Rosemary Flanigan Chair
An email discussion arose recently on a hospital ethics case in which a patient’s family accused medical providers of "playing God" because they wanted to end what physicians deemed “futile” treatment. One discussant asked: “What constitutes ‘playing God’? It seems to me that if God wanted someone to live, there would be very little we could do to stop him. The same is true of dying. Obviously some people think differently.”
The tenor of several respondents seemed to be that this likely isn't a logical or even theological statement on the part of the family, but emotive reaction to impending loss and grief. If one responds with logic or theology or philosophy, we really ARE engaged in futility. The conversation goes nowhere. Or probably so. So mostly listen then, empathize, care. (And don't engage in futile acts. Another discussion thread perhaps.)
But why bring up "God" at all then? Surely a person who uses that terminology ("playing God") means SOMEthing by it other than as a synonym for "Do everything, Doc!" Is it merely a convenient invective against providers by an angry and distrustful family?