God gave me a gift? Bullshit

Via Facebook:

I’m a violinist too and have gotten the “God gave you a gift thing” myself. While I’m not as good as the people who’ve practiced 8 hours a day for 18 years, my reaction is otherwise the same.

  • unbound

    Great picture…applies to everything in life.

  • Bruce Gorton

    This is going to bug me – who said it?

    • http://arundelo.com/ Aaron Brown

      I believe this picture and quote are from a Reddit user in a “faces of atheism” thread, but I couldn’t find the original.

  • machintelligence

    Sadly, this argument does not work well when the musician is a child prodigy. I don’t want to count the number of times it has been said about Emily Bear, the pianist and composer, who won the ASCAP prize for composition for children 18 and younger at age 6. Here she is playing the prize winning entry “Northern Lights” a year later: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHU-csJDfIc
    She has now had her Carnegie Hall debut(at age 9), The youngest performer (also the youngest composer)to do so to date. One of the compositions was “Peace”, a work for piano, orchestra and 200 voice choir.
    She has amazing abilities, but why not give her credit for them?

  • acroyear

    Once it went the other way.

    “Paganini was in league with the Devil, right? Otherwise how could he have played violin as he did? Surely it had nothing to do with 17 hours of practising a day? Let us note: we may or may not have innate talent: what we lack is the development.” – Robert Fripp

  • Pingback: God gave me a gift? Bullshit | The Uncredible Hallq « Religious Leaders: Misogyny is NOT a virtue!

  • http://jesseneedham.weebly.com Jesse needham

    I’m glad to see this post. There have been times when I too were told a gift was given to me by whomever’s god. It is irritating, for the same reason the violinist explained in summery. Anybody can learn to draw and paint realistically. It demands years of objectice practice. However, it’s difficult to express my frustration to them because they mean well.

    In visual art, there seems to be two dominate opinions about artists (non of which I accept)

    1) the Antonio Vissari view: skilled artists are geniuses who may have been endowed by the mighty GOD

    2) artists are of little importance. they don’t want to work like a “man”. slightly out of touch with reality.

    Now, there are some ugly, banal work out there, but most of us could easily be discribed as skilled craftmen who spent decades perfecting our trade.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Stella

      Well said, Jesse. I haven’t heard the “god gave you a gift” line in years (my style being what it is, I suspect the god brigade think my skills come from somewhere entirely different), but I heard it a couple of times when I was a teenager and oh boy did it irritate me.

      Thanks for linking to your site; I stopped by and really enjoyed it. I love the way you do backgrounds with fairly simple forms but lots of colour work and texture.

  • Who Knows?

    Is there an explanation for prodigies?

    • http://generalsystemsvehicle.blogspot.com Mandrellian

      Innate ability in any area (or combination of areas) lies on a spectrum and is dependent on context and environment; i.e. there first have to be children with advanced motor/cognitive skills, there have to be pianos, pianos have to be accessible to children, parents/teachers have to be supportive, children need to want to play, there needs to be a population against which to measure a child’s skills. There may well have been people with the innate skills required to be a piano prodigy before the instrument was invented but, obviously, noone would have known about them. It’s plausible such a child might have excelled in other areas, were they available, but availability is the key: it’s hard to imagine a child with a prodigious musical talent finding much use for it (or even discovering it) in a slum, or on a farm during the Dark Ages.

      TL;DR? Here’s the point: people with innate advanced mental & physical abilities have always existed and always will; whether the label of “prodigy” is applicable to such a person will always depend on the available applications in their environment, the general skill level of those around them and their personal motivation.

  • maddog1129

    On the other hand, there are people who do have native talents in an abundance denied to others, whether it be musically or otherwise. When I went to graduate school, I found myself rubbing elbows with actual geniuses. Not to say that they did not work hard — they did. But no matter how hard I worked, I could never achieve what they were able to do.

  • jonpaul

    This reminds me of the problem of evil. Is god unable or unwilling to give everyone a gift?

    • http://windaelicker.worpress.com mikmik

      Oh, yes, everyone gets a gift. For instance, very few people indeed are able to perform at the level that young man did the other night at the Batman show. Very exceptional young man. There is a God!

  • Sandy

    Humble guitar player here. A few years ago, this one jerkass who’d been leaning on me to join his awful jam band for some time tried to ply me with injunctions about what “God wants me to do with His gift”–it felt like a slap in the face. I think my response was the first time I ever directly, unconditionally described myself as an atheist.

  • You Are Right

    There probably are people who play the same instrument as you (and even might have more experience doing it but they don’t succeed in bringing out such a special feeling out of those people who gave you that compliment. I believe we all have talents, but some of us don’t feed them and make them grow. So, I don’t know what motivated you to begin learning to play this instrument and what impact you might have on others when they hear you play. But if people are telling you God gave you a gift… then this only means that hearing you play brought such joy to their hearts that you playing is a gift for them from God. And all they are doing is being thankful to hear you play. I hope one day you can change your perspective on life. And I dont mean for you to suddenly believe in God, but for you to be a bit more humble. No one is taking away your merit and hours of practice that you have put into your musical career. And by saying that God gave you a gift does not mean your efforts in becoming the musician you are not recognized. But when someone gives you a compliment like that, please just take it as a compliment and be humble enough to thank those people.


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