Thursday, October 4, 2012

William Lane Craig: "Animals aren't aware that they're in pain"

Recently, some theists have attempted to deal with that part of the problem of evil generated by horrendous animal suffering found in nature - including hundreds of millions of years of animal suffering before we humans even showed up - by saying that animals aren't aware that they are in pain. They maintain this is what "science" has shown. That helps bring the problem of suffering down to size!

Indeed, that animals aren't aware that they are in pain is a remarkable "recent scientific discovery", said Christian apologist William Lane Craig in his debate with me, for example. Craig claimed that all animals other than higher primates lack a pre-frontal cortex, and thus are unaware that they are in pain (see Craig speaking in the video below from about 2 mins 30 secs - P.S. he says e.g. cats have a level of pain awareness, but he maintains science has shown that cats are unaware that they are in pain, which, he says, will be a great comfort to animal lovers like himself).

Actually, that's a load of pseudo-scientific rubbish, as scientists in this new video explain (the video has nothing to do with me btw).

The first responds directly to what William Lane Craig said: "that's not true". (at 6 mins 20 secs)

Another, Professor Bruce Hood, confirms that Craig's key "scientific" claim that animals other than higher primates don't have a pre-frontal cortex is just wrong (from about 8 mins)

Indeed, Joaquin Fuster, the author of a classic textbook on the pre-frontal cortex, says about Craig's statement that it is "wrong on several counts", and explains that all mammals and some birds have a pre-frontal cortex (from about 9 mins 30)

As the commentator points out, "that so many animals possess a pre-frontal cortex is just a google search away."

Oh, and by the way, the source Craig quotes to back up his "scientific" claims is not a scientist - Michael Murray is actually a Christian apologist and philosopher.

Several of the scientists also point out that, in any case, even if some animals did have no, or a smaller, pre-frontal cortex, that wouldn't justify the conclusion that they are unaware that they are in pain.

P.S. Hopefully Craig is a straight enough guy to issue an unqualified mea culpa on this one. He's just got the science very wrong.


127 comments:

The Janitor said...

Atheists frequently make use of the idea that humans have a natural tendency to over-anthropomorphize things, and this is why so many people have a sense of God or gods.

For instance, we constantly find atheists making statements like this: "Given our tendency to anthropomorphize, it's no surprise that primitive humans looked at nature, seeming unfathomably complex, and felt there was a personality behind it" (actual example).

But if that's correct, then we should also be skeptical of the lady in this video who wants to see personality or conscious awareness in these animals.

She makes statements throughout that suggest these animals have consciousness like us: "Somehow they seem to know that biting anywhere other than our fins was a bad idea"; "It seemed that everyone--human and whale alike--was enjoying themselves that day"; "Chaos... could easily have hurt someone... but he never did. Was he consciously aware he could hurt us and so modify his behavior? Was his mother thinking the same thing...?"

She moves from such observations to attack Craig's point. But her anthropomorphic speculations aren't simply threatened by the observations of some Christian apologists. They are also threatend (though to a lesser degree) by the observations of many atheists who posit a tendency to anthropomorphize to dismiss experiences of the supernatural.

The Janitor said...

"Oh, and by the way, the source Craig quotes to back up his "scientific" claims is not a scientist - Michael Murray is actually a Christian apologist and philosopher."

Isn't that an irrelevant observation if Michael Murray himself cites scientific research to back up his claims?

The Janitor said...

"Recently, some theists have attempted to deal with that part of the problem of evil generated by horrendous animal suffering found in nature - including hundreds of years of animal suffering before we humans even showed up - by saying that animals aren't aware that they are in pain.

Indeed, that animals aren't aware they are in pain is a "remarkable" recent scientific discovery, said Christian apologist William Lane Craig in his debate with me, for example."

But actually Craig doesn't make such an unqualified claim. As one can see from the video which Law posts, Craig says "There is a second level of pain awareness which sentient animals have which is an experience of pain. And animals like horses, dogs, and cats would experience this second level pain awareness."

Steven Carr said...

On the mainstream Christian view that evolution happened and that God chose the first humans to give souls to, that person was aware of pain, but his parents were not.

Interesting....

For Craig to make his view work, he just has to believe that Adam and Eve had no parents.

Steven Carr said...

And you should never anthromoporphise animals.

They hate it when you do that!

Steven Carr said...

I wonder if people in Hell have a pre-frontal cortex and so can experience pain.

Is Craig presupposing that minds depend upon physical bodies to exist?

Craig the naturalist!

Stephen Law said...

"Isn't that an irrelevant observation if Michael Murray himself cites scientific research to back up his claims?"

No. Craig is implying the claim that animals are unaware that they are in pain is a scientific one put forward by a body of scientists. In fact, Craig's just citing a conclusion drawn by a Christian apologist who can't even get his basic science right.

Stephen Law said...

"But actually Craig doesn't make such an unqualified claim."

But he does make that claim, repeatedly, doesn't he? He says animals are not aware *that* they are in pain.

Yes, of course, Craig says animals have "a level of pain awareness".

But he is clear that, "Your cat may be in pain, but it really isn't aware of being in pain." Craig says this is a very comforting thought for animal lovers like him.

He says the cat is not aware of being in pain because cats don't have a pre-frontal cortex.

Except they do...

The Janitor said...

"No. Craig is implying the claim that animals are unaware that they are in pain is a scientific one put forward by a body of scientists. In fact, Craig's just citing a conclusion drawn by a Christian apologist who can't even get his basic science right."

Yes, Craig implies the claim is scientific, put forward by a body of scientists. And yes, Craig is apparently citing the conclusion of a non-scientist... But if the non-scientist is himself citing scientists then your observation looks irrelevant.

The real issue is whether the claim is scientifically accurate or not. Whether Craig cites the same science that Michael Murray cites is irrelevant.

What difference would it make to the argument (either on your side or on Craig's) if instead of referencing Michael Murray Craig referenced the scientific findings that Michael Murray referenced??

P said...

""Oh, and by the way, the source Craig quotes to back up his "scientific" claims is not a scientist - Michael Murray is actually a Christian apologist and philosopher."

Isn't that an irrelevant observation if Michael Murray himself cites scientific research to back up his claims?"

Yes it would be an irrelvant claim if Michael Murray did do this, but he does not. For example, there has been a large amount fo debate as to wehther fish have an experience of pain. A number of peer reiviewed studeis have argued that the evidence shows that fish dont just a reflex reponse of pain or simply nocicpetion but a consciouss experience of pain, that they suffer. See the wiki page for the refernces:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_in_fish#cite_note-12
Now Murray in his book mentions none of these, not one.

p said...

"But if that's correct, then we should also be skeptical of the lady in this video who wants to see personality or conscious awareness in these animals.
"

Janitor you seem to be conveniently ignoring the next section where she accepts that science may show us that such notions may be wrong and that we need to look at the evidence presented. This is what she does for the next 25 mins.

Stephen Law said...

The relevance is not to whether or not the claim about animals being unaware that they are in pain is true, but rather to the fact that Craig implied this was a scientific claim put forward by a body of scientists. That was also a misleading thing for him to say.

Of course Craig might well be entirely unaware it's misleading thing for him to say. He may have been misled by Murray into thinking this was a scientifically well-attested view.

p said...

"The real issue is whether the claim is scientifically accurate or not. Whether Craig cites the same science that Michael Murray cites is irrelevant. "

It is not accurate at all. and its relveant that Craig's only source is a non scientists beucase it shows his poor level of scholarship. its very very easy to check these claims and Craig either did not do so or choose to ingore what is so easy to find.

The Janitor said...

"But he does make that claim, repeatedly, doesn't he? He says animals are not aware *that* they are in pain.

Yes, of course, Craig says animals have "a level of pain awareness".

But he is clear that, "Your cat may be in pain, but it really isn't aware of being in pain." Craig says this is a very comforting thought for animal lovers like him.

