Josh Groban On The Myth of God

Text: “When people tell me, ‘God has blessed you with the gift of music’, you’re damn right I get offended. I did not practice hours a day for eighteen years to have my success attributed to a myth.” —Josh Groban


We’ve gotten a number of complaints that this is a misquotation. A violinist who looks a bit like Josh Groban is plausibly claiming credit, and that seems to be it.

Normally I’d leave it as further evidence that we’re fallible. However, some folks are apparently saying that if Patheos is saying it, it must be true.

This is bizarre. It’s only a step away from using wikipedia as a source. I’m not sure if that’s a step up or a step down.

So I’m removing the image to prevent linking and leaving this message to explain why. – your friendly neighborhood editor, Vorjack

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  • Mickey B


    • JP Hugo

      Then the violin player needs recommendation.

    • JK

      Oh another broken Caps Lock key. Get another keyboard. Or STOP SCREAMING.

    • Rick Estrada

      I am so glad to hear that Mickey….A wise person will always be humble and Fear God and give Him all the glory and thanks for whatever special ability they have been given in life.

      “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

    • JudyChonak

      I have whole hearted respect for the right of any atheist or humanist to hold the tenents of purce chemistry and astrophysics as their foundations. It is not necessarily so that others who believe in a broader connection are followers of idols or fools who like sheep cannot think for themselves. My spiritual foundation is extremely personal, and includes as much study and query of science as it does other disciplines. I wholly denounce those who deride a student of spiritual nature, and find as great abigotry and destructiveness in the know-it-all snide remark as I may find in a twisted preacher quoting God, in his/her own fantastical, hateful version. Mr. Groban claims no church as his own, but has publicly stated he considers himslef a spiritual person. That is his business. It is also, I believe, his choice to respect all practice, and all the fans wo find their personal strength or “faith” enlarged by Mr. Gorban’s poetry and music. Soapboxes come in all sizes. I step down from this one. Respect, accceptance regard, these things are the staff of life that shall be the goodly foundation of humanity. We are spoiled and ignorant teenagers until we learn to stop the abuse. I wish you growth in your journey, and I will always be open to a lesson offered with an open hand.

  • JP Hugo

    Nice one Josh. I am looking with new respect at you and your music. It is pathetic to see and hear insecure people hide behind a imaginary god whether for good or bad. You go man!!!!

  • Gary H.

    Are we sure Josh actually said this? I can find no reliable references to it outside ummagumma and here.

    • Gary H.

      Whoops. When I typed that, there were no other comments. Sorry.

  • Schaden Freud

    Even if it’s incorrectly attributed, it’s an awesome quote. I have a lot of respect for whoever it was who actually said this.

  • mark

    Whoever actually said this may be very talented but it seems that basic civil sensibilities and humility have been left behind. After all, whoever says this is trying to pay them a compliment. And even if you don’t believe in God the root of the compliment is acknowledging that factors outside their control were involved. Which of course they were. Genetics and environment would have played a part in the success. For every musician who practiced 18 hours I’m sure many did not have the genetic basis or environment to be extremely successful.

    The Universe blessed this person with the factors needed to make great music. Roll with the compliment, get over yourself and relax your linguistic nitpicking. And play us another one.

    • Don Gwinn

      Maybe they’re trying to pay a compliment and maybe they’re not. If they’re trying to pay a compliment, it’s not unreasonable to point out that it’s not one.

      But similar reminders are often used explicitly to take people down a peg and save them from the “sin” of pride. The idea is that thinking of your talents and your skills as unearned gifts from God will help you avoid becoming the kind of prideful, boasting jerk that no one wants to be around (but not for that reason–for the reason that your pride is a sin.)

  • Revyloution

    Um… this is weird. Does anyone know the violinist that said this?

    I only ask because that is a verbatim quote from me from over 20 years ago. I played violin from grade school all the way through college, and whenever someone told me I was gifted, this was my stock reply.

    • Noelle

      Mebbe this is your quote, Revy. It just took awhile to make the circuits and be attributed to Groban in meme-form.

    • vorjack

      There’s one version from a poster named “krobinator41″ on r/atheism. His version supposedly shows himself holding a violin. He was associated with something called the “Contemporary Youth Orchestra.”

      I’m guessing that this is the original.

  • Norm

    Ill go with Mark on this one,people who can play an instrument well or paint good or are good at sport because theyve practiced a lot never compare to those who are naturally gifted.The question is,if its a gift,who gave it to you?My question is,who is Josh Groban anyway???

    • Len

      Saying someone is gifted is a figure of speech. It’s often used by people superstitious enough to want to see an authority figure’s guiding hand in everything (I guess it takes the pressure off having to be responsible for your own actions). People tend to call such skills “gifts”. There’s no indication that it is actually a gift from someone.

      But I agree – who is Josh Groban?

    • Revyloution

      Norm, I was top of my game. I knew people who were better than me. Hell, I had a lesson with Itzhack Pearlman. Every single master I ever met had one thing in common, they practiced relentlessly.

