Is Cancer Part of God's Good World?


(system) #1
“I see cancer as a messy, ugly, yet necessary byproduct of the ever-changing planet we find ourselves inhabiting.”
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/thank-god-for-cancer

(James Stump) #3

Morgan will be available to respond to questions and comments. Given the nature of this post, let’s keep comments respectful (even more so than usual).


(Henry Stoddard) #4

I wish to say that I shall keep you in my prayers. I understand more now where you are coming from. Science is a gift from God, and I hope we use it to help people. Believe me, I am concerned. God bless you.


(Patrick ) #5

Jim,
The title for the posting doesn’t seem to fit what Morgan was saying. Morgan seems to be saying “Don’t blame God for Cancer”. I think that would be a more appropriate title.


(Patrick ) #6

Morgan,
I wish you all the best in your battle with cancer. You didn’t mention the care/treatment that you are getting. Are any of the latest treatment options based on DNA cancer research providing any benefits? How has your caregivers’ been? Again, I hope the latest medical research finds a cure for your cancer. Thanks for sharing and all the best to you and your family.


(Brad Kramer) #7

@jstump and I had several conversations about this title, and have gone back and forth on it. We’ve decided to change it as reflected above. We want to emphasize that God is indeed “responsible” for cancer in the sense that his good creation includes it, without diminishing the terrible nature of the disease. I’m sure Morgan can address this issue further in the comments.


(Doug B) #8

This is a very wise and well written blog. I’ll look for more of what you write Morgan!


(George Brooks) #9

I’d like to take a moment to introduce a “pause” in this difficult subject matter.

I have known pro-Evolution Evangelicals who have walked away from God - - NOT because of their belief in Evolution … but because they found it impossible to accept ANY God that would not undo the harms of imperfect nature (whether it can be blamed on two humans or not).

Because of the gravity of this dilemma, I wanted to make this special notice on this page.

Theodicy is a significant issue, as soon as you believe in any omniscient personal god. And so I would remind participants that BioLogos has no ADDITIONAL insights into the matter than any other Christian-centered belief system.

Atheist Evolutionists like to take Theodicy “pot shots” at BioLogos writers/supporters. But the difficulty in grappling with this topic is not unique to BioLogos.

Young Earth Creationists like to think they have a better answer than Evolutionists, because they can blame natural evils on Adam and Eve. But just because Young Earth Creationists can find a scapegoat doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good explanation.

I would say this to Young Earth Creationists: if you wanted to justify the ruination of the entire Earth on the bad decisions of Adam and Eve, I think you would have to explain to me why you would test the moral integrity of Adam and Even BEFORE they had knowledge of “Good and Evil” !!! Isn’t that like criticizing a 10 year old for not writing a very good high school graduation speech? The time to test someone’s moral character is AFTER they have learned about Good and Evil … not before they know anything about it.

The story of Adam and Eve was not written for Christians; it was written for the Hebrew/Jewish people, as a quick way of explaining why humans have to live by the sweat of their labor (and why snakes don’t have arms or legs!). But that’s another matter for another day.

Returning to the issue of theodicy, ALL faithful Christians (whether they believe in Young Earth Creation or Evolution) have to decide how to cope with the existence of natural evil (the tsunami, the hurricane, the mortally ill infant, etc.). Do not let critics impose the perception of a special burden on the Christian consciences simply because one might also accept Evolution.

If anything, pro-Evolution Christians have the kind of flexible interpretation that makes it easier to comprehend the figurative nature of a story where God would morally test 2 humans (for the biggest marble contest in the Cosmos !!!) even BEFORE they have even learned about Good and Evil.

Pax vobiscum.

George Brooks


#10

Thank you for your prayers, Henry. I definitely appreciate them.


(Henry Stoddard) #11

I will not forget you. Also, I must say that He will not forget you either.

May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love you.


#12

Hello Patrick. I have received all my care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The research that we did when I was first diagnosed suggested that MSKCC or MD Anderson in Texas were really the only two hospitals in the world that would give me much of a fighting chance. I have nothing but kind words for everyone who cared for me there, including nurses, oncologists, surgeons, and custodians (clean facilities are important when your immune system is down!). As for finding a cure for my cancer, I’m hoping for nanobots. Thank you for your kind wishes!


(Patrick ) #13

Morgan,
I am so happy to hear that you are getting all your care at Sloan. It is truly a great hospital. The research they are doing there is cutting edge. And the staff are really the best in the world. Sloan is opening an advanced cancer research center here in Holmdel NJ. Hopefully the key advance in your cancer with come soon. Nanobots to the rescue! Do everything you can to beat this. Being at Sloan in 2016 gives you the best chance in the history of humanity. Day by day.


(Patrick ) #14

George,
Don’t you think that it is a little ironic to realize that Morgan’s best chances come from the fruits of the knowledge tree that are at Sloan in 2016?


(Patrick ) #15

Brad,
I know that just a few years ago, you believed that Morgan’s ancestors were responsible for his cancer because they had eaten from the tree of knowledge that God didn’t want them eating from. But now that you have come to accept evolutionary genetics and/or genetic mutations as real cause of Morgan’s cancer, how can you now want to make God responsible? Instead of pointing fingers at who is to blame, why don’t we all work hard to help Morgan beat this? I am certain that Morgan’s doctors already know the root cause of his cancer down to the specific genetic sequences and mutations involved. Perhaps Biologos could write to Francis Collins at NIH to push for more funding of cancer research.


