So Katrina hit and various rabbis noted a correlations with the disengagement from Gaza. Question: Is Rita, like Katrina, God’s punishment, or is this one just a storm?
People often say that religion and science aren’t in conflict, and ‘explanations’ of Katrina make Muffti think that maybe they are right. If scientists explain something by positing a cause, they are expect to draw on a theory that predicts the events from the antecedent causes. The theory is judged partly testing the predictions of the theory under similar conditions. If they cite a rise in surface temperature of the ocean as a cause of rising intensity of hurricanes, then we expect similar effects in other regions where the causal antecedent conditions are similar. If we don’t find that in general (and we can’t explain cases where it doesn’t happen) we lose confidence in the theory.
Religious explanations don’t typically seem to bear any similar burden: otherwise, Muffti would like to see those who cite divine intervention as a cause of anything tell Muffti clearly what the causal conditions are (people misbehaving?) and then make a substantial prediction (natural disaster?) about what will happen to people in similar conditions. In the absence of a theory that makes real predictions, people are totally free to
say any stupid shit they see fit posit fanciful explanations. Perhaps one thing that gets science minded people so annoyed with religious ‘explanations’ is simply that in the absence of a theory that makes prior predictions, there is no sense in trying to tell whether any particular event is evidence for or against that explanation being true. This holds true for interpretations of the Torah: Muffti gets annoyed when people tell him a midrash to explain things because, absent a theory of how to tell whether the midrash is true, or some constraint on what is positable, everything begins to look ad hoc.
OK, sorry for the rant. Proceed with your lives.