To the extent that talent is the result of the roll of the genetic dice I can see how it might be considered "god given" by people who insist on ascribing volition to random chance.
But even then that raw talent is probably next to worthless without a LOT of hard work. And that they should never thank doG for.
Are you perhaps a Mitt Romney Republican?
It seems that was a similar argument in this last election.
On the one hand, the President said "you didn't build that", meaning that even a successful business was the result in part of the work of others - government building roads, and a GPS satellite constellation, and providing public education for you and your workers, etc.
On the other hand, the Republican opposition got a bit offended, and felt they had worked their butt off to build their own business and get where they are, and didn't like having their success undermined.
I suspect both have a point. We do all receive gifts "from God" in terms of genetic makeup and lucky birth into a wealthy first-world country and the generosity of others providing for our education and opportunity. And, too, our success is also the product of our effort and hard work.
I'm not sure one has to diminish the other in either direction. We can recognize that we are dependent on others honestly, while at the same time being proud of our own contributions.
You rite good
I personaly have a problem with the gifts fom god idea. If you are good at painting or music then it is a gift from god or god played a part even if it is because of genetic inherretance. In my family we have some gifts that we could do without. The gift of Bipolar, ADHD, Tics and Tourette's and OCD. If I was religious how would I have viewed this ? A gift from God. A test for my faith? Or Satin mingling in my life? Funny how only the good gets contributed to god as a gift.
I think that too many religious people want to thank their god for the good and not thank him for the bad. It seems to me that you have to do both if you believe in an omniscient and and all powerful god.
God can only do good...and if it looks like he smote you it was your own damn fault. Even innocent infants can be smited with genetic disease, but that's how original sin rolls.
There is a book by David Foster Wallace, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I will Never Do Again" which is a collection of essays and arguments. In the title story, he outlines very precisely what makes the difference between "talent" as distinguished from something that can be achieved through hard work.
If someone is born with synapses that operate 0.002 seconds faster than any competitors they run across, that advantage trumps any hard work that the competitor performs. (As long as the task that they are competing with demands response time). DFW's story is written about tennis, and how someone who is ranked 27th in the world in tennis has basically zero chance of winning under normal conditions against someone ranked in the top 5.
Advantages like this used to be undefinable, so these pieces of information are part of the ongoing enlightenment of human thought away from the theist point of view.
It might be that luck and talent were the first vestiges of developing the concept of deities by early humans. You can see, though, that when science proves that person X has an advantage over person Y, whether it is because of a genetic predisposition, or because person Y's mom continued to smoke throughout her pregnancy, the attribution to God has no standing. What is known cannot be unknown, and even the simplest and most vociferous of theist supporters will have to back away from that position.
In the cases where hard work is the reason for success, I am with you there.
It would be less annoying if they said "natural talent" but that ignores all of the effort you choose to invest in honing your skill. I like to say I had an aptitude for what other people call talent. Aptitude plus work is what they're seeing.
I would never thank God for the work of a skilled surgeon. I would never tell a person God was working through them when they chose to do something gracious. I wouldn't have done these things as a theist either though.
My retort to those insistent that I am imbued with a supernatural's blessing would be "This god of yours passes favor on to an unbeliever?" The religious mindset's willingness to accept no personal credit for one's own dogged determination and persistence is pathetically revealing. To gawd be the glory. So sad, so unreasoned.
Its more of a compliment. In Christianity we believe that each and everyone of us is born with a gift but we have to work at it and use it for the better good to help others. If we use it for personal gain and use it to harm others it will be taken away.
But just as the religious person said "god given talent" you have the right to turn around and reply "sorry I find that offensive as I am not religious, I worked my butt off to get where I am, but thank you for the compliment" Its more of a general saying. When religious people say it they are under the assumption that everyone is religious because its hard to fathom how anyone could not be christian. Thats why. Theres always a polite way of standing up for what you believe. Hope that helps explain why people say it.