God names specific craftsmen to make his altars, vestments, and other sundries in Exodus 31:1-11, specifically, Bezaleel and Aholiab. Bezaleel is from the tribe of Judah (the guy who had sex with this daughter-in-law), and Aholiab, from the tribe of Dan (the result of Jacob raping one of his slaves), both men are the sons of attempted murderers, so they’re obviously from an illustrious pedigree.
The reason these two men are able to make these objects is because God has given them the gifts of craftsmanship. Now, this is a common theme among believers—they revel in the idea that God has given them talents like musicianship, leadership, and artistic ability. You hear this all the time in churches, people admiring the talents of others by phrasing it as, “God has given them a gift.” Now, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I think even poor gifts are to be well-received, however, I have a problem with this cosmic gift-giver.
The first problem is how unfairly God doles out his gifts. God may bless someone with fine beauty, but the next person’s face looks like the results of a meat grinder. One person may be an angelic mezzo soprano, while others croak like a laryngitic frog. Really God, if you didn’t bring enough for the rest of the class, you should have left it at home. Believers account for these discrepancies with trite admonitions like, “God gifts us all in individual ways.” I can refute that in three words: Freddie freaking Mercury. I don’t want to make you feel sorry for yourself, but Freddie Mercury was better than you ever will be, ever… ever! You can spend your whole life training to be the most awesomest bestest person ever, and Freddie Mercury accomplished that with an arm tied behind his back, while wearing a blindfold, when he was six-months-old. The fact of the matter is, most people are average (that’s what “average” means); we’re part of a bell-curve in which only a few of us reach the edges.
People don’t just wake up and realize they’re Olympiads, it takes years and years of training to become great at something. God’s grace didn’t make that dancer amazing, training for eight hours a day, seven days a week, for the past fifteen years did. And let’s not forget that people are genetically predisposed to be good at certain things. You can train all you want to be great at basketball, but if you’re 4’11” with a stocky build, you will never be as good as someone who is 7’6” with an athletic build. And this doesn’t just apply to purely physical endeavors, people are genetically predisposed to be good at math, linguistics—pretty much any subject. Savants will always be faster and better than most people, and while we may not like to admit it, our DNA also translates to artistic ability, as seen in prodigies and artistic savants.
And let’s not forget the below-average human traits. Why do you never hear anyone say, “Your dim-wittedness is a gift!” or, “God graced you with severe health problems due to glandular instabilities!” and my personal favorite, “God truly blessed your daughter with the inevitable and painful death-sentence of cystic fibrosis!”