He says the cat is not aware of being in pain because cats don't have a pre-frontal cortex.

Except they do...


While Craig's claims about animals having a prefrontal cortex may be mistaken, it's not clear that his claims about self-awareness of pain are mistaken.

The video you link to shows that Craig is technically mistaken about anatomical and physiological definitions of the prefrontal cortex and some scientists think some animals besides higher primates and humans might be self-aware (but others think it's a very subjective judgment).

But Craig does not claim that all animals besides higher primates and humans lack an awareness of pain. The video you link to seems to make this confusion, in that it cites as evidence against Craig's statements statements by scientists that animals experience pain--which confuses exactly what Craig is claiming.

The Janitor said...

P,

"It is not accurate at all. and its relveant that Craig's only source is a non scientists beucase it shows his poor level of scholarship. its very very easy to check these claims and Craig either did not do so or choose to ingore what is so easy to find."

Quoting a non-scientist itself doesn't show a poor level of scholarship. The fact that it may be easy to check such claims also doesn't demonstrate a poor level of scholarship.

If one has good reason to trust someone (e.g., if Craig had good reason to think Michael Murray was well informed) or no good reason to think they are being inaccurate, one isn't under obligation to check every claim first-hand. I doubt you do this and I doubt it's reasonable to expect others to do it. That's simply impractical.

p said...

the only piece of evidence that Craig brings to the table is the pre frontal cortex evidnece, he brings nothing else. That claim is blatantly false.

You are mistaken when you say "Craig does not claim that all animals besides higher primates and humans lack an awareness of pain"
In fact this is exactly what Criag is claiming . Here are his exact words:

"For that sort of pain awareness requires self-awareness, and this is centered in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, a section of the brain that is missing in all animals except for the higher primates and human beings. And therefore, even though animals are in pain, they aren’t aware of it. They don’t have this third order pain awareness. They are not aware of pain, and therefore they do not suffer as human beings do"

The Janitor said...

The relevance is not to whether or not the claim about animals being unaware that they are in pain is true, but rather to the fact that Craig implied this was a scientific claim put forward by a body of scientists. That was also a misleading thing for him to say.

Of course Craig might well be entirely unaware it's misleading thing for him to say. He may have been misled by Murray into thinking this was a scientifically well-attested view.


Uh, looks to me like you've just said it's not relevant whether the claim is true, it's relevant whether Craig's claim is misleading because it's false...

The Janitor said...

P,

I already quoted Craig where he says "There is a second level of pain awareness which sentient animals have which is an experience of pain. And animals like horses, dogs, and cats would experience this second level pain awareness."

Craig is distinguishing levels of awareness. He only denies that animals--besides higher primates and humans--have a certain level of awareness.

Thus, to point out that animals have some awareness or experience of pain is irrelevant to Craig's claim.

Stephen Law said...

"looks to me like you've just said it's not relevant whether the claim is true"

eh?

Fact is, Craig has made a bit of fool of himself on this one, hasn't he? I take it you agree about that?

The Janitor said...

P,

Janitor you seem to be conveniently ignoring the next section where she accepts that science may show us that such notions may be wrong and that we need to look at the evidence presented. This is what she does for the next 25 mins.

I don't see how anything I said ignores the fact that she attempts to buttress her claims with the findings of science. She also refers to a scientist who says that whether animals have self-awareness is a subjective judgment (but one which seems reasonable to him). And I think that goes for mirror test and the like. So it doesn't look like the science can actually answer the question for her.

The Janitor said...

Steven Carr,

"On the mainstream Christian view that evolution happened and that God chose the first humans to give souls to, that person was aware of pain, but his parents were not.

That doesn't logically follow. Craig admits higher primates are aware on the basis of their prefrontal cortex. So what prevents him from thinking the parents of the first humans were like the higher primates in that respect?

I wonder if people in Hell have a pre-frontal cortex and so can experience pain.

Is Craig presupposing that minds depend upon physical bodies to exist?

Craig the naturalist!


Some Christians believe in a bodily resurrection of the wicked and the just. So maybe Craig is one of those Christians and he says "yes." That doesn't entail that Craig is a naturalist or that he presupposes a mind needs a body to exist.

This is just one way Craig could avoid your suggested problem. There are many other ways.

p said...

"Quoting a non-scientist itself doesn't show a poor level of scholarship. The fact that it may be easy to check such claims also doesn't demonstrate a poor level of scholarship."

of course it does, one of the first thing I learnt was what is an acceptable source and what isnt. If I handed in a paper at my unversity making a dramatic scientific claim and my source was not a scientists and not in a peer reviewed journal, Id be given a bgi red pen. She doesnt claim that animals experiencce isnt anyhting but subjective, but what she does say is that there is evidence fo self awareness, not just the mirror test, there are many other examples shown. The issue may not be defintley decided but the claim that science has shown its been decided in the opposite is simply wrong.

The Janitor said...

Fact is, Craig has made a bit of fool of himself on this one, hasn't he? I take it you agree about that?

Let's grant that Craig has made a mistake. I wouldn't describe making a mistake as equivalent to making a fool of oneself.

Has Craig made a mistake? I think so. At least he will need to modify or qualify his argument. For instance, while it seems clear that on the anatomical or physiological definition given Craig is mistaken, whether just any sort of prefrontal cortex provides the third-level awareness essential to his argument is unclear.

The Janitor said...

P,

of course it does, one of the first thing I learnt was what is an acceptable source and what isnt. If I handed in a paper at my unversity making a dramatic scientific claim and my source was not a scientists and not in a peer reviewed journal, Id be given a bgi red pen.

Wouldn't that depend on what course your paper was for? If you were writing it for your neuphysiology course I think you're correct. Simply citing Murray as your source would be looked down upon. But if you were in a philosophy course and noted that Murray cites scientific evidence for the conclusion that..." You're most certainly incorrect.

Fergus Gallagher said...

There have been quite a lot of posts about this. A few seem to think you made the video. Perhaps you should clarify?

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

WLC has the reputation of being credulous as he believes th e uncorroborating claims of the biblical writers and uses red herrings in his Kalam. Of course, he'l say anything he can get away with. So, his debating opponents should nail him on all that.
How odes then Morgan's Canon play as it assumes no pain for the early orders? Do we need then a new canon? The law Canon.

Paul Baird said...

The Janitor wrote: "If one has good reason to trust someone (e.g., if Craig had good reason to think Michael Murray was well informed) or no good reason to think they are being inaccurate, one isn't under obligation to check every claim first-hand. I doubt you do this and I doubt it's reasonable to expect others to do it. That's simply impractical."

In this day and age I would call it lazy. Does he work for Big Pharma ?

Michael Fugate said...

Janitor appears to be an apologist for an apologist. Craig is a Christian apologist before anything else - theologian, philosopher, etc. - his goal is not scholarship, but about believers believing in the face of contradictory views whether from science, other religions, etc.

wombat said...

From Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals. -
National Research Council (US) Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009.

"Motivations to avoid pain or noxious stimuli. In learning paradigms in which an operant delivers an analgesic, rats in models-of-pain experiments lever press to self-medicate, and at a much higher rate than control animals. For example, rats with ligated spinal nerves lever press for clonidine, while controls do not (Martin et al. 2006). Rats, mice, primates, and pigeons also lever press to avoid electric shock (which may be painful depending on its intensity and duration; cf. Carlsson et al. 2006). Furthermore, oral self-administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is observed in lame (i.e., arthritic) rats and chickens but not in their healthy counterparts (Colpaert et al. 1980; Danbury et al. 2000).

i.e in many animals there is not just experience of pain but recognition of this fact and adoption of behaviour to alleviate it.

Stephen Law said...


Janitor, you said: "Let's grant that Craig has made a mistake. I wouldn't describe making a mistake as equivalent to making a fool of oneself."

