In what sense might science require faith?

A bunch of us (MC Spanky McGee, Griff, me, et al.) were out last night at Joe’s Place:

And amongst other things we started talking about god, religion, and atheism. At one point, our homeboy MC Cigar (aka YoMama) brought up the issue of science requiring faith. Rather than recount the details of that conversation (which I couldn’t do anyway), I thought I would piece together various things here from other sources.

At, they make the following claim:

Much of the problem stems from the different starting points of biblical creationists and Darwinists. Everyone, scientist or not, must start their quests for knowledge with some unprovable axiom—some a priori belief on which they sort through experience and deduce other truths. This starting point, whatever it is, can only be accepted by faith; eventually, in each belief system, there must be some unprovable, presupposed foundation for reasoning (since an infinite regression is impossible).

There are a number of sticky issues here, but one of the problems with the above is that science is founded on experience and it is experience that is what, in some sense, stops the regress. That is, science is based, among other things, on the observation that the world behaves in a law-like fashion. That the world appears to behave in a law-like fashion is not an a priori (i.e., prior to or independent of experience) belief. There is of course the little ol’ problem of induction (thank you Hume) concerning whether there is any possible justification for believing that the world outside of one’s actual experience (say in the distant past, in the future, or just outside of the range of one’s sense organs) behaves in the law-like way that one does experience it (see here for more details). However, it is not clear that belief in induction requires faith in the sense claimed in the above answersingenesis paragraph.

More interesting than the answersingenesis claim is the following from the Transterrestrial Musings blog:

Belief in the scientific method is faith, in the sense that there are a number of unprovable axioms that must be accepted:
1) There is an objective reality
2) It obeys universal laws
3) Its nature can be revealed by asking questions of it in the form of experiments
4) The simplest explanation that fits the facts is the one that should be preferred

There is a similar problem here as with the other. The problem of induction is forever looming, but that aside, 2)-4) seem to be grounded in our experience of the world in general and in the process of formulating hypotheses and testing them. So, for example, with 4) it typically turns out that if my wife’s car is gone and she is gone at the time when I know she works, the reason she and the car are gone is not that aliens visited Jerry Seinfeld, brainwashed him into being a kidnapper, dropped him off at our house and he took my wife., but rather she is at work (i.e., the simpler explanation is the correct one). (Another question concerns how we should read the “unprovable axioms.” That is, what are the provable things that we are supposed to be contrasting with these axioms, if the axioms themselves are unprovable.) “Axiom” 1) from above is more complicated: while most scientists may accept 1) without much thought, it certainly is something that has been heatedly debated in philosophy using various arguments, i.e., reasoning. As such, even if it is just assumed by many, it is not therefore groundless or faith-based. Much more could, of course, be said concerning all of this.

Much more interesting, to my mind, than the claims above concerning science requiring faith is the following from Robert Pollack:

Science makes the following claim for itself, legitimately: most of what is knowable is unknown at this moment, and most of what is unknown will be knowable eventually through science. The faith of science makes a further claim: all that is unknown will be knowable through science. The distinction between the two turns on the question: Is there anything unknown now, whether or not it lies on the outer edge of what is knowable, that will never be understood, anything that is ultimately unknowable? No one denies that science will push the margin ever closer to full knowledge. The issue is whether some unknown will always remain. That question about science is by its very nature not answerable by science. Therefore to claim there is nothing unknowable is an act of faith, and to affirm this statement makes science into a faith. [From Practicing Science, Living Faith, Eds. P. Clayton and J. Schaal. Page 229]

Importantly, he goes on to make clear that he does not think that all scientists make the claim that “all that is unknown will be knowable through science.” And that may simply be because there are questions that science cannot answer as a result of contingent human limitations (e.g., whether there are extraterrestrials). Thus he is not claiming that the practicing of science necessarily requires faith. Rather, his claim is that a certain way of viewing science and knowledge requires faith. The crucial move in Pollack’s argument is “The issue is whether some unknown will always remain. That question about science is by its very nature not answerable by science. Therefore to claim there is nothing unknowable is an act of faith, and to affirm this statement makes science into a faith.” It would be great to see what others think about this move.

Pizza Hut is Awsome Graffiti (at the Yacht Club)

Pizza Hut is Awsome Graffiti

Apparently in Iowa City somebody felt the need to graffiti up a brick wall in a bar with the words “Pizza Hut is Awsome” in Sharpie. I love the enthusiasm, of course the Sharpie / jank handwriting, and the fact that “awesome” is misspelled only adds to the value.

