Monday, March 1, 2010

Today on Kresta - March 1, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on Mar. 1

4:00 – It Doesn’t End Here: An Amazing Story of Faith and Forgiveness
Pope John Paul II declared the year 2000 a Year of Jubilee for the Catholic Church. At the age of 34, this year did not bring Dawn Marie Roeder the joyous celebration that she, who was born and baptized as a Catholic, had hoped for. Instead, it reigned in the complete opposite. On March 18, during the season of Lent, she would experience her very own “way of the cross” when her only son, Nathaniel Joseph, died by way of a most tragic set of circumstances. She is here to witness to God’s gift of faith and forgiveness.

4:40 – Obama Health Care Forum: Will Abortion Sink Reform Bill?
Leading up to last week’s health care summit, there was been plenty of chatter about everything from consideration of an excise tax on so-called Cadillac insurance plans to public options, to how much time everyone got to speak. But Democrats and Republicans alike have uttered hardly a word about an issue that could sink the health reform effort unless it is resolved: abortion. With all the discussion of reconciliation or not in the Senate, the real focus should be this: The future of health care reform now rests largely with two blocs of swing Democrats in the House of Representatives — abortion opponents and fiscal conservatives — whose indecision signals the difficulties Speaker Pelosi faces in securing the votes necessary to pass the bill. We get up to date with Leonard Nelson, author of Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Healthcare.

5:00 – Kresta Comments – What Drives the Modern Atheist Scientist?
On Feb. 28, 1953, Cambridge University scientists James Watson and Frances Crick announced that they had determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes. Both were atheists. Al uses this anniversary as an opportunity to talk about modern atheism and science. What drives the modern atheist scientist?

5:20 – EWTN Launches 13-part television series - All Things Girl
Tonight EWTN Television will begin a 13-part series based on the best-selling series All Things Girl!, a Catholic book series inspired by Pope John II's teaching on the dignity of women. These books cover a variety of topics for girls ages 9-13 including friendship, beauty, modesty, the feminine genius, and etiquette. Contributing authors Teresa Tomeo and Cheryl Dickow join us.

5:40 – “The Stoning of Soraya M” – Now Released on DVD
Last summer a sobering, controversial film explored the gripping story of an Iranian woman who is victimized by her husband. The movie is based on real events and is adapted from the book of the same name by the French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam, played by Jim Caviezel. In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, a husband grows tired of his young wife, who has borne him two sons and two daughters. Under Islamic law, a man may have up to four wives – but he’s also obligated to care and provide for each of them properly. Interested in a potential child bride and unable to afford the added expense of a second wife, the husband maneuvers his wife into tending house for a recent widower. Then he falsely accuses her of infidelity, after blackmailing other male village elders, including the mullah – the town’s religious leader - into colluding in his lie. The film “The Stoning of Soraya M” is now out on DVD. Iranian Director Cyrus Nowrasteh is with us.


  1. Re: Kresta comments about Francis Crick

    So what if Crick wanted to show that consciousness is solely a natural material process devoid of some kind of ethereal guiding force. What's wrong with that? Does it make him evil? Should he be punished with everlasting pain for trying to make a convincing case? For Pete's sake!

    As for atheist scientists using "religious" language to describe nature, Al indulges the notion that these scientists, deep down, really do believe that the universe has an ultimate purpose. In other words, deep down, they're like Al. And Al wins.

    I disagree. I think these scientists juice up their language to impress upon us ordinary common folk the sense of awe and excitement they have for their work. Dawkins makes that point about Einstein in The God Delusion. He says that Einstein did not believe in a personal god. Einstein's "god" was Nature, awesome but impersonal, hence the capital "N." Dawkins wants atheists to stop using language that way because he has seen people like Fr. Groeschel use Einstein for their own evangelical purposes.

    How about Crick's (using Al's words), "although this looks designed, it's not really designed" puzzle? You win a point here, Al. The order of it all certainly makes me wonder -- until I ask a few questions. Is the small pox virus designed? How about the flesh eating bacteria? And what about those nasty tectonic plates? But those questions only cast doubt on God's goodness and mercy. Let's find a better one. It must certainly be the case that God has complexity and order. (I don't for a minute buy Fr. Spitzer's assertion that God is ultimate simplicity.) Therefore, using your logic, I'm allowed to ask: Who designed God? (I'm fully aware of the uncaused cause argument. But if it makes anyone feel better, by all means, go for it. I won't fall apart if I hear it again.) Is the universe designed with an ultimate purpose in mind? Who the hell knows.

  2. Re: Kresta comments about Francis Crick (continued)

    OK. So the things about Crick that bother Al don't bother me. But he and his colleagues, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, did do something I don't like. In their quest to understand DNA, they barely acknowledged the important contribution made by Rosalind Franklin, whose experiments with X-ray photography of DNA, and especially her famous photo 51, helped them figure out DNA's structure.

    In November, 1951, Franklin, who worked in Wilkins's lab, was invited to see a DNA model Crick and Watson had constructed. She told them it was wrong; they had the sugar-phosphate backbone on the inside of the molecule and the bases on the outside. She told them that the bases had to be on the inside. In May, 1952, Franklin produced photo 51, revealing the helical structure of DNA and allowing the size of the turns to be computed. Later, without telling Franklin, Wilkins showed photo 51 to Watson. Then Francis Crick read a report containing Franklin's work. In that report, Franklin placed DNA in a class of molecules having a certain type of symmetry, which told Crick that there were two chains running in opposite directions: a double helix. With this information, Crick and Watson finally figured out the correct double helix structure.

    Watson and Crick published their findings in the April 25, 1953, editon of Nature. Their article had only a perfunctory reference to Franklin: "We have also been stimulated by a knowledge of the general nature of the unpublished experimental results and ideas of Dr. M. H. F. Wilkins, Dr. R. E. Franklin and their co-workers at King’s College, London."

    There's a good Nova program about Rosalind Franklin called Secret of Photo 51. She died of ovarian cancer in 1958. She was only 37 years old. Crick, Watson and Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on nucleic acids in general, not just DNA specifically. Franklin could not have been nominated for the Nobel prize because it is not awarded posthumously.

    One more thing about Al's interview. I think Al mistakenly attributed a quote to Crick that was actually made by someone else about Crick. I'll give the full quote I found on the internet. Al used only part of it. "His [Crick's] scientific enterprise is governed by a basic religious stance. And while he recognizes that the particular stance he takes is anti-religious in conventional terms, 'it is a religious attitude because it's concerned with religious problems.' [Al stopped there. But the quote goes on.] He is absolutely right. What Crick and other scientists are doing is bringing forth a religion based science."

    Al, can you tell us the source of that quote?