Why So Patronising?

Aug 05, 2011 Comments Off by

On many videos of debates, discussions, question and answer sessions and so on, it can sometimes be seen that a religious person will descend to the level of insults and offensive commands to try and enforce their point. A small number of people seem to like pressuring other people into agreement with fear or amateur psycho-analysis. Such remarks can be even more frustrating to listen to when smothered in a condescending tone, causing a painful irony when the less philosophically advanced person tries to suggest that they are somehow the more advanced.

To the viewer these can also be regarded as gemstones of argument, not only because they can often be quite funny, but also because they usually signify that the speaker has lost. Instead of using cool rationale they have resorted to trying to bully the other person into agreement. As much as it is satisfying that you know they have lost the argument, clearly they don’t, and the overwhelming agitation from a patronising comment usually blocks out the satisfaction that you’ve won.

But what is it in the mind of these people that compels them, in those few seconds, to try a brute force tactic. One never likes to think that one loses arguments, and so envisioning what goes through their head seems slightly defeatist.

Of course, institutional religion uses fear and authority as its principle tools of indoctrination, and it seems likely that such traits are passed down to the followers. But is there also an element of misunderstanding how arguments, particularly of a philosophical nature, work? Discussions about atheism tend to require a calm and collected approach, simply because hysteria is commonly associated with religious fanaticism and the atheist wants to deflect all notions of similarity to religion. If someone starts shouting bible babble, then it is a stereotypical identifier, regardless of what the person is saying.

There’s also a strongly childish element to outbursts of insults. The debater gets fed up and annoyed with not getting their way, and so has a tantrum. It is concerning at the least, that people who claim to be morally superior, can occasionally be less grown up.

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About the author

I am the founder of Atheism Network.
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