Thursday, September 11, 2008

Biden on Life

On Meet the Press this past Sunday Tom Brokaw asked Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden when he believes life begins. Mr. Biden answered that he is “prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception.” The senator went on to explain that “this is my judgment. For me to impose my judgment on everyone else…seems to me inappropriate.” This response poses several problems.
First, determining when life begins is a matter of science, not faith. It is a biological, not theological, fact that life begins at conception. There is no need for theology or philosophy in order for us to understand that when sperm and egg unite a new life is formed.
Mr. Biden’s faith no doubt dictates his belief in a great many things. To identify oneself as a Catholic necessarily means you are a person of faith. To believe that God became man so that He could die for our sins and bestow upon us the gift of eternal life takes faith. To accept that an unleavened wafer literally changes substance into the body of Christ at the mass certainly takes faith. Though certain philosophical and theological tools may be employed to give us a greater understanding of how these doctrines can be understood, one simply cannot fully accept them without faith.
For Senator Biden to say that his faith leads him to believe life begins at conception is misleading. It sets up a false pretense, under which he is able to rationalize supporting legal abortion. This takes us to the second glaring problem with the senator’s response.
Mr. Biden states that it is merely his own judgment and he dare not impose that judgment on the whole of society. His clumsy wording here makes it difficult to understand exactly what he is trying to say. He seems to be equating faith and judgment as synonymous, when clearly they are not.
What Mr. Biden is essentially getting at is that he cannot impose his faith on others through legislation. I could not agree more. It would be absurd of the senator to attempt to sponsor legislation demanding that the entire populace proclaim belief in a Triune Godhead or to believe in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Mr. Biden claims that he cannot impose his judgment on others. This is equally as ridiculous as someone claiming they can impose their faith, properly understood, on others. Mr. Biden has represented Delaware in the United States Senate for 35 years. What has he been doing in that infernal chamber this whole time if not imposing his judgment on others? What led him to vote for the invasion of Iraq if not his judgment? Is it not his judgment that has led him to oppose the Bush administration tooth and nail for the last several years? What is it that led him to vote against FISA?
A politician’s job is to impose his judgment on society. That is what we elect them to do. For Mr. Biden to confuse faith and judgment is bad enough. For him to claim that he cannot impose his judgment on others is wrong and a pretty weak defense for an elected official on such an important subject.


Drew Wh said...

I completely agree with the critique of Bidens position. What is particularlly frustrating about the abortion debate is, as the blogger noted, for some reason considered a theological one rather than a biological/ethical/political one. I might expand on this a bit by saying that wanton murder, theft, and pedophilia are illegal in the United States not because of a religious imperative, but because they are considered societal ills and violations of others basic rights. The fact that many religions would also condemn these actions does not really play into the debate(and many religions would not, at least at one time, have condemened the third category). Let's take Biden's logic to its natural conclusion; Biden might believe that children under the age of 10 should not be sexual targets for adults, but we as a society can't impose our judgements on others- this is completely vacuous and ridiculous. This is not to equate the two issues, but rather to show the flaws in the confusion of government and God, as Jeremiah Wright might term it. This issue can be particularly frustrating for people who are not religious but still oppose abortion based on biological and ethical grounds, and then hear this kind of, bluntly put, non-sense from a politician.

Amanda M. said...

I agree with you that this is a matter of theology vs politics. There seems to be a line that cannot be crossed as religion is this barrier. I also agree with you on the issue of abortion and how people see it as an ethical problem that they base on religion even if they are not religous. If there were a way to keep the views of politics and religion separate, the realm of politics would be so much simpler in my opinion.