If I presented, in a public debate in front of an audience of 2,000 (and downloaded many many thousands more times) an argument based on a claim (that pre-frontal cortex is absent in all animals other than higher primates) I insisted was "scientific", but that even a quick google search would confirm is false, I'd feel pretty foolish. Wouldn't you?

And that's not the only mistake. Craig also stated that his claim - that other animals have no awareness *that* they are in pain - constituted a remarkable scientific discovery. That implies it has significant scientific backing and support. But it doesn't.

I'd be feeling pretty foolish if I'd made such a statement. Wouldn't you?

Tony Lloyd said...

I think I’m just going to have to call “bullshit” (in the Frankfurtian sense) on Craig’s argument here. “Bullshit” being things said motivated only by the expected causal affect on a listener without regard to their truth.

Craig was trying to justify cruelty to animals; which is what God would be guilty of where He to be. I don’t for a millisecond think that Craig believes that cruelty to animals is fine; which is the upshot of this argument.

If you don’t believe it, why say it? One explanation is that it sounds good in a debate. That Craig is uninterested in whether lower animals have a pre-frontal cortex. That Craig is equally uninterested in whether or not this is a “’remarkable’ recent scientific discovery”. The lack of a pre-frontal cortex sounds like a good refutation of the problem of non-human suffering and “scientific discoveries”, especially if both “remarkable” and “recent”, make the argument more convincing. Not Googling, not flicking through Murray’s bibliography and noticing the lack of scientific backup, not even asking one of the Biology professors at Biola can all be explained by Craig simply not caring whether or not the claims were true.

Of course there are other explanations, primarily that he just made a couple of errors, was a little lazy or misjudged his source. Hey, we all do those type of things. But we don’t all do those type of things repeatedly the web is full of little misrepresentations in debates by Craig. Error can explain isolated incidents, but not a pattern.

I’m beginning to have severe difficulties in granting that Craig made a mistake: it looks a lot more like basic dishonesty to me.

Steven Carr said...

THE JANITOR
Craig admits higher primates are aware on the basis of their prefrontal cortex

CARR
Run that one by me again?

Craig says animals are not aware of pain, apart from the animals that are aware of pain?

And that animals do not have a prefrontal cortex, apart from the ones which have a prefontal cortex?



Steven Carr said...

THE JANITOR
So maybe Craig is one of those Christians and he says "yes." That doesn't entail that Craig is a naturalist or that he presupposes a mind needs a body to exist.

CARR
So Craig's argument is that entities require a prefrontal cortex to be aware of pain.

But he denies that you need a body for a mind to exist.

Is Craig even supposed to be making sense here?

So if you don't have a body, and so don't have a prefrontal cortex, and Craig simply denies you need a prefrontal cortex to be aware of pain, what on earth is his claim 'You need a prefrontal cortex' supposed to mean?

When , as a supernaturalist, he denies to his dying breath any suggestion that a mind need a body?

Angra Mainyu said...

Stephen,

Very nice post, demolishing Craig's claim.

One question: Did you mean 'hundreds of millions of years?' (not that that's required to make your case, of course, but I get that impression).

The Janitor said...

Paul Barid,

In this day and age I would call it lazy. Does he work for Big Pharma ?

Why? You give no reaon. I assume you'll go back to P's (if that's not you) earlier explanation that "because it is easy." But of course the easiness of the task isn't the only factor to account for in whether failing to do something is not lazy.

It's clear that many would like to use this as an opportunity to attack Craig's character or go ad hominem in some way. But thus far it looks like nothing more than the atheist chior getting themselves whooped up.

The Janitor said...

Michael Fugate,

Janitor appears to be an apologist for an apologist.

Pointless observations are pointless.

The Janitor said...

Dr. Law,

If I presented, in a public debate in front of an audience of 2,000 (and downloaded many many thousands more times) an argument based on a claim (that pre-frontal cortex is absent in all animals other than higher primates) I insisted was "scientific", but that even a quick google search would confirm is false, I'd feel pretty foolish. Wouldn't you?

And that's not the only mistake. Craig also stated that his claim - that other animals have no awareness *that* they are in pain - constituted a remarkable scientific discovery. That implies it has significant scientific backing and support. But it doesn't.

I'd be feeling pretty foolish if I'd made such a statement. Wouldn't you?


I'm sure someone like you can appreciate that feeling foolish and being made a fool are not the same thing.

The Janitor said...

Steven Carr,

Sorry, not sure where you see a problem so I don't think I'll be able to help you make sense of anything. So far you've just expressed your incredulity at Craig's position, but have failed to spell out any actual inconsistency.

You seem to think there is a problem with holding to the idea that a mind can exist without a body but that an embodied mind needs a prefrontal cortex to experience pain. I get that much, but you'll need to fill in the missing premises for me.

Steven Carr said...

Well, the janitor seems to think the following are both true.

A mind need a body to experience pain.

A mind does not need a body to experience pain.

I shall leave him with his delusion that Craig's beliefs are consistent and get on with real life.

The Janitor said...

Tony Lloyd,

Craig was trying to justify cruelty to animals; which is what God would be guilty of where He to be. I don’t for a millisecond think that Craig believes that cruelty to animals is fine; which is the upshot of this argument.

This will certainly be kicking the hornets nest in a room full of hornets, but since you raise it. If Craig's theism is correct then God would not be guilty of wrongdoing in bringing about or letting animals suffer, since--if I understand Craig's position correctly--God is under no moral obligations. So I don't think you have anything here by way of internal critique, and by way of external critique I don't think an atheist will have any grounds of complaint either. Animal suffering isn't good or bad, it's just a fact.

The Janitor said...

Steven Carr,

Since I never affirmed both that a mind needs a body to experience pain and that a mind does not need a body to experience pain I'm afriad I'll have to shift the charge of delusion to someone else :)

Michael Fugate said...

Like your pointless apologizing for Craig's pointless remarks?

Tony Lloyd said...

"If Craig's theism is correct then God would not be guilty of wrongdoing in bringing about or letting animals suffer, since--if I understand Craig's position correctly--God is under no moral obligations."

That doesn't stop Craig trying to justify His actions.

My analysis depends (in part) on the fact that Craig tried to justify "animal suffering" (mostly by arguing that it is apparent rather than real). It doesn't depend, at all, on whether an attempt to justify "animal suffering" is coherent (or, even, consistent) with Craig's purported position on theism.

To repeat: Craig found an effective-sounding counter-argument and used it without regard to its truth.

Alien Humanoid said...

I am not at all convinced by the argument that Craig repeats but I think that the concept of levels of awareness is interesting. In idle moments I have wondered if my body somehow registers pain that "I" am just unaware of when I am under the dentist's anaesthetic.

The commentator in the video didn't use the term 'neo-Cartesian' on a whim; see this article for a better understanding of what is being proposed: http://www.apologeticsinthechurch.com/uploads/7/4/5/6/7456646/animal.pdf . I see that there is a list of references (although I haven't looked at them yet).

There can be little doubt that these conjectures are motivated by Christian apologetics (which doesn't of itself render them incorrect, of course).

The Janitor said...

Tony,

Your "analysis" was really just an armchair attempt to psychologize Craig's motives.

True, your armchair psychology doesn't depend on whether it's coherent for God can be guilty of wrong. And Craig can try to show that animal suffering isn't a problem by a variety of means.

But your claim that "God would be guilty of [cruelty] where He to be" is all I was responding to. I wasn't attempting to respond to your ad hominem observations, which is why I didn't quote them.

Alien Humanoid said...

Further to my previous post, a quick perusal of the references throws up the name 'Bob Bermond'. Those interested might like to do a quick search for more information.

Tony Lloyd said...

Janitor

An ad hominem argument is where the premises of an argument include negative comments about the person resulting in a conclusion that what they say is false.

I argued from (agreed) premises that what Craig said was false to conclude with negative comments about him.

