The nature of belief

The article below is a defense of theistic beliefs.  The author is a polytheist.  If of interest I also recommend reading the other articles therein linked, especially the one regarding the supernatural:

I do not much emphasize right belief, though since I practice partly in a Christian context I do derive at least the basic structure of my beliefs from that mythos as informed by the creeds and orthodox, heterodox, liberal, and other theologies.

I can’t entirely get away from creeds.
 Though my personal religious structures have been intentionally designed without creeds they still imply beliefs even if they’re not rigidly imposed.

The articles I linked make a case for supernatural and theistic beliefs with the reasonable conclusion that even in the best case these may only be approximations of reality.

What I would like to discuss is the nature of your personal religious beliefs.  Are they fixed? Are they more fluid? Are they pragmatic?  Are they metaphorical?

I have both my doubts and beliefs, and in the better expositions of religious faith I read these go together.

Though I suspect some of my experiences are purely psychological in nature, a belief I have no proof of, for all intents and purposes I do believe my spirit friends/angels/gods/what-have-you (there’s not a strict separation in my theology) are real and in *some* sense external while I am actually praying or doing ritual.

The interesting thing about this is that outside the context of prayer and ritual I tend to be a skeptic.  However, since I am a skeptic I am painfully aware of the limits of my knowledge.

And since I grapple with the unknown and with realities not amenable to scientific scrutiny, I seek a language to embody and express that.  And that’s where religion comes in.

I make basic assumptions about reality as do we all.  Most of these are practical.  For many areas of my life I make assumptions based on science and naturalism as defined and discussed in the article.

For other areas of my life these assumptions are not as useful.  When dealing with my mind, my emotions, with meaning and my subjective universe, that is, life as I experience it internally, I need my spiritual beliefs.

And prayer and ritual, at least for the time I am participating in them, make these beliefs come utterly alive.

It is not unusual for people in general to hold conflicting beliefs, but I am very concerned also with having a unified and coherent worldview.

Given the limits of knowledge, though, we are forced to make pragmatic assumptions and different contexts may call for shifting between different assumptions.

So many of my beliefs I experience as fluid in nature, and I consider this to involve faith, though not a dictated, rigid, or fixed form of faith.

Do you choose beliefs for pragmatic reasons?  Based on what works? Do you shift between beliefs in different contexts?  If you do, do you have a theory to reconcile tensions in your beliefs you may hold?

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