Most people (and I'm including theists AND atheists in this statement) are less concerned with discovering the truth than they are in just "proving" that they are right.
I try to consider the arguments and opinions of the person with whom I'm arguing. I'm not saying that I always succeed, I like being "right" as much as anyone else.
As a younger man I was a bit insensitive racially. I got into an argument with a black woman about that, and though I gave it my best efforts she basically showed me that I was wrong. And I admitted it frankly and publicly on the forums on which we were conversing. (We ended up briefly dating, incidentally.)
She almost didn't believe that I was admitting that I was wrong. Many people won't do that. Many people hold to their opinions even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they might be mistaken.
I want to be right. I want what I believe, my opinions, my judgments, to be correct. I provisionally claim that all of my current opinions are true. I will defend them to the best of my ability. I will however consider opinions that differ from my own and if I find them correct then I will adopt them without hesitation.
Truth is more important to me than pride
I’ve been conversing with a lady recently who exemplifies the attitude to which I object. She holds a view where whatever you believe is true, IS true. That really doesn’t work for me.
There is the realm of imagination and there is the realm of reality. Comic books and novels are in the former. Physics textbooks are (mostly) in the latter.
Pride often prevents people from exploring new ideas, from admitting that there might be a different way of looking at things. I’m as much a victim of this as most people. I think that I am right. (Certainly, most of the time that is accurate.)
Some people are too proud to admit that they are wrong. They have invested years, even decades, perhaps lifetimes, into a belief. Perhaps it is what they were taught by their father and what he was taught by his father and so forth. Giving up your deeply held beliefs can be difficult, even traumatic.
In the age of the Internet, admitting that you were wrong is unheard of. You pick a position on an issue and you stick with it no matter what. Yet that’s not the way you find truth.
Truth is not found by quoting soundbites or talking points. Truth is not found by dogmatically adhering to whatever it is that you were taught. Truth is found by dialogue, by considering that maybe somebody else is right. For once.
There is a possibility (remote though it may be) that you are wrong in something which you believe. Do not be so proud as to deny this. It is possible. Maybe not probable, but still possible.
There is a possibility that Rush Limbaugh is entirely correct in everything he says. Now, I disagree with much of … oh wait, who am I kidding, the possibility is zero, nil. zip, Roughly equivalent to the possibility that the sun moves around the earth.
So … how do you find out what’s true? You THINK. Quite a novel concept in the world where everything is provided to you on a computer screen. No thought required there, just pull it up and put it in your head, then regurgitate it on demand.
Don’t get me wrong. The Internet is a wonderful tool. If you think that you are smart because you read some things on the Internet, though, I’m going to have to beg to differ. And probably laugh at you. Not with you, not near you, but AT you.
I am proud of myself. I am proud that I want to find Truth. I pursue this goal regardless of where it might lead. I’m not afraid of the perils of the quest, I welcome them.
There was a point in recent history, I’m not sure when it was, where winning an argument became more important than being right. When it didn’t matter if you were right or wrong it just mattered if you could put this other person down. That’s not cool, by my evaluation.
TRUTH. This is the ultimate value. Pride is kinda silly, though it does have some uses. Weighing one against the other, however, truth always wins.