Possibility of evidence
The below item was left as a comment:
This is something I struggle with. You say that you do not believe in God because there is a lack of evidence, but there can never be evidence either way. Science is not structured to make any statements about spirituality, so there will never be evidence for or against the existence of a god. There is no experiment that science could come up with to say a god does or does not exist. Therefore, you cannot say that you disbelieve in God because of a lack of evidence, at least not in the scientific definition of evidence, repeatable experimental results.
The problem with Western religion is that it is based on dogma. This is how it is because God said so, you can’t change it (unless you get together wear goofy outfits and pray long and hard about it). Western religions want you to accept something simply because it is written somewhere. Instead, religion should not be about worship. Religion is a connection to the spiritual. No spiritual method of gaining knowledge could be compatible with science because then it would be science, cold and ready to throw out results that don’t fit established theories or rules.
The problem with Western belief systems, science and religion, is they are quick to throw out that which is new. It takes decades, sometimes centuries, for the West to change its mind. How long did we believe the Sun revolved around the Earth? Knowledge must be experienced without boxing it in. There should be no concept of science or religion as knowledge, simply knowledge, that which we experience. By sharing those experiences, we learn about the world we live in, always open to knew knowledge, readily accepted. It is certainly difficult to come up with any generalities like science does, but knowledge would be far more complete, instead of full of holes like our current system.
Sorry for the rant. I’m taking a Phil class on Native American philosophy and it’s quite compelling.
You begin by saying that there cannot be evidence for or against God because the subject is beyond science, but you end by talking about spiritual methods of gaining knowledge. Wouldn’t such spiritual means of gaining knowledge, if they are valid, be evidence for or against the existence of a deity?
Personally, I do not rule out non-science-based methods of gaining knowledge. For example, I believe that personal revelation could be a compelling reason to believe in a deity (that is, God could make me believe in Him if He desired to). I also think that it may be philosophically possible to prove that a deity exists without appealing to science, in the same way that it is philosophically possible to prove that certain descriptions of a deity are impossible.
I agree that people can take a long time to change their mind about something. I think that in general modern science is much less susceptible to this bias than religion, though. Look at how long it took for quantum physics and relativity to be accepted — considering how radically they changed the way we view the world, I’d say that they were accepted quite quickly, largely because the evidence for them was overwhelming.
Is resistance to change a Western phenomena? I don’t know about that. Perhaps there are non-Western cultures that accept new information more quickly. I would be interested to hear about this, and wonder how often they quickly accept information that turns out to be incorrect (not that Western science always gets it right).
Finally, let me return to your point about science not being able to show by experiment that God does or does not exist. Although you are right that science cannot directly test whether or not God exists, it can test whether or not God is necessary. If science can find sufficient explanations for all natural phenomena without appeal to a deity, then science has proven that God — whether He exists or not — is not necessary to explain the world around us. On the other hand, if science discovers that there is no possible explanation for some phenomena, then that might be taken as evidence that we have found something science is incapable of dealing with. Fortunately, science has not run into this problem.