That's not ad hominem.

Calling Kelvin MacKenzie, for example, a "a sad and miserable apology for a human being" is not ad hominem as its a conclusion, rather than a premise. Here the Liverpool Echo are saying that he is "a sad and miserable apology for a human being" because he printed vile lies rather than saying that what he printed is vile lies because he is "a sad and miserable apology for a human being". I call "bullshit" on Craig because what he says rather than call "bullshit" on what he says because of Craig.

Now:

1. How you put "analysis" in scare-quotes (and which fucking word would you like me to use?) together with
2. your use of the term "armchair psychology"

is ad hominem.

Paul P. Mealing said...

I'm not at all surprised by this. I made the comment when I first saw the debate, that it was outrageous for Craig to suggest that animals don't experience pain and suffering.

Craig loves to present himself as being more science-savvy than he really is. His argument about infinity is another classic example.

Regards, Paul.

ozogg said...

-
http://theconversation.edu.au/about-time-science-and-a-declaration-of-animal-consciousness-9513?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+5+October+2012&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+5+October+2012+CID_ef179e0da6c86d2b7a845ed856f97b51&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=About+time+science+and+a+declaration+of+animal+consciousness
-

The Janitor said...

Tony,

I didn't say you used an ad hominem *argument*. Clearly, you're just going off your own little script here. Feel free to continue to argue with yourself though.

Dan P said...

Even if the number of species that are capable of pain were whittled down a little, how much of an impact on the problem of evil could this remove?

Even if it could be whittled down to one species (human), how could this remove the problem of evil?

There has certainly been enough human misery to provide difficulites for the happy-go-lucky Theodicist to deal with.

In explaining how the Holocaust is consistent with the Christian god, does removing the weight of chicken or cat suffering make such Theodicies more reasonable?

Peter Ozzie Jones said...

Hello Prof, you say:

P.S. Hopefully Craig is a straight enough guy to issue an unqualified mea culpa on this one.

In a YouTube video "Interview with Dr. William Lane Craig: Handling Doubt" he clearly indicates that no evidence would ever contravert the witness of the Holy Spirit (in his heart). The 5 min. interview is quite revealing and would indicate that facts & evidence would never change his mind.

Andres Ruiz said...

A couple of comments:

1) This has no bearing on the argument from gratuitous suffering. On the strongest formulation of the argument from gratuitous suffering, just one instance of gratuitous suffering in nature would be enough to demonstrate God's non-existence.

Given that higher primates have pre-frontal cortexes, and that higher primates surely suffer all the time in nature, that's all the argument from suffering needs.

2) It is interesting that Craig would make such a claim given that he's a dualist. The Janitor defends Craig by appealing to Aristotelian conceptions of human beings where we don't have souls in the Cartesian sense but are rather fully material beings who will be resurrected at the end of time (this is the view that Peter Van Inwagen holds). This wont help Craig, as he is a Cartesian dualist.

3) If Craig is correct that only creatures with self-awareness have the kind of pain that is morally significant, third order pain, then, given that infants lack self-awareness, the torture of said infants would be morally unproblematic, as I briefly argue here:

(http://philosophiadeus.blogspot.com/2012/10/william-lane-craig-gets-science-wrong.html)


So, any way you slice it, it doesn't look good for Craig. He's wrong about the science (a common theme for apologists). Even if he were not wrong about the science, the implications of his view would lead to the conclusion that infant torture is alright so long as their pre-frontal cortexes are not fully developed.


But, whatever, he's a Christian. We're used to such moral abominations from that cult by now.

Stephen Law said...

Janitor

I said : "If I presented, in a public debate in front of an audience of 2,000 (and downloaded many many thousands more times) an argument based on a claim (that pre-frontal cortex is absent in all animals other than higher primates) I insisted was "scientific", but that even a quick google search would confirm is false, I'd feel pretty foolish. Wouldn't you?

And that's not the only mistake. Craig also stated that his claim - that other animals have no awareness *that* they are in pain - constituted a remarkable scientific discovery. That implies it has significant scientific backing and support. But it doesn't.

I'd be feeling pretty foolish if I'd made such a statement. Wouldn't you?"

You said: "I'm sure someone like you can appreciate that feeling foolish and being made a fool are not the same thing."

My question was: You would feel pretty foolish right? For these are not just minor slips or mistakes. They are big mistakes. Right?

Stephen Law said...

Peter you said:

"In a YouTube video "Interview with Dr. William Lane Craig: Handling Doubt" he clearly indicates that no evidence would ever contravert the witness of the Holy Spirit (in his heart). The 5 min. interview is quite revealing and would indicate that facts & evidence would never change his mind."

Very true. But that doesn't mean Craig can't change his mind on this issue. He should. His premise is scientific baloney and his conclusion is neither well supported by him nor a "remarkable" scientific discovery.

Even Janitor appears to be conceding that. Right Janitor?




Stephen Law said...

Oops yes Angra I meant hundreds of millions...

p said...

"Wouldn't that depend on what course your paper was for? If you were writing it for your neuphysiology course I think you're correct. Simply citing Murray as your source would be looked down upon. But if you were in a philosophy course and noted that Murray cites scientific evidence for the conclusion that..."
You're most certainly incorrect."

No it doesnt depend on what course one is doing. My most recent education was in physcis but I have studied humanities in the past. In either case you need to quote the primary source wherever possible, this is also true in a law court, to do otherwise is rightly dismissed as heresay.

Furthermore the claim is one about neurophysiology. So even if you were right that there should be some other standard for philosophy ,its irrelevant, the nature of the claim is a scientific one. (Stephen Law can comment on how he would mark his students papers in this case. )

These are WLC's own words
"I’ve been surprised by the emotional reactions I’ve received to last week’s Question! It almost seems as if some atheists would actually prefer that animals experience terrible suffering than have to give up the objection to theism based on the problem of animal pain! What’s especially odd about this situation is that the question of animal suffering has nothing to do with theology—it’s all about neuroscience. This ought to be a theologically neutral question which we can all approach with an open mind to follow the neurological evidence where it leads. But some people are so adamantly opposed to letting God off the hook, so to speak, for animal suffering that they cannot even look at the scientific evidence in an objective, dispassionate way but rail against any suggestion that animals may not suffer in the same way that humans do."

So even he agrees this is a scientific claim that needs to be judged on that basis and when we do so we find the claim is utterly wrong. Craig pretends to be scientifically literate but anbyone that even has a subscription to a popular science magazine or reads the scinece news will have seen the in the scientific community there have been more and more publications showing that the line between humans and animals is getting harder and harder to define. That cognitive processes that we used to think were unique to humans turn out not to be. Yet Craig paints the opposite picture. Clearly he eithher does not follow even basic science news or he doesnt care about representing the science honestly.
Lastly you keep talking Murray quoting the scientific literature, but thats not true either. Ive read Murrays book he doesnt interact with the scientific literature on this subject in the slightest. To says so shows complete ignorance of what the scinetific literature says on this subject.

To accuse Craig of bad scholarship here is a huge understatement. The guy clearly has no interest in scholarhsip just in pulling the wool over the eyes of his audience and wrapping himself up in the authority of science wihtout having any respect for its process.

Galactor said...

"These are WLC's own words
' But some people are so adamantly opposed to letting God off the hook, so to speak, for animal suffering that ..'"

Of course, Craig gives the game away in this interesting Freudian slip - who is trying to let God off the hook?

I think what many people will find ghastly, is the message that animals can be mistreated because they don't feel pain. That requires redress - not Craig's silly theology.

I don't care a fig what Craig wants to tell the gullible about the supernatural.

I take exception that in defending his beliefs, his disgraceful academic laziness might lead to animals unnecessarily suffering.

Craig should admit he was wrong and publicly too.

Mark Jones said...

Further to previous comments, it's puzzling what Craig expects to even achieve with this argument. I imagined that he wanted to show that animal suffering didn't exist, to extinguish the problem of evil, so the suggestion appears to be that only third level pains apply to that problem. Third level pain, if it existed in animals, would be incalculably large, the science shows. But, even if we allow him his flawed science, in response to the follow-up question:

"If animals can not experience pain, is there anything wrong with committing acts against animals which if committed against humans would be expected to cause pain?" (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/animal-pain-and-the-ethical-treatment-of-animals)

...Craig said, amongst other things:

The theist enjoys the advantage that the ethical treatment of animals can be grounded in God’s commands to human beings to be good stewards of the Earth.


Here we see Craig's characteristic appeal to "the big boy made me do it" morality. It's not clear why being a 'good steward' would require treating animals better than inanimate objects, however, if they don't feel pain. But then he says:

Inflicting unjustified pain on animals would be morally prohibited to us by God. Yes, remember that on the view we’re discussing, sentient animals do experience second-level states of pain, which should not be needlessly inflicted. So stunning animals before killing them for food is, indeed, a good idea.

So here he concedes that second level pain is to be avoided, "a good idea". In which case, second level pains need to be included in the calculation of the problem of evil. Given that these are incalculably large, Craig has simply reduced the sum total of suffering from incalculably large to incalculably large.

Steven Carr said...

Craig states without even an attempt at showing where that his imaginary god has forbidden cruelty to animals.

Let us assume Craig is familiar with what his 'Word of God' tells us are the 'heroes of faith' ie people like Samson.

Let us see what one of Craig's 'heroes of faith' did :-

Judges 15:4
'So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines.'

According to Craig's Old Book, the source of his morality, you are perfectly entitled to set fire to hundreds of foxes.

So where does Craig get off claiming his Old Book teaches that you should not harm animals?

Where did he pull that one out of?

Did he just make it up, like he makes up so much of his other stuff?

Galactor said...

Craig once again shows the true evil, wickedness that religion delivers.

Anything is fair game in defending theology even if it might have far-reaching effects on the well-being of biological life.

Need to deny that animals feel pain to overcome the problem of evil?

No problem!

Forget any consequences!

No need for any academic integrity and thoroughness! No need to check the sources even though it is an astounding claim that if true, you'd think would be common knowledge!

It's theology!

Just blaze away!

Galactor said...

p said: "To accuse Craig of bad scholarship here is a huge understatement. The guy clearly has no interest in scholarhsip just in pulling the wool over the eyes of his audience and wrapping himself up in the authority of science wihtout having any respect for its process. "

I cannot think that a serious academic would make such a mistake as to really think that such a finding had been made and had reached consensus.

If it were the consensus that animals didn't feel pain, then there would be no recourse in a debate to point out such a remarkable finding.

You'd think Craig might have worded his statement with a little more tentativeness. " ... there may be some evidence, it needs more work, it's not ultimately understood, yet ..."

Sometimes, Craig suggests to me that he lacks any academic integrity at all.

He reminds me of the sort of person who might descend to disgraceful tactics like leaving empty chairs when a gentleman has declined offers to discuss things with him ...

Or teaching at an institution where the students have to sign a declaration where they state immovable acceptance and belief, up-front, in what they are supposed to be critically analysing (which would of course be debauching the academic pursuit) ...

Mal Arky said...

If there's to be a follow up debate
I think it would be advisable to have an appropriate scientific expert present to refute Craigs false claims at the Q & A session.

P said...

Actually if anyone is to debate WLC again i would suggest the debate happens on paper first so each person can fact check the others rebutalls. To do anyhting different is to show these debates are just peices of theatre and not serious arguments.

Anonymous said...

Dear all,
Forgive me for saying that, but you all sound more like politicians rather than philosophers. No doubt you know the difference, being as educated as you all seem to be. When did the thin line between philosophy and politics become so fat? Ate too many words void of nutrition? Food for thought.

Philothumper said...

Yeah, WLC has made an arse out of himself on this one. But, arguing that animals don't suffer-at least in the first person-to weaken the problem of suffering is completely trivial anyways because even if animals didn't actually suffer (which is bollocks) they certainly do in some possible world. Since God would exist in every possible world we'd just raise the problem again but with *that* world instead of the actual one.

David B Marshall said...

Dr. Law: Following your link, I found this description of Michael Murray:

"Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor in the Humanities and Philosophy at Franklin and Marshall College."

Isn't it a bit petty, and doesn't it involve a little poisoning of the well, for you to continue to describe him primarily as an "apologist?" (Which carries pejorative connotations among many skeptics.) One could equally call you an "apologist" for your worldview.

sam said...

Mark Jones’ comments are accurate. If Craig believes that 2nd order pain is to be avoided & should not be needlessly inflicted by moral beings, then 2nd order pain does not escape the problem of suffering. This argument over self-awareness & 3rd order pain is irrelevant to the problem of evil.

Of course, if Craig roots the immorality of inflicting 2nd order pain in morally relativistic divine command theory, then inflicting 2nd order pain is perfectly ethical when it is issued by divine command, such as when yhwh orders horses to be hamstrung (JS 11:6) or when yhwh orders the slaughter of infants, sucklings, ox, sheep, camels & donkeys (1 Sam 15:3-8).

Echoing Andres Ruiz’s comments, if Craig is correct that only self-aware beings have morally relevant pain, then the torture of self-unaware infants, inside and outside the womb, would be morally unproblematic. One could gleefully dash the little ones of your enemies against the rocks and feel positively happy about it (PS 137:9).

This conclusion would at least be compatible with the gleeful yearning for the abortion of the children of Israel’s enemies in Hosea 9:11-16: “Ephraim's glory will fly away like a bird--no birth, no pregnancy, no conception. Even if they rear children, I will bereave (shakol) them of every one…Give them, O YHWH—what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry (shakol) & breasts that are dry...Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring."

I wonder if Craig is pro-choice, but notice that this is not a pro-choice position. The women with child who shall be ripped up (Hos 13:14-16) do not choose to end life.

Of course, if Craig believes that yhwh has no moral obligations to anyone or anything, then even inflicting 3rd order pain on billions of conscious, self-aware beings for all eternity is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

If Craig believes that yhwh has no moral obligations to anyone or anything, then just what is he on about? For that matter, what am I on about? There must be a point where you let the man keep his tin foil hat on and leave him be.

Stephen Law said...

David B Marshall - "apologist" is how Christians describe him and each other so I assumed it was not pejorative.

If "apologist" is pejorative because sceptics look dimly on those who describe themselves thus, then I probably shouldn't call him a Christian either. "Philosopher" also brings Dawkins and others out in hives.

Of course "apologist" is neither pejorative nor inaccurate. And it's particularly relevant given the book Craig quotes is actually a work of Christian apologetics.

David B Marshall said...

Stephen: LOL. You have a point about Dawkins and philosophers.

But here on your site, agreeing as I do (and probably most visitors here will) with your high view of philosophy, I don't think anyone would take it that way. I will refer to both of you as philosophers, and if a sickly Dawkins shows up on my porch, call in a faith healer.

Philboid Studge said...

The implications of Craig's argument, such as it is, would imply that there's nothing morally wrong with cruelty to animals. In fact, "cruelty to animals" (excepting human and higher [sic]* primates) would be a practical impossibility.

* Hierarchical terms like "higher" are meaningless in biology.

barongriggs2 said...

Do we then need a new canon- the Law Caon-about the continuum of pain for animals?
Peter van Inwangen is essentially a fideist as he does not view God as a hypothesis,and like WLC, noting can alter his view.
From his on-line papers, I learned about Aquinas's superfluity argument not to add God as an explanation, whick boomerangs on Aquinas with his five failed arguments. And the Ockham reveals Him as having convoluted, ad hoc assumptions, hardly simpler than naturalism!