    • Noelle

      I’d liken it to the post from a few days ago with the Sagan quote on children and science. (except Sagan did actually say that, where as we’ve established someone channelled a young Revy for this one)

      Some people seem to have a natural skill or knack or desire for certain fields and activities early on. And maybe you need this if you have any hope of mastering it. But it’s the real work that brings mastery. I wouldn’t call it a gift so much as an inclination acted on to its fullest potential. I tried learning an instrument a few times. I was better if I practiced obsessively. But it never really clicked with me. And I could never get as good at it as the other kids. I never remember an aha! moment with my try at the flute or piano. But I had those moments with math and science. I still had to work and study hard to get there. I never got it with my a physics classes either, not in the same way I would later understand complicated biochemical and physiological pathways in medicine. So I think some people are born with the potential for certain subjects, but you won’t see it without the dedication, time, and resources. Would you call that potential a gift? I guess you could, but it takes so much work to get the result that I’m more inclined to think about it as a genetic starter kit.

  • Keulan

    Apparently that quote was misattributed to Josh Groban. From what I could find, Josh Groban has never made his religious views publicly known.

    • Gringa

      A former coworker of mine was his cousin, and her family was Jewish. I don’t know if he is practicing but that is his heritage.

    • Marie B.

      His dad was born Jewish but converted to Christianity. I think I read that Josh was raised Epscolpalian. He doesn’t talk much about his religious vies though.

  • Brian K

    I would still question the statement “The Universe blessed…”. This is an acitve statement that implies…perhaps only implies…that there is a Universe which can conscioussly “act” on an individual human being. Blessing also implies a moral action by a conscious entity.

    Pedantic, perhaps.

  • Joë Talcott

    My father used to tell this story:
    The minister visited a farmer as part of his pastoral duties. When he arrived he looked over the acres of crops and well-tended gardens. He approached the farmer and said “This is a beautiful farm that you and the Lord have”. The farmer nodded, looked him in the eye and said “Thanks. But you should have seen it when it was only the Lord’s”.

    • JK

      OMFSM. That’s a good one ^^.

  • Joolz

    If a god created genius musicians then it also created serial killers – and, strangely, they both have to practice until they get it “right”. (I will say I’m writing this comment after just reading a book about an FBI profiler so my mind in on serial killers right now.)

  • Karen E

    Josh would never have said that!! Josh’s voice is a gift from God but Josh is the one who has perfected it! Just because one practices for hours and hours, for years and years doesn’t mean they can actually sing like Josh! His voice is nothing short of a miracle given by God to please the masses!

    • jk

      Then god did a poor job. Why else would the singer have to perfect his singing? Then it was not a gift, but an incentive…
      Long live the flying spaghetti monster!

      (Or did I miss some sarcasm here?)

      • wolfycat

        actually, we are all born with gifts from God, whether we choose to work and allow the gifts/s to mature is a choice, but each of us is born with certain gifts. An individual that does not believce in a creator would not believe this.

        • TrickQuestion

          People are born with all kinds of gifts. Deformities, diseases, mental illnesses…

  • Gringa

    I always found that people would revert to “god helps those who help themselves” to explain why those who practice for hours come up with such good results.

  • Rick Estrada

    I sincerely hope Josh Groban did not actually make this statement. Many Christians including myself appreciate the talent and gift that Josh has been given from God. A humble person will always give God the thanks and all the glory for whatever ability they have been given in life. A proud and arrogant person would make statements like the above. I am going to give Josh the benefit of the doubt, ans assume he did not make this arrogant statement. Jesus himself taught in the gospel that all talents are given by his father above for the purpose of glorifying Him, and advancing His cause in the earth. That teaching of Jesus Christ can be found in the book of Matthew, Chapter 25 verses 14 through 30.

    • Kodie

      A proud and arrogant person would defer their talents to “god-given” because they feel specially chosen. Out of all the people in the world, they were struck with a talent. A humble person will know what they have to work with and how hard they want to work to improve themselves.

    • kykook

      Josh Groban DID say this. Get over it. You can still like his music. The intolerance from the very religious people always amazes me. We are all to accept whatever you say about YOUR religion. But anyone else is not entitled. Only the non religious satanists have it all messed up right? By the way the satanist thing is a joke. Be respectful of his beliefs as I see has been nothing but respectful to the highly christian audience he has.

    • kykook

      Also, what kind of arrogance that shows to actually think God hand picks people to give them talent. Unbelievable! I would like to think he is busy with important things. He will leave people to hone and discover their own talent

  • Anonymous

    Oh yes i’m sure Josh Groban said this considering hes written many christian songs. and professes himself to be a christian. But hey its on the internet so it has to be true right? oi you stupid fucks.

  • Chris

    People can sing any song, especially a Christmas song, and not believe a word of it.

