Madhyamaka logic

In Dr. Santina's book, he states:
"In the case of the second alternative-that cause and effect are different-anything could originate from anything else, because all phenomena are equally different. Hence a stalk of rice might just as easily originate from a piece of coal as from a grain of rice, for there would be no connection between a stalk of rice and a grain of rice, and a piece of coal and a grain of rice
would have the same relationship of difference to a stalk of rice. Thus the notion that cause and effect are absolutely different is an intrinsically absurd idea."

I cannot understand this logic. in particular, the alternative listed is "cause and effect are different". He has already established that they cannot be identical, just as a father and a son are not identical. But now he is using the argument (in the last sentence) that they cannot be absolutely different. To me this seems like false logic. To say that it is not 'absolutely different' is not to deny that it is 'different'. Surely we cannot argue that a son is not different from his father! We can identify similarities. But they are different, as has already been established.

Similarly he has said they cannot be identical because that would mean there would be 'no difference between food and excrement.' It is evident that there are differences between food and excrement, but also similarities. One is derived from the other, but certain irreversible changes have taken place.

Has the fourfold set of answers not been specifically designed so that they all fail?
Is not the correct answer this, a fifth alternative:
Cause and effect are different but related.

It appears to me that the refutation of the 2nd possibility is actually refuting the claim that cause and effect are unrelated in any way.
Dr. Santina claims that the Sankhya system held cause and effect to be identical;
and that the Hinayana schools of Buddhism, the Vaibhashikas and the Sautrantikas, and some of the Brahmanical schools held them to be, if we follow the refutation argument, entirely unrelated. Is this true? It seems absurd. No-one would think a son is identical, nor entirely unrelated, to his father. Is it not possible that their views have been mis-represented here, in order to be apparently easy to refute?

For example, what is the Theravadin view on the similarity or difference between cause and effect?

Many thanks.