Causation and Cancer
Is God the ultimate cause of cancer?

In a post below, an anonymous reader asked what appears to be a very sensible question: Is God the ultimate cause of cancer? While anonymous may be asking a legitmate question, I suspect that it is a trap being laid by a wiley skeptic. By asking if God is the "ultimate cause", anonymous appears to be asking me to do one of two things: either state that God is not the "ultimate cause" of cancer, in which case it could be reasoned that God is not the creator of everything. Alternatively, I can admit that God is the "ultimate cause" of cancer, which could lead one to reason that God is not a good God.

The problem with the question is that it assumes that because God had a hand in something and created the possibility of something, that makes God responsible. That is simply erroneous thinking. I can illustrate this by way of an analogy to a car manufacturer.

Suppose Ford is in the business of building automobiles. In building automobiles, Ford knows (based upon years and years of experience) that some of its cars are going to be misused. Some purchasers of automobiles are going to buy Ford automobiles and drive them under the influence of liquor. These bad citizens will invariably hurt or even kill other people. Does that make Ford responsible for the damages? Of course not. Simply because Ford built the automobile which caused the damage does not make Ford responsible for the damages caused when someone misuses the product. Moreover, this is true even though Ford knows that some of its automobiles will be mishandled. In fact, even if Ford sells an automobile to a person known to have a history of drunk driving, Ford is not responsible. Why not? Because the intervening acts of the independent buyer break the chain of causation for purposes of determining liability.

Thus, even though God created the universe and created it with a capacity for cancer, the fact that the cancer occurs as the result of the fall of mankind does not make God "liable" for cancer even if, as the result of the creation of a universe that allows for the existence of cancer, God can be seen as the ultimate cause. And, like Ford, this freedom from liability follows even though God knew, in advance, that mankind would fall and bring about the calamity that followed.


Anonymous said…
What a load of junk!

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