This was sent to me via (what the kids are calling) text messaging from Spanky and Griff. I love it.

Also I do love Pizza Hut for their jackpot wings, best-in-the-business thin crust sausage, and the fact that they serve Mt. Dew from the fountain. That being said, they are the most ridiculously overpriced mainstream pizza chain in the business. Can we get a little moderation please?

Spanky would like to add that this is written on one of the humongous brick pillars at the Yacht Club, which is discussed in:….

Soupy Trumpet Blasts from the Web 3-22-08


Upsets at NCAA tournament: Higher Seeds Fall in Tampa

Drake’s Unexpected Season Done in by Buzzer-Beater Desperation Heave (so I’m a little biased)


The Full Story Behind Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s 9/11 Sermon (AC 360 Blog, Roland Martin)

Flooding Reaches Dangerous Levels in Missouri

Exploding Star in Previously Unknown Galaxy

The Onion:

Delicious Snacks Distract Congressman from Horrors of War (video)

U.S. Finishes a Strong Second in Iraq War (archive 10-20-04)

Des Moines Register:

Back on Top: Iowa Wrestling clinches 1st NCAA title in 8 years

Iowa Smoking Ban Goes to Special Committee

K-Fed rocked his 30th Birthday in Vegas: lost voice and money

(I think that’s a sign to call it quits)

Rovie says, “Can’t we all just get along?”

karl rove hawkeye 2

Karl Rove was heckled at a speaking engagement in Iowa City on Sunday. He attempted to shut up the unruly crowd with this golden nugget, “You got a chance to ask your questions later and make your stupid statements, let me make mine.” Well, Rovie, before I defend you I’ve got to blast yo ass…for the record. You were part of the mastermind behind the most reviled regime in the White House since…oh, I dunno…Andrew Jackson?!?!? Your #1 aide was criminally indicted on five felony counts of perjury before W let him off the hook. You produced four election victories for W (2 as gov, 2 as pres), starting with the absolute hijacking of John McCain ‘s bid for the nomination in South Carolina in 2000 (push poll question: “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”). This is only scratching the surface of your atrocities. People don’t like you. Liberal America does not like you. They think you and the boys have…uh….messed up. So when you go into those bastions of liberalism such as Iowa City and rake in 40 Gs on a Sunday afternoon, you’re gonna get that. In fact, you might even deserve it…or a little more.

But Rove is right about one thing…it’s time for the angry libs to back down…at least as it pertains to rude interruptions and drown-out attempts during public speaking engagements. Never mind that political support for an imperialistic foreign policy is far more egregious than a little righteous public outrage in terms of ethics…it’s much easier to say “well, those people are just angry and mean-spirited.” And they’ll be right…know why? Because they have a vote, and the war we’re fighting is to change minds (not just to be right). If you want to mock Karl Rove, make him speak to an empty banquet hall. Just don’t go. The Roves of the world are only relevant when they have a name and face to rally against, and the IC hecklers gave him that perfect enemy…once again. They love nothing more than to argue that academia embraces fascists but hates Republicans (even if the argument is inaccurate). None of this is new. Republicans have been painting Dems as the angry malcontents for years.

Rovie, I’m willing to meet you in the middle. Spanky and I have been scheming on bringing former WH Press Secretary Scott McClellan to party in IC for 2 years….that dude needs a beer! Besides, we just wanted to shoot the shit with him (“How bout that flood control, huh?”).

I’d like to extend that formal invitation to you, too, Rovie. You pick a football game…we’ll host the tailgate. We won’t let any of those liberal cooks near you…well, other than us, and we’ll rock out the I-Ceezy. Post-game we can hit up the ped-mall and I got your grilled cheese all day, bro. Oh, and please bring McClellan….PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEEEEEEEEEEASE! I know you guys might not be good ol buds anymore, but you can get along for a 24-hour party in the IC, can’t you?

Let’s bury the hatchet.

Appalled by Matt Roth’s recent behavior

I am a Hawkeye football fan, and I’m here to to tell you that I thought that Matt Roth was a

Matt Roth cub scout

but instead, I come to find out that he’s

Lord of Darkness


The Daily Iowan reports:

A former Hawkeye now with the Miami Dolphins was arrested Feb. 1 after an incident at Union Bar, Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay said. Matt Roth, 25, Oakbrook, Ill., was charged with public intoxication. As of Monday, Roth was not being held at Johnson County Jail. Police responded to Union Bar, 121 E. College St., at 11:39 p.m. on Feb. 1 after an employee reported that Roth was in the bar, refusing to leave, after being kicked out earlier that night, Kelsay said. Officers reported that Roth had bloodshot, watery eyes, moved slowly and deliberately, and had slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his person and breath.”

