For the last couple years my wife and I have performed, with our music ministry called UNITY, for a local Relay for Life in support of cancer research. Each year I am reminded about the problem of cancer existing in a supposedly God-created world. To a lot of people this is a conundrum. How can a world created by a good God have such debilitating diseases like cancer? I think we have good Biblical answers to this issue.
God did not create cancer. Cancer is an unfortunate byproduct of a fallen world. I believe the Bible teaches that the world was created perfectly, and in fact God himself walked the earth alongside Adam and Eve. I also believe humans chose to disobey the God that had given them so much in a long for power. As a result the Bible teaches that the world changed. Death now entered the world. You see there was no death before sin (Romans 5:12). Genesis confirms this when it instructs all the animals and people to only eat plants (vegetarian).
After God left our immediate presence, He stopped upholding the earth as a perfect state. He killed the first animal to create coverings for Adam and Eve. From this point out, upon reproduction, copying errors began to happen in the genetic code. Today we call these mutations. They are what are to credit for all the variation of life we see today. But they are also to blame for all the bad biological changes as well. If we did not disobey God, and choose sin – these mutations would have never occurred. Therefore God is not to blame for cancer, we are.
There are many implications this interpretation pulls along with it. The secular fossil record records cancer supposedly millions of years before Adam ever “evolved”. If you are a theistic evolutionist (one who believes God created through evolution) then you cannot offer the above answer to cancer. In your worldview God created cancer and sat back on day seven of creation and declared it “very good”. I am not comfortable assigning this horribly deteriorating disease (or all other diseases) to a perfect creator God! I am also not willing to compromise the rest of the Biblical implications that interpretation would bring. Death itself would no longer be an enemy on the created order (at the Bible states several times). It would be a welcome mechanism that God used to create through. In this worldview God would be a horrible tyrant. I am not willing to machete up my Bible to make that interpretation stand.
Cancer is an intruder on the created order. Something God never intended for us to have to deal with. Because of sin, and mankind turning its back on God, the original perfect creation began to deteriorate. Modern, observable science confirms that most mutations are either neutral or harmful, and that positive mutations do not occur at a quick enough rate to accumulate / cancel out the harmful ones (see this post). So instead of an evolutionary worldview, we are actually de-evolving. Cancer is only one of the unfortunate side effects of a history of continual distancing ourselves from God.
Although cancer research is a worthwhile endeavor, and God chooses to heal people with life-threatening illnesses all the time (meaning He has more of a mission for them), the human race will continue to deteriorate and decay until Christ comes again to restore us to that paradise state that was always intended for us.