#16

Patrick,
My goal here is definitely not to “point fingers” or find a specific scapegoat to blame. To say that God is responsible for cancer certainly sounds wrong to most of us, but I believe it is true in the same sense that God is responsible for deadly storms or earthquakes. That is to say, God created a world with dynamic systems that can, at times, produce devastating effects. Plenty of people may disagree with this, and that’s fine with me. My main point here is that, during a tough time, I personally took comfort from the idea that cancer is but one facet of the wonderful, ever-changing creation of God.

You are right that the exact chromosomal translocation for my cancer is known; DNA sequencing is actually how DSRCT is diagnosed. As for your point about funding, I agree with you that pediatric cancers need more funding!


(Patrick ) #17

Morgan,
Whatever you use to stay positive is great. If there is any thing I can do to help you, please let me know. I don’t speak for the folks here, but I am certain that they are all rooting for you.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #18

@Margan

Thank you for your faith and insight. Thank God for your testimony.

I think that we are thinking along the same lines. Please do me a favor and read a paper entitled God and Freedom I have written and published on line at Academia.edu. Please check it out and give me some feedback on this blog or by private message (click on my photo.)

One important point you make is God is in the business of making changes. The Greek philosophical tradition which is also a part of our heritage emphasizes that God is immutable and perfect, but the Bible says that while God is always the same, God made people and nature to change. We are faithful to God when we allow God to change us and lead us through this challenging environment. We must change to adapt to God’s Will as flora and fauna must change to adapt to this constantly changing physical world. .

BioLogos is about evolution and you are exactly right when you say that God guides life and guides us by giving us challenges that we must meet to survive and flourish. Everyone has their own particular challenges. You clearly have yours and I thank God that you are surviving and flourishing because there is much more to life than the physical, even while the physical is also important… I pray that I will do as well.

Welcome to BioLogos. We need you.


#19

@Relates (Roger A. Sawtelle)

I sent you a private message. Thank you for thoughts!


#20

Cancer is obviously part of our world. It’s not a good part of God’s world, but it is there, like sin, like disease of all kinds, like accidents, and the results of accidents. Scripture talks about God turning evil for good, which has often become a cliche, but yet it is true. God can give us blessings even in the hard things and the bad things that happen to us. And in the larger scheme of things, nothing is outside of God’s control, so yes it is true that sometimes God allows bad things to happen. Although man sinned, God provided the consequence to be there as a result of man’s sin.

When these bad things happen, we have choices about how we respond. Will we reject God’s right? Will we rail and complain to God? or will we understand that looking for cures and remedies and preventions is a good thing that God also allows us to do? And will we see God’s hand in the cures, the doctors, the pain remedies?

I am reminded of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead… death to be conquered, and not to be considered good in it self. How Jesus healed many people, which showed how disease and sickness and infirmities will eventually be conquered by God. I am reminded of how Paul and Silas after being beaten and jailed, sang praises to God because suffering for Christ’s sake was an honor.

Sometimes people turn good things into evil; such as food into gluttony, sex into porn, homes and transportation into materialistism, government into oppression, faith into persecution. But God does the opposite, by turning even evil for the good of those who love him.


(Albert Leo) #21

Morgan, its true that cancer casts a pall over all of us in today’s world, either directly or by assailing someone dear to us. I hope you won’t think it improper if I relate how it affected me in the second case.

In the 1960’s, when he was about 11 yrs. old, my nephew, Jackie Urquhart, contracted leukemia. He was a kid with red hair, freckles, blue eyes, was a promising baseball player with the sweetest disposition one could hope for in a child. Over a period of two years I watched him waste away, as the chemo of those days failed to arrest the disease. At his passing, I flew across the country to attend his funeral–a Catholic funeral which, thank goodness, now could be held using white vestments as a celebration of his Life. What was somewhat surprising was the presence of a large contingent of nurses (all nuns from St. Bernardine’s hospital who cared for him) and the hospital chaplin (a priest) who prevailed on the local pastor to be allowed to give the eulogy. These people, who were used to dealing with suffering patients, saw something real in the presence of God in this little boy–something they felt strongly that they should attest to. I know I did. I gave up running a small company in Chicago to join my former mentor, Corwin Hansch, in the new field of Computer Aided Drug design who had an NIH grant to study leukemia.

It is impossible for me to know if our research aided in any way to the current successful treatment of the kind of leukemia that took Jackie’s life. But all the big pharmaceutical companies use our programs, and so I can dream that we made a difference. And the folks at Sloan and M. D. Anderson are, I’m sure, working their tails off to defeat the desmoplastic type that is assailing you, Morgan. I am also sure that God has asked us to be co-creators with him, and your sharing with the BioLogos audience your struggles with cancer will give further impetus to those working to defeat this ‘dark side’ of the DNA that gives us life. I join my prayers with the others in the BioLogos community that this victory comes in time for you. God bless.
Al Leo