Shame on you, Matt Roth. SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

-MC Spanky McGee

I’m just kidding. I’m a huge fan. Please don’t powerbomb me and use me as a toothpick. Can’t a man return to Iowa City to enjoy some beverages?

A view of the stage at the Yacht Club in Iowa City, Iowa

I’ve heard some good music at the Yacht Club in Iowa City and I’ve played some music there (I’ve heard and played some bad music there), but goddamnit, those gi-normous brick pillars have got to go. All you can see from nearly any angle in the venue is:

the yacht club Iowa City

Hell, even if you manage to see around these chubby red brick towers, all you can see then is:

band at Yacht Club

(Above: a band celebrates on stage at the Yacht Club)


-MC SpankyMcGee

Money-back guarantee

 We saw the Diplomats of Solid Sound at the Mill last night.  That’s a band you should gather your peeps for every time they’re in town.   And of course the ladies are…uh…entertaining.  I like how the fellas are all business in their suits.  Can’t tell you bout it…gotta go see ‘em.  They draw the ladies to the dance floor…nuff said.  They get 4.5 Taguchis.


Stooge’s Worst Day Ever

This being my first Soupy post, I’ll share an email I recently wrote to a friend.


Man I had the worst fucking day ever. I woke up and started sneezing up a storm in the bathroom. I have really bad allergies so this is not uncommon for me, but we’re talkin like 20 back-to-back sneezes. Pretty crazy. So after I finished the hurricane of sneezes I found that I was having trouble breathing. This also is not uncommon for me seeing as I have asthma. Anyway, I reached for ye ole inhaler and took a couple of hits. To my surprise, the inhaler did not help. This is very uncommon. It was becoming harder and harder to breathe. Within a matter of seconds it got to the point where I was struggling to even get a small gasp of air. I was having an acute attack. It was the scariest fucking thing I’ve ever experienced (except for seeing Spanky’s slime tonker once, but that’s a different story). Needless to say, I started panicking, which only made things worse. With my last bit of strength I called 911 and wheezed out what was happening. The paramedics came pretty quickly.

They tried to calm me down and gave me some type of vaporizer thing, which didn’t really do much. Then they put me in a weird orange chair that looked like it belonged on GUTS. I sat in that monstrosity and they strapped me in and carried me down the stairs. Now I’m being hauled down the stairs by 3 fat ass paramedics with their cracks showing like plumbers while I am gasping for air. Not cool. So I’m thinking, “Calm down Stooge, they’re here, it’s not going to get any worse.” Boy was I wrong. Three super hot babes from next door that I had been macking on the previous night just happened to be outside at the time to see me in my goon-like state. Looks like my chances with them are over…but that was the least of my worries. Now I’m lying on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance that is probably going to cost me more than taking an hour long ride in a pink limo with three naked hookers. The five min ride felt like 2 hrs. When I finally got to the hospital, i looked to my left and saw a Shug Knight looking character in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit being escorted into the ER. “At least I’m in good company,” I thought.

Then the wheeled me in and gave me more of the vaporizer thingie. My ER bed had another one just like it directly to the left with a cloth partition separating us. While the cloth provides a great visual barrier, it does next to nothing for blocking out sound. As i puffed on my vaporizer, I began to feel better. My breaths were getting deeper and I was calming down. The relief was short lived, however, when I began to hear what was going on past the green divider cloth. Here’s a tasty sample:

Old woman: OOWWWW . WWAAHH

Young attractive nurse: I know it’s cold but it shouldn’t hurt. It’s just soapy water. I really need to clean your vagina.

Old woman: OOOWWWWW

Young attractive nurse: ::silence::

Old woman: ::silence::

Young attractive nurse: Lift your knees.

Me: gross

So I just sat there for about an hour and inhaled that shit. I was feeling better and actually getting a little bored. Then I heard the old lady’s husband talking to the doctor:

Old dude: Yeah she’s starting to be a lot to deal with.

Foreign Doc Probably from India: Is she incontinent.

Old dude: No

Foreign Doc Probably from India: What is the problem?

Old Dude: She doesn’t know when she is, you know, going to the bathroom.

