I was eating lunch with a couple coworkers recently and one of them asks us to guess where the PGA Championship tournament is being played. After a number of guesses, he lets us know that it's being played at Valhalla Golf Club. The conversation soon pivoted to the Norse origin of the word. A third co-worker entered the lunchroom. He was asked about Valhalla and began his definition with "an imaginary place." I jokingly asked if he was also referring to Heaven. My comment was immediately dismissed out of hand.
I seem to run into many people, especially on topics concerning politics and religion, who show their blatant unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of their beliefs. Those "crazy Norse and their belief that if they die in battle that a Valkyrie will escort them to Valhalla" or those "crazy Muslims with Allah and their 72 virgins." But what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if it was the "crazy Christians who believed their savior came into this world via magical impregnation, who later turned water into wine and made a blind man see"? If you look at it objectively, there's no functional difference between Norse, Muslims and Christians. But if you point this out directly or indirectly to most people they'll scoff at you and claim those other people are crazy, their religions are wrong, but they, and the religion they subscribe to, is right.
Why are most people unwilling to acknowledge the possibility that their beliefs are wrong? I would say it's a natural reaction. Even more than the love of backing a winner, we hate the prospect of backing a loser. We invest all this time and emotion into something and we don't want acknowledge it could all be for naught, so we perform all these mental gyrations and justifications to try to convince ourselves that we're right and everyone else is wrong.
In the end, we're probably all wrong.