There has been something that has intrigued me for quite some time now.

And that is the idea of God-Given Talent.

Throughout time, there have been people that seem to be born with these amazing abilities.

Like being able to paint or draw flawlessly.

Being able to play the piano, or any other music instrument, masterfully.

Or being able to play a sport like a pro.

And many of these Prodigies want to give credit to God for their abilities.

Now, I don't really have a problem with these people giving God credit.

I'm just intrigued by this thought.

And it sort of stems from a Carl Sagan quote.

"If You Want To Make An Apple Pie From Scratch, You Must First Create The Universe."

Now, if a person is born and they can play the piano amazingly, would that skill translate to some other form of prodigal talent IF the piano was never invented.

Because I would assume that the piano would first need to be invented before the skill, right.

And I always think, what if someone was born with this God-Given Talent before the piano was invented.

Would they be able to be amazing at something else, or would this talent simply be wasted?

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Comment by Dustin on April 26, 2011 at 3:04pm

For every 'Best athlete' , there is also someone who is the 'worst athelete' 

For every 'Best artist , painter , drawer' , there is also someone who is the absolute worst 'artist , painter , drawer' 

And being a piano teacher , I can assure you ... I have had many people tell me I have a gift from God , but I can assure you ... some people I have had to teach or heard playing is proof there is no God :P  


Why does all the remarkably GOOD things get attributed to God , but not all the remarkably AWFUL things?  


I don't praise and thank God for my ability to suck at crossword puzzles , or the fact that I can't fill out paperwork without my head spinning 1,000's of times.  

Comment by Phil on April 26, 2011 at 3:06pm

God could have provided a manual for each of us containing our talents. Something like those Pokemon/Gaming cards;

Strength 4

Guile  6

Spatial awareness 7

Charisma 2

Empathy 10

Musical ability 1

Then at least we would have a template to work with and an idea what we might be good at.

Comment by Dustin on April 26, 2011 at 3:10pm

LOL , Phil.  


Personally , I think most 'Prodigies' thank God because most people are Religious.  Obviously , if most people were Atheists , those Prodigies wouldn't be thanking God..... 


I thank my Grandmother for financing my piano lessons , my teachers for their immense dedication and hard work to developing me into a pianist and artist and myself for putting in 4 to 5 hours a day for many years.  


I'm no prodigy , but if I started 7 years younger , had a lessons EVERY day with the worlds greatest piano instructor (the best one for me that is) , and studied 10 hours a day ... I bet anyone could come close to being called a 'Prodigy'.  


Mozart is sick though.  I still think he is proof there are Aliens hah 

Comment by Mallory on April 26, 2011 at 4:04pm

You know, I have often wondered this myself!! How do those people even have those talents at all in the scheme of evolution? What purpose could being good at piano possibly serve?


I ask this as a musician myself. What biological purpose does my being decent at violin serve? Why am I musical, while the rest of my family most certainly is not?


Even when I was little, my family would watch award shows. It confused the hell out of me that the people who win would say, "Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, God!" I would ask my mom, "Why are they thanking God? THEY did all the work! They are the ones who practiced, and worked hard, and won." She would say something about being modest.


If I put the time and effort into something to the point that I was amazing, I would be modest but to a point. None of this, "Oh, psh. It's nothing...."  or, "Oh, I'm not that good," stuff that I hear from time to time.


I don't have answers, but I most certainly have been asking these questions for a long time.


@Dustin, yes. Mozart is bad*ss. So is Bach, but for different reasons. :)

Comment by Phil on April 26, 2011 at 4:25pm
Like when my OH thanks God for the meal I have just prepared. Some habits die hard. By the way, I am a drummer. This means I cannot sing or play guitar and have no musical talent but I can hit things in time. It's all down to my gift in Maths.
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on April 26, 2011 at 8:16pm

He practised the piano for over 10,000 hours and gave God the credit when he got a round of applause.

Comment by Dustin on April 26, 2011 at 8:22pm
Well mallory , a chair is designed to sit in. But it makes an effective weapon if you know how to use it. It also can be used for fire if it is made of wood. That's how I see humans and their talents. Some humans are a bit different based off their DNA and the way they are brought up, just like metal chairs are not good for making a fire.

I consider music to be nothing more than an extension of language and communication. It started as singing and dancing (Things that other species do as well although not as good as us ... and some better than some humans too) , then to simple tools that made sounds , then to a drum , then to more sophisticated instruments.

Music is keeping time , singing , expressing yourself through sophisticated instruments. Just as a white wall is not as beautiful as a painted or decorated wall , so songs developed to be prettier rather than plain. I don't see why we would need an evolutionary explanation for it. But if I tried , I guess I would say.... Music is a form of self expression , and self expression has great explanatory value in evolution terms that relate to communicating with others. But Music itself is just a by product of that raw instinct we have.
Comment by Kelin420 on April 26, 2011 at 9:05pm

I'm a professional musician for over 35 years and I also do art that sells for $1000's- I get very tired of hearing people tell me that my things that I have worked torwards, come from, inspired by, or just plain because some imaginary diety "blessed" me with two talents... I spent the time practicing my instrument, learning chords, scales, melodic patterns,learned to read, write music, play more styles than most people can name. I spend 3-10 hours a day doing my art- I have read books on perception, illusion, psychology, and my whole life looking at designs and art.


I played the music, I drew the pictures. ME, MYSELF and I... Other people have helped me on the way- music teachers, fellow musicians, artists, and of course my parents, but no imaginary beings did or gave me anything. 

Comment by Mr. Dubious on April 26, 2011 at 9:07pm

"Now, if a person is born and they can play the piano amazingly, would that skill translate to some other form of prodigal talent IF the piano was never invented."


Maybe.  I think the first question is what is it that makes someone a piano prodigy?  Intense motivation, manual dexterity, a good ear for pitch, a good sense of rhythm, the ability to grasp abstract rules and apply them on the fly, a capacity for memorization, the capacity to feel emotions deeply, etc.


We could probably come up with a list of other uses for many of these skills, individually, or in combination, but I don't believe these people were "designed" to play the piano.  Some people just have more innate ability in one particular skill and less in another, just as some people are tall, or more physically attractive than others.  That's just how the genetic lottery works.


And as a musician (not a prodigy), I have to agree with Dustin that the amount of hard work it takes to become an accomplished musician is often underestimated.  I think some folks like to imagine that "you either have it or you don't" to give themselves an "out" instead of spending hours and hours hunched over the keyboard practicing their piano lessons!

Comment by Horacio Martinez on April 26, 2011 at 9:18pm

Yea. I understand what a lot of you are saying.

But what I am referring to essentially are children that can paint a picture to look like a photograph.

Or play the piano with the same skill as someone who has dedicated their entire life to the instrument.

How are they able to do these things that would otherwise take YEARS and YEARS of practice in order to achieve that level of mastery.

Is it essentially an evolutionary mutation in the brain that causes them to excel at this?

And I don't think that I would count Savants in this, because they excel at their skill, but lack extremely in other skills, like social interactions.


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