Foreign Doc Probably from India: So she is incontinent.

Old Dude: No, she makes it to the bathroom, sits down, goes, but she doesn’t realize that she has “went” so she just sits there all night waiting for it to happen

::Old woman enters on a stretcher::

Foreign Doc Probably from India: ::to old woman:: what is today date?

Old woman: ::mumbles inaudibly::

Foreign Doc Probably from India: Who is the president of the United States?

Old woman: ::inaudible::

Foreign Doc Probably from India: What city are we in?

Old Woman: IOWA CITY!!!

Old dude: ::to doc:: she is a handful. It’s a full time job cleaning up her feces.

Me: gross

Then I noticed a giant clear shield mounted on the wall ominously. I asked the nurse what it was for.

Me: What’s that shield for?

Mildly attractive nurse: sometimes we have people here who are really drunk…well actually we often have people here who are really drunk but sometimes they throw things.

Me: Gotta keep them in line. Show em who’s boss.

Mildly attractive nurse: yeah ::fake smiles, turns, and leaves (showing her disproportionately huge ass)::

Me: gross

I puffed for about fifteen more minutes and they gave me some pills and let me go. I walked into the waiting room to check out and realized that I didn’t have any shoes, my hair looked like ace Ventura, and I had a HUGE hole in the crotch of my jeans. The hole would not have been a big deal had I been wearing any undies. I walked into the room maneuvering my charlie browns so they faced away from all of the jokers in the chairs.

Then I signed a few papers, and they let me loose on Iowa City, barefoot and confused. I called my roommate Slime and he picked me up.

Me: thanks

Slime: What happened?

Me: I had an asthma attack. It was the worse day ever….blah…blah…blah

Slime: So that firetruck was for you? I was sleeping at the time and thought about going on the balcony to see what was going on.

Me: gross

Your Pal,


Hospital hijinks

I got this email from my special lady friend a couple days ago. She was at the university hospital in Iowa City when this incident occurred. She writes:

“I was scouting out a wheelchair at the ramp II entrance. The doors are locked on game day and there was this couple waiting to get in. I opened the door, then realized the man was on a scooter. I went to push the wheelchair access button, when the woman cried out in pain. I looked up to see that the man was trying to run her down in the doorway. He said, “You can’t just stop in the middle of the door.” They asked about the doors being locked, well the woman did. The man seemed unconcerned. She said to him, “You’re not the only one that matters. There’s other people that need to get in and we need to tell them to come in the other entrance.” Both of these people are fat, as you can imagine, and in their 50′s or so. The man is wearing a black leather jacket advertising a “Texas Hold’em” slot machine. The woman got on her cell phone and tried to avoid being mowed down by the scooter guy. He was hilarious. He was a total “the casino’s my home away from home-been on disability since the 80′s-don’t get in my way at the buffet line-I got me a Rascal and I know how to use it” type. Anyway, you would have loved it.”

LOVITZ. Grimace. China Star.

Well, this post started out as dealing with Subway only, but then I lost control.


I hate pretty much all of Subway‘s commercials. I’m sick of that lameass Jared (did he have his stomach stapled? I don’t know), but I’m especially sick of Jon Lovitz and his spritely commentary on their little skits.


Burger King, on the hand, creeped me out at first with the King, but after they put him on the football field I became a fan. Hence I applaud BK.
Back to Lovitz. This shit is pushing me away from Subway. They’re so smug, and the fact that their parent company is named “Doctor’s Associates” or whatever doesn’t work on me. Yeah, you’re pushing for the whole healthy-image thing–I got that. Do you really think that works on me–your stupid company’s name? By making it seem as if my doctor gives it the thumbs up?
I like the Italian BMT and the meatball sub. I really do. But to beat a dead horse, I share Grown Pumpkin’s sentiment, expressed here. But Lovitz makes me want to call Wayne Brady. Really.

Maybe I’m cranky because I’m hungry. God, I’d go to the Chinese place, China Star, in the Old Capitol Mall in Iowa City to grab some of their badass General Tso’s, but they don’t take credit or debit cards. We need to have a little chat, they and I. Their food is rockin’ and they’re packed at lunch, but they need to step it up. It’s 1999, BRO. Get on board. Now I go there anyway, but I’d go there more if I could be a good American and use this credit card. I don’t care if they don’t speak English. But don’t tell me that I can’t rack up credit card debt. That’s the real threat to the American way.

-Hattori “Spanko” Hanzo