Rick Warden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Warden said...

> I'd be feeling pretty foolish if I'd made such a statement. Wouldn't you? (Stephen commenting on a comment by WL Craig in a debate)

- A comment in a live debate may be construed as an off-the-cuff remark. However, comments published in articles and writing in general would seem to offer somewhat less of an excuse.

Stephen, you had written a review of Dawkins' God Delusion stating you have read it at least twice and that you found the summary argument impressive (in a positive sense).

"This chapter contains Dawkins's central argument, summarized in pages 188-9....On a second reading, I am rather more impressed."

http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2008/09/book-club-god-delusion-chpt-4.html

WL Craig has outlined why there is no logical consequence in Dawkins' argument.

Craig, William Lane, On Guard, 2010, David Cook, Colorado Springs, CO, p.121, see online, Reasonable Faith Forum, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5493

Stephen, do you still hold to your opinion that the God Delusion offers a good argument, a logical argument against God's existence?

Stephen Law said...

"Stephen, do you still hold to your opinion that the God Delusion offers a good argument, a logical argument against God's existence?"

I never said that, Rick. That's what you rather foolishly (but typically) extrapolated from my comment that on a second reading it I find the chapter rather more impressive.

Craig's remark wasn't an off the cuff comment, it was a prepared argument with supporting reference. The argument had a false premise (that other animals - other than higher primates) don't have a prefrontal cortex), it involved the false claim that this is actually a recent "scientific discovery", and it drew the unwarranted conclusion that other animals don't know that they are in pain (which wouldn't follow even if the premise were true). It turns out Craig's cited authority wasn't a scientist, and in fact that Craig's scientific claims are false can be established by means of a quick google search.

If I'd stood up in front of a couple of thousand people and made such an absurd series of claims, I'd now feel pretty foolish. Wouldn't you, Rick?

Stephen Law said...

Just to repeat my question to Janitor, which ended:

"My question was: You would feel pretty foolish right? For these are not just minor slips or mistakes. They are big mistakes. Right?"

??

The Janitor said...

Sorry that I haven't kept up with the discusion. I skimmed some of the comments since I last posted and since I see, Dr. law, that you've asked twice now whether I would feel foolish and whether WLC made a big mistake let me respond to that:

I don't think I would feel foolish since I'm not embarrassed to make mistakes on occasion. But maybe self-consciousness would overcome me? Either way, I don't see the relevance in this since, as I said, feeling foolish and being made a fool are not the same thing. Maybe Craig would feel foolish, but he shouldn't or maybe Craig wouldn't feel foolish, but he should.

Did Craig's mistake qualify as "big" and even "big enough to be made a fool"? I don't think so and I don't see why you would want to make such "big" deal out of that issue... It comes off as a personal grudge or something.

Rick Warden said...

>I never said that, Rick. That's what you rather foolishly (but typically) extrapolated from my comment that on a second reading it I find the chapter rather more impressive.

- OK, Stephen, let me try again. You do not seem to like to volunteer information so I'll try multiple choice:

1. Do you agree with Craig that Dawkins' summary argument (located in the chapter that you find so "impressive") does not offer sound logical consequence?

2. Do you find the chapter impressive regardless of a logically flawed argument?

3. Do you find Dawkins' summary argument to be acceptable logically, however, this is only part of what you consider to be "impressive" in this chapter of the God Delusion and you don't want the argument itself to receive an undue portion of the praise?

If there is a third option I may have missed, you are of course welcome to volunteer some information on the subject.

Stephen Law said...

The reason I ask is that it's clear Craig made a pretty big mistake here, indeed made a bit of a fool of himself. Now that's OK, we've all done that on occasion - even me.

But it's remarkable, I think, how you are unable to admit, even now, that Craig seriously screwed up here.

Read back through your comments above. Mostly they are attempts to change the subject, shift attention away from the error onto something else. Indeed, you did a nice apologetic job of getting others bogged down in an irrelevant side debate, which distracted everyone away from the real issue which is Craig screwed up.

My direct question was just to see if you could actually just honestly admit Craig screwed up pretty big on this occasion. You can't.

That's an interesting mindset, I think.

Rick is also trying to avoid answering my question.

Rick - did Craig make a fairly big mistake here?

Stephen Law said...

Rick you are aware I did a whole hour long videod lecture on Dawkins' argument, filmed at Oxford University

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3fGJq04rUc&feature=relmfu

Maybe you should watch it? It answers your questions.

So, Rick, can you man up and admit Craig made a pretty serious error here?

aleshamilton said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steven Carr said...

Does anybody, even the Janitor, seriously for one minute doubt that Craig would say exactly the same thing if a debate was held tomorrow?


Stephen Law said...

ps my 9.59 comment was aimed at the Janitor btw.

Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul P. Mealing said...

I wish more people would challenge Craig's scientific credentials.

On his Q&A site he has argued that science would benefit from admitting God as a 'scientific' argument for naturalistic explanations, specifically evolution. In other words, he believes the supernatural should be part of scientific explanations.

He's also argued that God could surely perform 'immaculate conception' in the case of Mary's pregnancy with Jesus, contrary to all scientific evidence and theory.

As I pointed out in a previous comment on a previous post, his arguments about infinity contradict his own belief in an infinite afterlife. His argument in his debate with Stephen is ‘absurd’ (to use his own term) because he talks about infinity as if it’s a number, which it isn’t.

These examples alone should be enough to bring Craig’s scientific credentials into question, let alone his argument that most animals are not ‘aware’ of pain and suffering.

Regards, Paul.

Rick Warden said...

>Rick you are aware I did a whole hour long videod lecture on Dawkins' argument, filmed at Oxford University

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3fGJq04rUc&feature=relmfu

- So you are basically unwilling to plainly comment on whether or not Dawkins' argument outline in the God delusion offers logical consequence not. That's fine, and quite interesting coming from a "professional" philosopher who prides himself on his status as such.

I have never claimed to be an expert in science or biology and frankly do not have time to research at the moment on the question of how animals sense pain. Therefore I am in no position to evaluate Craig's comments on animal pain. You do not seem to appreciate people's time limitations.

Instead of asking me to watch an hour long video, why is it so difficult for you to plainly summarize your opinion on Dawkins' argument?

If you are duly "impressed" with a chapter outlining a person's central argument in a book, then I'll leave it at that. You've had a chance to express your opinion on Dawkins' logic and have declined. Thanks for your time.

Stephen Law said...

Rick

I think Dawkins argument is non-scientific, and probably flawed (which is not to say he doesn't do a fairly good job of dealing with some lines of objection - hence my "rather more impressed than was on first reading comment).

So you are too busy to check whether Craig made a big mistake(a quick google search would do, or just watch the short bits of the video I have flagged up for you)?

Rick Warden said...

>I think Dawkins argument is non-scientific, and probably flawed

- I agree with you. However, I had asked you specifically about the logical consequence incorporated in his argument. The question regarded more the logic of the argument not so much the truth of the claims.

>So you are too busy to check whether Craig made a big mistake(a quick google search would do, or just watch the short bits of the video I have flagged up for you)?

- Yes. Because I do not believe a quick Google search would be adequate for an adequate understanding of this subject. And I am not sure what part of the hour long video, if any, would specifically touch upon the subject of logical consequence in Dawkins' argument.

As far as free time goes, and not that you are necessarily interested in my personal life, I have a number of responsibilities. I am married with two children, have recently moved to a different country, am self employed beginning a new business. So blogging and research are neglected at times. If I had more present possibilities, believe me, I would love to research these types of questions full time.

Stephen Law said...

I identified the relevant clips for you down to the second, Rick. Yet you can't even bring yourself to take two minutes to check and confirm what the scientific experts interviewed say: that Craig made a big mistake. You're just too, too busy...

Stephen Law said...

I have removed a few comments because they were completely irrelevant to the thread and didn't make much sense. Also they also looked like an attempt at smokescreen...

