understand what I meant, I didn't advocate "magic". I am advocating the primacy of perception.
      I am sickened by the current tendency to blindly replace the world with models we are creating, when we don't even know the first thing about who or what we actually are –
      science has no concept for you – you yourself as a person are in every way the same kind of "fairytale" that you consider God to be. Science can clearly show you are nothing but an illusion without free will, with no reason to exist whatsoever.
      Yet you are absolutely real.

      June 29, 2010 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
  33. Dave

    ...and I found Jesus burned into my toast this morning!!!

    June 28, 2010 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. EricC

    Stop looking into things that aren't there. It's a throat.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      I can kinda see the the power button of the new iPhone just to the left of his throat. I wonder if he knew the iPhone4 was coming.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
    • Ian A

      Yeah, experts! Stop! EricC knows more than you!

      June 28, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  35. pockets

    Pssssst, There is no god. Its just man's drawing of the supernatural. Artist from caves felt a need to be creative. All of this comes from The Magic Book, aka the bible. Such foolishness, but one day it will be where it belongs, away in dusty shelves. Science will bring us out of the dark ages, and the preachers and bible thumpers will have to get real jobs.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George

      Wow – somebody had one heluva Baptist upbringing to be that negative – or perhaps Catholic. You need counseling, dude.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
  36. decredico


    he could just have easily meant that god is a fabrication of man's brain.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. g2

    Danish is correct. This is old news. Michaelangelo makes many anatomically correct references in his work. An amazing artist. An amazing time. He used to carve up old stinky cadavers at night and draw his discoveries then incorporate into his work. A great read: The Agony and The Ecstasy by Irving Stone. Read it if you want to know more about him. Great story.

    June 28, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobolink

      Irving Stone created a turgid fictionalized and sanitized best selling biography. It was less history than it was pure fiction . There was no love between the artist and the real life "Contessina DeMedici. Michelangelo was decidedly not interested in women. Most of the figures in his frescoes originated in study drawings of men. So what? His work is astonishing.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse |
  38. Jesse

    It's like The Da Vinci code, only more boring.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. David

    Look, god dose have boobs, so god is female.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Sasha

    Umm no! If you look at anatomy it looks just like a windpipe or trachea i mean come on...this is over reaching

    June 28, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. kerry

    Uh, I thought that was supposed to be his beard, not his neck. Shows what I know.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. spike in conshohocken pa

    I'm more concerned about the meaning hidden in Michelangelo's portrayal of God's manboobs. The Big Guy definitely needs a bro (or is it a manzier?) in that painting.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. David

    god has boobs. god has boobs. god has boobs.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Not Quite

    looks more like my favorite part of the female anatomy:)

    June 28, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Guest

    "It was not uncommon in the Renaissance for artists to do dissections for the purpose of creating more accurate works" Don't quit your day jobs as neurosurgeons. It was in fact extremely rare at that time to conduct dissections – it was considered a dissecration of the human body by the Church. The reason the drawings by Michelangleo are so incredible (besides the detail) is that they are some of the first anatomical sketches. Which he had to do late at night and in minimal light else he be caught and thrown in jail by the Church.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bioartchick

      If you study the progression of anatomical knowledge and the way that knowledge was passed down historically, Leonardo Da Vince, who was a generation ahead, first studied and proposed the brain as the center of the soul, as opposed to the heart. He characterized the newly observed ventricles into humors and gave each a governing duty over personality. All of this is chronicled in his notebooks and is agreed upon by art historians and scholars.

      Michaelangelo, being only 20 years his junior would have latched onto the importance of this concept as humanistic thought based in science, logic and reason began to trump the theology and dogma of the church. Depiction of the brainstem in god may have been sacrilegious at the time, but was not depicted blatantly.

      For prolific artists in the Renaissance, it was not uncommon to dissect human bodies, even though they may have done it illegally. This practice is well documented historically. It is also not inconceivable that, given his insight into the human body, Michaelangelo may have practiced his anatomy and his perspective in the underpainting before applying the glazes in the fresco.

      Lastly, Ian Suk is not a neurosurgeon, he is a medical illustrator who works exclusively with Dr. Tamargo, and has made it the work of his career to understand the human nervous system from all possible 3-dimensional angles for the purposes of illustrating important information for publication. As an artist with this skill set, it is understandable how he would have seen this.

      This story was put together very poorly. While I have not spoken with Ian Suk or Dr. Tamargo on the content of this story, I have enough information to know that CNN did a quick slap-together without giving much background, which is the skepticism here is so strong. Its obvious CNN didn't speak to either one of these people, and if they did, they did a superbly rotten job of relaying the factual information or giving this story much depth.

      June 28, 2010 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
  46. why


    June 28, 2010 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Nancy

    Who else but Michaelangelo would give us the rare opportunity to look right up God's nose?

    June 28, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mike, Cleveland OH

    Or .. perhaps he was suggesting that the concept of "god" was created by the brain. Heracy in it's day, but how funny would it be to have gotten away with it (on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, no less).

    June 28, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. kingtrick

    I wonder if they will sell it to the Golden Palace Casino.

    June 28, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. cloneAlone

    God created the Earth, he then seeded it with DNA that could and did eventually take his form. He does not stay around to forgive you of your sins or keep track of who is bad or good. He is in a galaxy far, far away, creating something even better...

    June 28, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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