A Review of Michael Murray's Book "Nature Red in Tooth and Claw"

Since William Lane Craig continues to tout Murray's book as a good answer to the problem of animal suffering, read what professor Mylan Engel Jr. of Northern Illinois University says about it:
We have independent evidence that many animals are capable of experiencing pain, evidence that parallels the evidence we have for thinking our fellow humans are capable of feeling pain: We witness pain behavior, not just reflex actions to noxious stimuli (protective pain), but subsequent pain-induced behavioral modification caused by bodily damage (restorative pain); we observe significant anatomical and neurophysiological similarity between humans and many animals (including all mammals and most vertebrates); endogenous serotonergic and opioid pain-control mechanisms are present in all mammals[11] [Why would organisms incapable of feeling pain have endogenous pain-control systems?]; efferent and afferent nerves run throughout their bodies; analgesics and anesthetics stop animals from exhibiting pain behavior, presumably because these substances prevent the pain itself in much the way they prevent pain in humans; and there is compelling experimental evidence that the capacity to feel pain enhances survival value in animals, based on the self-destructive tendencies displayed by animals that have been surgically deafferented.[12],[13] Based on this cumulative observational, analogical, and experimental evidence, we are clearly justified in accepting that animals can feel pain, and so, we're justified in rejecting any neo-Cartesian explanation that denies animals have this ability, based on what we justifiably accept.


For the reasons just outlined, I think that the book fails on its own terms...but even if I am mistaken on that count, the Darwinian problem of evil still threatens to undermine the rationality of theism.


To Murray's credit the book is clearly written and would make a useful addition to philosophy of religion courses, especially those focusing on the problem of evil. The book is instructive, not because it undermines the evidential problem of evil from animal suffering, but because it illustrates just how bleak the theist's prospects are for handling this enduring challenge to the rationality of theistic belief. Link.
For my argument on this matter see chapter 9 in The Christian Delusion.

Hat Tip for the link: Harry McCall.