    Josh seems to express his views more openly now, but I’m not so sure he’s a Christian (by Christian, I mean anyone who has trusted Jesus Christ alone to save them from all their sins and from eternal separation from God.) Seems like he believes anything goes as long as it’s positive or spiritual.

    But God never said positivity or good living can forgive sins. (That’s why Jesus Christ had to die–for our sins; He had none of His own. We couldn’t save ourselves. He created us, we sinned, only he could die to save us and to give us eternal life when we trust Him alone.)

    Atheism and all other belief systems, except Biblical Christianity, have this core belief: the person is his or her own god (just like Cain). It’s easy for people to think they’re pretty good, they have so-called “science” and reasoning on their side rather than dumb religion. They may think that God is mean or doesn’t deserve credit they themselves earn. But actually, only God could’ve created our hands, eyes, ears, or DNA. Without the creating and sustaining power of God, nothing we do is possible. (By the way, God made man perfect. Man is responsible for all sin, not God. The serial killer is the outcome of his own sin, sin that ruined people over time, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Scripture says God is love, and God is also perfectly just.)

    Josh’s background is Episcopal, but that may be more of a tradition growing up than his own personal faith. His brother Chris mentioned that their grandmother was an atheist. So sad. Think about it. Atheism is placing one’s complete faith in there being no God. This life is all there is–a life that comes from nothing but dirt and gas, that has no intrinsic value, that has no lasting purpose or meaning, living and dying with pain and suffering. You’re a machine or a rock, that’s all.

    True scientific observation proves that order does not come from chaos, and life does not come from non-life. Also consider this: believing God exists is much more rational and logical than betting on the chance that He doesn’t exist. If an atheist is right, he dies, it’s over. If a Christian is wrong, he dies, it’s all over. But if an atheist is wrong, he dies and spends eternity in the Lake of Fire, which was intended for the devil and fallen angels. God does not want anyone to go there; He loves each person and sent His only Son to give His life that we could live eternally, in perfect peace. He is life and peace. Without Him is suffering and death.

    So if Josh Groban thinks He’s a myth, he’s entitled to think it because God gave man a free will. But it doesn’t change the fact that only God could make life and sustain it. Please trust Him alone.

    • Ezme Green

      Please get an education….Please start to think independently….Im guessing you are american….Religion is a part of your national identity which could do with a rethink….You think you know about what others believe but you dont….Atheists dont have an opinion of god because we dont believe in him and we dont think that WE are gods because we dont believe in gods. Got it???Too right we have science and reasoning…Were computers/kidney dialysis/heart transplants/hearing aids/anti-biotics/space travel/aeroplanes and a million other brilliant and useful inventions thought up in the time of the Church????No it was the age of enlightenment(which the founding fathers were very involved in I believe)which ushered in the technology to save lives and make our lives much better….Not everything is perfect but Science admits when its wrong and is a constantly evolving thing….Christianity was turned from an iron age cult into a franchise with which Monarchs could better control there people….It also controls women because women tend to not like war and we all know how christianity loves a war…..Jesus did not die for our sins…He was excecuted as a threat…If god wanted devoted slaves then why give us free will??? Its VERY bad parenting….The character of god in the old testament is very cruel and egotistical and Im really glad he doesnt exist….Dont forget,Christianity is a very new religion and will die a death like all the others….I believe in one less god than you…

  • Mary

    I’m a singer and I can tell you right now, it doesn’t matter how many hours you practice, if you can’t sing then you can’t sing but if you are born with a talent that allows you to sing then practice will only enhance your voice. There are talents that can be attained by way of practice but very few. This is fact, believe or not.

  • Grateful

    Whether u guys believe it or not, everyone has a gift from God but the question is: do u work on your gift so it can manifest and glorify God ? Have u ever wondered on the mystery of childbirth? Before u begin to quote science, please remember thy Creator now in this time of thy youth and stop been all arrogant or proud about the skill u have or the many hours one practices. Everything belongs to God including You!

    • Jabster

      Which god is that as I get confused by the all the different versions have come up with?

      • Jabster

        Which god is that as I get confused by the all the different versions *people* have come up with?

      • Troutbane

        I would say Zababa, the ancient war god of the city state of Kish. So maybe:

        “Whether u guys believe it or not, everyone has a gift from Zababa but the question is: do u work on your gift so it can manifest and glorify Zababa? Have u ever wondered on the mystery of childbirth? Before u begin to quote science, please remember the city of Kish now in this time of thy youth and stop been all arrogant or proud about the skill u have or the many hours one practices. Everything belongs to Zababa including You!”

        Works for me.

    • trj

      Interesting mix of text-speak and archaic English. You manage to look clueless and pretentious at the same time.

  • Marie B.

    He never said this. He tweeted that he never said it.

  • Guest

    Josh Groban is on record saying he did not say this. The violinist who said it, created a meme and pout
    it on Reddit- someone saw the picture and thought he looked like Josh
    and whammo….rumorville. Here’s the original link: