Friday, July 10, 2009

Today on Kresta - July 10, 2009

Talking about the "things that matter most" on July 10

3:00 – Kresta Comments

3:20 – Pope and President Meet: What Happened?
President Barack Obama sat down with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican today for a meeting in which frank but constructive talks were expected between two men who agree on helping the poor but disagree on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. "It's a great honor," Obama said as he greeted the pope, thanking him for the meeting. They sat down at the pontiff's desk and exchanged pleasantries before reporters and photographers were ushered out of the ornate room. The one-on-one meeting went on for much longer than expected. We get a report from Vatican correspondent Joan Lewis.

3:40 – New Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ignore Public Opinion and the Human Cost
July 7, 2009, marked a major ethical shift in United States government-funded research. The National Institutes of Health implemented President Obama's executive order, "Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells". The new "Guidelines" authorize taxpayer funding of research on human embryonic stem cells harvested from human embryos. This egregious violation of human life is exacerbated by the fact that there are ethical alternatives that share the same plastic-like properties as embryonic stem cells. Second, there exists wide consensus that stem cell research using adult stem cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells, or stem cells from cord blood should be used and funded. There is not wide consensus on the use of embryonic stem cells. We talk with Dr. Marie Hilliard of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

4:00 – Kresta Comments

4:20 – Breakthrough: Lab-Made Sperm

Women who say they don't need a man may well be right – after human sperm was created in the lab. A team of British scientists claimed this week to have created human sperm using embryonic stem cells, in a medical first that they say will lead to a better understanding of fertility. But don't worry men, the scientists who created the sperm using stem cells don't plan to take you out of the baby-making process just yet. Why am I not feeling confident that these scientists have ethical considerations at the top of their list? We look at it with bioethicist Wesley Smith.

4:40 – "Caritas in Veritate"
Some politicians and pundits are pouncing on Pope Benedict’s encyclical on the economy, released this week, as an attack on capitalism. They are wrong – according to our next guest. In the fevered atmosphere of financial crisis and the G8 Summit, the Pope is reaffirming moral truths about man and the common good that reveal the meaning of work and wealth. These truths are perfectly compatible with a free economy, argues Catholic businessman and philanthropist Frank Hanna. Democrats and Republicans must understand that freedom, truth, and love go together. Frank joins us.

5:00 – Ave Maria University
Founded in fidelity to Christ and His Church in response to the call of Vatican II for greater lay witness in contemporary society, Ave Maria University exists to further teaching, research, and learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the abiding tradition of Catholic thought in both national and international settings. The University takes as its mission the sponsorship of a liberal arts education curriculum dedicated, as articulated in the apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, to the advancement of human culture, the promotion of dialogue between faith and reason, the formation of men and women in the intellectual and moral virtues of the Catholic faith, and to the development of professional and pre-professional programs in response to local and societal needs. As an institution committed to Catholic principles, the University recognizes the importance of creating and maintaining an environment in which faith informs the life of the community and takes expression in all its programs. Chancellor Tom Monaghan is with us to look at the growth of Ave Maria University.

5:20 – Direct to my Desk


  1. "There is not wide consensus on the use of embryonic stem cells."

    According to a Gallup poll over 60% of Americans say that embryonic is "morally acceptable", while only 30% say it is "morally wrong."

    In addition, according to a HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion poll, they found that 83% of physicians were "strongly in favor" of embryonic stem cell research.

    If this cannot be called a wide consensus in favor of embryonic stem cell research, I am not sure what can.

  2. Anonymous, Let's look at how the questions were asked. The poll you refer to asked whether respondents would "favor or oppose federal funding of research on diseases like Alzheimer's using stem cells taken from human embryos." Notice a leading reference to a promise of a cure for a specific disease.

    Another recent poll asked if respondents opposed "using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos." Phrased this way, only 38% supported ESCR while 53% opposed it.

    But even if the polling showed 80% of Americans favored killing embryos to cure diseases, it doesn't remove the fact that a life is being taken and we must oppose it. Period.

  3. I agree that the polls must phrase the question in a proper way to eliminate bias in statistics. However, I am quite sure the two studies I have cited are not biased in the manner which you speak.

    "But even if the polling showed 80% of Americans favored killing embryos to cure diseases, it doesn't remove the fact that a life is being taken and we must oppose it. Period."

    My apologies, but I find three things wrong with this claim. Lives are taken all the time to save other lives. I am an avid meat eater, so logically I rely on the taking of lives to sustain my own. In addition, diabetics require insulin, which requires the taking of a life to keep them alive.

