Do many atheist speakers come off as arrogant?

Is it just me or do many people who are outspoken about atheism come off as arrogant? I love watching debates with Richard Dawkins or Lawrence Krauss or the late Christopher Hitchens or Bill Maher, but then again I’ve never been a believer. Are they REALLY convincing believers that their religion is wrong? I think that if I was a believer that I’d find their arrogance too off-putting to ever pay attention to what they were saying.
I think it’s easy to be arrogant in that situation because they know they’re right and the opposition have nothing to back themselves up other than belief and philosophical arguments devoid of any evidence, but what is the goal? They know full well that they are not going to convince their opponent but what about the people who are listening? Shouldn’t they stay friendly and avoid unnecessarily hostile terms to prevent themselves from losing the attention of someone who MIGHT listen if they don’t get turned off? Lawrence Krauss likes to refer to God as “Sadam Hussein in the sky” which I find terribly amusing but at the same time how many people just stopped listening at that point?
Maybe that’s something to consider if you find yourself in a discussion with a believer: take the high ground when possible, especially if others are listening to the conversation. Scoring points is satisfying but ultimately I think we’re trying to wake others up to the bizarreness of religion and leave it behind.

I wouldn’t know because I don’t make it a habit of going to see speakers. I’ve read some of Dawkins’ books and they don’t come off as arrogant to me, even “The God Delusion”. But he clearly states that he doesn’t really expect to convert any Believers. One of him main goals is to spread the word that being an atheist is a respectable philosophical position to take.
But you’re absolutely right. If we really do want to change people’s minds, we have to engage them in conversation, not rant at them about how wrong we think they are.

Is it just me or do many people who are outspoken about atheism come off as arrogant? I love watching debates with Richard Dawkins or Lawrence Krauss or the late Christopher Hitchens or Bill Maher, but then again I've never been a believer. Are they REALLY convincing believers that their religion is wrong? I think that if I was a believer that I'd find their arrogance too off-putting to ever pay attention to what they were saying. I think it's easy to be arrogant in that situation because they know they're right and the opposition have nothing to back themselves up other than belief and philosophical arguments devoid of any evidence, but what is the goal? They know full well that they are not going to convince their opponent but what about the people who are listening? Shouldn't they stay friendly and avoid unnecessarily hostile terms to prevent themselves from losing the attention of someone who MIGHT listen if they don't get turned off? Lawrence Krauss likes to refer to God as "Sadam Hussein in the sky" which I find terribly amusing but at the same time how many people just stopped listening at that point? Maybe that's something to consider if you find yourself in a discussion with a believer: take the high ground when possible, especially if others are listening to the conversation. Scoring points is satisfying but ultimately I think we're trying to wake others up to the bizarreness of religion and leave it behind.
IMO, they often do seem arrogant; I think this may be because they are mostly University professors and are used to lecturing a room full of students who are not only required to attend but also must take tests to show they know (agree with) the lectures viewpoints. So in other words it is a cultural handicap. As Daniel Dennett points out "One of the surprising discoveries of modern psychology is how easy it is to be ignorant of our own ignorance. You are normally oblivious of your own blind spot."

This is constantly revisited. It’s the first conversation I had back on the Letting Go of God forum in 2008. My basic answer is no. Dawkins especially is very mild and lets wackos go on at length. Hitchens had a great wit and backed up every insult he made with quotes and facts and stories. Krauss actually interrupts people and gets too excited, he needs work. Maher is a comedian and entertainer, a special category. Emulating him is as bad as emulating Austin Powers when you trying to impress a woman, not a good idea.
Everyone is different and any movement needs diversity to reach more people. Every personality I’ve heard of, no matter how gruff, has stories of people thanking them for helping them leave religion. I’ve exchanged a few emails on this topic with Matt Dillahunty, known for his rants on his theist callers on the The Atheist Experience. I think he has toned it down a bit in recent years, but they also get a lot less theist callers lately. I’m pretty sure that’s because they realized he and the crew have addressed every possible argument for the supernatural ever created, not because they don’t like being yelled at.
If you’ve ever watched Matt in a head to head to debate, where decorum is important, he is amazingly calm in the face of stupidity. So part of this is knowing when to rant and when to make a calm reasoned argument.