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Are my deleted comments on the spot for naturalism? I'd like to know your opinion. They shw tha tpeople personalize what Naturee does not- no intent.Reduced animism is theism.I looked up again Morgan's Canon and found it makes the Ockham point not to use ad hoc assumptions and is till relevant. My argument frompariedolia shows that pelllucidly. Thankkkkkkks for the blogs. http://fathergriggs.wordpress.com has has many articles about teleonomy versus teleology and so much more. mllamberth@gmail.com

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Sorry for the typoss.

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Stephen, I regret that I clicked to soon instead of proof-reading. I was also checking out my identities to make sure that they worked.
In short, as the Janitor notes, people do personalize wrongly. This is where [ John Hunt] Morgan's' Canon enters the fray as it like the Ockham states for us to not add extra matters- the personalization.
My argument from pareidolia is that just as people see Yeshua on a tortilla or the man in the moon, they see intent and design when only mechanism and patterns exist. The Coyne-Mayr-Lamberth teleonomic [mechanisms,causalism] argument notes that as science finds no divine intent behind Nature, then God cannot be Himself as scientists would find His intent. It does no good and ti's an argument from ignorance that John Hick tries to obviate that point with his epistemic distance argument that God makes Himself ambiguous so as not to overwhelm our free wills.No, still no divine intent so that to use intent then makes for my new Omphalos argument that God deceives us with that ambiguity: Hick is as guilty as Philip Goss with his argument-again, one from ignorance. Then my argument from reduced animism notes that theism is just reduced animism only with the one intent instead of the many intents of the many spirits and thus just as superstitious.
Neurological defects don't help my presentation. However, others tell me that my style is fine.
I desire to know your thinking about these arguments,sir. You might answer me at mllamberth@gmail.com. I'd appreciate your comments as I need vetting for better comments.
Thanks for this blog.
Please let this one remain. I took time proof-reading it and used spell-check. My fingers are "dyslexic."

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Janitor, yes, that personalization is out of place as it is only animistic and thus superstitious.
You have it backwards as theists do the personalization. We note otherwise; we dismiss theism for its superstitious personalization which is as superstitious as is full animism. Theism = reduced animism.
Science denies vigorously this personalization as Ernst Mayr in " What Evolution Is," George Gaylord Simpson in " Life of the Past" and Paul B.Weisz in " The Science of Biology, " note. This isn't just a philosophical point as the NSCE claims but also a scientific one.
Thales and Strato are right, and Aristotle is wrong about teleology in science.
Typo- too soon.

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Janitor, Craig supposes a disembodied mind for God and souls for us. The argument from physical mind is that we only find physical minds and to find a disembodied one is just another argument from ignorance. McCormick's why God cannot think argument also applies.
Theists depend on the arguments from personal incredulity and from ignorance, which underlie other of their arguments.
" Logic is the bane of theists." Fr. Griggs
http://fathergriggs.wordpress.com

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Stephen, others maintain that WLC ever distorts others's statements.
Frankly, Prof. Irwin Corey makes more sense than theologians!
My cortex has defects.

imnotandrei said...

Rick wrote: As far as free time goes, and not that you are necessarily interested in my personal life, I have a number of responsibilities. I am married with two children, have recently moved to a different country, am self employed beginning a new business. So blogging and research are neglected at times. If I had more present possibilities, believe me, I would love to research these types of questions full time.

This from the man who demands that the author of this blog provide him an argument in *exactly* the form he wants, or he's "not using logic".

The hypocrisy is strong with this one.

Do you know what responsible people who don't have time to do research do when it comes to internet arguments, Rick? They stay out of them.

p said...

Did Craig's mistake qualify as "big" and even "big enough to be made a fool"? I don't think so and I don't see why you would want to make such "big" deal out of that issue... It comes off as a personal grudge or something."

Janitor, perhaps you can explain why.AFter all if Dr LAw got up and dealt WLC Kalam argument witha bunch of made up pseudo sceince such as plasma cosmology how would you react? yet this is exactly WLC has doen to DR LAws argument. i think Dr LAw should demand an apology and correction from DR Craig. indicedentally WLC has repeated these claims online So this is not simply a msitake of the moment

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

p, yes, and so should the Janitor.
People personalize as the argument from pariedolia notes. Scientists are investigating how and why people do see real patterns and patterns as pareidolias. No intent and no designs emerge but rather only mechanism and patterns.
Carneades' atelic argument is that theists beg the question of directed outcomes. The teleonimic argument dispenses with divine intent.So,indeed people do personalize when that contradicts science instead of complementing it. Maarten Boudry notes that.
So, people try to gainsay Aquinas' superfluity argument, which boomerangs on him with his five failed ways,not to add God as He explains nothing.The Ockham shears off God as He is a convoluted, complex, ad hoc series of assumptions. Nature needs no ad hoc assumptions. The Flew-Lamberth the presumption of naturalism notes that natural causes and explanations themselves are the sufficient reason, the necessary being and the primary cause; indeed, God would have to depend upon them and the descriptions -lasw- of Nature, such that He'd be only a secondary cause!
People have murdered others in the name of that superfluity! That superfluity alone makes me a gnu atheist!
Percy Bysshhe Shelly declares :" To suppose that som eexistenc beyond,or above them [ those descriptions,me]is to invent a second and superfluous hypothesis to account for what already is accounted for." For theists then to claim that this is a category mistake begs the question.
The need for this superfluity stems from the animist impulse for intent to assauge people. Lamberth's non-genetic argument is that theists themselves with their uncorroborated arguments from angst and from happiness-purpose affirm naturalist accounts of why they believe, and so we offer no genetic fallacy after all!
This superfluiy is thus a matter of superstition1

Rick Warden said...

>I identified the relevant clips for you down to the second, Rick.

- I'm sorry, Stephen, I did not see that comment of yours. What date and time was that posted?

I had asked you twice about the logic of Dawkins central summarized argument foe the God Delusion. the following are the dates and times of comments in this post:

October 6, 2012 2:44 PM
October 7, 2012 11:14 AM

So far, you have not expressed your opinion as to whether or not Dawkins' summarized argument offers a sense of logical consequence or not. The scientific validity of his points is quite another subject.

As a professional philosopher, do you think it would be possible for you to offer your opinion on this subject?

Stephen Law said...

Rick the clips are identified in the post.

Anonymous said...

Craig is well used to mental gymnastics to justify suffering. Here is his apologetics for god commanding the slaughter of the Cananite children "the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy." . The killing of innocent children is fine as long as god told you to do it. I'd also like to add my appreciation for Stephen's performance in the debate.

Anonymous said...

Well, I followed your advice, Dr. Law, and did a Google search on "animal suffering." The second suggestion Google made was an article by Bob Bermond of the University of Amsterdam, "The Myth of Animal Suffering," in a book called, _Animal Consciousness and Animal Ethics: Perspectives from the Netherlands__ edited by Marcel Dol. Feel free to read the abstract. It seems that there is conflicting scientific opinion on this issue.

Anonymous said...

I took your advice, Dr. Law, and did a Google search on "animal suffering." Google's second offering was an article by Bob Bermond of the University of Amsterdam called "The Myth of Animal Suffering" in the book, _Animal Consciousness and Animal Ethics: Perspectives from the Netherlands_ edited by Marcel Dol. Feel free to read the abstract. There seem to be conflicting scientific opinion on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the Bermond article: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tvcm0wF6SqEC&oi=fnd&pg=PA125&dq=animal+suffering&ots=-aXH-IykUG&sig=7ae7WztITyXeNnWP_l2td31fTAk#v=onepage&q=animal%20suffering&f=false

Stephen Law said...

Yes there's Bob Bermond opinionating in non-scientific journals. If that makes a scientific controversy, I'm a Dutchman.

Anonymous said...

