Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dumbass Design™: Cancer


In some installments of Dumbass Design™, I will be discussing cute, cuddly creatures that folks actually like, but species whose lifestyles fly in the face of common sense, with survival strategies that are very risky, sometimes with very weak rewards.

This is not one of those installments.

The picture here is of bone marrow cancer cells. Just like the cells in the bodies that cancer attacks, there are different kinds of cancer for different parts of the body. As we know, cancer cells are our own cells gone bad, mutated in an often fatal way if left untreated, but still able to use the self-replication system available in all living cells to spread and infect the particular system these cells originally came from, and in some cases able to metastasize and spread new infections to other parts of the body.

Some folks have a belief system that states that God made all the good things in all the universe, and the devil made all the bad things. Of course, we are small limited creatures, and our ideas of good and bad may not be God's idea of good and bad. But why cancer? Doesn't an all-powerful God have some veto power over the worst work of Satan?

Could it be that mutation is part of God's plan? From a different standpoint than our own, mutation could be so important that a wise and all powerful creator knows that it must always exist for the good it can do, even if it means accepting the inevitable life destroying consequences when it goes bad, which is what is seems to do very often.

I've often said I believe in God, but I am hesitant to give Her a job description. Some religions create a world view full of contradictions, and when the most tangled of these pieces of nonsense are exposed, the answer is that we need to have faith. Maybe what we really need is to rethink the world when new data is introduced, to try to expand our understanding even when it means some of our favorite preconceptions no longer do a good job of fitting reality.

Here endeth the lesson.

1 comment:

Fran said...

That is all very beautifully well put. And yes- your hesitancy to give God a job description is really stated nicely. She seems to have a clue even (most of the time!) it seems like the opposite.

I am reminded of hearing a piece on This American Life about a little girl who had cancer and was quite fesity. She really took issue that the cells, which must have looked like these, were in her favorite color.

11 year olds with a well developed sense of irony should not be taken from this planet, but who understands that.

Anyway, thanks Matty. Your eclectic approach to blogging makes for a good day.