I'm asking *you* to tell me why the God hypothesis is worthwhile, when infinitely many other hypotheses that are equally (un)supported are not. (I presume you'd agree that it's not worth seriously considering the existence of a teapot orbiting the sun).
Because it is simply not the case they are equally supported. The "Solar Teapot" has no track record of successfully predicting any future events whatsoever. People who die do not see the Solar Teapot appearing before them, or if you do not accept the validity of this perception, we are not left to wonder why human neurology is such that we see the Solar Teapot upon brain failure--because we don't. There are no records of people willingly being put to death rather than recant their claimed experiences during the (non)visit to Earth of the Solar Teapot. It is simply not the case that all religions are equally plausible--and, I might add, as someone who has studied nearly all of them, it strikes me as the height of intellectual laziness to simply declare equivalency of plausibility by default.
There are infinitely many potentially true things, and you only have finite time to consider them. How do you distinguish between the potentially true things you consider, and the ones that you don't?
I would say that this has been driven by my perception of plausibility and relative significance of the subject matter. Many people have an interest in philosophical issues per se, given their scope of applicability, thus their potential "significance". Religion overlaps to a high degree with this domain of inquiry. There may indeed be an unbridgeable gap in terms of focus selection here between us, though, in that I have had what I would consider "compelling spiritual events", so that from my perspective, I -am- "following the evidence". To be fair, I did not have any until some 15 years into my participation in my religion, and previous to that, one could fairly say my selection was largely driven by cultural influence, rather than experience. As you have not had such an experience as those that have formed my degree of certainty, I cannot fault your focus being elsewhere based on your personal experience. What I can say is that, since you mention "limited time", I suggest that you consider the possibility that that factor is self-imposed, and that by default your worldview will make that time limited. If at a given point in time you wish to continue consideration, it by definition my be done in a context that allows continued consideration.
Relativity was prompted by the observation that the speed of light is constant in all directions. String theory was prompted by the observation that two extremely well supported models produce nonsensical results when combined.
Observations "prompt" a great number of possible explanations. What I'd like to know is how you know a hypothesis is testable before it is conceptualized, so that we know (per your apparent criteria) whether it should not even be conceptualized in the first place--because it's not testable by definition before tests are determined, and tests cannot be determined for a hypothesis before it exists. If Einstein "followed the evidence" (in some sort of abstractly pure sense) from the start, he would not have made any revisions to the model--as he did. Also, the predominate scope of evidence would lead one to staying with the Newtonian system. If he "followed the testable evidence", the theory would not have taken the form it did, as aspects of Relativity were still being tested decades after it was proposed. You seem to be glossing over a lot of missteps in the history of science and inferential conjectures that end up being fruitful, to present a hyper-simplified systematic model that doesn't represent the reality of the actual process of science, but does (hopefully) meet your actual overarching objective--exclusion of "religion" at any cost. I would suggest Thomas Kuhn for a more encompassing, real-world appraisal of what science "is" and how it proceeds.
Sure, but until you have something testable, it's just speculation.
Which of the Interpretations of QM (Copenhagen, Everett, etc.), then, are "speculation"? Are they science?
But they were all still wrong! What kind of hubris does it take to make you think that your eyes don't lie, when everyone else's eyes do?
I think you may misunderstand my argument here. If my sense data is unreliable, then so is my perception of people around me saying they saw something else. If I do not have a basis to think my original perception was correct, I do not have a basis to think there are actually-existing people around me forming the challenge to my perception. Direct empirical perception to me is the bedrock of knowledge. If one cannot rely on that being true, one can rely on nothing being true. In fact, I would say it is, for all practical purposes, impossible for multiple people to directly observe an event and hold different stances as to what basically (perceptually) happened, without one side of the question simply lying. If this is not the case, there is no "truth", and certainly no functional science, if "observe the results of the test" is a fundamentally unreliable step in the experimental process.