Of course YouTube videos are the preferred source for academic information?

Anonymous said...

Of course, YouTube videos are the preferred academic source?

Stephen Law said...

Textbooks are my preferred source on e.g. which animals have a pre-frontal cortex.

An article in a non-science journal in which someone opines that animals lack consciousness does not a scientific controversy make. Obviously.

Craig claimed not claim that the issue was scientifically controversial, but that that animals lack self-consciousness was actually a *scientific discovery*. That's untrue. It's not even a widespread scientific view. I am right about that, right?

Stephen Law said...

For some reason anons latest post has not appeared. It was...

Presumably, if it were quite new information, it wouldn't necessarily be a widespread view at this point. It appears that much of the work in this area has come not from ethologists, but comparative psychologists, who tend to just assume similarities between human and animal psychology.
Merely calling something "obvious" does not make it so. If you were indeed a Dutchman, you would know that the Dutch take their ethology seriously. After all, Dutch biologist Tinbergen was largely responsible for developing ethology as a discipline. For this reason, _Animal Consciousness and Animal Ethics_, which contains Bermond's article, may well be someone's textbook.

Stephen Law said...

You seem to want to change the subject. The focus of this post was Craig's claim that animals (other than higher primates) lack a prefrontal cortex and his inference to his "scientific" conclusion that they are unaware that they experience pain.

Craig's premise was wrong, and his conclusion - which he trumpets as a remarkable "scientific" discovery - is no such thing. In fact it's not even a widely held scientific view (indeed, we see several scientific experts rejecting it in this video).

Moreover, Craig's conclusion wouldn't follow even if his premise were true.

All of this is correct, right?

Yet you seem unwilling to acknowledge ANY of this and instead choose to switch our attention to a single article on a non-scientific book, as if that were even relevant to the points I make in the post.

This is a classic apologetic smokescreen.

Of course there have always been a few who have denied animals are conscious - including Descartes. I am quite happy to acknowledge that.

But are you willing to acknowledge that the points made about Craig's argument are correct?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Law, I'm not changing the subject at all. If something were, indeed, a "new discovery," how could it possibly be at the same time a widely held view? The Bermond article, as I said, is what one finds with the least possible effort, but if you don't consider Bermond or this book to be credible, you might consider (rather than denigrating Michael Murray as a mere philosopher of science rather than a "real" academic, which can, of course only mean a scientist--an odd view for you to champion, I think) actually taking a look at Murray's bibliography, even if you can't be bothered to read his actual book, just to see if there's anything at all there that you might find credible. If not, then by all means challenge Craig. But "Craig is wrong because his source is a Christian philosopher of science and this YouTube video says he's wrong" seems a decidedly unacademic approach to argument to me.

Stephen Law said...

That Craig is wrong about animals other than higher primates lacking a prefrontal cortex is confirmed by a leading textbook, and several scientists quoted here. It's also confirmed very quickly using google search. But of course none of that is good enough for you. You still refuse to admit Craig is mistaken on that point. Amazing.

Craig says that animals lack a prefrontal cortex is a scientific discovery supporting the further scientific discovery that they are unware they are in pain. To call something a "scientific discovery" suggests its an established scientific truth. Otherwise it would be far less misleading to call it a "theory", say, and even that would suggest it had some significant scientific support which his claim about the prefrontal cortex does not.

What Craig is saying is contradicted by common sense, by textbooks, by the leading experts in the field quoted in this video (who has been asked specifically about what Craig said).

Yet you cannot bring yourself to admit Craig has made a mistake here. Amazing.

Craig rejects the view that animals are self-conscious on the basis of a single book written by a non-scientist - a book that makes claims that even a quick google search would establish was false. But that's good enough for him.

However apparently it's not good enough to reject Craig's view that animals other than higher primates lack a prefrontal cortex to point to a text book, several leading scientific experts asked specifically to comment on Craig's claim, etc. Or, say, this long list of academic articles about the prefrontal cortex of mice:

http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=prefrontal+cortex+mice&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=52mBUMffOc_Msgb9joG4Bg&ved=0CB4QgQMwAA

No, clearly you need much better evidence than that before being prepared to reject something asserted by Prof Craig!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Law, you will note from a quick read through of the "definition" section of the "prefrontal cortex" article in Wikipedia that there are 3 different definitions of the term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prefrontal_cortex
Apparently, it is "rather difficult to unequivocally define the prefrontal cortex."

Stephen Law said...

So what?

Tony Lloyd said...

Hi Anonymous

So which of those three definitions limits the prefrontal cortex to the great apes?

Which of those three definitions is essential for "suffering"?

Stephen Law said...

There are varying definitions of "mammal" too. Does it follow that it's unclear whether you are one?

This is pathetic.

Anonymous said...

The Jacobson definition seems limited to primates, Tony. Dr. Law, no, it isn't unclear that I'm a mammal, unless I happen to be a docodont or morganucodont. Same sort of situation we see with the varying prefrontal cortex definition--primates fit in whichever definition you use. Thanks for illustrating my point so well.

By the way, Dr, Law, thank you for so generously allowing me to voice a contrary opinion on your blog. I know you don't have to, and other pages which I've seen featuring this video absolutely don't.

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

I've cortrical and subcortical defects and am schizotypal, but I objurgate " The Transcendental Temptation," what Paul Kurtz calls the twin supersitions- the supernatural and the paranormal.

Skeptic Griggsy-CarneadesHume said...

Dr.Law, would you vet my arguments above of October 8?I'd appreciate that. I reblog to my blogs from here.

Stephen Law said...

Ah I see, you are now suggesting WLC is adopting Jacobsen's 1935 definition of pfc which restricts a pfc to higher primates. Craig is not using the current standard definition on which e.g. mice have one (illustrated by e.g. the many articles I linked to which unambiguously attribute a pfc to mice). Actually, that would explain Craig's talking such rot, wouldn't it? He probably doesn't realize that's not how the term is used nowadays, in e.g. textbooks, academic papers, by experts in the video, etc. etc.

But in any case, I digress. For even on the largely defunct 1935 Jacobsen definition, it's still not a recent scientific discovery that other animals don't have a pfc, is it?

Nor is it a recent scientific discovery that the pfc, thus alternatively defined, is necessary for self awareness.

I don't doubt, however, that you'll keep up this endless evasion ad nauseum. Anything rather than admit that Craig might have got the science wrong...

Stephen Law said...

vet?

Stephen Law said...

"By the way, Dr, Law, thank you for so generously allowing me to voice a contrary opinion on your blog."

You are entirely welcome.

Tony Lloyd said...

"The Jacobson definition seems limited to primates"

Not enough, mate. That's why I asked two questions. My guess is that's why you only answered one.

Is it sufficiently clear that a pre-frontal cortex as defined by Jacobson is necessary for the experience of suffering such that it can be called a "scientific discovery"?

The answer is, of course, no. Possibly with the addition of "don't be silly". The "recent scientific discoveries" claimed by Craig were nothing of the sort.

(A "scientific discovery" being something like finding a new species, an exoplanet, that stars tend to be redshifted or that there is a background radiation. You know, we can all argue about the implications, but we don't tend to dispute the discoveries. "Recent", in scientific terms, being some time more recent than 1948!)

All that needs to be sorted out is whether Craig's misrepresentation was innocent, negligent or fraudulent. Did he make a mistake (which seems to be Stephen's position), speak without regard to whether what he said was true or not (mine) or did he just lie? (I suppose that the last would be Chris Hallquist's position http://bit.ly/RNE3Oc)

Maths Tutor Wirral said...

Smackdown of Craig's views.

Oh, that hurts.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

Don't know if this might be of interest, with regards to Craig and his dubious epistemology:

http://skepticink.com/tippling/2013/01/05/exclusivewilliam-lane-craig-accidentally-admits-nativity-accounts-of-matthew-and-luke-may-be-legend/