    Secondly, who is the "we" that must oppose it?

    Third, why write period at the end of a sentence? I does not add any credence to you argument, and in addition it makes it appear weak because doing seems as though you do not want your claims to be challenged. If your argument represents truth, it has nothing to fear from a challenge.

  4. As for the "period" - It's a point of emphasis, and you know that. If we didn't want our claims challenged, we wouldn't have a blog that was open to comments.

    Now to the root of your statement. I think you are intelligent enough to know that I was referring to human life - not animal life. I barely consider it a meal if I am not eating meat, and I have no problem taking animal and vegetative life to sustain the human person. I, the Catholic Church, and most every right-thinking human being opposes the taking of human life as a means to an end.

    If you would like to make a case for embryos not being human persons, I would love to hear you try, but let's not nit-pick at what you know I was not claiming.

    The "we" that must oppose ESCR are those who believe in the sanctity of every human life.

  5. I guess I don't understand. Writing period at the end of a statement is usually someone's way of saying "this is unquestionable." What other way is it an emphasis?

    My apologies for being "nit-picky." My only concern is that if I start taking what it is that I think you mean, and not actually what you say, I run the risk of misunderstanding your claims, which will not get us any closer to discovering the truth. Next time I will ask for clairification.

    I agree, the root of this issue is whether or not we are killing a human being. I am not an extreme utilitarian, who thinks we should kill homeless people and give their organs to the needy. The reason why is I believe a homeless person is a human being, which emotions, thoughts, and feeling just like me. The problem with embryonic stem cells is they are extracted from blastocysts, which are only 70-100 cells. Since I am not the affirmative I believe it is up to you to demonstrate that 100 cells qualifies as a human being, not me to prove that it does not.

  6. To Anonymous.
    "as though you do not want your claims to be challenged"

    That is a completely fallacious attack and those who enjoy listening to Al Kresta's program know the truth and can identify that you are using your computer interface to conduct yourself in a way that you wouldn't otherwise face to face.

    You here are using polls as your authority. Al is appealing to the dignity of the human person that is being put to death and exposing how polls are manipulated. Can it be said that you here are trying to use polls because "you don't want your claims to be challenged"? You are saying that your view is validated by popular opinion. Why don't you appeal to the moral fabric of the argument which is the substance of the real debate?

    You have also revealed in your statement above that you are ok with the killing of a human in order to provide medical attention to another human.

    A person should write a period at the end of Al's statement because those who are educated in logic and reason realize that you are exterminating a human being and that is not morally acceptable. Do you understand what you are typing? You are saying that we can make a person exist for the purpose of harvesting them.

    At conception you have a human organism with 2 sets of 23 chromosomes. That is the first stage of a human being. You do not have a human when dealing with gametes. Gametes are haploids with only 1 set of 23 chromosomes. Nobody has the right to exterminate another human for "medical purposes". And this kind of mad science is obsolete anyway because of the successful technique pioneered by Shinya Yamanaka that renders ADULT stem cells to be pluripotent.

    You are pushing an obsolete "science". Pluripotent Adult stem cells make embryonic stem cell research obsolete.

  7. "That is a completely fallacious attack..."

    I am not making an attack. I am simply asking for any other reason someone would write "period" at the end of a sentence other than to imply it was above questioning.

    "You here are using polls as your authority."

    Yes, but only to refure Al's claim that "There is not wide consensus on the use of embryonic stem cells." I am not using it for anything else. In order to back up his claim what would Al need to use? He would also need to you polls, so I do not see how your point is relevant.

    "...exposing how polls are manipulated."

    Al needs to show how the polls I provided are manipulated. I agree that polls can be manipulated, but are these one of them? He, being the affirmative, needs to show how the polls I have provided are manipulated.

    You still need to show that a collection of 70-100 cells still qualifies as a human being. I agree that the sperm and egg each have 23 chromosomes. So are you saying that by mere virtue of having 46 chromosomes makes something human? I am trying my best to understand your claims.

    "You are pushing an obsolete "science". Pluripotent Adult stem cells make embryonic stem cell research obsolete."

    This is a bold claim. I would need to see what qualifications you have to make it?

    I think if we look at this argument objectively and try our best to listen to both sides, I think we can reach some sort of agreement. If you feel that I have stepped out of line at some point, please point it out. Because as it stands now I do not see the need for you to use such a hostile tone towards me. And if you are not meaning to be hostile, I apologize for misunderstanding.