I am aware that the idea is venerable, going back through Lucretius to the Stoics and Epicurus, and even to Aristotle with his prime mover argument. But isn't this a pre-scientific notion? The Atomists thought that collisions cause motion. But that's only half right. Collisions are where an exchange of motion (momentum, energy) happens. A collision assumes there's already some kinetic energy--i.e. motion-- in the system of particles that are colliding. So saying collisions cause motion doesn't explain much. Of course, the Greeks didn't know all this, and it's no fault of theirs.
Look at how the concept of cause usually makes an appearance in physics. Typically, it only appears implicitly. There is talk of certain effects, like the Hall effect, the Mossbauer effect, the Zeeman effect, etc. Following philosophical tradition, and the normal meaning of the word effect, each of these effects presumably has some cause. For the Zeeman effect the "cause" is applying a magnetic field where there previously wasn't one, resulting in the splitting of atomic spectral lines. I think a fairly general definition of cause used this way in physics is a change in the degree of constraint. It could be the complete removal of a constraint, such as removing a partition that is confining a gas to one side of a container. Or it could be applying a "constraint" such as an external field.
The physical explanation of such effects is not a long list of "laws" of the form "A causes B", "B causes C", "C causes D", etc. Instead, a physical theory is developed in which the laws of evolution of the system take the form of equations (usually differential equations). You solve the equations under one constraint (boundary conditions, forcing functions, etc.), solve them again under the changed constraint, and see how the resulting behaviors are different. That is the explanation of the "effect". Physical explanations are not of the form "this domino knocks over that domino, which then knocks over this other one, which in turn..." In fact, Bertrand Russell pointed out that once you have a developed physical theory, you can completely do without talk of causes and effects. There are only regularities.
In spite of this situation, when people begin to reason philosophically, they start talking about causal chains. Maybe it's out of respect for tradition. They do it even when they are trying to be hard-nosed scientific types--trying to explain mental events in terms of physical events without resorting to dualism. And they nearly always assume that physical causes are the only kind of causes that could really matter in a scientific explanation of anything. But how can this be, when talk of causes only rarely arises in physics, and talk of "causal chains" is practically nonexistent? Won't this imprecision inevitably lead to confusion?