Is it just me or do many people who are outspoken about atheism come off as arrogant? I love watching debates with Richard Dawkins or Lawrence Krauss or the late Christopher Hitchens or Bill Maher, but then again I've never been a believer. Are they REALLY convincing believers that their religion is wrong? I think that if I was a believer that I'd find their arrogance too off-putting to ever pay attention to what they were saying. I think it's easy to be arrogant in that situation because they know they're right and the opposition have nothing to back themselves up other than belief and philosophical arguments devoid of any evidence, but what is the goal? They know full well that they are not going to convince their opponent but what about the people who are listening? Shouldn't they stay friendly and avoid unnecessarily hostile terms to prevent themselves from losing the attention of someone who MIGHT listen if they don't get turned off? Lawrence Krauss likes to refer to God as "Sadam Hussein in the sky" which I find terribly amusing but at the same time how many people just stopped listening at that point? Maybe that's something to consider if you find yourself in a discussion with a believer: take the high ground when possible, especially if others are listening to the conversation. Scoring points is satisfying but ultimately I think we're trying to wake others up to the bizarreness of religion and leave it behind.
The reason they may seem aggressive--not arrogant, is a result of how many times they have had to deal with the arrogance of theists who come to any debate or even informal conversations ready to do battle. For many years they were hardly ever challenged and want to stop it before it has a chance to gain traction. They are prepared for a battle royale before a word is spoken. When atheists try to get a word in edgewise they are accused of being arrogant. Most atheists i know have been incredibly patient and reasonable in the face of gross impatience, unreason--and, yes, arrogance. They thing no one is entitled to challenge their beliefs, no matter how irrational they are. Lois

To offer a different perspective, a debate between an athiest and a believer in the supernatural is essentially pitting, for lack of a better term, two individuals at very different ends of belief spectrum to discuss the very things that typify their differences. In the course of daily life, athiest and believers can still come together and get along decently for shared common interest, such as volunteering at a homeless shelter or feeding hungry children in a third world country; however, a debate on beliefs has the rare and sole purpose of discussing only differences.
In addition, believers are often shielded from “demonizing.” When the two are debating, a believer can actually demonize an atheist and think or actually even state, “you’re going to hell,” while an atheist can really only state that “you’re ignorant of the facts/science/logic etc.” and this is not attacking ones character or attempting to determine future fate or suffering and torment as the believer often attempts.
Especially nowadays, bigotry is often considered arrogant and is becoming a bane of society and is translated into a concept that, in my opinion, is much worse than arrogance. And bigotry is abundant in many sermons–essentially every sermon is an attempt to tell someone how they should be living and the path they should be on.

Did you catch Bill Maher this week? If you didn’t then check it out:
http://youtu.be/vln9D81eO60
I think Sam Harris came across far more reasonably than either Maher or Ben Affleck. While Harris was calmly trying to get his point across, Affleck and Maher were just get jabs in. It seemed obvious to me that Affleck wasn’t even listening to the other side. I would hope most viewers would see this and get behind the more reasonable person.
I think it would have been much easier for Harris to get defensive and aggressive but then I think he would have come off as the loser even if he had made the same exact points. A level head goes a long way when swaying the opinion of a group.

Come to think of it, I am not sure that the debates are too important at all. How many people here have become an atheist due to an atheist vs. Christian debate? For me, and many of the other athiests i know, it was a matter or slow self-reflection coupled with at least a mild zeal for science and facts and an open mind. I personally doubt a person would ever say, I would have listened more to a particular person and perhaps converted to atheism if it weren’t for the speakers arrogance. The conversion to atheism is a process, not a singular moment or event. If one ia turned off by percieved arrognce, I doubt they would have seriously ever considered atheism to begin with; personal beliefs are highly complex processes with a desire to know more and more.

Come to think of it, I am not sure that the debates are too important at all. How many people here have become an atheist due to an atheist vs. Christian debate? For me, and many of the other athiests i know, it was a matter or slow self-reflection coupled with at least a mild zeal for science and facts and an open mind. I personally doubt a person would ever say, I would have listened more to a particular person and perhaps converted to atheism if it weren’t for the speakers arrogance. The conversion to atheism is a process, not a singular moment or event. If one ia turned off by percieved arrognce, I doubt they would have seriously ever considered atheism to begin with; personal beliefs are highly complex processes with a desire to know more and more.

It seems to me that the belief that “God” answers my petty, self centered prayers while children die of starvation, wars rage, and all manner of atrocities are commited on a vast scale is very arrogant indeed. The cries of pursecution by Xtians in this country when their “privileged” status is the least impinged upon as minority views are exercised in keeping with our constitution is arrogance. The simple notion that the cosmos was created for “us”, God’s chosen people is the hieght of arrogance. Dismissing science in favor of myth is arrogant.
And when we disagree with them, they dismiss us as arrogant because they have nothing substantial to back up their claims.
Arrogance is easily employed as a label to a squash discussion and claim the higher ground. It does not validate or invalidate anyone’s assertions.

Come to think of it, I am not sure that the debates are too important at all. How many people here have become an atheist due to an atheist vs. Christian debate?
I did in a way. I was looking for answers to the challenges against belief in God and happened upon Matt Dillahunty. He has been accused of arrogance once or twice. He does cut people off and responds to questions about Jesus by saying Jews believed in the death penalty for picking up sticks on a Sunday. This led me to attempt to develop arguments to challenge him. Lucky for me, my own logic won out and before I ever called in to his show, I realized he was right. I've still had a few email discussions with him about the arrogance thing. I think he's mellowed a bit lately. Anyway, back on topic. In my case, logic was the key, but I think an arrogant person can inspire people consider their own argument. Sometimes, it's not arrogance, it's confidence. No matter how smart or confident you are, seeing someone confident of the opposite opinion can be a motivator.